“Spring is the time of plans and projects,” wrote Leo Tolstoy in one of his literary masterpieces. One hundred years later, this sentiment remains a mantra of homeowners everywhere.
In Fort Worth, homeowners in two neighborhoods of distinction are sharing their plans and projects with the public — the Fairmount Historic District’s 33rd Annual Tour of Homes and Historic Fort Worth’s 12th Hidden Gardens Tour, spotlighting Ridglea North this year.
Homes with history
First up, on May 9 and 10, the Fairmount Historic District on the city’s south side will feature seven properties. One great element of this tour is seeing homes in a variety of transitions: fully-restored original homes, restorations in progress, and a new build.
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According to Mike McDermott, Fairmount resident and historian, tour participants can expect to see many original features of early-20th-century homes — think quarter-sawn oak floors, fireplaces flanked with bookcases, cast-iron tubs, and “miles of warm local woodwork and craftsmanship.”
Of particular interest is the Luecker home. It’s celebrating its centennial and, says McDermott, is “one of the most originally complete in Fairmount.” Owner Stacy Luecker says the home just received the Recorded Texas Historic Landmark designation, becoming the first home in Fairmount in more than 30 years to do so and only one of 15 homes statewide.
The Luecker home’s interiors are decorated in period-appropriate Arts and Crafts style, with a few original Gustav Stickley pieces and a chair on loan from the granddaughter of the original owner, Lula Grammer, whose husband owned a successful drugstore that once stood on the old courthouse square downtown.
That’s another thing about this tour. You’ll hear plenty of stories from other eras, like those associated with the Slater home, with its large central hall that started out, according to McDermott, as a boardinghouse for workers at the Frisco Railyards along Eighth Avenue.
Subsequently, the house was subdivided, burned, and boarded up. Today it has been restored to a single-family dwelling.
The College Avenue Lofts demonstrate the ingenuity for which Fairmount folks are known. The 1924-25 brick edifice that started life as the education building for the College Avenue Baptist Church, and later served as the training center for the Fort Worth Ballet (now the Texas Ballet Theater), had become a victim of a lack of parking.
Visionary investors kept the exterior walls and windows of the building, but removed the first floor pool in order to create a parking garage, situating apartments and condo lofts on the second and third floors.
“This building is a stellar example of the kind of problems facing aging vacant structures, overcome by people undaunted by challenges that would scare others away,” says McDermott. Also testifying to the enduring legacy of Fairmount, three of the seven homeowners on the tour are residing in their second Fairmount projects.
North Texans, with our advantageous weather, love outdoor living, and the homes featured May 17 during the Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth Tour embrace the trend. Seven gardens in Ridglea North offer ideas aplenty, and a bonus garden at Ridglea Christian Church showcases garden plots maintained by beginners and master gardeners alike.
Two properties seamlessly integrate home and garden. At one home, sleek, cut gray limestone, which mimics the color of the home, is used extensively in the garden to achieve a monochromatic palette. Broad steps edge a tranquil pool.
Another home, a new build by owners who didn’t want to leave the neighborhood, features a large fireplace in the shady back yard.
A covered outdoor area attached to the house offers lounging and dining space, and the clever owners have decorated these spaces with accessories you’d only expect to find inside. Out front, an old-fashioned swing and wicker chairs invite neighbors to linger.
One of Ridglea’s first homes, built in 1930, welcomes guests with pure Southern charm, starting with beds of pink azaleas flourishing in the front and back lawns. A brick terrace built behind iron gates maintains privacy for a dining area and a spa.
Meanwhile, at a nearby Tudor property, coral honeysuckle clambers up a fountain, colorful flowers pop from window boxes and a single garden bed successfully integrates full sun, partial sun, and total shade conditions.
At another stop, 45-year-old trees shade a cottage garden of various plants that the owner overwinters in a greenhouse. A second cottage property includes a backyard aviary where seven cockatiels are surrounded by beds of iris and columbine. A pond is home to fish and frogs.
A final stop is Ridglea Christian Church where a peaceful memorial garden is dominated by white flowering plants, a community produce garden and a demonstration garden of in-ground, raised, and container beds, some featuring permaculture methods.
Take the tours
Fairmount Historic District’s 33rd Annual Tour of Homes
▪ Noon-6 p.m. May 9 &10, rain or shine
Buy tickets online at www.historicfairmount.com or in person at SiNaCa Studios, 1013 W. Magnolia Ave.
Hidden Gardens of Fort Worth Tour
▪ Noon-6 p.m. May 17, rain or shine
▪ $20 in advance; $25 day of
Buy tickets online at www.historicfortworth.org and at Archie’s Gardenland, 6700 Z Boaz Place and C.C.’s Touch of Nature, 3912 W. Vickery Blvd.