Ruth Carter Stevenson’s daughter says home had no historical value

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Some folks are still puzzling over last week’s destruction of Ruth Carter Stevenson’s award-winning home, which The Dallas Morning News’ architecture critic called a “brazen act of philistinism.”

A Carter family member identified the buyers as Ardon and Iris Moore.

In a brief statement issued Wednesday, Ardon Moore confirmed he and his wife are the buyers, then curiously referred us to Stevenson’s adult children who sold the property to describe its condition and whether they had any interest in restoring or rebuilding it. In particular, we were asked to contact Stevenson’s youngest daughter, Kate Johnson. And we did.

Interviewed from Kentucky during a rainstorm, Johnson said she was horrified that some were vilifying the Moores and the Pinkertons, who bought the neighboring home of her grandfather, Star-Telegram founding Publisher Amon G. Carter, and also took out a demolition permit.

“I believe there is no historical value for either of these homes,” Johnson said, despite what Historic Fort Worth Inc. — co-founded by her late mother — and others say. “My mother called it ‘Hysterical Fort Worth.’”

The Carter Stevenson house, near River Crest Country Club, was on the market just two days when the Moores bought it, Johnson said.

While Ardon Moore did not spell out that the house would be razed, Johnson said she was not at all surprised by the demolition, given its history with black mold. And while the service company had declared the house mold-free and her mother lived in the house until her death in January, Johnson said she suspected there were still grievous problems.

“I know Ardon wouldn’t make a foolish decision,” she told us. “I am sure there were extenuating circumstances and he had no options.”

But Johnson said she didn’t inquire, explaining: “I wouldn’t pry. What people do with their private property is nobody’s business.”

Although Johnson said there’s no controversy here, architects and preservationists continue to gripe. The home, built in the 1950s, was designed by Harwell Hamilton Harris, the one-time dean of the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture.

Sandra Dennehy, whose firm received a historic preservation award for work on the Roseland/Marine Theater project on North Main Street, posted an open letter on the website of the American Institute of Architects’ Fort Worth chapter, raising a slew of questions.

Why didn’t Ruth Carter Stevenson, known for her preservation bent, protect the iconic structure or leave it to a foundation? Why did Mayor Betsy Price stress property rights as a guiding principle in her statement to the Star-Telegram rather than emphasize the need to inform the new owner of the property’s significance and respect it?

Noting that Moore is a “well-educated and well-connected” Fort Worth resident, the architect asked rhetorically that if he wanted to live in a “big hair, Mira Vista-style mansion,” then why didn’t he just buy a lot in Mira Vista?

No doubt Fort Worth will be watching what will be built in place of the $640,000 tear-down.

American 777 gets animated

American Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ER will be featured on the big screen in August.

The Fort Worth-based carrier’s newest aircraft will be a part of the new Disney movie “Planes” as part of a marketing deal announced Wednesday.

The animated movie will have a plane named Tripp modeled after American’s Boeing 777-300ER which sports the new livery unveiled in January.

This isn’t the first time American has teamed up with Hollywood. In 2009, the carrier was prominently featured in the George Clooney film Up in the Air. Some scenes were filmed in American terminals and Admirals Clubs.

American isn’t the only airline with a cool new plane. Dallas-based Southwest Airlines unveiled its latest specially painted airplane, Penguin One, last week to celebrate its 25-year partnership with SeaWorld. The Boeing 737-700 has been painted with images of gentoo penguins, part of SeaWorld Orlando’s “Antartica: Empire of the Penguin” attraction.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552 Barry Shlachter, 817-390-7718

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