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Lucy Puniwai's Blog

By Lucy Puniwai | Agent in 76177

Historic Fort Worth list of most endangered places

Seven new properties – including Fort Worth’s Stockyards National Historic District and the city-owned Fort Worth Community Arts Center, and Will Rogers Coliseum, Auditorium and Pioneer Tower – have been added to Historic Fort Worth Inc.’s 2012 list of the city’s “Most Endangered Places” list.

The nonprofit organization announced its annual endangered list during a press conference May 1 at the historic 1904 Thistle Hill cattle baron mansion.

The list includes previous years’ No. 1 at-risk properties: the 1931 Texas & Pacific Warehouse (its seventh appearance on the list), the Art Deco-designed Farrington Field built in 1939 and the 100-year-old Fort Worth Power & Light Co./TXU Power Plant.

Each May during National Historic Preservation Month, Historic Fort Worth – a local partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation – recognizes historic properties within the community that are threatened by deterioration, neglect, vandalism, encroaching development or lack of financial resources.

Some of the structures are designated as City ofFort Worth Historicand Cultural Landmarks and Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but they are not being properly maintained or preserved, according to Historic Fort Worth.

“Our object is not to scare you to death but to call attention to the plight of these properties and to get help for them,” said HFW Board Chairman Wini Klein.

Jerre Tracy, HFW’s executive director, said the Endangered Lists do work. She pointed to the 2004 listing of the Swift & Co. Building. When XTO Energy Corp. learned of the plight of the building, the energy company purchased and restored it.

“That’s progress,” Tracy said. “The list has been a very positive program for saving buildings in the city of Fort Worth.”

Tracy said many times owners and stakeholders of listed properties are surprised to find their properties are in peril.

The Cultural District’s new city-owned garage, located adjacent to the arts center, has stirred controversy over its required parking fee. The onset of paid parking threatens the business plans of the arts groups that count on the public for support, Klein said, which in turn puts the Fort Worth Community Arts center at risk.

“It was a surprise that we were placed on this list,” said Jody Ulich, president of the Arts Council of Fort Worth & Tarrant County. “It’s a fabulous building with a fabulous mission. Amon Carter’s vision for the Cultural District is that it would be open to the public – and open all the time. This [the garage] is a barrier to that. We’ve seen a very large drop in the number of people coming [because of the paid parking] and we’re working with the city to do something about that.”

The 2012 List

Officials at HFW were surprised themselves last year when learning that the 1902-era Armour Meatpacking Plant in the Stockyards would be demolished without a hearing before the city’s Historic & Cultural Landmarks Commission. Fewer than 10 percent of the buildings built between 1900 and 1924 in the Stockyards are designated local landmarks, and HFW says it is time the entire Stockyards area be designated by the city.

Built for the Texas Centennial in 1936 and designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick, the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum, Auditorium & Pioneer Tower, and sculpture of Rogers riding his horse also are not designated landmarks by the city and are in danger of being lost, HFW said. A duplicate sculpture on Texas Tech University’s campus has been placed on the National Register.

The Will Rogers complex, like the neighboring arts center, suffers the same fate because of paid parking, HFW said.  The original Fort Worth Art Center building was designed by Austrian architect Herbert Bayer and opened in 1954. Prior to becoming the first location for the Modern Art Museum, the center was both a museum and an art school. Expansions to the building were designed by O’Neil Ford and Associates.

Reopening the Forest Park Pool complex, located at 2850 Park Place Ave., has been a priority for City Councilman Joel Burns and others. Opened in 1922, the pool was the city’s largest and most popular pool prior to its closing in 2010. A private citizen has offered to fund a planning study for the restoration of the complex, including the bath houses, but as much as $3 million may be needed to repair and restore the property, HFW said.

Also left in limbo is the Andrew and Geraldine Fuller House, located at 4161 Charron Road on 2.5 acres. Built in 1953 by Los Angeles architect A. Quincy Jones, the house is affiliated with movie stars, including Joan Crawford and Jimmy Stewart. The house is in a trust at Frost Bank for Amon Carter III.

Rounding out the list of new properties is Mitchell Cemetery, located at 1300 N.E. 28th Street, the Old Renfro Drug Store, at 1200 Pennsylvania Ave./526-528 Henderson St., and the concept known as “Urban Villages,” at Hemphill and Berry Streets and the 6000 and 6100 blocks of Camp Bowie Boulevard.

Mitchell Cemetery dates to 1848, a year younger than when Fort Worth was founded. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in the county, containing 30 graves of early pioneers. Located between two railroad tracks, this unfenced and unmarked cemetery is subject to vandalism.

Owned by Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, the Old Renfro Drug Store is eligible for the National Register. Built in 1929, the Gothic Revival/Art Deco building is the last remaining of the so-called “wedding cake” buildings in the area.

Other imperiled properties from previous years include Farrington Field, located at 1501 N. University Drive. Built in 1938-1939 and owned by theFort WorthIndependentSchool District, Farrington Field is under development pressure and in danger of demolition, HFW said.

If the facility were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Farrington Field may be eligible for the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program, HFW added.

The TXU plant, in the 100 to 300 blocks of North Main Street, was built between 1911 and 1913. The plant currently is owned by the Tarrant County College District, which has not announced any immediate plans for its use. HFW recommends the power plant should be professionally “mothballed” until a project is under way, or sold to an entity that will take care of it.

The project planned for restoration of the Texas & Pacific Warehouse Building has been stalled due to street realignment. HFW said it hopes the building’s owner, Cleopatra Investments Ltd., will make quick progress once street plans are worked out.


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