Energy magnate Bob Simpson has been enamored with history since boyhood, when his mother taught him an appreciation for older things. And what in Fort Worth could be more historic than the offices of Amon G. Carter, legendary oilman and publisher of the Star-Telegram or the Star-Telegram building itself, where the great events of a century were chronicled?
It was thus no surprise that last fall, Simpson’s search for new corporate headquarters led to the corner of Seventh and Taylor streets, the Star-Telegram’s address since 1921. The building was on the market as part of the newspaper’s transition into the digital age.
“Amon Carter is an icon of Fort Worth, maybe the most prominent man in Fort Worth’s history,” Simpson, founder and former chairman of XTO Energy and part owner of the Texas Rangers, said last week. “The fact that those offices were pretty much original was the cornerstone of the attraction. … Imagine all the history that went through there, whether it was World War II or the dropping of the A-bomb or when Kennedy got shot. History not only happened there, but it had to be written about and was published.
“I felt I could be happy there just like I was in the Waggoner Building,” Simpson said, referring to his former office in another downtown landmark. “This was going to be a great place to live.”
A few months after Simpson’s first visit last year, the sale was finalized. And on Monday, in a moment of great transition downtown, Simpson officially takes possession of Amon Carter’s old edifice. After extensive renovation, the building will be home to Simpson’s new oil and gas company. The Star-Telegram will open for business Monday in new offices a block away, in what was the Commerce Building on Throckmorton Street — right across the street from where the original Star-Telegram building was more than 100 years ago, 815 Throckmorton.
‘Such great memories’
The looming change inspired much nostalgia in recent days, particularly among generations who had worked at the newspaper. But for many, that wistfulness is tempered by Simpson’s penchant for restoring several other Fort Worth landmarks.
“That building has such great memories, so many important people have passed through its doors,” said Wes Turner, Star-Telegram publisher from 1996 to 2007. “FDR. Eisenhower. LBJ. Governors. Senators. Heads of state. Will Rogers. And all tied to one person, Amon Carter. It stands there as an icon with the courthouse and the Fort Worth Club. The thing I’m most happy about is that it was sold to someone who has a wonderful appreciation of old architecture and the great buildings of Fort Worth.”
Beginning Monday, the relocated newspaper will occupy five floors of what will now be known as the Star-Telegram Building, which includes a state-of-the-art newsroom on the fourth floor.
“Everybody understands that you need to have an infrastructure that fits your size, and this building no longer fits our size,” Star-Telegram Publisher Gary Wortel said last week. “It also doesn’t have the technological nuances that we needed for the future. This new building is the right size, and it gives us the technology.”
But Wortel said he came to appreciate the importance of the location in the heart of the city and the paper’s history going back to Carter.
“With the newspaper’s roots in Fort Worth, having a visible presence downtown means more here than in a lot of other metropolitan markets,” he said. “It’s a very close-knit city. Business leaders work closely with government leaders. That’s why we have such a great downtown, and the newspaper is in the center of that. It also speaks to why it’s important for us to stay downtown.”
Source: Fort Worth Star Telegram