Wiley Gulick Clarkson

Fort Worth Architect

28 Nov 1885 to 05 May 1952

 

Corsicana:  June 1908 to Dec. 1911

Fort Worth: Jan. 1912 to May 5, 1952

 

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The Family Man and My Grandfather

This part of my web site is a work in progress.  It is a record of my grandfather's amazing architectural skills, career in Fort Worth, TX, and parts of his life.  He began his career in architecture in Corsicana in June 1908.  It appears his first job of designing a building was for a Mr. T. J. Alexander of  Teague, Texas.  In 1909 he completed his study in architecture and engineering, moved back to Corsicana, and opened a full time architectural office in Corsicana. His training at the Armour Institute of Technology and the Chicago Art Institute was completed.  In Jan 1912, after marrying Mary Kate Johnson of Corsicana, he moved to Fort Worth after associating with E. Stanley Field of Waller and Field.  Waller left the firm several months later and the firm became Stanley and Clarkson Architects, and thus began a long and very distinguished career as one of Fort Worth's finest architects.  He passed from this life on May 5, 1952, when I was just three and a half years old, with projects in progress on his desk.  The only actual memory I have of him is from when I was probably three years old and I climbed into his lap while he was reading the newspaper in the small den/reading room of his home at 1417 Hillcrest, a house I would call home in my teens and early twenties.  Since I have retired, I have had a little time to dig into the mountains of records my mother stashed away and have started learning much more about my grandfather than I ever told growing up.  I hope you will find what I have put together to be informative and interesting.  I have tried to show more than just the architectural side of his life.

John C. Ryan

There is only a little information available on his projects while in Corsicana.  I have found a couple.  However, in just a couple of years, he had already developed a reputation as an exceptional architect for a young man.  The majority of his work in Corsicana is actually after he moved to Fort Worth.  The following biography was prepared by my grandfather in 1929, probably around the time he published a bound portfolio of photos of just a few of his many projects.  The published collection of selected projects titled the W. G. Clarkson Architectural Catalog, covered the years 1912 to 1927. As far as I know, it is the only portfolio in existence.  It has come apart over the years so I have scanned it into my web site. It is an amazing collection of black and white photographs of commercial buildings, schools, and homes in Ft. Worth and a few other towns.  As I have the time, I photographing the sturctures that are still in use today.  For the structures that have been demolished, I am attempting to locate old photos for my web site.

 

By Wiley G. Clarkson:

Born in Corsicana, Texas, November 28th, 1885. My father, William Clarkson, was born in Charleston, S. C. 1858, and came to Texas when a young man, settling in Corsicana and shortly thereafter engaged in the foundry and machinery business. He is still owner of the business, altho retired. My mother was born in Brenhan, Texas in 1868, and was reared in Corsicana, Texas, to which place her father moved when she was a young girl. All members of my family are Democrats and have been for generations, and all my immediate family, including myself, are members of the Episcopal church.

I was educated in the Public Schools of Corsicana, graduating there in 1903. I attended the University of Texas for two years, and then spent two years in Chicago in Armour Institute of Technology and the Chicago Art Institute studying architecture. Returning to Texas I practised Architecture in Corsicana for two years, and then came to Ft. Worth in 1912, continuing the practice of architecture. I have designed a large number of the finest homes built in Ft. Worth during the period I have been here, the bulk of my work being in Ryan Place and Rivercrest. In 1919 I associated with A. W. Gaines, and our firm, has designed work of all classes, including a number of banks and school buildings, residences and industrial buildings.

I was married to Miss Mary Kate Johnson, daughter of Dr. S. W. Johnson of Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 10, 1912. Her birthplace like my own, was Corsicana, Texas, and in this town she was raised, receiving her education in the Corsicana Public Schools, Washington City and in Boston. We have one son, Wiley Gulick Clarkson, Jr.

I am a member of the Masonic Orders; Julian Field Blue Lodge, Julian Field Chapter, Council, Commandry and Moslah Temple. Am also a member of the Fort Worth Club." 

 

 

My grandfather was a charter member of the Texas Society of Architects and was president in 194243. He was also a founding member of the Fort Worth chapter of the American Institute of Architects and served as its president in 1948. My grandfather and grandmother were members of the 1st Methodist Church in Fort Worth, and was the architect of their present building that has become a downtown landmark.

He was a Rotarian, serving as a director in 1940 (and probably other years also). He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, NSSAR membership #68100. 

  

The following photos of my grandfather as a sportsman were unseen by myself until Sept. 11, 2012.  He enjoyed bass fishing and hunting, especially for ducks.

 

 

 

 

The top photo was taken in 1917, probably right after my father was born. The birds appear to be either dove or quail. I have several other photos of him holding ducks after a very successful duck hunt.  His Texas hunting license for 1924-1925 has all of the hunting regulations for the entire state are printed on the back of the license.  If you read the back side of the license, you will see that the only county in the state closed to deer hunting was Bosque County.  Ninety years later, I live in north Bosque County and the deer population is so large that they are a nuisance, causing large monetary losses every year for drivers and farmers.  It now takes many pages in a booklet that is published each year to inform hunters and fishermen of all the regulations and restrictions that have come along in 90 years!  The next photo of him holding a string of large mouth bass was the last one taken of him that I can find the month before his unexpected death on May 5, 1952.  Look close in the photos.  He always wore a neck tie when hunting and fishing, something I would never do!

 

I have been able to track down most of the houses my grandfather and grandmother lived in over the years since moving to Fort Worth.  The only house I have not found is the 1205_?__ house they lived in starting in Jan. 1912.  I think I know where it was located but that location is now a parking lot and I have found no supporting evidence that a house was at that location on that street.  I believe the house was located on the north edge of the Fairmount addition.  Sometime between 1912 - 1916 they moved to 2127 6th Ave.  They were living at this address when my father was born on Aug. 23, 1917.  In or around 1920, they moved to 1715 6th Ave.  This house is shown in photo taken sometime in the 1980s.   However, the house apparently fell into disrepair after the photo was taken.  A later attempt to repair the home in 1998 which included an attempt to level the house caused it to slide off its foundation.  The city deemed it unsafe for further occupancy or repair and ordered it to be demolished.  Wiley, Mary Kate, and Wiley Jr. lived in this house until 1929 when he gave my grandmother the house he designed and had built at 2517 Ryan Place as a Christmas gift.  They apparently sold 2517 Ryan Place in 1936 or 1937 and moved to 2604 5th Ave.  This was a house he had designed for Elmo Sledd, a vice-president of the 1st National Bank. He purchased a house at 1417 Hillcrest in late 1939 in the River Crest housing addition in what was then west Fort Worth, and continued to live at 2604 5th Ave until remodeling was completed. They then moved to 1417 Hillcrest sometime in 1940.  After my grandfather's death on May 5, 1952, my grandmother continued to live here until her death in Nov, 1974.  My family moved into the 1417 Hillcrest house in 1966 after adding a south wing to the house in 1965.  The photo of the Hillcrest home was made in Sept. 2012.  The original house was basically a two story box with a basement.  My grandmother added an ground level, very large bedroom as an east wing in the late 1950's, and my father added a south wing den and bedroom in 1965. Over the years, the house had grown to 4700 sq ft not counting porches and the full basement.  It has been remodeled and expanded several times since after being sold in 1978.  The Ryan Place home became my grandfather's showpiece home for the Ryan Place housing addition and has continued to be a well known example of his work.  My grandparents chose to live in the areas where he had designed some of the finest homes in Fort Worth.  Many of those homes are recognized as historically important to Fort Worth architecture.

 

1205 (unknown street) 1912-1916?

This house has apparently been demolished for commercial development.  This is apparently the house my grandparents lived in starting in February of 1912.  The woman on the porch is believed to be my grandmother.

 

In April, 1916, they were living at 1615 Washington Ave.

 

 2127 6th Ave  1917 - 1920?

This is the house listed on the birth record of my father.  The TAD lists this house as built in 1916.  It is possible that my grandfather designed this house.  However, if he did, I have no record of it and unfortunately, the TAD does not list architects.  My grandparents moved into this house, the best I can tell, in 1916 or 1917.  Coincidence?

 

 

1715 6th Ave  1920?-1929

 

The above photo was made in 1995. A resource told me that they believed it originally had a single Dormer going most of the way across.  I do not know why he chose to move to this house.  Those types of decisions were never discussed in later years.

 

      

2517 Ryan Place 1929 to 1936

This house was designed and built for my grandmother as a Christmas present and given to her on Dec 25, 1929.  In a personal letter he wrote, he describes how it had cost him much more than he had planned but he was going to finish it.  I am in possession of his set of plans and specifications for this house, along with a sketch he did of how he wanted the landscaping for the house, and the list of all the different types of plants to be planted.  I am hoping to have this set of plans scanned and digitized in the near future.  I do not know what drove the decision to move out of this house.  However, I suspect it was tied to my father's graduation from high school.  They moved to the following house, a house he had designed a few years earlier.

2604 5th Ave  1936 - 1939/40

My grandparents moved here after selling the Ryan Place house.  This is another house he designed for the Ryan Place addition.  They lived here until he had completed the remodeling of another house he had purchased at 1417 Hillcrest, in Arlington Heights. I am not sure of the exact move in date but the purchase was done in 1939.

1417 Hillcrest   1940 -1978

The original house was the square two story part of the house with its full basement.  It was added to in the mid 1950's and again in 1965/66 by my family.  I lived in this house from 1966 until I married in 1974.  It remained in the family until it was sold in 1978.  The new owners did extensive remodeling and additions to the house.

 

Sometime during the early hours of May 5, 1952, while sleeping, my grandfather suffered a massive heart attack and passed from this life.  I have found many letters, telegrams, and personal notes from his friends and business associates regarding their high regard for and sense of loss when he passed away.  The following letter was from a cousin and is a example of the high esteem many held for him. 

He was laid to rest on May 7, 1952 in Greenwood Cemetery, in Fort Worth.  His beloved Mary Kate, his wife of 40 years, joined him in November 1974.  His only son and my father, Wiley G. Clarkson Jr., joined him in late March 1967,  and on April 4, 2014, my mother, Annabeth Isaacs Clarkson was also laid to rest next to my father and her beloved husband.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

This is a compiled list of architectural work done by my grandfather that I have been able to put together.  I will add to this list as I obtain information.

 

Wiley G. Clarkson Projects

 

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last update:  11/06/2014 by Wiley Clarkson

 

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.