That Old House on Foard Street (Part 2): “Built for 1,000 Years”

Oilman Marion Linn Long, the first occupant of Rockwood Farm, with its showcase Rockwood Manor stone house (see Part 1), in 1936 sold the property to another oilman: Adlai McMillan Pate Sr. (1894-1947).

After World War I Pate had married and in 1921 had a son, Adlai McMillan Pate Jr., known as “Aggie.” Pate Sr. had worked for Oriental Oil Company in Dallas before the war. After the war, Carl Wollner, who also had worked for Oriental before the war, talked Pate into starting their own business in Fort Worth. They named their new business “Panther Oil and Grease Manufacturing Company” in recognition of Fort Worth’s nickname.

When Aggie Pate graduated from Poly High in 1938, the Pates dared to invite 250 students from rival schools Poly, Paschal, and Heights—yikes!—to a dinner and dance at their “country home.” Aggie Pate would become a prominent civic leader and philanthropist. A. M. Pate Elementary School, named for him, is located 1.5 miles from the old Pate home on Foard Street.

The Pates apparently were the first owners of Rockwood Farm to raise livestock for sale.

But right alongside the livestock were socialite guests, including Camehl Wright (lower left).

The Pates also raised horses for sale.

Aggie Pate died in 1988. His father’s Panther Oil and Grease Manufacturing Company had become Texas Refinery Corporation but is still owned by the Pate family.

In 1943 the Pates sold Rockwood Farm to real estate agent Charles L. Kintner, who in 1945 sold it to Grace Humphreys Hood Turner, a physician.

Dr. Turner had been no-billed in 1936 after she shot and killed her husband, Ross Turner, as he advanced upon her holding an eight-inch-long 1870s surgical knife in her office in the Medical Arts Building.

Dr. Turner and her son Jack, like the Pates before them, were obviously well-to-do but raised and sold livestock, including ducks, on Rockwood Farm.

But in 1951 Rockwood Farm, ducks and all, was back on the market.

Rockwood Manor was featured in the Star-Telegram in 1952 when Dr. Turner sold the house “built for 1,000 years” to Mr. and Mrs. Enrico Antonio Mussato. He owned Fort Worth Terrazzo Company. Dr. Turner planned to study psychiatry in the East; son Jack was going off to college in the East. The sale, as in 1943, was handled by W. H. Greenwood.

Daughter Jean Mussato was named “Miss Fort Worth Cats” in 1950 and “Miss Fort Worth” in 1952.

In 1958 Mrs. Juanita Dworkin, a real estate agent, bought Rockwood Farm from the Mussatos. The sale was made through the Virginia Hopkins Company.

Two years later the house was on the market again, and again Virginia Hopkins Company was the agent. But apparently the house was not sold until 1964.

That’s when Pat Grogan bought Rockwood Farm and set up his Black Panther record label. Grogan also performed at venues such as Panther Hall.

Grogan sold the house to Shelby C. Harper, sales manager for Southwestern Petroleum. Harper sold the house to William Oliver Hill, who sold it to Joe Marlin and Eloise Gunstanson. Mr. Gunstanson was manager of Shaw Construction Company. In 1976 Joe Marlin and Eloise divorced, and she was alone in the house.

Remember in Part 1 when Eloise Gunstanson told the Star-Telegram, “I’ve got . . . rather I had a letter in there from the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan . . .”? Why did she correct herself from present to past tense?

Because on February 2, 1981 Rockwood Manor was gutted by a two-alarm fire. “It was the love of my life,” Mrs. Gunstanson said of the house the day after the fire. “Now look at it.”

The house “built for 1,000 years” had lasted for only fifty-six years.

In 1984 what was left of Rockwood Farm was seized by the Internal Revenue Service.

One more question: Was Rockwood Manor haunted? Some folks say so, but then houses like Rockwood Manor get that reputation. A search of Star-Telegram archives for “4430 Foard” turns up no mysterious happenings, no crimes, no deaths, natural or otherwise.

Haunted or not, occupants of Rockwood Farm seemed not to linger long between those stone walls: The property had ten owners, not counting builder Brown Harwood, between 1925 and the fire in 1981. That’s an average stay of 5.6 years:

Brown Harwood 1925
Marion Linn Long 1925-1936
A. M. Pate Sr. 1936-1943
Charles Kintner 1943-1945
Dr. Grace Humphreys Hood Turner 1945-1952
Enrico Antonio Mussato 1952-1958 (commercial artist Bob Martin rented the guest house in the mid-1950s)
Juanita Dworkin 1958-1964
Pat Grogan 1964-1968
Shelby C. Harper 1968-1970
William Oliver Hill 1970-1972
Joe Marlin and Eloise Gunstanson 1972-1984
Internal Revenue Service 1984

After the IRS seized the property, the former Rockwood Farm was occupied by a construction company, a trucking company, and finally Redeemed Christian Church of God.

As this 2014 Google photo showed, the stone entry was the last remnant of Rockwood Farm. The caps of the stone entry columns probably were “shingled” with slates that matched the slates on the roof of Rockwood Manor.

Ninety-seven years after it was built, all that remains of a property whose history included oil barons, the Ku Klux Klan, a prominent philanthropist, Miss Fort Worth, a country music performer, horses and cows and Cats is some rubble of rock and concrete.

(Thanks to Donna Clark for reminding me about that old house on Foard Street.)

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17 Responses to That Old House on Foard Street (Part 2): “Built for 1,000 Years”

  1. scooter.pea says:

    Cheryl Hughes
    … I was deeply saddened when I heard of Mikes passing and I am relieved that someone will be trying to preserve this treasure…
    … I have spent the last 6 months rereading this blog and have been surprised by posts that I somehow missed the first 3 or 4 times around, thank you…

  2. Patricia Thornton says:

    Pat Grogan is my biological father. I have a picture of this house with my brother and I at the fountain (as children) taken around 1965-66. I’d be happy to email it to you. Let me know.

  3. Lana Cahill says:

    I’m interested in finding as much information on Dr. Grace Humphreys Hood Turner as possible. She was my grandmother’s sister. My aunt has some news clippings – I will try and locate them.

  4. Ellen Justice says:

    Ms Mussato-Allen,

    I am researching Dr. Grace Humphreys Hood Turner in relation to a court case in which she was an expert witness. If you have any additional information about her I would love to have it.

  5. cristala mussato-allen says:

    I can add to this story although you may not like it too much. This was my grandparents house my mother is Gina Mussato. Probably the rumors of it being haunted come from the fact that to doctor it was purchased from used to perform abortions in the upstairs attic. This was known at the time of purchase and my grandparents sealed the room completely and would not allow any of the children to go near it. My family said they could hear crying coming from the room at night sometimes. Ironically not a church is built upon a location where backroom abortions took place.

  6. Lily says:

    Who was Dr. Turner? Was she single? How unusual.

    • hometown says:

      Lily, glad you asked. I have added some background on Dr. Turner to the post. Apparently she remained single after 1936 for at least the duration of her residence in Fort Worth.

  7. Dan Washmon says:

    There is a Harwood Street in west Meadowbrook/Sycamore Heights, likely named for Brown Harwood…and ironic for a high-ranking Klan officer that he died at Stop Six on the Interurban…which later became the collective name for the African-American community as it is known today….

    • hometown says:

      Dan, I wish I could report that Harwood Street is in Brown Harwood subdivision, but Harwood is well west of the subdivision, which consists of only two streets–Yeager and Stark. I wonder if those were family names.

  8. Ramiro says:

    Good story. I left the neighborhood in 1969, and was back there for a short while in 1972. Like we sometimes discuss, I wish I had paid more attention to my surroundings. That country house in the city had a lot of history. If I remember correctly most of the houses up and down the street, if not all, were not what I would call well to do, even back then. I especially liked the current photographs at the end of your article.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Ramiro. If you look at that area from an aerial view, you can see that several lots, especially across Foard Street from Rockwood Farm, are large, with far more land behind the houses than in front of them.

  9. Donna Clark says:

    Thank you Mike Nichols! In 1964 my husband and I bought a home around the corner on Collin Street, between Foard and Wichata St. The house was always a mystery to me. My husband fought the fire when the house burned and a piece of the slate roof came sliding down and hit him in his face causing a visible scar for the rest of his life.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks for the inquiry, Donna. You never know where research will take you. Now your husband has a story to go with his scar!

  10. earl belcher says:

    thanks for setting the record strait mike.this old house was in my new old naborhood.most the kids thought it was haunted,i have herd all kinds of crazy stories about the the whore house,the aborations done there by the thousands ,at least according to the gosping old wemon.the gambeling joint ,ect.ect.ect.but it was just one little ol lady.

    • hometown says:

      Thanks, Earl. Old houses can’t defend themselves against rumors. But this old house had enough of a past to make it darned interesting anyway.

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