We are all mourning the loss of Goff’s Hamburgers in University Park, located in a charming, circa 1924 brick building at 6401 Hillcrest Avenue, corner Hillcrest and McFarland, near Southern Methodist University.
Though no longer owned by iconic hamburger king Harvey Goff, everyone has grabbed a burger there at some point. Harvey Goff ran the hamburger restaurant(s) his parents started in 1950, but the location I remember best was on Lover’s Lane at Douglas, where he kept the Lenin statue he bought from a Ukraine factory for $500 in 1991, bearing a sign that said “America won”. Not only would Harvey not serve you if your hair was too long, he might even chase you around with a baseball bat!
Harvey closed that shop, sold to Jim Francis, auctioned the Lenin statue, and went into retirement only to start another hamburger place called Harvey’s Charbroiled Hamburgers at the corner of Preston and LBJ.
But Friday’s 3 alarm blaze destroyed more than a famous hamburger joint:
Classicist Dallas architect extraordinaire Wilson Fuqua officed right above Goff’s for 29 years, up one flight of stairs. His office was completely destroyed. Classically trained, the bulk of Wilson’s work has been in historically rooted structures, Georgian, Federal, Classical European architecture. His homes have a strong sense of detailing and proportion evident from his extensive training and talent.
“Literally there is nothing left. Last night, Wilson was hopeful of being able to retrieve some CAD work off of a back-up he kept at the house, but furnishings, computers, books – EVERYTHING in that office burned up in the fire,” said Dallas home builder Bob Hoebeke.
Sadly, lost forever and likely irreplaceable, is Wilson’s impressive architectural library, said Shannon Logan, a building engineer who has collaborated with Wilson on many projects, including Nancy and James Hoak’s penthouse at the Vendome.
Come Monday morning, Wilson and his staff of architects will have to start over. And if you know Wilson Fuqua, you will not be surprised by his forward-looking, stoic response to this tragedy.
“I got in my car after we got out of the building, and the first song on the radio was “Everything’s Temporary” (by Edie Brickell & the Bohemians),” says Wilson.”In an architect’s office, we have so much stuff to store, this is actually kind of cathartic.”
This is an opportunity, he says, to perhaps change his focus, “to re-invent myself,” as he told our Eric Prokesh.
Wilson says a flue went up through the restaurant ceiling; it caught fire, got too hot rapidly, and the fire spread quickly. Last night, firefighters had to crumble the charred walls of the building. It took three fire departments hours to battle the blaze, working in 107 degree heat, and two firefighters had to be treated for heat exhaustion.
Wilson has three architects on staff. He has worked on 300 to 400 homes in the greater Dallas area, many of those significantly large estates, but also several remodeling projects.
Wilson designed the home of Richard and Gigi Potter on Turtle Creek in Volk Estates, the interiors of Trevor and Melissa Fetter’s Beverly Drive manse, the 18,000 square foot once Bobby Haas estate on Jordan Way, and the Bordeaux and Douglas estate of Michael and Dru Hammer, he the grandson of Armand Hammer, among others.
Our own Fort Worth editor Eric Prokesh is collaborating with Wilson on a large scale project for a Beverly Drive back house wine tasting room plus main home.
He is close to some of the top names in architecture nationally, such as Los Angeles architect Rick Robertson, his former roommate, who designed Nancy Dedman’s new house in Volk Estates (the old one on Strait Lane has been torn down).
And one of his crowning works is the Orangerie at the home of Lyn and John Muse on Preston Road, where he collaborated with Shannon Logan to create snow-detecting sensors in the gutters, and engineered the pool equipment underground, devising a way to de-salient the water to prevent erosion.
Wilson says he had worked in this building for more than 29 years, and walked to work everyday.
“Wherever I go, wherever I will be, it will be different, but it will still be me,” he says. “Fortunately, files and photographs were backed up and saved off site electronically, so there should be little disruption in any of my current projects.”
Several architects today have offered to collect blueprints from Wilson’s clients to stock his new office, but he said he likely does not need them, and would hate to put everyone to that trouble.
Also, many colleagues and friends have offered him temporary office space. He is looking at setting up shop temporarily with Foster Poole on Maple and Harry Hines, near Old Parkland and the former original Elliots Hardware.