Conjoined at the Girder: Architecture’s Siamese Twins (Part 2)

This two-part post (see Part 1) profiles five public buildings that were doubled in size when a surgical team of architects and contractors delivered an identical twin addition.

double-daggett-1909In the old Tenth Ward in Fairmount, E. M. Daggett Elementary School, named for pioneer civic leader Ephraim Merrell Daggett, is the oldest continually operating public school in Fort Worth.

double-daggett-08Today the Daggett school consists of four connected buildings built over a span of eighty years. But the school began in 1909 with a single small building facing College Avenue. The sketch shows a building with a square footprint (sixty-five by sixty-five feet), a basement and two floors above, brick walls, a flat roof, a portico with a balustrade, dentil molding, and both square and cylindrical columns, quoined corners, and a cast-stone parapet. The contemporary photo above shows that the portico’s balustrade has been removed. Note that the school board anticipated that “the building will be so built that a structure of equal size can be added to it” when needed.

double-daggett-1914-to-openFive years later that “structure of equal size” was built as an annex. George C. Clarke Elementary School also opened in 1914. The Eighth Ward School at College and Myrtle streets is today’s De Zavala Elementary School.

double-daggett-googleUnlike the other pairs of twins in this post, the Daggett twins are not conjoined vertically at the midline. Rather, they stand back to back, like two siblings who have quarreled. The older twin (left) faces west (College Avenue is no longer a through street in front of the 1909 building). The younger twin faces east (Alston Street). The twins are conjoined by a passage between their rear walls.

double-daggett-1914Unlike its older sibling, the 1914 twin still has a portico balustrade, but the front windows of the 1914 twin have been bricked in.

city national 92 cd

City National Bank was incorporated 1877, an offshoot of Fort Worth’s second bank, the Texas and California Bank of Loyd, Marklee and Company. About 1885 City National Bank moved from its home at Houston and 1st streets to a new building at 315 Houston Street.

double-city-national-86-wellgeThe sketch and photo show the building at 315 Houston as it appeared in the 1880s and 1890s. The brick building was designed by Marshall Sanguinet and Samuel B. Haggart in Second Empire style with hooded and arched windows and mansard roof pierced by chimneys.

double-city-national-95-failureBut City National Bank suffered a double blow. First, in 1885 the bank was hit by a scandal when an examination of the bank’s assets showed that vice president John D. Nichols Sr. was “short in his accounts” at least $30,000 ($760,000 today). Nichols swallowed strychnine and died. Second, eight years later the bank was hit hard by the economic panic of 1893 and in 1895 went into receivership.

double-city-national-97-tpAfter the bank closed, the building had the usual array of owners and tenants. For example, in 1897 Texas and Pacific Coal Company bought the building.

double-city-widedouble-city-seamIn 1909 businessman William Jesse Boaz sold the building and the three-story building adjacent on the north to Jacob Franklin Tanner. Tanner announced plans to “remodel the property.” Historian Dr. Rick Selcer believes the three-story building on the north was remodeled (including addition of a fourth story) to be the Siamese twin of the City National Bank building, matching its Second Empire design and four-story height and doubling its width to fifty feet. In the bottom photo the pilaster between the columns of windows is the midline where the twins are joined.

The building, like the bank it had housed, suffered a double blow. First, early in the twentieth century its mansard roof/fourth floor was removed. Second, . . .

Warning: The photo below is not for the faint-hearted. It shows a crime scene: a crime against architecture.

double-city-1978-thcMy eyes! My eyes! I can’t unsee this!

Yes, as this 1978 photo shows, that lovely Second Empire facade of the 1880s was stuccoed over. And this was not a random crime, not a case of drive-by stuccoing. Some architect was paid thousands of dollars to design this new facade for the building. Then a contractor was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to build the new facade. This is the architecture that people wanted at the time. I mean, there were no windows on the second and third floors! Was someone growing mushrooms upstairs?

Fast-forward to 1981. The City National Bank building was one of the challenges faced by the Sundance Square restoration project.

double-city-wideArchitects and contractors—and perhaps an exorcist or two—brought this building back from architectural hell. They removed the stucco, repointed or replaced the brick, and rebuilt the mansard roof/fourth floor.

From 1983 until 2010 the building housed Billy Miner’s Saloon, and the only mushrooms were on pizzas.

double-city-side-by-side Argggghhhh-h-h-h-h-h!                                                  Ahhhhhhhhh-h-h-h-h-h!

double-city-wideglass city nationaldouble-city-detail-2double-city-detail-1Today the twins of the City National Bank building live a stucco-free life as one of the oldest and grandest of Cowtown’s commercial buildings.

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