A Slow Swift Death (Part 2): Remainders and Reminders

In the northwest corner of the dilapidated Swift packing plant compound (see Part 1) stands a building whose appearance is so different from the rest that it scarcely seems part of the same compound. And it is one of Fort Worth’s best examples of preservation:

A few years ago Swift’s office building (1902) was purchased and restored by XTO Energy. The National Trust for Historic Preservation honored XTO founder and then-CEO Bob Simpson for XTO’s preservation of significant historic buildings in Fort Worth.

The Swift compound was a packing plant, not a palace, and Swift didn’t build it as a showcase for architecture. And yet, here and there among the remaining structures of this most pragmatic of facilities, you can find details to appreciate. For example, the compound is enclosed by a high brick wall that features pilasters topped by cast-concrete finials. Many of the finials are missing or damaged, but this row of finials has fared better.

This is a gate column with finial at the restored office building. The finial matches the originals of the perimeter wall.

Brickwork along the south perimeter wall.

Seen up close, the projecting darker elements are bricks that were laid with chiseled ends facing out.

Buttresses of the two-story fertilizer building (see map, Part 1). Note the square iron plates where horizontal cables anchor weary walls.

Even at the back end of a meatpacking plant, there is a touch of grace. This is the curved double staircase on Northeast 23rd Street. For more than a half-century many a lunch pail was carried up and down those steps when the North Side was “the Chicago of the Southwest.”

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2 Responses to A Slow Swift Death (Part 2): Remainders and Reminders

  1. martin says:

    This has me hooked, from The history of Jacksboro highway to this story of Armour and Swift. Fascinating ibsught. I now need to work out where the cattle walkway was for some kind of piece of mind. Sad to see the plant so derelict and also no real history shown about it in the stockyards. Without this plant, there would be no stockyards. Thanks for this and other pages.

    • hometown says:

      Thank you, Martin. My labeled map in Part 1 shows the Swift “viaduct” (cattle walkway over the tracks from the Stockyards). I have seen aerial photos that also show the Armour walkway over the tracks to the north.

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