Messer House – Locke

Arthur Albert Messer (1863-1934), later a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, practiced architecture in Texas from about 1888 through 1898. He was first a partner with Fort Worth architect A. J. Armstrong; the firm of Armstrong and Messer was responsible for a number of commercial structures, as well as the Texas Spring Palace of 1888-89. Messer was joined by his younger brother Howard, also an architect, about 1892. In that year the brothers formed a partnership with Marshall R. Sanguinet, which lasted through at least 1896. The firm was instrumental in the development of Arlington Heights for the Chamberlin Investment Co., and designed Ye Arlington Inn at Lake Como, and many of the early large houses in the area, including the Bryce House (4900 Bryce Avenue), the Sanguinet House (4729 Collinwood Avenue), and probably the Allison House (5628 Pershing Avenue). Arthur Messer later worked in Galveston and returned to England in 1898; Howard left Fort Worth about 1905, also for England. Sanguinet later went on to form his celebrated partnership with Carl G. Staats. The Messer brothers owned this hilltop property comprising eight lots from 1892 to 1903. This important house presumably was the design of Arthur Messer for his own house. Robert W. Flournoy, who purchased the property from the Messers, was an attorney, an instructor of law at Fort Worth University, and later of the firm Flournoy, Smith & Storer. The house remained in the Flournoy family until 1925. The two and one-half story house of generally rectangular plan has a front-facing cross gable on the east end and a rounded west end. Two large segmental arches on the south front permit access to a recessed entry porch, while the second floor of the rounded west end contains a sleeping porch supported by Tuscan columns. First-story walls are constructed of dark ochre-brown brick inset with a diaper pattern of red brick; red brick quoined surrounds embellish window and porch openings. Half-timbering with stucco infill clads the second-story elevations. Fine details include the diamond-paned windows in the cross gables; tax records indicate that some interior walls and floors are sheathed in Italian marble. Changes to the structure are indicated by comparison to an early photograph of the “Messer Residence,” in an 1896 monograph published by Sanguinet and Staats which includes the works of their predecessor firm. Originally, three peaked and turreted dormers on the west end of the roof balanced the cross gables. The west end porch, originally of wood-frame construction, has had its first-floor elevation encased in brick, and the recessed entry porch initially featured Tudor arches. Stucco sheathing on the second floor of the cross gable, below the gable end, is a later addition as well. One of the great houses of Arlington Heights, the Messer House at present is in poor, deteriorating condition. Following restoration, the dwelling would be eligible for the National Register.

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