Bookmark and Share
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn

THISTLE HILL

THISTLE HILL. Thistle Hill, a three-story Georgian Revival house in Fort Worth, was built in 1903 for Electra Waggoner, the daughter of cattleman William T. Waggoner, and her bridegroom, A. B. Wharton, Jr., of Philadelphia. The Whartons chose a hilltop slightly west of the city in a wealthy neighborhood known as Quality Hill for their honeymoon cottage, as it was called. The house built at 1509 Pennsylvania Avenue was designed by Fort Worth's best-known architectural team, Sanguinet and Staats, and was said to have cost approximately $38,000. It was constructed of red brick and featured white wooden stylistic elements, including large columns on the front portico and a second-floor porch which wrapped around the front of the house. The roof was of green wood shingles. The Whartons established an elegant lifestyle in the mansion, entertaining frequently and lavishly for several years. In 1910, when W. T. Waggoner partitioned his estate among his three children, Electra received $2 million in cattle, land, and horses. The Whartons then sold Thistle Hill and moved to their ranch property near Vernon. Winfield Scott, a self-made millionaire and real estate tycoon, bought the mansion for $90,000 and undertook a massive remodeling, said to have cost $100,000. The Scotts replaced the wooden decorative elements with wrought iron. Green tile, imported from Italy, replaced the shingle roof, and marble columns were installed on the front porch. Scott died before the remodeling was completed, and his widow, Elizabeth, who moved into the house in 1911, added a pergola and tea house to the west of the mansion. After Elizabeth Scott's death in 1938, her son quickly squandered his inheritance, and in 1940 he sold the house to the Girls Service League of Fort Worth for $17,500. The league, a philanthropic organization which housed underprivileged girls, occupied the home until 1968, saving the house from demolition at a time when other mansions were being razed. The league's remodeling, although often criticized, actually preserved the house. Lacking funds for extensive remodeling, the organization painted and made surface repairs but never made major changes. The league vacated the house in 1968, and it stood empty until 1975, when a community organization called Save-the-Scott leased it for preservation purposes. By 1976 the group had raised the necessary $375,000 to purchase the structure, and afterward Thistle Hill underwent a slow and expensive restoration to its 1912 condition. Such major structural repairs as strengthening the foundation and replacing the plumbing and wiring were undertaken first. Cosmetic repair continued in the late 1980s. The house covers slightly over 11,000 square feet and has eighteen rooms, six baths, and five fireplaces. Unique interior details include plaster stenciling, Tiffany Palladian windows, and a dramatic horseshoe staircase.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Judy Alter, Thistle Hill: The History and the House (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1988). Roze McCoy Porter, Thistle Hill (Fort Worth: Branch-Smith, 1980).

Judy Alter

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Judy Alter, "THISTLE HILL," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/cct02), accessed September 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.