By Dakota Baggett
Remains of the Dillow House
On Sept. 23, the Dillow House, a century old historic landmark located on Rosedale just across the street from the University, burned down in the middle of the night.
The building had been in use by the university until 2007 but had been condemned for about five years. While there are some conspiracy theories floating around campus about how and why the fire was started, they are all just speculation and rumor at this time.
The basis for some of these theories is surrounded by the fact that there were several legal issues concerning the building. Since the structure earlier was designated as a historic landmark, the only options for the building were to remained condemned or restoration. Depending on the condition of the house was, the renovation could cost thousands of dollars over several months.
Texas Wesleyan University wanted to demolish the home in order to make room for a new 3,000-square foot office building for the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church, according to the CTCUMC website.
“The mission of the Central Texas Conference is to energize and equip local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” via the CTC official site.
The university also went to the Historic and Cultural Landmark Commission of Fort Worth to have the historic designation removed from the house, but the commission shot down the proposal. After that the University turned to the Fort Worth Zoning Commission, which approved of removing the historic designation and then sent the approval to the City Council for a vote that passed.
Before a demolition permit was granted, Historic Fort Worth Inc. sued the city on the basis that Fort Worth broke its own laws in removing the historic designation. As a result, the City of Fort Worth brought Texas Wesleyan University in as a “necessary party” defendant for the case since Wesleyan used the process in question.
Since the house burned down almost completely and cannot be restored, Historic Fort Worth dropped all litigation against the city and Texas Wesleyan. According to the public records and the fire investigation report, the Dillow house was 2,500 square feet, the cause of the fire is unknown, but it started on the second floor.
Wesleyan President Frederick Slabach was happy to clarify and give details of the case afterwards. “We are happy there is no longer any pending litigation,” he noted, “there were no injuries, and no firefighters were hurt.
“We are excited about the groundbreaking ceremony (for the Center) this fall,” he added.
Whether observers believe that there is some shadowy business that explains the blaze, or possibly a local vagrant lit the first spark, it does not matter at this point.
Simple bad luck, divine intervention or just skill on someone else’s part might have caused the downfall of the Dillow House, but it is gone now and has made way for a newer building that will serve a purpose.
president Fredrick Slabach
Fire investigation report:
Methodist center mission statement: