It is an unusual building, designed by a premier architect, located at a prime location. And it has had a long and varied commercial career.
You might know this building at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue at Henderson Street as the security office of the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth campus. Your parents might remember it as the Gause-Ware 1879 Room. Your grandparents might remember it as an Alexander-Bale grocery store, a Helpy-Selfy grocery store, or a Worth Food Market.
The building opened in 1929 as an Alexander-Bale grocery store. As was the custom at the time, local businesses, especially those that had contributed to construction of the new building, placed congratulatory ads in the newspaper.
The building was designed by Wyatt Hedrick.
The building was the second Alexander-Bale grocery store in Fort Worth. The Alexander-Bale stores had expanded from Houston to Fort Worth in 1928.
Alexander-Bale’s grocery store no. 1 in Fort Worth had opened in 1928 at 3204 Camp Bowie Boulevard. Hedrick probably designed the Camp Bowie building, too. The details of the friezes of the two buildings are similar. The two buildings opened within six months of each other.
Both Alexander-Bale buildings also housed Renfro’s drugstores.
Renfro’s was the dominant drugstore chain in town in the first half of the twentieth century.
The new store also had a bakery and a cafeteria-delicatessen.
A closer look at the frieze and parapet.
According to the website Architecture in Fort Worth, the contour of the building was designed to conform to the contour of the intersection of Henderson and Pennsylvania, which was curved to accommodate a streetcar track.
The building’s location has always served it well: on the edge of Quality Hill, on a streetcar line, and two blocks from Fort Worth High School (Green B. Trimble Technical High School today). No doubt Renfro’s soda fountain drew students.
But the new building also was part of the transformation of Quality Hill. The ad above by Fort Worth Gas Company noted “stately old mansions” falling “in the pathway of progress.”
Indeed the corner lot had been occupied by the large home of Lewis D. Fox, who owned two abstract companies.
The Alexander-Bale building later housed a Helpy-Selfy grocery store. In 1935 Alexander-Bale and Helpy-Selfy merged and became Worth Food Markets. In 1941 the building housed a Renfro’s drugstore and a Worth Food Market. The building in the background is the Woodlea Apartments (1920). (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)
This 1950 photo shows that the building was still a Worth Food Market. In 1966 Piggly Wiggly bought the Worth chain. Also shown are the original Harris Memorial Methodist Hospital building (1930) and, behind the trees at 1251 Pennsylvania Avenue, Gause-Ware funeral home in the former mansion (1906) of cotton broker Neil P. Anderson. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.)
By 1963 the building housed Gause-Ware’s 1879 Room, a meeting hall named for the year George Gause began his undertaking business.
In 1982 Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth bought the building. Wyatt Hedrick’s owls, during their ninety years at 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, have witnessed a lot of change.