State Board of Review approves Farrington Field for National Register of Historic Places

·3 min read

The State Board of Review approved adding Farrington Field and Billingsley Field House to the National Register of Historic Places on Saturday because of the complex’s local architectural significance and entertainment and social history.

The 82-year-old Farrington Field complex is a centralized athletic complex owned by the Fort Worth school district off of University Drive and is named after E.S. Farrington, the district’s first athletic director. Its construction was funded by the Works Projects Administration in 1938, according to the nomination document.

Susan Allen Kline, historic preservation consultant, and Jerre Tracy, Historic Fort Worth executive director, worked to nominate the complex to the register, citing its historical significance and extraordinary architecture as reasons why it should be on the list.

Farrington Field has hosted football legends in the making, which include Pro Football Hall of Famers Yale Lary and Earl Campbell and the Mighty Mites, to name a few. General Douglas MacArthur gave a speech in the stadium in June 1951 and the complex has hosted many other celebrations in Fort Worth.

Farrington Field’s exterior consists of bas-relief sculptures on its frieze and art deco style columns, making it unique from modern stadiums.

The designation on the register means the complex will qualify for the State of Texas’ 25% tax credit to help pay for maintenance on the building, Tracy said. It could also make the property more attractive to buyers who specialize in preserving parts of historical structures.

Once approved by the state, nominations are submitted to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. according to the National Park Service website. The park service then makes a listing decision within 45 days.

Tracy said a place on the register differs from a local landmark designation as the complex would not be protected from demolition.

In 2019, Fort Worth ISD announced plans to sell several district-owned properties, including the Farrington Field complex. At the time, district officials discussed the idea of redeveloping and repurposing the complex into a mixed-use technology and business center.

During that same time, the Star-Telegram reported the district was working with architectural planning firm Bennett Benner Partners to preserve the exterior frieze and columns. The North Texas based firm was recently awarded for its restoration designs of the historic brick horse and mule barns at the Stockyards.

Barbara Griffith, Fort Worth ISD senior communications officer, said Friday that the district has no new plans for the complex. Moving forward, she said, there will be engaged community discussion about what can be done before any steps are taken.

While plans for the complex have been paused, Michael Bennett, Bennett Benner Partners president and CEO, said his firm will most likely continue its partnership with the district when the project picks back up again.

In an interview last week with the Star-Telegram, Evan Farrington, grandson of E.S. Farrington, said he was in full support of the complex’s nomination to the national register.

“It’s not just a sports stadium,” Farrington said. “There are a lot of little special things, that aren’t sports things, that have happened, Farrington Field just happens to be a great centrally located place for all kinds of non-athletic events.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting