A Slow Swift Death (Part 3): And Then There Were Two

This third part of “A Slow Swift Death” (see Part 1, Part 2) updates the status of the Swift packing plant compound as of March 2018.

The fifteen-acre Swift compound consists of two parts. The dividing line between the two parts is Niles City Boulevard. Part A lies within the Stockyards historic district and includes land owned and occupied by XTO Energy. Part B, the bulk of the Swift compound, is land owned by Fort Worth Heritage Development and is targeted for a $175 million redevelopment project. This land lies outside the Stockyards historic district.

Part A

Small though it is, Part A contains much to see of Swift history.

On the east side of Packers Avenue is narrow building that was a parking garage (see maps Part 2 and below) for Swift employees, restored by XTO Energy.

Five hunded feet north at the intersection of East Exchange Avenue and Packers Avenue is Swift Plaza. Here you can still see:

Historical markers.

The grand staircase that led from East Exchange Avenue up to the packing plants.

A streetcar line from downtown delivered workers right to the staircase.

The “Armour” and “Swift” signs that greeted workers and visitors.

And just beyond the “Swift” sign is a building whose appearance is so different from those of Part B that it scarcely seems part of the same compound:

This plantation house-style building housed Swift’s offices. Note the herringbone pattern in the bricks on East Exchange Avenue.

You might remember the building as the Old Spaghetti Warehouse. After Swift closed in 1971 the office building was resurrected in 1976 as a showcase of the Stockyards revitalization project. In 2003 the restaurant closed, and in 2006 XTO Energy bought the building and restored it for use as XTO office space. The National Trust for Historic Preservation honored XTO founder and then-CEO Bob Simpson for XTO’s preservation of significant historic buildings in Fort Worth such as this one.

This is a gate column with finial at the restored office building. The finial matches the originals of the perimeter wall (see Part 1).

Part B

Part B of the Swift compound, owned by Fort Worth Heritage Development, is much larger than Part A and contained most of the buildings that survived into this century. In late 2016 Fort Worth Heritage Development demolished most of the buildings in Part B. Two buildings still stood as of March 2018—the fertilizer mill building on Northeast 23rd Street and the little 1906 laboratory/office building (see maps below). Only the laboratory/office building will survive. It will become one of twelve historic sites features on a planned “heritage trail” in the Stockyards area.

The fertilizer mill building (left) and the laboratory/office building are the only two survivors in Part B as of March 2018.

The fertilizer mill building on Northeast 23rd Street.

The laboratory/office building.

The nine-hundred-foot brick perimeter wall along Northeast 23rd Street will be spared.

The south staircase also will be spared. The S symbol (see Part 2) was removed a few years ago.

The two aerial photos below locate surviving Swift artifacts in the present and in the past:

P Swift Plaza
O Office building
G Employees garage
F Fertilizer mill building
W South perimeter wall
S South staircase
L Laboratory/office building

P Swift Plaza
O Office building
G Employees garage
F Fertilizer mill building
W South perimeter wall
S South staircase
L Laboratory/office building

After more than a century of history, that bring us to the intersection of Packers Avenue and the past.

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