The Great Drafting Table in the Sky (Part 3): Reach for the Sky

(Part 1: “Some Pretty Good Work”)

Shhh. The angels Sanguinet and Staats are in Heaven, remembering some of the buildings they designed. Let’s listen in:

Sanguinet (peering down at downtown Fort Worth): “Carl, you and I designed Fort Worth’s first ‘skyscrapers,’ although today they don’t look very tall, especially from way up here.”

Staats (squinting): “Ah, I see one of our early efforts: the Flatiron Building. We were innovators. During construction in 1907, I remember, City Alderman Jake Zurn was worried that the lofty girders of the building’s frame might topple in a strong wind. Pish-posh. And neighboring merchants protested that a building that tall would cast a shadow over all of downtown. When it was topped out at seven stories, it was indeed vertiginous. Fort Worth residents bragged that the Flatiron was taller than anything in Dallas.”

Sanguinet: “Soon came the First National Bank in 1910. By then we were more confident—eleven stories! But originally, remember, the building was only fifty feet wide. In 1926, after you and I retired and our junior partner, Wyatt Hedrick, took over the firm, he designed an addition that doubled the width of the building.”

Staats: “I remember now: The addition is the half of the building to the left of the vertical band above that tree.”

Sanguinet: “Right you are. Then, in 1914, a few blocks away up went the Burk Burnett Building. Now that was a ‘skyscraper’: thirteen stories.”

Staats (pointing): “But then we outdid ourselves yet again: In 1920 the W. T. Waggoner Building, at twenty stories, was one of the tallest buildings in the state. But not for long . . .

“In 1921 we topped that with the Farmers and Mechanics National Bank at twenty-four stories. The tallest in Texas. Quite stupendous at the time. In fact, the Reverend E. H. Eckel of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church preached a sermon entitled ‘Worshipping at the Heights’ on the roof of the building.”

Sanguinet (stirring himself from his memories): “Enough reminiscing for now, Carl. Back to work.”

Staats (still peering down): “Think of it: a sermon on a rooftop twenty-four stories in the sky” (begins humming “Nearer, My God, to Thee”).

Sanguinet (firmly): “Work, Carl, work.”

Part 4: North and South

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This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Downtown, Downtown, All Around, Heads Above the Crowd, Life in the Past Lane. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Great Drafting Table in the Sky (Part 3): Reach for the Sky

  1. Jerre Tracy says:

    Your presentation is fresh and engaging. Great work!

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