Fairmount: The South Side’s Living Museum of Architecture

The South Side’s Fairmount addition opened for development in the spring of 1890—129 years ago.

fairmount palaceFort Worth was a busy place in the spring of 1890. The stove foundry opened. The Natatorium opened. And the Spring Palace was being enlarged for its second—and last—season.

fairmount arlingtonArlington Heights had opened to development on the prairie west of town.

fairmount 2 14 and 27-90 gazAnd, more quietly, Fairmount (“one of the finest residence portions of Fort Worth”) had opened to development south of town. These Gazette ads are from March 1890. An ad on March 2 said Fairmount was west of E. E. Chase’s new residence. On March 27 the Gazette predicted that lots in Fairmount, boasting graveled streets and a newly electrified streetcar line a half-mile from Fort Worth University, would appreciate in value.

But the Gazette of the late nineteenth century could not have predicted that the Fairmount of the early twenty-first century would remain “one of the finest residence portions of Fort Worth.”

1907 fairmountThis 1907 map shows Fairmount addition and Bellevue Hill addition.

Bellevue Hill dates back to 1883, but Fairmount is the largest addition in the 375-acre Fairmount Southside Historic Distruct, bounded by Magnolia and Jessamine streets on the north and south and by Hemphill Street and 8th Avenue on the east and west. Most of the Fairmount addition had been platted, most of those graveled streets were in by 1907. Since 1907 many of the street names have changed. Potter Avenue, for example, became 6th Avenue. (Map detail from Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

In a way it’s a shame that Fairmount has all those streets. Because when you drive through Fairmount in a car you cannot notice, much less linger over, architectural details in the way you can when you walk or pedal. Fairmount is meant for moseying, not motoring:

fence lipscomb 6Picket fence and dormer windows on Lipscomb Street.

steps lipscomb pineappleSteps with rusticated stone columns on Lipscomb Street.

hitch 5thWooden columns on stone bases and a hitching post on 5th Avenue.

yellow window fairmount avenueA half-moon mellow-yellow gable window on Fairmount Avenue.

More mellow yellow on Hurley Avenue.

entry columns chase 1906The entrance of Chase Court.

fairmount columnsColumns.

fairmount columns compositeAnd more columns: composite capitals and rusticated stone bases.

fairmount columns washingtonAnd still more columns.

turret on collegeA turret on College Avenue. This house was relocated from the Edna Gladney orphanage on Hemphill Street by Michael S. McDermott, author of Fort Worth’s Fairmount District.

chimney 1805 alstonChimney on Alston Street.

Fairmount was developed during an era when front porches were eminently sittable. Here are a few that would tickle the fancy of the most fastidious fanny:

porch 1712 adamsOn South Adams Street.

porch 1400 6thOn 6th Avenue.

porch collegeBalcony and horseshoe gable on College Avenue.

eitelman 1816 nowFull porch and balcony of the house of blacksmith Michael Eitelman on College Avenue. What appears to be rusticated stone is actually a concrete product made by Eitelman’s son-in-law, stone mason Andrew Gilchrist.

fairmount lipscomb blueGambrel roof on Lipscomb Street.

window 1404 adamsThe Fairmount district includes the Swastika subdivision. This house on South Adams Street probably was built from a planbook.

yellow stearns 1909 on lipscombThe Stearns house (1909) on Lipscomb Street, another planbook house, has a half-moon gable window with single keystone and a dormer with finial.

window adams 3Oculus with four keystones and square shingles on South Adams Street.

fairmount shingles lipscombGable brace, square, round, and octagonal shingles, and an oculus with four keystones on Lipscomb Street.

shingles washingtonFive-sided dormer with latticed window, a gable brace, and round shingles on Washington Avenue.

shingles college 2Sawtooth, square, and octagonal shingles on College Avenue.

shingles 6th benton 2Gable brace and half-cove shingles on the Benton house on 6th Avenue.

benton wide with fenceThe rest of the Benton house (1898), one of the fairest of the fair in Fairmount.

More porches of Fairmount.

This entry was posted in Advertising, Architecture, Century Club, Columns, Downtown, All Around, Life in the Past Lane, Sitting Pretty, South Side. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Fairmount: The South Side’s Living Museum of Architecture

  1. The carpenters really enjoyed showing their skills and creativity even with out power tools. Thanks for sharing those great details.

  2. Becca says:

    Love these homes! They have stood the test of time.

  3. John Shiflet says:

    Fort Worth was poised in 1890 for a tremendous growth spurt. But the “Panic” of 1893 put countless on-going projects on hold across the country. The Arlington Heights area suffered a loss by fire of the large illustrated residence; the Edwin E. Chase mansion on Hemphill, built from plans by architect Samuel Newsom in Los Angeles, (the original version was the L.L. Bradbury House on Court St. there) burned to the ground in July of that year. All of these factors combined to slow the growth of Fort Worth until the Stockyards/packing plants in the early 20th century picked up where plans for development were to go before the Panic. By the way, that Gambrel roofed house on Lipscomb was built from plans by James H. Daverman & Son of Grand Rapids, MI. Another example of this design stands at 708 May Street. The Ad for Daverman & Son stated Design # 52 was the most popular house design plan in America in the early 1900’s. Over 800 examples of this design were built from the plans which were available for $10 in the day.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, John. I knew that the Lipscomb house and the May house have the gambrel roof in common, but enough details are different that I was afraid to conclude that the Lipscomb house also is a Daverman plan #52 house. It remains a handsome design. The estimated building cost of $1,200 in 1905 would be just $30,000 today.

  4. SallyCampbell & Ike Renfield says:

    What a great tour!
    How can an observer tell rusticated limestone from concrete cast in the form of rusticated stone? We’ve seen pix, for example, of Sears kit houses which are all concrete blocks that look very much like stone.
    Whatever the material, it’s a charming period look.

    • hometown says:

      Sally and Ike, thanks. It can be darned hard to tell, especially if you can’t get close and if the surface has been painted. I rely on the Tarrant County historical resources survey books a lot. Sometimes even logic betrays: The Eitelman house was built by stonemason Andrew Gilchrist, who worked on St. Patrick’s. But he built his father-in-law’s house of concrete blocks that simulate stone!

  5. JoAnn Nicolas says:

    I just LOVE it when “everything old is new again”!
    Great Houses and great pictures. Thanks Mike!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *