History at Historic Fort Worth, Inc.
Established in 1969 and the recipient of the Texas Historical Commission’s Governors Award in Preservation in 2009, Historic Fort Worth, Inc. is dedicated to preserving Fort Worth’s unique historic identity through stewardship, education and leadership. The organization’s administrative offices are located on the second floor of the 1899 Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House, 1110 Penn Street. The main floor of McFarland House is a historic house museum, and the lower level is a preservation resource center and library comprised of books, photographs, surveys and thousands of files on historic buildings in Fort Worth. McFarland House was donated to HFW in 1984 and is open to the public for tours, rentals and research.
HFW’s main tourism property is the Wharton-Scott House known as “Thistle Hill” at 1509 Pennsylvania Avenue. Adjacent to two major hospitals and with 1.5 acres of land, the park-like grounds of Thistle Hill are the largest green space in Fort Worth’s hospital district. On weekdays HFW makes the Thistle Hill grounds available at no charge to the family members of patients, the medical staff, and the general public. To enhance the experience, a children’s tactile and fragrance garden was installed in 2008, and a week-day food truck park was added in 2013. Thistle Hill was donated to HFW in 2006. The carriage house is one of only two urban, transitional carriages houses remaining in Texas. “Transitional” means that the carriage house was built for both horses (stalls, feeding troughs, cooling yard) and cars (garage bays and gas pump). Thistle Hill is open to the public for tours and rentals.
Many restoration projects have been completed at both houses. New projects are prioritized based on the greatest need as identified by preservation professionals and the HFW board. Projects underway at McFarland House and Thistle Hill function as a learning lab of the restorative arts.
Other HFW programs include membership tours of private and public buildings, and programs on restoration and property management, historic property research, marketing of endangered properties, preservation courses for developers and Realtors, preservation awards, tours of the city for special conferences, public appeals for threatened properties, survey updates, and façade easements. HFW is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
At times HFW leverages unique opportunities to further the mission. Examples follow:
- Organized and led the tours and sessions for the 6th Art Deco World Pre-Congress in 1999.
- Worked with Mistletoe Heights on the establishment of their local historic district (2001-2002).
- Served as the lead manager of the National Town Meeting on Main Street Organized and managed the Your Town: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (2007) through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, SUNY University and the Carl Small Town Center.
- Partnered to designate the Near Southeast Neighborhood to establish their local historic district (2007).
- Launched Fort Worth’s first electronic survey of historic resources (2008) with over 500 properties.
- Funded the nomination (2009) for Heritage Park Plaza to be included in the National Register of Historic Places, which occurred at the national level of significance on May 10, 2010.
- Held the 2010 showhouse in a mid-century modern masterpiece, the estate of Fran & Eddie Chiles.Leveraged opportunities for the Ridglea Theater and offices to be designated a local landmark, which transpired in January 2011, and to be listed in the National Register, which transpired in January 2012.
The importance of Fort Worth’s historic resources:
Fort Worth has enviable historic resources that include modest neighborhoods of charming bungalows, grand mansions, cherished public schools, iconic civic buildings, magnificent religious institutions and elegant bridges. Many of these resources are over 50 years old and have no designation protection from demolition or insensitive additions. Collectively, these historic resources are the unique historic identity of Fort Worth, Texas.
HFW connects to others:
In 2012 over 80,000 friends, members and constituents engaged in preservation through community programs, in the Preservation Resource Center, at Thistle Hill and McFarland House, and at fundraising events like Preservation is the Art of the City®, The Hidden Gardens Tour of Fort Worth, designer show-houses, and a Storybook Christmas.