Coliseum – Exchange

The National Feeders’ and Breeders’ Show, now called the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show, was held before 1908 at various outdoor sites on the North Side. The Fort Worth Stock Yards Co. planned a permanent home for the show in 1907. The construction of the exposition building was financed by the Stock Yards Co., which owned the site, and the Swift and Armour meatpacking companies, as each of these had an interest in the Stock Yards Co and in promoting the livestock industry. In addition, the public raised $50,000 to insure the permanence of the show. May, 1907 saw the excavation of the foundation. The cornerstone was laid in a ceremony on October 3, 1907. Architect Berkley Brandt and contractors, Texas Building Co. of Fort Worth and Moravian Construction Co. of Chicago (steelwork), completed the structure on February 16, 1908, which the official opening on May 11, 1908. From 1908 to 1917, the Coliseum served as home to the Nation Feeders’ and Breeders’ Show, and from 1918 to 1930 to the Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show. Serving as a major gather place for the North Side, the Coliseum was the site of the first indoor rodeo in 1917. It has hosted Enrico Caruso, the Fort Worth Opera, former President Theodore Roosevelt, Paul Whiteman, religious revivals, political gatherings, public school sports competitions and commencements, popular music shows, and wrestling matches during its long history. In preparation for the 1936 Texas Centennial, the City of Fort Worth purchased the Coliseum for $100,000. Following the relocation of the Fat Stock Show to the Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in 1944, the City has leased the structure. The Coliseum, of rectangular plan placed gable end to the street, is constructed of red brick sheathing in natural grey cement over a concrete foundation. The huge structure in Mission Revival style features a one-story arcade across the front, forming the lobby. Two-story, hip-roofed office blocks over a raised basement flank each end of the arcade. Over the arcade on the primary mass of the Coliseum are a row of seven segmentally arched windows and the name and date of the building set in stucco relief in a stucco frame. Crowning the facade is an enormous main window, segmentally arched and fourteen bays across, matched by an identical window on the north elevation. Paired stucco brackets support the shallow gable eaves which are terminated by tiled, gabled parapets containing small arches. Side elevations of the Coliseum exhibit bays of rectangular first-story windows and large segmentally arched windows above; these are separated by buttresses which terminate above the eave line in stepped, pyramidal finials. Steel trusses hinged at the top form the roof structure, covering 14,000 square feet of interior space. No supporting columns obscure the interior view. A glazed monitor roof extending the length of the structure provides light to the dirt floored arena and the wood and concrete stands below. This structure is within the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District, was awarded a Historical Marker in 1984, and is a State Archeological Landmark. A major restoration of the Coliseum was completed by the City of Fort Worth in 1986.

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