When it comes to architectural detail, few buildings in Fort Worth can hold a candle—or a carrot or a cucumber or a cantaloupe—to this building:
On June 20, 1930 Fort Worth’s Public Market opened in its grand home on Henderson Street.
Opening day was a success. Many farmers sold out of produce and had to go back to their farms for more, the Fort Worth Press reported on June 22.
The building was built by John J. Harden of Oklahoma City. His son John H. Harden managed it.
John J. Harden also built public market buildings in Oklahoma City (top photo, 1928) and Tulsa (1930). Both buildings are occupied today, although only the original front facade of the Tulsa building survives.
As was the custom at the time, local businesses bought newspaper ads that congratulated the new business but also pointed out their contribution. For example, Tucker Concrete & Material Company proudly provided the sand and gravel for the Fort Worth building.
The bottom photo shows the parking area and 145 covered stalls for farmers located behind the building. The building contained twenty thousand square feet of floor space for vendors.
These full-page ads in the Press show that the market was not all ’taters and ’maters.
Even before it opened, the Public Market sponsored a radio program on WBAP. Note also programs featuring the Blackstone Hotel orchestra and the Lake Worth Casino orchestra. Clip is from the June 13, 1930 Dallas Morning News.
But the Public Market struggled during the Great Depression and closed in 1941. Over the years the building housed businesses such as Fort Worth Frozen Food Lockers, AMC Supply, and Cadillac Plastics. The building has been vacant for several years.
Bob Simpson, who restored several historic Fort Worth buildings, bought the building in 2012 but sold it to the Wilks brothers of Cisco in 2014.
The latest: The building will become The Harden at Public Market, an active senior living facility of 199 rooms in a five-story structure that will include a parking garage.
Some views of the Public Market Building, designed to pea-pickin’ perfection by Oklahoma architect B. Gaylord Noftsger (1897-1979):
A tower threefer: two towers of the Public Market Building and the clock and bell tower of the Dr Pepper bottling plant (1938, Crane).
More about John J. Harden:
A Lot, a Plot, and, in Between, a Nosh