One of Fort Worth's most cherished Mother's Day traditions, the 37th annual Fairmount Historic District Tour of Homes will open doors to seven charming and storied houses over Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-12.
This year's tour of the Near Southside neighborhood showcases four lovingly restored houses, two new builds, and a house with a renovation in progress. The oldest home dates to 1895, but all the residences have colorful histories.
"Most of our houses represent turn-of-the-century home styles with the majority of them built between 1905 and 1920," the organizers say in the tour's materials. "By 1940 Fairmount was well established in Fort Worth with its own gas station, grocery store and churches. However, after World War II, like the rest of the inner city, Fairmount fell into disrepair. Homes were converted into boarding houses, apartments and worse. As families moved out and the neighborhood declined, Fairmount became an unsavory part of Fort Worth.
"However, people could see the potential of these old houses. House by house, street by street, new owners began to turn the tide of decay and restore our houses to their former glory."
The tour takes place (rain or shine) 12-6 pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the days of the event. Proceeds benefit neighborhood improvement projects. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the district's website.
Here's a closer look at the homes on the 2019 tour, with descriptions provided by the district.
13 Chase Ct.: Achziger-Moore home
Named for developer E.E. Chase, the private estate on which the court sits once boasted a three-story 1891 Victorian stone mansion, stables and horse breeding facility, and a huge stone windmill with a sitting room and balcony. In 1893, the house burned in a fire. By 1900, the property was in bankruptcy and in 1906, the estate was purchased by the Consolidated Improvement and Construction Company and the court was platted and built.
At the height of the roaring ’20s, this substantial brick Georgian Revival house, with its side gambrel roof, was built for Hugh L. Calhoun, Jr. and his wife, Estelle. Present owners George Achziger and Jim Moore became part of the home’s ongoing history seven years ago.
13 Chase Ct., (continued)
Inside the home, the Georgian Revival theme is evident in the substantial classical cove moldings and wide ceiling medallions, the beautiful balusters of the staircase, and the living room’s simple Georgian fireplace mantle flanked by arched doorways. The foyer contains two ballroom chairs from the historic Windsor Hotel of Denver, featured on Antiques Roadshow.
13 Chase Ct. (continued)
The house is a sensory overload of multiple collections, including a collection of Peggy Nisbet English royalty dolls and even Sir Winston and Lady Randolph Churchill. There is a vast collection of porcelain and china tea services. The owners host Tea Tuesday afternoons for guests. A guesthouse in the backyard features a large collection of vintage children’s tea sets and unusual rare dollhouses.
1831 Fairmount: Tucker-McDermott home
An example of the California bungalow style, this 1911 home was built by carpenter/ builder and first owner, Charles Marion Butcher, who lived here with his wife, Josephine, and their three children. Charles' firm Butcher, Sweeney, and Friedman Construction Co. also built Arlington Heights and Polytechnic high schools and TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium, as well as other notable homes in the Fairmount district.
1831 Fairmount, (continued)
Inside, the owners made sure the home reflects the period in which it was built. All the original heart pine woodwork and floors, and quarter sawn oak flooring, were meticulously refinished. A period colonnade between the living and dining rooms was recreated with new and reclaimed woodwork, and period leaded glass doors with matching built-in sideboard stand in the dining room.
Collections from the owners' families dating back well over 100 years fill the house, along with Arts and Crafts era antique treasures from Gustav Stickley, Limbert Bros., and Roycroft; Rookwood, Teco and Roseville Potteries; and lamps and bronze artifacts from Tiffany Studios, New York.
2248 5th Ave.: Harper home
In 1912, this charming bungalow was listed for sale in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram classified ad placed by A.C. Barber Lumber Company and Mill announcing a “pretty little bungalow, just finished” at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Carlock Street. Listed for the nominal cost of $2,750, about average for the price of a house in the area, but only about $77,500 in today’s dollars, it was quite the bargain.
After a series of renters, about 1921, the home was purchased by Gobrias T. and Mattie Elizabeth Allen, who lived here with their four children. Mattie sold the house after G.T.’s death and moved out about 1943. In 1955 the house was purchased by the Van Cleaves. Wife Winona, a hair stylist, added a salon business in the back — a building complete with Knotty Pine paneling and green shag carpet. When the current owners purchased the house in 1998, the cypress lap siding had been covered in concrete asbestos shingles. The Harpers removed them and restored all of the original windows to working order.
2248 5th Ave.: Harper home (continued)
Inside, they also replaced missing window and door trim, added period light fixtures and decorated with antique finds, repurposed shabby chic items, and treasured family pieces. A colonnade made from antique salvage bookcases and woodwork was re-created between the living and dining room where one likely would have existed. There are several antique and vintage items like the Eastlake loveseat in the living room dating to the 1880s, and a host of Asian treasures connected to the family's time spent in China from 1919 to 1924.
1711 5th Ave.: Clark home
Though there are definitely modern touches throughout, the owners hope that in the near future, visitors might feel like they were really entering a 100 plus-year-old home. It was actually built in 2014 by builder Shawn Fite. The feature unique in Fairmount is that the house is wrapped around a central courtyard on three sides.
Large windows and French doors facing the courtyard light the surrounding rooms while affording a view of nature and a huge outdoor fireplace. The house’s beautiful furnishings come from the owners' passion for finding unusual and rare objects.
In the kitchen, cabinets were custom built with flush mounted doors and period style hardware like those of early Fairmount houses, while an unusually long dining table with its perfect view into the courtyard is itself a many decades-old relic of an old college science lab, complete with early electrical outlets along the sides for student experiments.
1805 S. Adams: Mears home
Built in the modern Craftsman style, the house is the reality of a Fairmount dream for owners Stephen and Elizabeth Mears. Stephen crafted and built many of the home’s period-style interior details, while Elizabeth, a television producer on the hit reality TV show Fixer Upper, finished out the decor and chose most of the finishes.
The house is a modern take on a typical Fairmount bungalow but with many features one might find in a period home of the same style, including pocket doors, a fireplace flanked with bookcases, and impressive ceilings more than 10 feet high. The house also contains repurposed vintage fixtures, including the refinished footed tub in the downstairs bath.
1316 5th Ave.: James house
This is the oldest house on this year’s tour and one of the oldest still standing in Fairmount. Built about 1895 for Barney Kennedy as a wedding gift to his new wife, Maggie, they raised their four children here before moving next door to 1312. Kennedy was a postal clerk working at the nearby Frisco Rail Line.
Constructed in what is now known as the late Victorian Folk style, the home is an amalgam of different styles of that era, including elements of Queen Anne seen in the layers of differently cut shingles wrapping the front projection and the varied massing in the rooflines. The nearly 6-foot-tall windows have working sashes and original blown wavy glass.
Inside, the house’s renovation reflects a modern taste in decoration, but the original floor plan and footprint have not been changed. Architectural features found in this home and common to this era are the transoms over every doorway, five panel doors, the old growth pine floors, and the soaring ceilings nearly 11 feet high.
1925 5th Ave: Jones-Feuling Home
This home is in the midst of a restoration. Originally built as a single family house around 1913, the home’s first owner was J. Munroe Hall, a bookkeeper for the Fort Worth Power and Light Company. The next residents were Bird Arthur Ward, a traveling salesman for a phonograph company, and his wife Ethel Lenore Ward. Next came Floyd B. Holland — a claims agent for the St. Louis to San Francisco Railway, a.k.a., the Frisco Line, which paralleled 8th Avenue.
Sturdy but simple transitional style bungalow homes, such as these often housed traveling salesman, railroad employees, home builders, and others who lived in them for a brief time. Finally, in 1922, Westbrooke B. and Mary Jane Decker purchased the house for about $6,000 and they and their six children lived here for about a decade. He was an accountant for Ernst and Ernst.
The home was converted into a duplex many years later and owned for several decades by a notorious slumlord family. The present owners bought it, and one of the first signs of their efforts to restore this home to a period appearance was removing the 1960s-era iron replacement columns and building architecturally period correct brick pier and wood post topped columns, wing walls, and railing.
Inside, it displays all the hard work in taking a house of history apart and carefully putting it back together again. They plan to keep most of the rooms intact toward a home with modern conveniences but with a historical renovation in mind.