400 Main Street: For the Electric Interurban, It Was Ohm Sweet Ohm

In 1902 Northern Texas Traction Company began operating its interurban electric trolley service between Fort Worth and Dallas. But before that service could begin, much work had to be done—right-of-way for the track procured, cleared, and graded, bridges and power station and car barn built, track laid, poles set, electric lines strung, cars ordered, built, and delivered, employees hired and trained. And, of course, NTTC would need a Fort Worth headquarters building. A place to call “ohm.”

jett site selected 8-19-01 regIn August 1901 Northern Texas Traction Company announced that it had bought a building at 400 Main Street at 3rd Street. NTTC paid $7,500 for the three-story building. Clip is from the August 19 Register.

jett moving in 4-23-02 regOn April 23, 1902 Northern Texas Traction Company announced that it was moving into its new offices in the building. Clip is from the Register.

jett 02 cdThe 1902 city directory crowed about the new interurban company and pointed out that thanks, in part, to the interurban Main Street was now paved with brick from the courthouse south one mile to the Texas & Pacific tracks at the 1899 passenger depot.

jett pete NTT-1915- FW-OfficeThe NTTC building in 1915. Note that a two-story building stood adjacent on the south side of the building. (Photo from Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

In 1930 NTTC moved its headquarters to the new Sinclair Building. Since then, like any building of  its age, the building at 400 Main has had many occupants and some years of vacancy. Today it houses Jamba Juice and two radio stations. (And some folks say the building is haunted.)

Some views of the building today:

jett north face 2014jett south sidejett mural 2014This is the best-known detail of artist Richard Haas’s mural (1985) on the south side of the building facing Sundance Square Plaza. Note the 1877 courthouse in the mural. The NTTC building has been aptly named the “Mural Building.”

jett cornerRemember that originally a two-story building stood adjacent to the NTTC building on the south. That meant the NTTC building’s south wall had no windows, no architectural details. Haas’s wallwide mural (left wall in photo) on the south adds details by the use of  trompe l’oeil simulation of architectural details—corbeled cornice and corbeled pilasters with capitals—of the building’s east wall (right wall in photo) and north wall.

jett top detail

jett corbelling Details of the east wall.

jett fountain capital panelRestoration of the building brought this delightful new feature on the west side: a fountain whose basin (top photo) evokes what we might call the “cowrinthian” capitals atop the columns (bottom photo) of the main post office.

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5 Responses to 400 Main Street: For the Electric Interurban, It Was Ohm Sweet Ohm

  1. Dennis Hogan says:

    I guess you could say that NTT’s car barn was an early version of Ohm Depot. ?MG!

  2. SallyCampbell & Ike Renfield says:

    We have heard somewhat reliable FOAF tales of the upper floors and the basement being haunted. Tales from the 80’s, when it was a bookstore–things glimpsed, mostly.

  3. Ramiro Garza says:

    It would be nice to ride an electric trolley to Dallas. Did you say what is on the 2nd and 3rd floors today?

    • hometown says:

      Folks can say, “But we have the TRE to Dallas.” But that’s just not the same as a swaying, clattering wooden trolley car on a route that still included a lot of open land. I don’t know what is in the Jett Building today other than a radio station or two and an eatery.

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