Wiley G. Clarkson

 Fort Worth Architect

Corsicana:  June 1908 to Dec. 1911

Fort Worth: Jan. 1912 to May 5, 1952

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A History of His Architecture

The purpose of this section of my web site is to photographically document as many of the extant architectural projects of my grandfather as possible with information from his surviving files, and some historical facts.  If the project is no longer extant, then I try to locate a photo.  I have made as many files downloadable and printable as possible to help anyone who is trying to document and obtain a historical designation their home or building.  What I have put on my website are the only remaining files of my grandfather that supply information on his architectural projects, of which there were more than 1500. I have found references to less than five hundred.  My mother has told me that after my grandfather passed away in 1952, the entire collection of all files in my grandfather's office were sold to an architect in Fort Worth who they thought would maintain the collection.  They were wrong in that assumption as that architect had the files destroyed sometime after they were purchased.  The files I have were stored in my grandmother's garage at the time of the sale and some that were copied after the sale.  I am slowly putting together this collection of my grandfather's work for others to look at and pull from. I have met many interesting people who loved my grandfather's work while chasing out his projects and heard and read some fascinating stories about the people my grandfather did work for.  A friend of mine who writes about Fort Worth's historical  architecture made the following observation in an email:

"I dare say more of your grandfather's work is still standing than that of any other local architect of the first half of the twentieth century."

My grandfather's work was not limited to the Fort Worth area.  It covered the northern half of Texas from Longview to Lubbock, and Amarillo to Beaumont, Texas.  I have also found projects in Oklahoma and Mississippi.  Maps of known project locations in Texas and in Fort Worth can be viewed below.  Some of his most amazing work was done outside of Fort Worth.  From 1914 until possibly 1920, he and E. Stanley Fields, his partner until 1917, had two offices and employed possibly nine additional men to handle the work load.  In 1914, Fields moved to Wichita Falls, Texas and opened a 2nd office.  Out of that office, they handled many jobs in Wichita Falls and the surrounding area for about 75 miles.  In 1917, after the completion of the Wichita County Courthouse, Fields pulled out of the partnership and moved to Kansas City to partner with an architect in that City.  My grandfather formed a partnership with A. W. Gains which last until around 1920 when Gains suddenly passed away.  After that, my grandfather apparently closed the Wichita Falls office and became the sole owner of his firm.  He had seven men working under him following his directions for projects during the 1920's, including several who would later have architectural firms of their own and leave their mark on Fort Worth as well.

My grandfather's early buildings were characterized by historical revival styles: Neoclassicism, Gothic, and Italianate. During the late 1920s, however, he began to experiment with the new Modern or Art Deco idiom, and over the course of the next decade he produced many of the city's best examples of that style, among them the Sinclair Building (1929), the Masonic Temple (1930), the Collins Art Company (1932), the United States Courthouse (1933, with associate architect Paul Philippe Cret), the Municipal Airport Administration Building (1936), North Side Senior High School (1937), W. C. Stripling Department Store (1937), Tarrant County Building and Loan Association (1938), and the City-County Hospital (1938–39). Most of his work was centered in Fort Worth.   Fort Worth was the center of his work.  However, like a rock hitting the surface of a pond, the ripples of his work stretched out across Texas.  Fort worth was the center of the vast number of projects in his life and Fort Worth architectural history felt the full impact of this work.  His architectural designs are found in many of Texas' towns and school districts, with many still in use with state historical markers describing the historical owners or the architecture itself.  He was known for his fine homes, church buildings, and school buildings which are found in many smaller towns across Texas. 

 

During the 1930's Great Depression, he was appointed the supervising architect for the FHA and designed many projects for the WPA.  The FHA job led to the bringing a couple of coalitions together which he headed up.  One coalition designed the first two public housing projects in Fort Worth.  During World War II, he formed and headed up another coalition with the architectural firms of Joseph R. Pelich, Preston M. Geren, Sr., and Joe Rady on projects for the United States Housing Authority and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, including Liberator Village, Fort Worth; McCloskey Army Hospital, Temple; and Harmon Army Hospital, Longview

 

One of the finest examples of his architectural design is the First United Methodist Church in Ft. Worth in 1930.  He continued to design houses into the mid 1930's when he seems to have shifted to mostly larger commercial structures starting around 1940. This seems to coordinate with the increase in work load form government projects.  I have no records for houses he may have designed after 1935 except for one complete set of blueprints for a house that he designed for my mother and father in 1951.  The house was  a one story ranch style home in his records and he designed for my parents was a vastly different design from most of his housing work.  It was a large, one story ranch style home.  The house was never built because of the involvement of our troops in Korea.  My mother told me that they had picked out a lot in Ridglea for their house but the estimated cost of the house more than doubled in a very short time as we started sending troops to Korea.  I found the original blueprints while searching through closets.  Maybe one of my daughters will build that house someday!  My grandfather was still a very active architect when he passed from this life.

 

The links below are to short descriptions of projects and photo galleries with both old and new photos and scans of information pertaining to the projects in that gallery. Some photos are scans from the only known portfolio and publications remaining from that time period. Black and White photos are scans of early 20th century photos that I have in my family photo collection or I have obtained.  The newest color photos are done by me in a style that is called High Dynamic Range photography.  I prefer this style of photography for architecture because it brings up seldom seen details and it gives the photos a slightly hand painted picture look which I personally find to be very pleasing to view.

The low resolution photos are linked to high resolution photos and scans or will be in the future, as time permits.  The larger displayed are not linked.in size. 

Mike Nichols, Fort Worth resident and retired writer for the Star Telegram, has posted a series of blogs and photos of the work of my grandfather.  I have listed several links to Mike's blogs below.  I appreciate the fine write ups Mike has given my grandfather's work and the photography he has done of that work.  He has provided me with assistance in locating and/or identifying structures I have searched for.

 

1912 thru 1927 Architectural Catelog

The different projects represent a very good cross section of the different types of jobs he did and also some of his favorite design projects of the first 15 years of his work in Fort Worth.

 

Photo Galleries of Projects

Fort Worth Projects

 Ryan Place Historic Addition 

Rivercrest and West Fort Worth

Summit, Chase Court, and others

                          Commercial Buildings In Fort Worth (updated 08-12-2014)

                                       Fort Worth In Schools (updated 08-12-2014)

Fort Worth Hospitals

Churches In Fort Worth

Fort Worth Organizations

B. Max Mehl

The Unknown School that has now been identified

 

Projects outside of Fort Worth

Projects Menu By Location

 

Projects by Type

The Homes of the Livestockmen

Federal, State, County, City Government Projects

Air Fields in Texas

Masonic and Moslah Shrine

Y.M.C.A.'s

 

Photographic Advertising Portfolio

W. G. Clarkson & Company Architects  1912 - 1927

 

Letters, Lists, and Inventories of Projects

School Projects in Texas

A list of School projects that I have put together from several resouces.

 

 

Storage Inventories with Assigned Job Numbers

Project Storage Index no date

An index to where plans for each project were stored in my grandfathers files.  The date this index was prepared is unknown.  However, it is the most complete list of projects that I have found.  There are no dates by the projects listed, just the project name and the location.  The original plans listed in this index were destroyed by the architect who purchased my grandfather's business after his death.  My family was not given the opportunity purchase the plans back before they were destroyed.  If you are searching for a proof reference that my grandfather designed your house or building, the Project Index, some letters, and his professional record are the only remaining lists of his architectural projects.

1946 Box Inventory (pdf)

A smaller inventory of jobs in storage boxes that was prepared in 1946

 

Jobs Completed with Payments Due

and Jobs in Progress at Time of Death

This list was compiled using several documents that I found I recently found in a metal box of estate records.

 

Photographic order

This letter was apparently the instructions to the photographer for photographing numerous houses in Ryan Place to be included in my grandfather's 1912-1927 portfolio that was probably published in 1930.  The photographer is not known but could have been Fort Worth's W. D. Smith.

 

PROFESSIONAL RECORD OF W. G. Clarkson & Co.

610 First National Bank Building, Fort Worth, Texas, Phone 2-2742

"Major and minor commissions aggregate more than 1200 times since establishment of practice."

1944  (pdf)

1945  (pdf)

1947  (pdf)

 

Letters and Records by Date listing projects with

client or project names and job numbers

Dec. 23, 1910

May 12, 1914

July 4, 1914

Dec. 16, 1915

June 22, 1916

Oct. 25, 1916

Aug. 31, 1917 pg1

Aug. 31, 1917 pg2

Sept. 21, 1920

Aug. 11, 1922 pg1

Aug. 11, 1922 pg2

Nov. 11, 1922 pg1

Nov. 11, 1922 pg2

July 27, 1938 pdf

updated on 06/16/2014

 

Intellectual property rights to images on this web site are owned by Wiley Clarkson.  Permission for reproduction and use may be obtained by contacting Wiley Clarkson.  Unauthorized use and reproduction is prohibited.  Use in any published capacity must include proper attribution.  Some images are used with permission and the owner is displayed below the photo.  For those photos, contact the owner.