If you have a favorite old building in Fort Worth that you're worried about, now's the time to speak up. Historic Fort Worth Inc., a preservation group, is seeking candidates for the 2022 rendition of its annual Most Endangered Places list.

The list is a marketing overture that spotlights historic resources in peril.

That peril could be any number of circumstances such as deferred maintenance, no local landmark designation, loss of parking, or lack of awareness of economic incentives to rehab historic buildings.

They've been doing this program since at least 2004. Buildings they've spotlighted over the years include Knights of Pythias Hall, Texas & Pacific Warehouse, Fort Worth Public Market Building, and a Big Boy on Jacksboro Highway. Some have been saved, some not.

The Fort Worth Convention Center has made the list in prior years. They write:

Fort Worth's flying saucer convention center arena was designed in the 1960s as an urban renewal project for the county by a consortium of local architects that included Preston M. Geren, Herman E. Cox, Morris Parker, and the firms of Hueppelhueser & White, and Wilson, Patterson, Sowden, Dunlap, and Everly. Today, this arena that played host to everything from Elvis to the opera deserves a chance to be repurposed for a different function instead of facing demolition.

Hear hear!

There's a comprehensive summary of all the properties that have appeared on prior lists online. There's also a cool map with photos.

For the 2022 list, a wide range of sites will be considered, including commercial, residential, religious, public buildings, neighborhoods, bridges, monuments, and landscapes.

According to a release, properties that are recognized as endangered can benefit from increased public awareness and assistance from Historic Fort Worth to address issues.

They say there is a nomination form you can download, although said form is not anyplace obvious on their website, which you can send to:

Most Endangered Places, Historic Fort Worth Inc., 1110 Penn St., Fort Worth, TX 76102 or via email.

The deadline is March 11. Maybe also try emailing prc@historicfortworth.org.

An announcement of the list will be made May 8 at 12 noon at Thistle Hill, 1509 Pennsylvania Ave. The event is part of National Preservation Month in May.


Former KKK building in Fort Worth to be transformed into healing space

Urban Renewal

A Fort Worth building that was previously a monument to hate and violence will be reborn: Located at 1012 N. Main St., it's the former Ku Klux Klan Klavern No. 101 Auditorium, and it's been purchased by Transform 1012 N. Main Street (T1012), a non-profit coalition of local arts, grassroots, service organizations, plus pro bono partners.

According to a release, it'll be transformed into The Fred Rouse Center for Arts and Community Healing, a space of truth, reconciliation, and liberation for the nation.

Fred Rouse was a Black butcher who was lynched by a white mob in Fort Worth in 1921. With this reparative justice project, T1012 seeks to return resources to the communities that were targeted for marginalization and violence by the KKK.

The plan is to transform the building into a vibrant cultural hub with state-of-the-art performance space, arts training and programming, services for underserved and LGBTQ+ youth, exhibit spaces dedicated to social justice and civil rights, a makerspace and tool library for local DIY classes, meeting spaces for racial equity and leadership workshops and community events, an outdoor urban agriculture and artisan marketplace, and affordable live/work spaces for artists- and entrepreneurs-in-residence.

The acquisition has been in the works since 2019 and was made possible by a grant from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the mobilization efforts of the T1012 Founding Board, a pluri-cultural, shared leadership collective of eight local organizations:

  • Opal LeeFoundation
  • SOL Ballet Folklórico
  • Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice
  • The Welman Project
  • Window to Your World
  • 1012 Youth Council

Other project funders include Atmos Energy, the Ford Foundation, MASS Design Group, The National Endowment for the Arts, and Tecovas Foundation.

Founding members of the board include Daniel Banks (DNAWORKS), Vanessa Barker (TheWelman Project), Freddy Cantú (SOL Ballet Folklórico), Ayesha Ganguly (Window to Your World), Sharon Herrera (LGBTQ SAVES), Jacora Johnson (1012 Youth Council), Dr. Opal Lee (Dr. Opal Lee's Foundation), Adam McKinney (Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice), RománRamírez (SOL Ballet Folklórico), and Taylor Willis (The Welman Project).

In a statement, Daniel Banks, Ph.D., who is Board Chair and co-founder/co-artistic director of DNAWORKS, says he envisions "a crossroads where all of Fort Worth can gather; where every cultural group feels a sense of belonging, of being seen, represented, and listened to; where we celebrate the richness of our individual cultures freely and openly; and where repairing past harm and damage leads to greater respect and appreciation, creativity, and love — of self and one another."

Community and Juneteenth activist Dr. Opal Lee, who is a founding board member recalls that, "as a child, my family lost our home to 500+ people, and I don’t know if they were Klansmen or what they were, but they didn’t want us in the neighborhood,” said . “I want people to know that they can work together, live together, play together — and this building personifies that to me."

Additional partners include J.L. Powers & Associates, MASSDesign Group, The Projects Group, Saira Jasmine Concepts, SpawGlass, and United Way of Tarrant County.

When the Ku Klux Klan Auditorium opened in 1924, Fort Worth had one of the largest KKK memberships in the United States and the building was the KKK's headquarters in Texas. As the release puts it so well, the brick behemoth was designed and located to intimidate Northside Black, Hispanic, and immigrant residents returning home from the city center.

Photo courtesy of TransWestern

Oldest school in Fort Worth attended by Ginger Rogers is up for rent

Elementary School News

A former Fort Worth elementary school once attended by Ginger Rogers is available for rent.

The Stephen F. Austin Elementary School is now dubbed "The School at Lipscomb," and has served as an office building since it stopped being a school in 1977.

The 21,548-square-foot two-story office building is at 319 Lipscomb St., and is being leased by Transwestern Real Estate Services.

Transwestern principal Whit Kelly says in a statement that the building's rich history offers a one-of-a-kind setting.

"Opportunities for single or multi-tenant use are extraordinary, and the design of the schoolhouse only supplements the tenant experience within the unique space," Kelly says.

The school was built in 1892 in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. It's the oldest standing school building in Tarrant County, and was named to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

Famed golfer Ben Hogan and actress Ginger Rogers both attended the school.

Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Co. purchased the building in 1980 and used as its corporate headquarters until 2020, when the company moved to its current headquarters at 509 W. Vickery Blvd.

The campus features

  • multiple expansive executive offices with private restrooms
  • conference rooms
  • catering kitchen
  • walkable outdoor green space with room for amenities
  • original chalkboards in most offices
  • ample parking

Large arches framing the recessed entries are complemented by hardwood floors, antique glass, original doors, and wainscoting.

"The Schoolhouse on Lipscomb served the needs of our employees for decades," says Philip Williamson, former CEO of Williamson-Dickie. "It is truly unique, has a fantastic feel and offers a glimpse into the past, while meeting all the needs tenants might require in today's world. We are excited for the possibility of a new tenant enjoying the space, just as we did."

Rendering courtesy of Stage West

Revered Fort Worth theater breaks ground on major renovations

Sledgehammer Time

One of Fort Worth's major theaters has broken ground — well, walls — on its upcoming renovations. Stage West executive producer and artistic director Dana Shultes and members of the board gathered to take a sledgehammer to 823 W. Vickery, where phase one will begin on March 2.

In the plans is a flexible black box theater space with state-of-the-art technology, dressing rooms, and bathrooms. A smaller rehearsal hall/performance space that can house an audience of 30 to 40 people, with minimal theatrical capabilities, is also anticipated, along with new administrative offices and a new box office located at the front of the main venue at 821 W. Vickery.

Near Southside's BASECOM Inc. Construction, which is owned by Oscar Oaxaca, has been contracted to head up the project.

The current plan is to have the new black box theater open for use during Stage West's 42nd season (October 2020-September 2021). The theater is currently gearing up to open its third production of the current season, Lucy Kirkwood's The Children, on March 12.

Stage West bought the 821-823 W. Vickery Blvd. venue in Fort Worth's historic Near Southside in January 2018. The building was originally built in 1930 as a bus garage for the city.

A $4.5 million comprehensive, three-year "Campaign for Stage West: Setting the Stage for the Future" launched publicly in February 2019. Since that date, the theater has raised over $2.7 million toward renovations and general operations over the span of the campaign, which runs through September 2022.

Over three phases of work, Stage West's renovations are designed not only to enhance the theater-going public's experience, but also to create a more efficient and effective workspace for the staff and artists creating the programming. Funding for phase one has been fully secured. Naming rights are still available for various parts of the project, including dressing rooms and kitchen.

Phase one of the renovations will include a new black box theater.

New Stage West studio theater
Rendering courtesy of Stage West
Phase one of the renovations will include a new black box theater.
Photo by Mike Morgan

Irving theater company brings up the curtain on new performance space

New Year, New Stage

MainStage Irving-Las Colinas, the city's main theater company since Lyric Stage moved to downtown Dallas in 2017, is growing. The nonprofit organization has leased a building at 222 E. Irving Blvd. in the Heritage District, what used to be the Texas Musicians Museum, and will rename it MainStage 222.

It will feature indoor and outdoor stages as well as rehearsal space, storage, and a scenic-building facility. MainStage 222 will also be offered as a rental facility for outside theaters, musicians, meetings, and events. The theater company will continue its traditional production series at the Irving Arts Center.

"MainStage Irving-Las Colinas' 50-plus-year success demonstrates the incredible amount of support Irving contributes to our thriving local arts scene," says Irving mayor Rick Stopfer. "I'm thrilled to see this local organization not only make use of this terrific facility, but to see how they create new performance opportunities for our residents to enjoy and participate."

If you're in the mood to celebrate with the group, a ribbon-cutting and open-house event will take place on October 3 from 5:30-9 pm, with entertainment and light bites included.

"We are so excited to move in to our new home and make it a place for which the Irving community can enjoy a variety of great performances," says Clayton Cunningham, president of the MainStage board of directors. Board member and long-time Irving resident Tom Ortiz agrees: "I've lived in Irving all my life and I can't wait to introduce our theater to more residents of our great city."

The 2019-20 season of MainStage Irving-Las Colinas at the Irving Arts Center includes Boeing, Boeing (July 19-August 3), The Royal Dilemma, a co-production with ThinkIndia Foundation (September 12-28, 2019), A Chorus Line (November 1-9, 2019, in Carpenter Hall), Have Yourself A Broadway Little Christmas (December 12-14, 2019), Pride & Prejudice (January 25-February 8, 2020), Inherit The Wind (March 20-April 4, 2020), Disaster! The Musical (May 8-23, 2020), and How The Other Half Loves (July 17-August 1, 2020).

Programming at the new MainStage 222 will be announced at a later date.

For tickets to and information about MainStage Irving-Las Colinas' productions, visit www.IrvingTheatre.com.

Photo courtesy of City of Arlington

Downtown Arlington's 'crown jewel' designated one of Texas' great places

Places to see

On your next day trip east from Fort Worth, you might want to add a stop for a show at the Levitt Pavilion, an outdoor venue in the heart of downtown Arlington recently named one of Texas' "Great Public Spaces."

The Texas chapter of the American Planning Association bestowed the honor upon the venue on April 1 through its Great Places in Texas program, which showcases areas that “exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value,” according to a statement. The Levitt Pavilioin joins five other outstanding Great Places in Texas honored in 2019.

Deemed the "crown jewel" of downtown Arlington revitalization efforts, the performing arts venue hosts musical acts across the spectrum, movie nights, and more.

"Eager to revive its downtown core, city leaders and engaged citizens came together with the national Levitt organization to bring the Levitt program to Arlington," the association says. "Since Levitt Arlington’s opening, nearly a dozen restaurants have opened in the vicinity, with more on the way. Levitt Arlington has also served as a catalyst for major investment from the University of Texas at Arlington, which shifted its $300 million expansion into the downtown area with new residences, shops, restaurants, parking and an indoor performance venue."

This is the third year of the statewide program, which is modeled from the American Planning Association’s ongoing Great Places in America program. The five other Great Places in Texas designees for 2019 are:

  • Great Neighborhood: Downtown Bastrop, Bastrop
  • Great Neighborhood: Downtown Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches
  • Great Street: Hill Country Mile, Boerne
  • Great Public Space: Discovery Green, Houston
  • Great Public Space: San Jacinto Plaza, El Paso
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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

New brunch cafe cracks top spot in this week's 5 most-read Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. New cafe in North Fort Worth does eggtastic breakfast, brunch, and lunch. There's an exciting new restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and brunch in Fort Worth's Alliance Town Center: Called Eggtastic Brunch Cafe, it's located at 9160 North Fwy. #452, in the same shopping center as Sam Moon, where it opened in mid-April and is already drawing raves from locals for its hearty and well-made dishes, doting service, and cheerful bright atmosphere.

2. Fort Worth chef Tim Love cooks up collection of premium jeans and accessories. Fort Worth chef Tim Love’s next project trades chef’s whites for blue jeans: Love Collection, his debut line of premium women's and men's apparel and accessories, launched Friday, May 19 online and at one of Love’s properties in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

3. Burleson's Jellystone Park unlocks grain bin cabins, covered wagons, and tipis for summer glamping. Ahead of the busy summer travel season, the North Texas Jellystone Park in Burleson has added a few of the coolest new "glamping" accommodations in Texas. Furnished tipis, covered wagons, and grain bin cabins opened to guests on May 19.

4. New lagoon-waterpark with lazy river dives into Dallas-Fort Worth. A long-awaited waterpark in Cedar Hill is debuting Memorial Day weekend with two of Texas' favorite splashy attractions: a lagoon and lazy river. The Lagoon at Virginia Weaver Park will open Saturday, May 27 after more than a year in development.

5. Action-packed Fast X drives home the ridiculousness of series' premise. Believe it or not, we are now over 20 years into the existence of the Fast & the Furious franchise, evolving from a street-racing story to one that could be compared to the Mission: Impossible and James Bond series. Our critic reviews the latest entry, Fast X.

Fort Worth Symphony launches summer concerts with sparkly extra: drones

Fireworks News

The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra returns in 2023 with its annual summer concert series, Concerts in The Garden, featuring 11 concerts taking place at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, starting May 26 and running through June 11.

This year's lineup includes tributes to the Beatles, the Eagles, and Led Zeppelin, as well as nights featuring cinematic themes such as Harry Potter and Star Wars.

But the coolest part of the 2023 series might be the light show: For the first time, they're replacing old-school fireworks with the use of cutting-edge drones.

Drones are an innovative technology that creates stunning night-sky displays using LED lights. The practice of using drones to create light shows has only been around a few years, but has been used in high-profile Olympics ceremonies as well as by the city of Dallas, who added drones as an enhancement to its 2022 New Year's Eve fireworks display.

They're an up-and-comer with many benefits, both practically and aesthetically, says FWSO VP of operations John Clapp, including avoiding the potential to start fires, as Fort Worth endured on July 4, 2022 when a fireworks show at Panther Island Pavilion started a grass fire and the event had to be shut down.

"The Botanic Garden has a lot of grass, trees, and other landscaping that could pose an issue if fireworks were to go astray," Clapp says. "Parts of Texas are so dry and fires are not uncommon. This seems like a safer option."

"It also reduces the impact on homes and residences in the area - we don’t need that noise late at night and drones don’t have that problem," he says.

"We’re doing all kinds of enhancements to our indoor concerts, and we thought, why not do something with our outdoor concerts, too?" he says.

The company helping the FWSO with its programming is headquartered in North Richland Hills: Called Sky Elements, they're risen to become the top name in drone shows, flying all over the country, from Seattle to Key West to the Santa Monica Pier in California, where they'll be headed for Memorial Day.

The company employs a team of 3D animation specialists who can create displays with customized themes, says VP of development Rick Boss.

"That's one of the fun things about the Symphony's program, it has multiple unique themes like Star Wars, which is quite fun, like putting together pieces of a puzzle," Boss says.

Sky Elements started out as a pyrotechnics company, and they still do fireworks, but they're shifting all of their resources to drones, and can't keep up with demand.

From a practical standpoint, drones surpass fireworks because there's no risk of fire, and they're silent. Noise from fireworks is extremely harmful to people with PTSD as well as to wildlife and pets who get spooked and run in fear; the worst days of the year for animal shelters are July 4 and New Year's Eve.

Drones have also come down in cost to be about the same as fireworks, which have become more expensive in recent years.

The duration of a drone show is 10-15 minutes and is dependent on the drones' battery life. You measure the splendor of a drone show by how many drones. Ross says they've done shows with up to 1,000 drones; their shows for the Concerts in the Garden will deploy approximately 100 drones.

"It's a nice size, and most people haven't seen this before, so it will be a fun one," he says. "I get such a kick out of seeing the joy it brings to people."

Beyond the pragmatic element, drones also offer a more nimble and expansive palette, allowing designers to create designs and displays that fireworks cannot, says the FWSO's Clapp.

"Fireworks kind of spread out and do what they do," he says. "Pattern-wise, it's nice to look at, but the drone shows are artistically fantastic, with images that animate and move into 3D. They let you tell a story."