L. B. Weinman: The Golden Touch During the Golden Age

He designed houses, churches, and commercial and municipal buildings during Fort Worth’s golden age of architecture.

The 1923 city directory shows that L. B. Weinman was a contemporary of Fort Worth’s other uberarchitects: Wiley G. Clarkson, Joseph Pelich, Sanguinet and Staats, Wyatt Hedrick.

Ludwig (Louis) Bernhart Weinman was born in 1867 in Germany. He studied at the Stuttgart preparatory school and at an early age developed an interest in architecture. His education included trips to Hungary, Austria, Poland, and Russia. When he was seventeen he immigrated to America and joined a brother in Kansas City, where he interned with architect Alfred Meier.

Weinman then moved to San Antonio, where he designed and drafted for architect James Riely Gordon until 1891. Gordon designed eighteen Texas county courthouses, including those in Decatur and Waxahachie.

On a trip to Waxahachie Weinman met Fort Worth architect A. N. Dawson, who had partnered with Marshall Sanguinet in the 1880s.

The city of Fort Worth had commissioned Dawson to design a new city hall (1893). Dawson hired Weinman to design and supervise the work.

Riding on the success of that project, Weinman won his first major design commission: a new central fire hall (1899) next to the new city hall. In fact, the two buildings were built of similar materials (especially rusticated stone) and in a similar style.

Weinman opened his own business in 1896. In the 1920s Weinman’s sons Louis Bernhart Weinman Jr. and Arthur O. Weinman joined the business. L. B. Weinman Sr. practiced into the late 1930s, although his business was hurt by anti-German sentiment during World War I.

Ludwig Bernhart Weinman died in 1945. He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery.

Today his grandson Arthur Weinman carries on the family tradition as an architect and restorationist (courthouse dome, New Isis Theater) in Fort Worth. An interview by Arthur Weinman of his father supplied this post’s biographical information about his grandfather.

Of course, many of Weinman’s buildings, built more than a century ago like the city hall and fire hall, have not survived, but a few have dodged the wrecking ball. Some buildings designed by L. B. Weinman:

One of Weinman’s oldest surviving commercial buildings is the little building (1902) at 400 Main Street. The building, today the canvas of the Chisholm Trail mural at Sundance Square, was the Fort Worth headquarters of Northern Texas Traction Company.

Weinman also designed the building (1903) that housed Sam Rosen’s Rosen Inn hotel at 1318 North Main Street. The building also housed the Greines furniture store (1326) and the funeral home (1330) of S. D. Shannon.

A history mystery: Is Sam Rosen’s 1903 hotel behind this façade? According to deed records, this building was built in 1903, was partitioned into four parts, was owned by the Greines family, housed a store, carried the address 1324-28 North Main, and was remodeled in 1935. According to Tarrant County Historic Resources Survey, this building housed the Greines furniture store, was rebuilt or given an art deco façade in 1935, and “community residents” said the building once was the Rosen Inn.

On the near South Side Weinman is thought to have designed an enlargement of Walter Joseph Doherty’s Eagle Steam Bakery at 665 South Main Street in 1907.

Weinman designed the Moore Building (1907) at Main and 10th streets for James F. Moore (see below).

Some sources say Weinman designed the Rose Marine Theater at 1438 North Main Street. The theater opened in 1914 as the Roseland Theater. But a caption in the Star-Telegram upon the opening of the theater says, “City Building Inspector [Charles F.] Allen designed the building.”

Weinman also designed the Isis Theater (1914) in the 2400 block of North Main Street. The 1914 theater burned in 1935 and was rebuilt as the New Isis in 1936.

In 1917 Weinman designed the Reeves Apartments at 1830 6th Avenue in Fairmount for Georgia F. Reeves. Weinman also designed the Gilbert Apartments (1919) at 501 College Avenue and an apartment building (1915) at 704 Jennings Avenue. Both have been demolished.

He designed St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church (1917) at 2022 Ross Avenue.

Weinman also designed an enlargement of Trinity Episcopal Church at 615 Pennsylvania Avenue at Hemphill in 1919.

In 1931 Weinman designed one of his last buildings: the Woodhouse Building at 104 East Exchange Avenue for Aledo cattleman Lawrence Woodhouse.The building’s architecture originally was art deco, but in 1956 wooden shutters and a western storefront were added. Today the building houses the White Elephant Saloon, namesake of the 1884 saloon downtown famous for the Short-Courtright shootout in 1887.

This is the house (1904) of pasta merchant John Laneri at 902 South Jennings Avenue.

Today the Guertler house (1905) at 2257 Hemphill Street is getting a makeover. Arnold Guertler was a real estate agent and developer.

This house, with arcaded porch and mission-style parapets, was built about 1907 for attorney Samuel Benton Cantey at 310 Lamar Street just west of today’s central library. Cantey and William Capps in 1882 had founded what today is Fort Worth’s oldest continuously operated law firm. (Photo from Greater Fort Worth, 1907.)

The Garretson-Chandler house was built in 1910 for plumbing contractor C. J. Garretson, later owned by city plumbing inspector Aaron D. Chandler.

And in Ryan Place Weinman designed this house (1911) at 1215 Elizabeth Boulevard for John N. Sparks, president of Stockyards National Bank and First National Bank.

According to Tarrant County Historic Resources Survey this is the only house with a wooden exterior in Ryan Place, where deed restrictions stipulated masonry or stucco.

This house at 1604 8th Avenue was built in 1915 for businessman John G. Nash. The house later was a clinic, then an early Ronald Mcdonald house, and now a law office.

Weinman also designed houses for A. J. Anderson, Horace Cobb, and Jesse Zane-Cetti.

Quality Hill provided a showcase for architects. Weinman designed this early Quality Hill mansion at 520 Summit Avenue in 1897 for cattleman William T. Scott. Cattleman Christopher Augustus O’Keefe bought the house about 1905 after Scott died.

Banker Otho S. Houston’s house at 914 Penn Street was built in 1903. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)

This was physician Dr. William A. Duringer’s house (1906) at 1402 Summit Avenue, built on land bought from the Samuel Burk Burnett family, who lived next door. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)

If West 5th Street and Elizabeth Boulevard are the showcase streets of Wiley G. Clarkson, and if Lancaster Avenue is the showcase street of Wyatt C. Hedrick, the showcase street of L. B. Weinman is Pennsylvania Avenue.

From east to west:

1226 Pennsylvania Avenue. Emory Thayer Ambler co-owned a huge ranch in Lynn and Garza counties with Cass Edwards and another rancher. In 1906 Thayer sold his holdings to C. W. Post and moved to Fort Worth. In 1907 Weinman designed this house for Ambler. In 1926 a young florist, Charles Gordon Boswell, bought the house and in 1929 built his second florist shop next door.

1311 Pennsylvania Avenue. Across the street stood Weinman’s own home, built about 1900, demolished in 1950. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)

1320 Pennsylvania Avenue. This house was built about 1903 for cotton broker Morris Berney. The next owner was banker Henry Clay Edrington. Edrington’s grandson William Edrington Scott’s foundation funded construction of Scott Theater. The house became part of the Woman’s Club compound in 1929. The house is now Ira Saunders Hall. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)

At some point the house was remodeled within an inch of its life: The porte-cochere, front porch roof and balustrade, and dormer windows were removed.

1326 Pennsylvania Avenue. Finally, this architectural eye candy is a blend of Queen Anne, mission revival, and prairie styles. The house was built in 1906 for real estate millionaire James F. Moore. The Woman’s Club bought the building from Robertson-Mueller-Harper funeral home in 1953, giving the club possession of the entire city block. The house, now Margaret Meacham Hall, is one of the finest examples of the heyday of Quality Hill, the golden age of Fort Worth architecture, and the legacy of L. B. Weinman.

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