Sinclair Building: Oil Built It, Art Imbues It

In 1929, despite the onset of the Great Depression, Fort Worth was flush with money, in part because it was still benefiting from the west Texas oil boom (Ranger 1917, Burkburnett 1918, Desdemona 1918, Breckenridge 1918).

In the Star-Telegram the boom had begun with barely a burp. This brief buried on page 7 noted that J. H. McCleskey well no. 1 near Ranger had struck oil on October 17, 1917.

That was the beginning. A drop in the bucket.
Fort Worth quickly became the gateway to the oilfields to the west, providing roustabouts and capital and equipment. The city had nine refineries by 1922 and was home to operators, speculators, and swindlers. Oilmen crowded the big hotels, especially the Westbrook (home of the Golden Goddess), where the hotel management removed the furniture from the lobby to accommodate the petromania. Men such as W. T. Waggoner and Sid Richardson made millions.
A less-remembered oilman was Richard Otto Dulaney, president of Planet Petroleum Company and Fort Ring Oil and Gas Company.


In 1929 construction began on his eponymous Dulaney Building at 512 Main Street. The architect was Wiley Clarkson. (Dulaney in 1927 had built the Petroleum Building, designed by architect Wyatt Hedrick.) ($750,000 would be $10.7 million today.)

sinclair from dulaney 7-12-30 dmnOn July 11, 1930 another oil company—Sinclair—announced that it would open its southwestern headquarters on October 1 in the Dulaney Building, which henceforth would be called the “Sinclair Building.” Clip is from the July 12 Dallas Morning News.

sinclair wbap 11-17-30 dmnOn November 17, 1930 the Dallas Morning News radio schedule showed that WBAP radio would broadcast the formal opening of the Sinclair Building at 10:15 a.m., right after “Amos ’n’ Andy.”

sinclair 11-30 formal opening adThe Sinclair Building opened on November 17, 1930.

sinclair 11-30 adsAs was the custom, local businesses placed congratulatory ads in local newspapers.

In 1935 Northern Texas Traction Company was a tenant. NTTC also operated Texas Motorcoaches.

sinclair dulaney EBOn Elizabeth Boulevard stands Richard Otto Dulaney’s home (1923), designed by Raphael E. Nicholais, a native of Italy.

Some views of the Sinclair Building:

sinclair barber polesinclair ceiling

sinclair lobbysinclair windowsinclair marker

sinclair verticalart deco sinclair diamond

art deco sinclair entryart deco sinclair night

art deco sinclair elevatorart deco sinclair detail 2art deco sinclair detail2

sinclair all 3
The intersection of Main and 5th streets is Fort Worth’s art deco junction. On the southeast corner is the Blackstone Hotel (1929). Across Main from the Blackstone is the Kress Building (1936). And on the northwest corner is the Sinclair Building.

art deco kress sinclairDeux decos: the Kress Building and the Sinclair Building.

This entry was posted in Architects, Architecture, Art Decow, Downtown, Downtown, All Around. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sinclair Building: Oil Built It, Art Imbues It

  1. Hels says:

    What would the main visible differences be between the original 1930 version of Art Deco and the recent remodelled version?

  2. Sharon Rios says:

    Thanks again. Never too many pix of the Sinclair. Best skyscraper in town, day or night.

  3. 1941 City Directory has my Father employed as a salesman at Dulaney’s. Any clue as to what he would have been selling? I appreciate the history of the Sinclair Building and all history involving Fort Worth where I have lived my whole life.

    • hometown says:

      R. O. Dulaney had an investment company, oil company, and building company, which don’t really lend themselves to salesmen. But in 1941 there was a Dulaney’s refrigerator store at 611 Throckmorton owned by Luther Dulaney, brother of R. O. The Petroleum Building technically has a West 6th Street address, but I suspect that 611 Throckmorton was the Petroleum Building. I have sent you an ad by e-mail.

  4. Bev. Nabors says:

    Mike, everytime I read your articles I am amazed at you and your ability to see things that so many people miss! When I was in college, I worked for Green’s Jewelers Supply as a delivery person. I walked Main St. from Wolf & Klar all the way over to Leonard’s every work day in the afternoon to deliver jewelry findings and watch parts. I saw & marveled at many of these buildings, but didn’t know their names or any of the history of them. I have forgotten the name of the building where the office was on 3rd & Main. It was in the southwest corner across from the Westbrook Hotel. This was in 1959-1962. Love Fort Worth History, and you make it more important today by the writing and photos you create! Thanks so much.

    • hometown says:

      Bev, thank you so much for your kind words. The last four and a half years have been like a rolling version of the elementary classroom activity “show and tell.” Almost every photo I have taken, every word I have written is about some detail of Fort Worth past or present that I had never noticed before and wanted to “show and tell” to others. (I apparently sleep-walked through my first sixty years in my hometown.) It also helps to have a camera, which encourages you to be more observant, and to be on foot or on a bike (a hand-me-down from Phil Vinson) so that you can pay attention to something other than traffic. I love to be surprised, and Fort Worth surprises me every day.

    • Bev, OMG! I worked for Green’s Jewelers Supply in 1964 and did exactly the same job/route as you did. They gave me all the packets and one bus token. I rode the bus to the end of Main Street, then walked back, delivering packages to the jewelry repair departments of lots of stores. I was just there for the summer between college semesters. Small world, eh!

  5. Jo Ann Nicholas says:

    Ahhhhh! The age of Elegance !

    • hometown says:

      Truly it was another world. Buildings then dared the pedestrian to walk past without stopping to appreciate. Buildings now say to the pedestrian, “Move along. Nothing to see here.”

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