Cowtown’s Cathedral of Mass Transit: The Art Deco Depot

As the decade of the 1930s began, the firm of architect Wyatt Hedrick surely was packin’ the hottest drafting pencil in the West.

hedrick lancasterHedrick et al. were turning a three-block stretch of Lancaster Avenue into a showcase of architecture on a grand scale. During the years 1931-1933 the Texas & Pacific passenger terminal, main post office, and mammoth (580,000 square feet) Texas & Pacific freight terminal would open.

t&p opens 11-3-31 dmnOn November 2, 1931 T&P’s twelve-story “skyscraper” passenger terminal opened as part of T&P’s $13 million ($199 million today) building program in Fort Worth. Clip is from the November 3 Dallas Morning News.

t&p 11-1-31 pi editorialThe Star-Telegram published a front-page editorial on the significance of the new passenger station. The editorial refers to the 1896 federal building/post office on Jennings Avenue, which was still standing.

t&p 11-1-31 big adThis ad congratulated Texas & Pacific and its president, John L. Lancaster.

t&p 11-1-31As was the custom, local businesses placed congratulatory ads in local newspapers. Northern Texas Traction Company would go into receivership in 1932 and in 1938 become Fort Worth Transit Company, operating both buses and streetcars. Streetcar service would end in 1939.

Brothers Temple and R. C. Bowen operated Bowen Air Lines and Bowen Bus Lines, which had a terminal across Lancaster from the new train depot.

t&p 11-3-31 parade

The nearby Jennings Street underpass also opened. Both the new station and the new underpass were celebrated with a parade in which five thousand people marched downtown and through the underpass, led by five bands.

The new passenger terminal replaced the 1899 terminal located where Frank Kent‘s Cadillac dealership would later be.

t&p lancaster 12-14-30 dmnOn December 13, 1930 Mayor William Bryce had proposed changing the name of three streets—the Fort Worth-Dallas Pike, East Front Street, and North Street—to honor T&P chief John L. Lancaster, a resident of (close your eyes, Amon!) Dallas. Clip is from the December 14 Dallas Morning News.

lancaster name it 30The Star-Telegram echoed the sentiment of the Morning News. The names of the three streets were changed in early 1931 as work on the two terminals progressed.

1928 lancaster PETEDetail of a 1928 map shows today’s Lancaster Avenue as “E. Front St.” (And note that Vickery Boulevard was “Rio Grande Ave.”) (From Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

t&p city directories lancasterSure enough: The city directory of 1930 shows no Lancaster Avenue, but the city directory of 1931 does.

1932 FW TP Depot Interior Plan1

The terminal had “women’s” and “colored” waiting rooms. (From Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

The only train that stops at the terminal now is the TRE, and the building has been converted to lofts. But inside and out, the T&P passenger terminal remains one of the outstanding examples of art deco in Cowtown.

Some views of the Texas & Pacific passenger terminal:

building t&p passengerlight t&p lobby 1

look up t&p eastart deco t&p 4-16 1birds eagle t&p frontbirds eagle t&p rear

ceiling t&p1

t&p concoursePassageway under the railroad tracks.

t&p waiting roomnight t&p lofts 1corner t&p seart deco t&p wall 2

art deco t&p detail inside

art deco t&p bow

glass t&part deco t&p east 1art deco t&p patternart deco t&p metalceiling t&p ceiling 2door handles t&pT&P depot track signs

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This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Art Decow, Downtown, Downtown, All Around, Life in the Past Lane, Rails 'n' Roundhouses. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Cowtown’s Cathedral of Mass Transit: The Art Deco Depot

  1. Leo Palitti says:

    This is just too cool! Thank you for another great article Mike!

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