The Carters’ legacy cannot be destroyed by demolished homes

Posted Monday, Jun. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Architects and preservationists are outraged over the demolition of one house, and the planned destruction of another, that were homes once owned by members of one of Fort Worth’s most influential and iconic families.

The award-winning 6,080-square-foot Rivercrest house built by Ruth Carter Stevenson, daughter of founding Star-Telegram Publisher Amon G. Carter, was razed last week despite last-minute appeals by some to save it. The home next door, which once belonged to her father and was sold in 2011, has also been cleared for demolition.

Stevenson’s house, designed by acclaimed architect Harwell Hamilton Harris and constructed on scenic acreage overlooking the West Fork of the Trinity River, was sold in April, about three months after her death.

New owners Ardon and Iris Moore haven’t announced their plans for the property, but the trend on the west side is for new owners to demolish older and smaller homes, replacing them with new mansions.

While critics wonder how a city like Fort Worth, keen on its history and its heroes, could allow this to happen, the answer is simple: Neither property had a historic landmark designation because the former owners never applied for it and the new owners obviously didn’t want it.

That’s puzzling to some because Stevenson, a co-founder of Historic Fort Worth Inc. and a former board member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was a strong advocate for the arts, architecture and local history.

But either by action or omission — and Stevenson wasn’t one to commit the sin of omission — neither she nor any other family member decided to protect the family homes by seeking the historic landmark status.

There is nothing the city could or should have done to interfere.

As Mayor Betsy Price rightly stated, although we respect the history and the roots of our city and its architecture, “we must respect the rights of property owners.”

For those those who think both houses are/were architectural treasures unto themselves, as well as monuments to their previous owners, they should take solace in the fact that the legacies of both Stevenson and her father will forever remain a part of the city they loved.

Their gift of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art alone ensures that.

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