May is National Historic Preservation Month, and one Fort Worth group focuses the community’s attention on historic sites threatened with extinction because of decay, lack of interest or inadequate funds for upkeep or restoration.
In addition to sounding the alarm about endangered historic places in the city that need to be preserved, Historic Fort Worth this year issued a clarion call about the city preservation program.
Citing a staff cut from two full-time employees and one part-timer to only one full-time staff member, as well as a decrease in programming, Historic Fort Worth said the city program is itself endangered.
The group calls for restoring budget and staffing (which could cost between $800,000 and $1.2 million a year), something that City Council members are sure to face when they enter budget discussions this summer.
This week, the preservation group added properties to its Most Endangered Places List, as it has done annually since 2004.
They include the U.S. Post Office Building at 251 W. Lancaster Ave., built in 1933, and the Ellis Pecan Building at 1012 N. Main St., constructed in 1924 and originally home to the local klavern of the Ku Klux Klan.
Both buildings are worthy of preservation, the Post Office for its stately architecture — inside and out — and the old KKK building for its sheer historical significance.
Because the large Post Office Building is barely used by the Postal Service, it is being targeted for sale. The Ellis Pecan Building, a north side landmark, is owned by area arts supporters but has been vacant for 14 years even though it was supposed to have been renovated for the Texas Ballet Theater.
Fort Worth should not lose either building.
Four other places on the most endangered list are: the Chase Court gates and medians off the 1700 block of Hemphill Street, representing the city’s first documented planned subdivision; Sandage Avenue and neighborboods spurred by the relocation of Texas Christian University in 1910; and two World War I aviation history sites at Taliaferro Field (now Hicks Field), the ammunition magazine and gunnery range that date to 1917-18.