The Great Drafting Table in the Sky (Part 5): Fire and Brimstone

(Part 1: “Some Pretty Good Work”)

Narrator: Shhh. The angels Sanguinet and Staats are in Heaven, looking down at Fort Worth and remembering some of the buildings they designed. Let’s listen in:

Sanguinet (squinting through light-years of space to downtown): “We were eclectic, weren’t we, Carl? We designed churches, banks, hospitals, hotels, fire stations.

“Such as little Fire Station No. 1. Back in 1907 fire wagons were still pulled by horses. I understand that the station was in use until 1980.

fire lipscomb 1910fire prospect“We also designed two neighborhood fire stations: station 10 on Lipscomb Street and station 12 on Prospect Avenue in 1910.”

Staats (peering down and pointing): “A few blocks south, there’s grand old Mount Gilead Baptist Church. We designed that one in 1912. There have been a lot of social changes on Earth since then. Heaven has never been segregated, I am told, but back then Fort Worth, like much of the South, was. That part of downtown was the African-American downtown. The congregation of Mount Gilead had us design their new building with a swimming pool, a gymnasium, and a library. Now the church stands like the rock of ages in the cleft of what the folks on Earth call a ‘freeway.’”

Sanguinet: “Just a few blocks west is St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. We designed it in Gothic revival style that same year—1912. It still looks grand clad in its Missouri dolomite. Young Wyatt [Hedrick], who in 1922 became our junior partner and went on to have his own brilliant career, had his funeral there in 1964, almost thirty years after I died.”

Staats: “And around the corner is Western National Bank. We did that one in 1906 for William Eddleman. Remember—he lived in the grand Ball-Eddleman-McFarland house on Penn Street on Quality Hill. One of your early partners, Howard Messer, designed that house.”

Sanguinet: “And over on West 7th Street is our Neil P. Anderson Building. That one was in 1921. Anderson was a local cotton broker, and originally the building was a cotton exchange. From here I can just make out the decorative medallions on the facade that depict bales of cotton and stems of grain. We designed the facade to curve around the intersection, which is at an angle of about 125 degrees.”

Staats (pointing): “Look a few blocks east. There’s the Hotel Texas. That was in 1921. Fort Worth was flush with money and optimism from the oil boom. So, Amon Carter, William Monnig, W. C. Stripling, and other civic leaders formed a coalition to build a first-class hotel for ‘their town.’ Recent arrivals up here tell me that the hotel was still first class on November 21, 1963, when, in room 805, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy slept his last mortal night. Think of it, Marshall: This ‘JFK,’ as he was known, was only eleven years old when I died.”

Sanguinet (reflecting): “Very sobering, Carl. Now JFK shares a big cloud compound with his extended family not far from here. I saw his son, John Jr., the other day. It took him a while, but he finally passed the test for his heavenly pilot’s license. I saw him flying loop-the-loops with his angel’s wings. . . . Well, let us sharpen our pencils and get back to work.”

Staats (a most unangelic look on his face): “Speaking of JFK, have you seen Marilyn Monroe? She’s up here, too. Oh, my, yes. Still just thirty-six years old. She’s spending all of eternity standing over a celestial subway grate as her alabaster-white robe billows up, up, up.”

Sanguinet (firmly): “Work, Carl, work.”

Part 6: Patients and the Press

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