Established in 1969 and honored in 2009 with the Texas Historical Commission’s Governors Award in Preservation, Historic Fort Worth, Inc. is dedicated to preserving Fort Worth’s unique historic identity through stewardship, education and leadership. HFW stewards two historic houses within the Quality Hill neighborhood, the 1899 Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House and the 1904 Wharton-Scott House known as Thistle Hill.
HFW’s administrative offices are on the second floor of McFarland House, 1110 Penn Street. The main floor serves as a historic house museum, and the lower level is a resource library comprised of books, photographs, surveys and thousands of files on historic buildings in Fort Worth. McFarland House is available to the public for tours, rentals and research.
HFW’s main tourism property is Thistle Hill at 1509 Pennsylvania Avenue. Adjacent to two major hospitals and with a lot of 1.5 acres, today, Thistle Hill’s park-like grounds comprise the largest green space in the Medical District. On weekdays HFW makes the grounds available at no charge to the family members of patients, the medical staff, and the general public. A children’s tactile and fragrance garden was installed in 2008, and a week-day food truck park was added in 2013. The carriage house, one of only two urban, transitional, carriage houses remaining in Texas, was built for both horses and cars and includes stalls, feeding troughs, a cooling yard, garage bays and a hand-crank gas pump. Thistle Hill is available to the public for tours and rentals.
Other HFW programs include membership tours of private and public buildings, and programs on restoration and property management, historic property research, marketing of endangered properties, preservation courses for developers and Realtors, preservation awards, tours of the city for special conferences, public appeals for threatened properties, survey updates, and façade easements.
In 2014 over 125,000 friends, members and constituents engaged with Historic Fort Worth, Inc. through memberships, community programs, as tourists, and at fundraising events like Preservation is the Art of the City®, the Hidden Gardens Tour of Fort Worth, and holiday events. As a 501(c)(3) public charity, everyone is invited to join at www.HistoricFortWorth.org.
At times HFW leverages unique opportunities to further the mission. Examples follow:
- Organized and led the tours and sessions for the 6th Art Deco World Pre-Congress in 1999.
- Worked with Mistletoe Heights on the establishment of their local historic district (2001-2002).
- Served as the lead manager of the National Town Meeting on Main Street (2002)
- Organized and managed the Your Town: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (2007) through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, SUNY University and the Carl Small Town Center.
- Partnered to designate the Near Southeast Neighborhood to establish their local historic district (2007).
- Launched Fort Worth’s first electronic survey of historic resources (2008) with over 500 properties.
- Funded the nomination (2009) for Heritage Park Plaza to be included in the National Register of Historic Places, which occurred at the national level of significance on May 10, 2010.
- Held the 2010 showhouse in a mid-century modern masterpiece, the estate of Fran & Eddie Chiles.
- Leveraged opportunities for the Ridglea Theater and offices to be designated a local landmark, which transpired in January 2011, and to be listed in the National Register, which transpired in January 2012.
- Defended the city of Fort Worth’s Landmarks ordinance.
Thistle Hill (Wharton-Scott House) 1509 Pennsylvania Avenue:
Thistle Hill was designated in 1978 as the first City of Fort Worth Historic and Cultural Landmark. A rare Georgian Revival mansion in a neighborhood once known as Quality Hill, Thistle Hill epitomizes the architectural grandeur of the cattle barons. Albert Buckman Wharton, Jr. and Electra Waggoner Wharton, the daughter of wealthy pioneer cattleman W.T. Waggoner, moved into to this 11,000 square foot, 18-room mansion in 1904. Originally designed by Sanguinet and Staats, the house was redesigned by the same firm in 1911 when the mansion was purchased for $90,000 by Elizabeth and Winfield Scott.
Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House (1899) at 1110 Penn Street
Designated a City of Fort Worth Landmark in 1980, McFarland House was Fort Worth’s second property to achieve local landmark status. Known as the region’s most intact Queen Anne residence, the elegant Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House was built high on a bluff overlooking the Trinity River. This sophisticated Victorian beauty of a little over 5,000 square feet was designed in 1899 by English architect Howard Messer for Galveston widow Mrs. George Ball (Sarah) and her son Frank. The house cost $38,000 to build at a time when the average cost of a home was $2,000 to $4,000. The second owners, William and Sarah Conger Eddleman, were from Weatherford. They bought the house in 1904, and moved in with their daughter and her husband, Caroline (Carrie) Aurelia and Frank Hays McFarland. Carrie McFarland lived there until her death 1978 at the age of 100.