Richard Otto Dulaney, born in Fannin County in 1882 as one of ten children of Thomas Jefferson Dulaney and Sarilda Slaughter, accomplished much in his life. He sold real estate. He held public office. He owned oil wells. He owned a uranium mine. He invented drilling and mining equipment. He built one of the handsomest houses on a street of handsome houses. But perhaps his greatest legacy is Fort Worth’s Sinclair Building (1930) on Main Street and, nearby on West 5th Street at Throckmorton, the Petroleum Building (1927).
Both buildings were designed and built when Fort Worth was flush with oil money and when art deco style was popular in architecture. The Petroleum Building (above) was designed by Wyatt Hedrick. It has some art deco elements, but they are not nearly as prominent as those of Wiley Clarkson’s eyeful tower: the Sinclair Building.
The architect was Raphael E. Nicholais, a native of Italy who had been a student of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects and worked in Fort Worth during the early 1920s. The house was built by Harry B. Friedman, who also built Dulaney’s Sinclair Building. The article says the cost of the house was expected to surpass $100,000 ($1.4 million today).
In 1892 Dulaney’s family moved from Fannin County to Cornish in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). In 1903 Dulaney married a cousin of future Governor James Allred (1935–1939). In Cornish, Dulaney was elected mayor and began to sell real estate. (Note the enumerator of the 1910 census.)
Then Dulaney gambled on oil production. His gamble paid off with gushers in Texas and Oklahoma. He moved to Fort Worth in 1919. Above are the 1930 city directory and 1930 census. Dulaney listed the value of the Elizabeth Boulevard house at $50,000 ($700,000 today; 2015 TAD valuation $876,000). Note that the census form has a column under “HOME DATA” for “Radio set.” Yep, the Dulaneys had one.
In 1949 Dulaney acquired controlling interest in a mine in Colorado that produced 60 percent of the uranium mined in the United States.
Richard Otto Dulaney died in 1966. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.
Some more views of the Petroleum Building (another XTO restoration):
This photo is by W. D. Smith in Fort Worth in Pictures, 1940. Long gone: the awnings at the bottom and the spires at the top of the building.