The 1899 T&P Depot (Part 1): “Finest Passenger Station in the Entire South”

On December 16, 1899, as Fort Worth residents were doing their Christmas shopping, they took time out to help unwrap a big gift to the city: the new Texas & Pacific railroad passenger depot.

t&p opened heads 12-17-99 regThe new depot was, the Fort Worth Register proclaimed on December 17, simply “the finest passenger station in the entire South.”

t&p opens full page 12-17-99 regThe Register devoted almost a full page to the new depot.

t&p wikiThe depot was located at the intersection of Main and Lancaster streets east of the Al Hayne memorial, where Frank Kent Cadillac dealership later stood.

t&p TCC NE, Heritage RoomThis H. D. Conner image shows the depot from a different angle. (Photo from Tarrant County College Northeast, Heritage Room.)

t&p from courthouseThe clock tower of the new station was situated so that it could be seen from north on Main Street. Thus, Main Street downtown was bookended by the courthouse tower on the north and the train station tower on the south—the two towers almost one mile apart. In this photo the first Worth Hotel is on the left at 7th Street. Note the giant spectacles sign of optician Charles G. Lord in the lower left. (Photo from the 1905 Panther City Parrot yearbook.)

Railroad officials estimated that fifteen hundred passengers had come to town for the grand opening of the depot on December 16. The newspaper estimated that 20,000-25,000 people were on hand. A parade marched from the courthouse down Main Street to the new depot. Participants included “secret orders” (fraternal lodges), the fire department, sheriff’s deputies, school children, local militia units.

Bands played. People made speeches: Mayor B. B. Paddock, former Mayor John Peter Smith, T&P railroad officials et al. Paddock broke a bottle of Champagne over one of the building’s columns.

t&p menu 12-17-99 regThere was a banquet for invited guests. Here is the menu.

The Register noted that on February 1, 1899 George J. Gould, president of the T&P in Texas and son of tycoon Jay Gould, had pressed a button in New York City, symbolically beginning construction of the depot.

Cost of construction was estimated at $300,000 ($8.2 million today). The building was designed by Otto Lang, an architect in the T&P’s engineering department. The exterior was built of Pecos sandstone (like the federal building/post office) and Thurber brick. The roof had Spanish tiles. The waiting room had classical columns supported by marble piers. The floor was tiled in marble. Windows were of cut glass. Clip is from the January 17 Register.

TP Depot-ShopsThis Sanborn map shows the depot in the upper left relative to Tower 55 to the east and the T&P roundhouse to the south. Along four tracks the depot had long sheds for passengers. (From Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

1928 aerial largeThis 1928 aerial photo shows the 1899 depot north of the T&P roundhouse. In 1928 T&P would build a new railyard and roundhouse three miles southwest of downtown.

t&p 1886 wellgeThe 1899 depot replaced the Union Depot, built when the T&P arrived in town in 1876. This detail of the 1886 Wellge bird’s-eye-view map shows the Union Depot (labeled U; 81 is Ginocchio’s Hotel) about where Tower 55 is today.

Texas Rangers who helped keep the peace after the Battle of Buttermilk Junction in 1886 posed at the rear of the 1876 depot. The men are standing about where the U label is in the Wellge map detail. (Photo from East Texas Research Center.)

In turn, the 1899 depot would be replaced in 1931 by the art deco masterpiece of Wyatt Hedrick.

The 1899 T&P Depot (Part 2): “Destructive Fire Breaks Out”

Share:Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on Tumblr
This entry was posted in Architecture, Downtown, Downtown, All Around, Life in the Past Lane, Public Buildings, Rails 'n' Roundhouses. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The 1899 T&P Depot (Part 1): “Finest Passenger Station in the Entire South”

  1. Dennis Hogan says:

    Here’s the only tantalizing partial photographic view of the first T&P depot I’ve ever found:
    http://digital.sfasu.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/EastTexRC/id/57/rec/5

    • hometown says:

      Wow. I had never seen that photo. Last time I checked there was still some track down the middle of North Houston Street into the power plant grounds. I assume the track ran through the Cotton Belt yard and supplied the power plant with coal, etc.

    • hometown says:

      OMG! What a treasure. According to the 1886 Wellge bird’s-eye, the depot was L-shaped, so that view is of the inside corner on the north/northeast side of the building. That photo connects to Fort Worth railroad history in general and to the Battle of Buttermilk Junction in particular. I will update with credit to the East Texas Research Center. Thanks to you, sir.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *