Elizabeth Boulevard

To write about 1315 Elizabeth Boulevard in Ryan Place is a daunting proposition. There is just so much deserving of comment to give this venerable Fort Worth grande dame her due. On a personal level, its owner hosted a party here to welcome me and other newcomers when I moved to Elizabeth Blvd. six years ago. The sale of this property is somewhat bittersweet because the current owner was one of the community leaders responsible for the Ryan Place Renaissance — often an indispensable force in the neighborhood. Her departure is difficult to imagine.

This architectural gem sits in the prime middle block of the half-mile long Elizabeth Blvd., which is the main axis of the historic neighborhood. Just across the street is the impressive house built by Ryan Place developer John C. Ryan as his own home, which was the subject of my first Fort Worth Friday.

The structure, one of the finest residential commissions of legendary architect Wylie G. Clarkson, possesses a dignified grandeur expressed in the classical tradition.  Perched on a deep-set lot above street level, the house is reached by two flights of steps and a lovely wide walkway of red brick. The stucco exterior is a warm biscuit color that reminds me of Bath, England. Architecturally, the nearly 90-foot-long, symmetrical façade reads ABCBA from left to right. There are two Palladian motifs on the ground floor — the one at the right has a sophisticated blind opening to preserve the symmetry. The portico is supported by paired Doric columns. Above a smaller Palladian framed window just peeks through the broken pediment crown.

Elizabeth Boulevard

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College Avenue

The Sandidge-Walker House at 2420 College Avenue was built by cattleman George Sandidge, who only lived in it for four years. Legendary Will Rogers was a frequent guest. The next owner was Dr. Gussie Walker, who had served as Fort Worth’s City Health Officer. In 1954 it became the rectory for the nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church, from whom the present owners purchased it. In 1986 it was added to the long list of Texas Historic Landmarks.

“It wasn’t in great shape when we bought it,” owner Judy Robinson tells me. “Repairs and electrical work weren’t professionally done. Work was mostly done by church volunteers,” she explains. Owners Steve and Judy Robinson completely rewired the structure in 1996.

College Avenue

The Sandige-Walker House in Ryan Place is on the list of Texas Historic Landmarks.

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Candlelight Tour

I know, I know, I know …. I, too, hate seeing Christmas merch in the local big box before we’ve even gotten through Halloween. However tickets do go on sale next week for the grandmother of Fort Worth’s home tours, officially monikered, “A Candlelight Tour In Ryan Place.” The popular yuletide event, which attracts faithful tour goers from all over the Fort Worth area and even Dallasites, is one of the main revenue sources for the Ryan Place Improvement Association, Fort Worth’s first neighborhood association, and has funded the rebuilding of the original demolished gates and installed period-style street lights throughout the neighborhood among other projects.

Candlelight Tour committees make an effort to mix it up, aiming for variety in style and size and this year is no exception, with a mash up of old and new, often in the same house. Two of the residences will be familiar to Fort Worth Friday readers. (more…)

When considering an older property, what defines move-in ready? Renovated kitchens and baths? Yes. Refinished hardwoods? Of course. New HVAC, plumbing roof, and electrical to prevent unpleasant, and expensive surprises down the road? Yes, PLEASE. A 1924 Craftsman bungalow at 2712 College Avenue in Ryan Place ticks all of those boxes. Freshly painted with a new front porch, the 1,765-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath cottage beckons with loads of curb appeal. (more…)

Before I am accused of being lazy, allow me to note that when the first house in the first planned development in Fort Worth — Ryan Place — comes on the market, I can’t not write about it even if it is just down the street from me, on Elizabeth Blvd.

When 1112 Elizabeth Blvd. was built, in 1911, the world was a very different place. My grandfather was living in his city of birth, Vienna, under the rule of  Franz Joseph, the Austro-Hungarian Emperor. It was still the Belle Epoque, with the upheavals of World War I three years in the future. In the photograph above, taken about 1912, the boulevard was already handling motor car traffic but the original hitching post remains in front, just in case. A short 20 minute buggy ride would have taken you into town. Like all of the original dwellings on Elizabeth Boulevard built between 1911 to 1928, 1112 Elizabeth Boulevard was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

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Next weekend’s 34th annual Ryan Place Christmas tour or Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place, by its official name, offers an interesting mix of homes stretching through the decades and communicating the complex story of the historic neighborhood.

Tour regulars won’t be disappointed this year. Included will be a grand Southern Colonial Revival house built in 1918. Fabled Fort Worth architect, Wiley G. Clarkson — builder of many important landmark public buildings such as the Masonic Temple, First Methodist Church, and the United States Court House — will be represented by a fine “Italianate” house of his design on Elizabeth Boulevard. Another early house, built around 1920, will please classicists with its Georgian Revival style.

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One doesn’t want to be parochial, but one can’t fail to take an interest in the goings on on one’s own street. Move-in ready isn’t a term necessarily associated with Elizabeth Blvd., but since its listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the area has been undergoing a steady process of re-gentrification.

Exterior modifications are verboten. However interiors are fair game for updates. Whether or not that’s a good thing naturally depends on the taste of the owner. Happily, 1107 Elizabeth Blvd. couldn’t have been more fortunate in its present owners, who have modernized the 3,718-square-foot, 1919 house with taste and flair.

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For a Ryan Place bungalow, 2625 South Adams unquestionably packs a lot of captivating design punch. From the appealing exterior color scheme, to the enclosed porch with unique under-eave fenestration, the house has not so much been remodeled as reimagined. We’ve run into the creative spirit behind the renovation before. Seasoned rehabber Terri West has excelled herself in this, her latest effort, by reclaiming and maximizing every square inch of usable space in the 2,800-square-foot house.

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