Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985

The Conn, Morris and Weber Buildings on Main
Street in Sundance Square after extensive
renovation; these turn-of-the-century structures
now house specialty boutiques. Photo courtesy of
Citv Center Development Company.

1900s. When restoration work began on
the building, architects were determined
that the fourth floor should be restored to
return the structure to its original state.
First, workers carefully removed years of
plaster from the face of the structure. Two
different types of brick were found, the
result of an addition made in the early
1900s. Developers undertook extensive
research in the attempt to match the original
brick. Eventually, matching brick was
found on a soon-to-be-demolished building
in St. Louis, was purchased, and was
shipped to Fort Worth.
Brick masons worked on the west and
north faces of the building on a selective
basis, either replacing by hand individual
bricks or hand-cleaning existing brick. At
the completion of this tedious process,
experts re-tooled every joint with a specially
mixed red mortar of the type originally
used on the building.
Now fully restored and returned to its
original size, the old City National Bank
Building stands as a grand reminder of
Fort Worth's past.
Trompe L'oeil
Sundance Square architect Thomas Woodward
notes that "not all of the past is
good; there are banal and nondescript old

buildings as well as new ones." In several
cases, therefore, Woodward chose to demolish
structures which were either unattractive
or structurally dangerous to the
public. However, in the competition between
bulldozers and bricklayers, the latter
won out more often than not in Sundance
Square. In cases where renovation
was just not possible, City Center commissioned
muralist Richard Haas to paint
trompe l'oeil murals which mimic to the
last detail the architecture of the project's
period. In many areas visitors cannot discern
the real stonework from the paint.
Weber Building
The Weber Building, which was carefully
restored, dates back to the late 1800s, and
is believed to be one of the oldest existing
structures in Fort Worth. During restoration,
workers discovered that the building
had been "updated" around 1915, at
which time the original cast-iron columns
decorating the face of the structure had
been removed. At the same time, workers
realized that these same columns had
been used in redecoration of another Sundance
Square building, a rather squarish,
nondescript structure built in 1898. The
consensus of the architect, the developer
and the contractor was that the major contribution
this second building could make
to historic preservation was the return of
its columns to the Weber Building which,

HERITAGE * Fall 1985

unlike its neighbor, enjoyed the architectural
detailing and charm of its day. The
Bridal Building, therefore, was removed,
its columns used in restoration of the
Weber Building, and a more appealing
structure constructed in its place.
Historians also believe the Weber Building
to be the original site of the White Elephant
Saloon, now located in the Fort
Worth Stockyards and one of the City's
most popular and colorful watering holes.
As people stroll through Sundance
Square, they feel that they are walking
through history. Horse-drawn carriages
and brick courtyards add to the ambiance
created by buildings which were obviously
treated with a great deal of care
and respect. Thomas Woodward echoes
the feelings of many who have seen this
area of downtown: "This project will improve
the quality of life in Fort Worth."
Alden McKay Stupfel is the Director of
Marketing at City Center Development
Company, Fort Worth, Texas.
27

Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 2, Number 4, Fall 1985. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45445/. Accessed May 23, 2015.