Shells of Our City: Fort Worth Power Plant

Former power plant now owned by Tarrant County College District

On banks of the Trinity River, a cornerstone of Fort Worth's utility history sits abandoned, awaiting its next generation -- or possible destruction.

The Fort Worth Power and Light Company Power Plant, sits just north of the Trinity from 100 to 300 N. Main Street near downtown Fort Worth. Built around 1912, the facility replaced an earlier Fort Worth power plant built in the 1890s.

Smokestacks above the plant previously used to spit out exhaust from the coal powered generators and displayed a face now familiar to long-time Fort Worth residents -- the power-generating mascot known as Reddy Kilowatt.

The facility generated power for the city until it was decommissioned in 2004. In September of the next year, the smokestacks that once towered over the river were demolished.

Drivers on N. Main heading from Downtown to the Stockyards, or visiting nearby LeGrave Field can see where the years of neglect have damaged the building. Windows are scattered, the roof leaks, and the interior beams are rusted. Though a chain link fence separates a space between the building and the Trinity Trails that wind around the area, there are places that someone could sneak in.

But looking across the water may give a glimpse into the future for the plant.

On the south banks of the river, the Tarrant County College District opened a new Trinity River East Campus in August of 2011. The campus is a modern, $185 million glass and concrete building that seems to jut off the hillside to point north over the river. One impressive view from the windows of the campus looks right at the vacant Fort Worth Power Plant.

The TCCD's latest campus is only part of the major Trinity River Campus that used to be the site of RadioShack's corporate headquarters. But it could expand even further, as the TCCD has owned the former power plant since 2004. According to the TCCD, the property was purchased for the construction of another campus in downtown Fort Worth.

But there's no clear plans for the site right now. "Future plans have not been determined," said Rita Parson, Coordinator of Public Information Services for TCCD.

With no historic or landmark declaration for the building, it's possible the plant could simply be demolished to make way for future TCCD expansion or other development. But the Historic Fort Worth preservation group, which has put the building on their "Most Endangered Places" list six times, wants to see the building restored using economic incentives that a "landmark" designation could bring.

Until plans for the plant are revealed, the site will stay silent, generating only minor interest for those driving or walking by.

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