Out With the Old, in With the New

The end of one year and the beginning of another are a natural time to bring about change. So are the end of one century and the beginning of another. As the nineteenth century was ending, Fort Worth was undergoing a heap of change. For example, between 1893 and 1901, downtown got five new public buildings: city hall, central fire station, combined post office/federal building, county courthouse, and public library.

Of those five buildings, all but the courthouse were located within two blocks of the intersection of Jennings Avenue and Throckmorton Street (see map below).

But after about thirty years of the classic architecture of those buildings, Fort Worth clearly was again ready for change. Between 1930 and 1938 three of the buildings were replaced. Out with turrets and towers, arches and rusticated stone, in with art deco, smooth textures, and straight lines:

City hall (1893) and its replacement (1938, designed by Wyatt Hedrick. (1893 city hall photo from Jack White Photograph Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries.).

The 1899 central fire station. The one-ton bell (see next photo) was on the fourth story of the five-story tower. From the tower firemen could see all of downtown. And all of downtown could hear the bell. (Photos from Bob Patterson.)

art deco main fire hallThe 1931 central fire station. The 1882 bell that was used at two earlier central fire stations can be seen on the left.

Carnegie Public Library (1901) and its replacement (1936, designed by Joseph Pelich). Art deco. (Carnegie photo by Charles Swartz; floorplan from Library of Congress.)

The federal building/post office (1896) and its replacements (both 1933, post office by Wyatt Hedrick, federal courthouse by Cret and Clarkson). The new post office is classical; the new federal courthouse is moderne, a style of art deco. The 1896 federal building/post office was demolished in 1963.

Map of 1910 shows the Carnegie Public Library, central fire station, city hall, and federal building/post office.

Of the five original buildings, only the county courthouse (1895, designed by Frederick Gunn and Louis Curtiss) survives. It is, let us hope, untouchable.

This 1902 Telegram spread shows the city hall, county courthouse, and federal building.

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