The iconic Will Rogers Memorial Center, home of the Stock Show, is now on the National Register of Historic Places, a move that could help secure funding and add a level of protection.
“It will help us qualify for future grant funding and provides national recognition for the facility and recognizes what an important architectural landmark that it is,” said Randle Harwood, the city planning and development director.
The main buildings — Pioneer Tower, the domed Coliseum and the Auditorium — were designed by Wyatt Hedrick and Herman Koeppe in 1936 and dedicated on Jan. 10, 1937.
The center has 120 acres of multipurpose event facilities and exhibit halls, including more than 2,500 horse stalls and 2,250 cattle ties. The equestrian facilities include an underground tunnel system and three climate-controlled show arenas including the coliseum.
“It’s old, but we use it like it’s new,” Harwood said.
The national designation, made on March 22, is a step in the right direction for protecting the buildings, said Jerre Tracy, executive director of Historic Fort Worth, Inc.
“Historic Fort Worth is thrilled to see the Will Rogers buildings on the national registry. It is good news,” she said.
Being added to the national registry adds another level of review before changes to the property can be made, said Liz Casso, the city’s historic preservation officer.
“If a municipality or government entity is responsible for a national register property, they are required to notify, prior to doing any work, the Texas Historical Commission,” she said.
This provides the state at least 30 days to comment on the project and give input, she said.
Additionally, any city-owned property that is over 50 years old has special protections that allow review through the historical preservation office before projects begin, Casso said.
“Anytime any city department is going to do a project on a city property that meets that age criteria, they’re required to come through the historic preservation office to determine if there’s going to be any adverse impact, and then work through that,” she said.
Note: This story has been edited to correct the spelling of Jerre Tracy’s name and to remove some dates.
Dylan Bradley: 817-390-7984, @dbradley1220