Fort Worth's Historic Fuller House Likely to Escape Wrecking Ball

A one-of-a-kind "geometric" house built by an oilman and his wife almost 60 years ago, featuring rooms of various shapes, will apparently escape the wrecking ball. The 8,400-square-foot Andrew Fuller House, designed by noted California architect A. Quincy Jones, was sold Friday to a Fort Worth couple, according to the previous owner and the real estate agent.

By Chris Vaughn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

July 31, 2012

The house on Charron Lane in west Fort Worth had been owned since 2003 by a Frost Bank trust in the name of Amon Carter III, the son of former Star-Telegram publisher Amon Carter Jr. and the grandson of Fort Worth legend Amon Carter Sr.

The house, considered a mid-century masterpiece by Jones, had fallen into disrepair after Carter moved out four years ago.

It faced demolition earlier this year because no one would pay the bank's original asking price of close to $1 million. An article in the Star-Telegram in January generated renewed interest, and the bank dropped its price considerably to reach a deal with the buyer.

Neither the sale price nor the identity of the buyer was revealed.

The Fuller House was listed as one of the city's "most endangered" properties by Historic Fort Worth, a preservation organization. The group's executive director, Jerre Tracy, could hardly contain her excitement Monday at news of the sale, which came on the heels of another endangered historic building, the Public Market building on Henderson Street, being purchased by oil and gas executive Bob Simpson.

"It was a good week in preservation, and they're hard to find," she said. "It's a house with such a brilliant past."

The buyer's plans for the house are not known. But it is unlikely that someone would buy it to raze it.

Tracy and Diane Madalin Wright, a senior vice president at Frost Bank, both said they believe that the new owner wants to restore the house.

"I don't think you would buy it, unless you 'got' the architecture," Tracy said.

Originally built on 17 acres above Edgehill Road in the Ridglea neighborhood, the Fuller House now sits on 2.5 acres surrounded by newer homes built in the 1980s and '90s.

Andrew and Geraldine Fuller, a wealthy couple with numerous friends in Hollywood, commissioned Jones to design the house. They also hired William Haines, an equally famous mid-century interior designer and former actor, to oversee the interior.

Completed in 1953, the house is an architectural eye-opener, with gigantic rooms and 20-foot ceilings.

Every room is a different geometric shape -- circles, trapezoids and rhombuses, to name some.

The original house had only two bedrooms, although a garage was later converted to add two more. Six decades later, the woodwork is still gorgeous, even after water damage.

Entire walls of glass offer a view of the enormous back yard, with its 50-foot-long swimming pool.

The Fullers entertained numerous motion picture luminaries at the house, including Jimmy Stewart and Joan Crawford.

Indeed, Jones' houses in California are often owned by a who's who of the super-rich and famous. Courteney Cox owns a Jones-designed house. Jennifer Aniston bought one in Bel Air this year for a reported $21 million. The internationally famous Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., once owned by Ronald Reagan's friends Walter and Leonore Annenberg, is a Jones design.

Fort Worth boasts one other Jones-designed house, in Westover Hills. It was originally owned by former Texas Rangers owner Eddie Chiles.

Because the Fuller House was unoccupied for years and the utilities were shut off, it needs perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in work to repair water damage to ceilings, floors and wiring.

But Wright said Frost Bank would sell only to a buyer who "had the wherewithal" to pay for rehabilitation. Several other suitors were turned away, she said.

A former owner of the house and relative of the Fullers, Adelaide Elizabeth Biggs, said she was relieved that it would be saved. Biggs, the niece of Andrew Fuller, owned the house from 1965 to 1972.

"I'm so thankful," she said. "That is just wonderful news."

Chris Vaughn, (817) 390-7547

Twitter: @CVaughnFW

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