Fort Worth Public Market Building: Our Palace of Produce

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:

building public marketOn June 20, 1930 Fort Worth’s Public Market opened in its grand home on Henderson Street.

public market opens 6-20-30 fwpOpening 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. Builder John J. Harden of Oklahoma City built the building, and 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.

public market june 15As 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.

public market page 1 6-19-30 fwpOn June 19 the Press had devoted its front page to the market. The Blackstone Hotel orchestra performed at the opening, broadcast by remote on WBAP radio. Note that the Press was not yet a tabloid.

public market photos 6-19-20 fwpThe 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.

public market full page ad

public market full page ad merchants fwp

These full-page ads in the Press show that the market was not all ’taters and ’maters.

public radio 6-13-30 dmnEven 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 Wilks brothers hoped to restore the building, but as of May the Public Market Building is for sale.
Some views of the Public Market Building, designed to pea-pickin’ perfection by Oklahoma architect B. Gaylord Noftsger (1897-1979):

entry public market3look up public market2 public market window boxpublic market urnpublic market tilespublic market sign public market pubpublic market missionpublic market little manpublic market grapespublic market detail 3public market detail 1public market detail 2

public market 3 towersA tower threefer: two towers of the Public Market Building and the clock and bell tower of the Dr Pepper bottling plant (1938, Crane).

public market marker

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