I’ve been angling to get a gander at 1405 Elizabeth Blvd. since moving to Ryan Place seven years ago. The 6,300-square-foot manse has been semi-secretly on the market for over a year but since going live 12 days ago, the stately, three-story, four-bedroom, five-and-one-half bath house has been under contract twice.
Steeped in Fort Worth History
The classic Georgian revival house, designed by legendary Fort Worth architect Wiley G. Clarkson, is deeply steeped in Fort Worth history. The National Register of Historic Places-listed house was built in 1920 for James Samuel Todd, president of the Evans-Snider-Buel Co., of the Livestock Commission Merchants Association.
Evans Snider Buel was once a powerful force in the cattle business with offices in Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City, and offices in the Fort Worth Livestock Building, once known as “The Wall Street of the West.”
James Todd was 62 years old when he and wife Etta took possession of the Elizabeth Boulevard house as their Fort Worth home. James had made a fortune by the age of 26 and by 1884, he already possessed 2,000 heads of cattle and employed the teenage Will Rogers as a ranch hand. Son James Jr. married Jane Jarvis, the daughter of Van Zandt Jarvis, then mayor of Fort Worth in 1935. Widowed in 1933, wife Etta continued to live in the house until 1950.
James Todd participated in the evolution of every phase of the cattle business. Before direct rail lines to the Fort Worth Stock Yards allowed direct shipment of cattle, cattle were driven north from Texas along the Chisholm Trail to the railheads in Kansas. Elizabeth Boulevard was once part of the trail. By the time Todd built his imposing house, slaughter and packing in Fort Worth was an established big business.
Preserved by Poverty
It has been said that Venice was preserved by poverty, meaning that its decline after the 18th Century meant nothing was torn down, nor nothing atrocious was built.
In a minor way, this is true of Ryan Place. The neighborhood prospered after the turn of the century and into the 1920s, but went into a slow decline after the ’29 market crash and didn’t begin its slow, gradual revival until the late ’70s.
That has meant a legacy of lovely residences were preserved for later generations to discover and cherish.
And time has mostly been kind to 1405 Elizabeth Boulevard, more or less intact after 100 years. The perfection of proportions of the painted boiserie rooms induces a calming serenity that photography fails to capture. Also preserved are elegant cornices, millwork, French windows, and original oak floors.
The kitchen is an astonishing 500 square feet of opulent, light-drenched space, with a nine-foot island, three sinks, and four — yes four — faucets. The countertops are butcher block — this is not a granite or quartz surface kitchen, in pretty good nick requiring only a bit of sanding and oiling.
The original farmhouse sink is under the double windows with an additional divided sink under the single window. Subway tile is floor to ceiling. Abundant cabinets with glazed uppers are painted a soothing, soft, sage green.
A Lavish Master Suite
The chasmal landing can be reached by stairs at the front or back of the house. The master bedroom has a rather ponderous barrel-vaulted ceiling, apparently carved out of attic space which continues into the lavish bath. A large spa tub floats in the middle with a buffet adapted to house two lavatories. A massive trumeau mirror hangs over the basins. The stained glass panels are detachable.
Each of the four bedrooms has an en suite bath. If you are fixture fetishist (guilty as charged) this house is a dream, with a layered mixture of old and new premium fittings and hardware. It’s often difficult to determine what is new and what is period. On the third floor is a bedroom with balcony windows and with another stunning bath.
Not pictured is an extensive finished basement with three rooms. A needed improvement in my view would be the restoration of the ground-floor veranda to its original open state.
The house sits on a half-acre avenue lot. The house could use a bit of TLC, almost all of it cosmetic in nature. It is bargain priced at $127 per square foot and that makes it the second high-profile house to sell on Elizabeth Boulevard for an ‘as is’ price in less than a year.
The writer is indebted to historian Ruth Karbach for her research and fact check of some of the content of this post.