The Great Drafting Table in the Sky
(A Playlet in Six Parts)
Part 1: “Some Pretty Good Work”
The characters: Marshall Sanguinet and Carl Staats (played by themselves).
The place: Heaven.
The time: There’s no time in Heaven, silly.
Imagine, if you will, a celestial cloud located in the central business district of Heaven. Floating over the cloud is a sign. The sign is made of stardust and measures about yea by infinity. The sign reads “Sanguinet & Staats, architects.” The cloud is located just around the corner from the grandest celestial cloud in all of Heaven—a high-rise, penthoused celestial cloud wherein doth dwell the most important customer of Sanguinet and Staats or any other dead architects: the Big Client Himself.
On their celestial cloud Sanguinet and Staats sit side by side drawing at a golden drafting table surrounded by sketches and rolls of blueprints. Both men have pencil smudges on their alabaster-white robes. The older of the two angels, Marshall Sanguinet (March 18, 1859-July 25, 1936, born in St. Louis), lifts his pencil point from the table, straightens his back, wiggles his wings, and swivels his head from side to side, stretching.
“I certainly hope the Big Client Himself will like our design for His new cloudbank,” Sanguinet says as he critically assesses a detail he has just drawn on a large parchment. “You know how He gets. Remember when we used Ionic instead of Doric columns for the new Pearly Gates? Yikes! I never saw such wrath and vengeance, such thunder and lightning, not to mention the plagues of locusts and frogs!”
“And don’t forget the boils,” says the angel Carl Staats (April 19, 1871-June 2, 1928, born in New York). “Look [raising the hem of his robe]: I still have boils on my—”
“Carl!” The angel Sanguinet interrupts his partner and leans forward to look over the edge of the drafting table and the edge of the cloud. He peers down, down, down, squinting through the clouds and the cosmos and the urban smog: the Milky Way, planet Earth, North America, Texas, Fort Worth. He points with his drafting pencil at downtown.
“Remember Fort Worth, Carl?” the angel Sanguinet asks wistfully. “Look down there. I see that a lot of our buildings are still standing after . . . how many years has it been now?”
The angel Staats shrugs his shoulders. “How would I know? There’s no time in Heaven, silly.”
“Well, time or no time,” the angel Sanguinet says, unrebuffed, “I guess we did some pretty good work.”
The angel Staats peers down at the distant Fort Worth below to see what Sanguinet is pointing at.
“I guess we did at that, Marshall. Some pretty good work.”
“Some pretty good work”? The angels Sanguinet and Staats are just being modest, of course. During the first quarter of the twentieth century, Sanguinet and Staats designed many of the Fort Worth buildings that we still admire, that we still photograph, that we still show off to out-of-town visitors. Sanguinet and Staats designed courthouses, churches, schools, mansions, commercial buildings, warehouses, and opera houses in the major cities of Texas. Some of their buildings, although downright squatty by today’s standards, were the tallest in the state at the time.
Marshall Sanguinet came to Fort Worth in 1883. Early on he partnered with A. N. Dawson, S. B. Haggart, and brothers Arthur and Howard Messer. Clip is from the 1885 city directory.
Sanguinet and Dawson designed this building of Texas Wesleyan College, which opened in 1881 where today Green B. Trimble Technical High School (1918) stands. (Sanguinet and Staats designed that building, too.)
Carl Staats came to Fort Worth in 1898. He partnered with Sanguinet from 1901 to 1926.
In the next five parts (see link at the bottom of each part) of The Great Drafting Table in the Sky the angels Sanguinet and Staats look down from their celestial cloud and recognize some of the buildings—all at least ninety years old in Earth terms, all still in use—left to us by Cowtown’s divine design team.
Part 2: Be It Ever So Humble . . .