To some it represented the home of Reddy Kilowatt. To others it represented the home, if only on screen, of John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Marilyn Monroe.
Fort Worth’s nineteen-story Electric Building on West 7th Street at Lamar Street began life in 1929 as the headquarters of Fort Worth Power & Light, which soon became “Texas Electric Service Company.”
This postcard shows the Electric Building and the Hollywood Theater, which in 1930 was built as an annex on the north. To the left of the theater can be seen the 1914 Chamber of Commerce Auditorium and First Christian Church. To the right, at the mouth of the 7th Street “canyon,” is the Neil P. Anderson Building. The Electric Building and Hollywood Theater were designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick in the then-popular art deco style. And both were financed by Houston capitalist Jesse Jones, who in the late 1920s went on a building binge—the Great Depression be hanged!—in a four-block area of downtown Fort Worth. His Fort Worth Properties Corporation built the Electric Building and Hollywood Theater, the Medical Arts Building (1927), the Worth Hotel and Theater (1927), and The Fair Building (1930, now home of the Star-Telegram).
Aerial photo shows the locations of the four buildings built by Jones from 1927 through 1930. Two of the four survive.
Ground for the first of the Jesse Jones Four, the Medical Arts Building, was broken in 1925 as the new Panther Park (LaGrave Field) was being built.
In 1926, as the Medical Arts Building was almost completed, also going up were R. O. Dulaney’s Petroleum Building and Jones’s second building, the Worth Hotel and Theater.
Tenants moved into the Medical Arts Building in April 1927.
This ad by the gas company in the November 27, 1927 Star-Telegram congratulated Jones on his first two Fort Worth buildings: the Medical Arts Building and the Worth Hotel and Theater.
President Roosevelt in 1933 would appoint Jones chairman of the federal Reconstruction Finance Corporation, making Jones so powerful that he was sometimes called “the fourth branch of government.” Jones also later was secretary of commerce.
Also on November 27, 1927 Jones announced plans to build the Electric Building between the Medical Arts Building and the Worth Hotel.
The electric company moved into its new home in June 1929. But by the end of the year Fort Worth Power & Light had been taken over by Texas Electric Service Company, which had operated mainly in west Texas.
On June 7, 1934 the Dallas Morning News announced that the Electric Building had been sold. It was the third of Jones’s Fort Worth buildings to be sold in an reorganization during the Great Depression.
Reddy Kilowatt first appeared in a Star-Telegram TESCO ad in 1937.
The Electric Building now houses apartments. Part of the Hollywood Theater was converted into a parking garage for tenants. Part of the theater survives.
Some views of the Electric Building:
The entrance on West 7th Street.
The hand of Zeus? A fistful of lightning.
The bolts image is repeated on the entrance to the elevator lobby.
A flower motif.
The flower motif was repeated inside. This detail was in the Hollywood Theater auditorium. The Hollywood Theater post has more interior photos.
Electrical worker’s wire stripper or crimper?
Junction of the Electric Building and the former Star-Telegram Building.
The Electric Building between St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and the old Fort Worth National Bank Building.
Some details of the foyer on West 7th Street, which served both the Electric Building and the Hollywood Theater: