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Thursday, September 29, 2022
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Fire Burns Historic Public Market Building

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A fire Thursday night damaged the 93-year-old Public Market building on Henderson Street in downtown Fort Worth. | Image by Glen Ellman/Fort Worth Fire Department

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A fire broke out in the vacant, historic Public Market building near downtown Fort Worth on Thursday.

Several calls around 8 p.m. reported black smoke pouring from the boarded-up windows. Fort Worth firefighters successfully extinguished the fire and prevented significant damage to the striking terra cotta designs decorating the building’s exterior.

The Fort Worth Fire Department explained, “Firefighters arrived to find fire on the first floor of the building. Crews worked to both search for anyone that may be inside and to extinguish the fire.”

Over the next several hours, 75 fire personnel assisted in extinguishing the fire.

No injuries were reported, but an investigation into the cause of the fire remains ongoing. This incident comes during high temperatures, with several other fires recently igniting in the surrounding area.

The Public Market building is a Texas Historic Landmark included in the National Register of Historic Places as a significant Fort Worth landmark. Designed by architect B. Gaylord Noftsger in 1930, it originally served as a space for farmers and businesses to sell their commodities. The market closed during the Second World War in 1941 and has since been used for various purposes.

A 2010 fire significantly damaged another building on the property. Bob Simpson, co-chairman of the Texas Rangers, purchased the building in 2012 but subsequently sold it to businessmen Farris and Dan Wilks in 2014.

In March 2022, Wilks Development proceeded with plans to restore the original building and construct a new senior living facility next to it. The Public Market would house various amenities for residents and the public, including a leasing office, a fitness center, a café, and a coffee shop.

The company’s CEO Kyle Wilks explained at the time they aimed to create an atmosphere, a space where the public could “relive what the public market was like back in the ’30s when it was built.”     

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