The Great Drafting Table in the Sky (Part 2): Be It Ever So Humble . . .

(Part 1: “Some Pretty Good Work”)

Shhh. The angels Sanguinet and Staats are in Heaven, looking down at Fort Worth and remembering some of the buildings they designed early in the twentieth century. Let’s listen in:

Sanguinet: “There was a lot of money in Fort Worth in those days, Carl. We were hired to design some grand homes for the highest of the high-rollers.”

Staats (smiling): “Those grand homes included your own, as I recall.”

Sanguinet (peering down through the cosmos and smog and pointing): “Indeed. There it is. Right there on Collinwood Avenue in Arlington Heights. Remember Humphrey Barker Chamberlin? Born in England, came over to America, and had a grand vision of developing Arlington Heights in the 1890s. Hired me to design for him. In fact, you and I were among the first residents of Arlington Heights. In 1890 I designed a house there for my own dear family. Alas, it burned. But I designed a replacement house in 1894. I lived there on Collinwood until I died in 1936.

“Just a few blocks away is Fairview, the house I designed in 1893 for William J. Bryce, who became mayor of Fort Worth in 1927. I designed that house, too, before you and I became partners, Carl. Bryce was born in Scotland. He was trained as a mason, became a general contractor who built some landmark buildings in Fort Worth. As you might expect, he was an exacting client, [soto voce:] not unlike the Big Client Himself up here.”

Staats (squinting down at Fort Worth): “And to the east on 8th Avenue is the Mitchell-Schoonover house. We designed that one in 1907 for James Mitchell, a jeweler. A later owner, Frank Schoonover, was a physician.”

Sanguinet: “And look: Just down Pennsylvania Avenue is Thistle Hill. We designed that one in 1904 on Quality Hill. W. T. Waggoner had us design it as a ‘honeymoon cottage’ for his daughter, Electra, and her husband, A. B. Wharton.”

Staats (chuckling): “A honeymoon cottage of eleven thousand square feet, mind you. And the cost, $46,000, was a princely sum then. Later Winfield Scott, one of Fort Worth’s leading businessmen, bought the house and set about having it remodeled. But, alas, he died before he could move in.”

Sanguinet (looking back at the drafting table): “Well, enough reminiscing for now, Carl. We’d better get back to work on the designs for the new cloudbank for the Big Client Himself.”

Staats (not listening): “I ran into Winfield Scott up here the other day. He lives on a celestial hill in the best part of Heaven, has a huge, fancy cloud—four parlors, a ballroom, a porte-cochere, ten bedrooms, and no bathrooms. Yet another advantage of being an angel, eh, Marshall? No bodily functions. Back on Earth I could never sit in a picture theater and watch a movie without having to go to the men’s room at least once. But up here in Heaven, why, the other night I was over at Moses’s cloud. He made an angel food cake and a batch of divinity and parted the cork on a bottle of red wine. Then he put on a Blu-ray of The Ten Commandments. You know, I watched that movie all the way through without having to get up even once.”

Sanguinet (rolling eyes): “Work, Carl, work.”

Part 3: Reach for the Sky

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One Response to The Great Drafting Table in the Sky (Part 2): Be It Ever So Humble . . .

  1. Mellinda Timblin says:

    ” In my Fathers house there are many mansions “.

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