FW preservationists fight to save Ridglea Theater building



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Posted on August 12, 2010 at 7:52 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 12 at 10:43 PM

Ridglea Theater

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FORT WORTH - Concern has begun to grow over the fate of a beloved landmark building in west Fort Worth.

The Ridglea Theater on Camp Bowie could be converted into a bank, and preservationists are saying it's not too late to save the building's history.

Sixty years ago, John Wayne rocked the Ridglea Theater with six guns. Now, lesser known bands keep the place alive on weekends. Preservationists know it'll take more to save it.
"Anybody could demolish it tomorrow, which is always a threat," said Jerre Tracy, who said she watched movies at the theater as a child. Now, she heads Historic Fort Worth, INC.  

This week, she attended a meeting with city leaders and supporters of a proposal to convert the Ridglea into a Bank of America. Tracy said the front and landmark tower could stay, but perhaps not much more.

"Eleven percent of the historic fabric is not considered saving it by any preservation standard," she said.

She isn't alone in her battle.
"We believe this is a place that matters," said Jonathon Poston, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Poston said the Ridglea deserves landmark protection, but said the best way to save the building is to put it in use.

"If it has to be an office building, so be it," he said.

Architect John Roberts said it's definitely worth saving.

"My firm has restored buildings that were worse than this," he said.

There is no deadline or time frame, just a growing sense that change is coming and that anyone who cares needs to speak up now.

The Ridglea Theater remains open. The current lease holder is still booking acts and has a lease until next June. So, the future of the Ridglea, like the best moves that showed there, remains a mystery. 

E-mail: jdouglas@wfaa.com