If you have a spare hour tonight, head over to the UTA Fort Worth Center at 7 p.m. for a free talk by historian Quentin McGown on how Frank Lloyd Wright has influenced North Texas architecture. McGown, who has written books about the built history of Fort Worth, will examine the Wrightian hallmarks you can still find throughout Fort Worth and how this style continues to influence architecture today.
AIA Fort Worth is hosting this presentation as part of their “Design Talk” series.
We asked McGown, a sixth-generation Texan, a few quick questions about his research. Jump to find out more.
CandysDirt.com: What landmark or well-known Fort Worth homes have significant influences from Frank Lloyd Wright?
Quentin McGown: We have several works designed by architects who apprenticed with Wright, but I think the best example of Wrightian design is Karl Kamrath’s Commercial Standard Building on Camp Bowie Blvd. John Lloyd Wright did a private residence in Ridglea that is very much in his father’s style, and John DeKoven Hill completed a residence in Westover Hills after the owner visited Taliesin West.
CD: What finishes or details are the most common?
QM: Mid-century architecture was perfectly adapted to the Texas climate. The use of stone and concrete, deep eaves, clerestory windows and cool interior patios and gardens are some of the hallmarks of the period. Fort Worth, and Dallas, I’m sure, have examples of every variation of the “ranch style” imaginable, from direct copies of the California originals, to versions uniquely Texan. All share the fundamental principles that Wright championed with his Usonian architecture: low, single story, open plan structures with a close relationship to outdoor space. The simplicity of the period, to me, makes the current fashion of overly decorated mini manses look plain silly. But that’s just me.
CD: I notice you speak frequently about mid-century modern architecture, which is extremely popular right now. Are there any undiscovered or hidden gems in Dallas or Fort Worth?
QM: People are discovering the mid-century neighborhoods at the same time development pressure is encouraging demolition. I can’t speak much to the Dallas market, but I know that mid-century architecture in both cities is at the same crossroads that late 19th and early 20th century works faced as they were demolished to make way for their “modern” replacements. We seem to be losing the mid-century works almost as fast as we can identify them. Thankfully, there seems to be a growing demographic that actively seeks out the period. I hope that trend continues.
A house has just gone on the market in Ridglea designed by an architect, J. B. Johnson, who worked under Harwell Hamilton Harris and later went on to a noted career in Mexico. The current owners did a loving restoration, even preserving the original kitchen appliances. It needs to be in the hands of another family that appreciates the period and beautiful aesthetic of the house. There are several neighborhoods filled with mid-century gems, including Ridglea, Ridgmar, Sunset Heights, and White Lake Hills. Carver Heights, on the city’s east side, is a remarkable mid-century development marketed originally to African-American homeowners. The neighborhood was the first in Fort Worth to recognize the value of its mid-century history as a tool for preservation.