600 Eighth Avenue
Construction of this home, built by Fort Worth jeweler James E. Mitchell, was completed in 1907. It was designed by the architectural firm of Sanguinet and Staats. Headquartered in Fort Worth, Sanguinet and Staats was one of the most influential and successful firms in Texas between 1903 and 1930 and was responsible for many landmark buildings throughout the state. Although better known for their steel framed skyscrapers (of which the Flatiron Building in downtown Fort Worth is an outstanding example), the firm designed some of the finest homes in Fort Worth during the first decade of the new century. Besides the house at 600 8th Avenue, others still standing are Thistle Hill (1509 Pennsylvania Ave.), the William J. Bryce House (4900 Bryce Ave.), and the Baldridge House (5100 Crestline Rd.), all of which have been designated as historical landmarks.
James Mitchell sold the house to his friends Dr. Charles B. and Eva Simmons. Charles and Eva had one daughter, Ann Maurine, who married Dr. Frank Schoonover in 1922. Both couples lived together in the house, and the Schoonovers added three daughters (Ann, Betty, and Jane) to the household.
Dr. and Eva Simmons transferred title of their home to Ann Maurine and her husband Frank. Through the years the house was the source of many Schoonover family events, especially weddings. Eventually Dr. Schoonover moved his medical practice into the house.
Maurine Schoonover, widowed and in failing health, decided to sell the family home, dying soon after. Her daughter, Ann Maurine Packard, who lives in Alabama with her retired husband Dr. John Packard, corresponds yearly to inquire about happenings at her childhood home.
The investment group that purchased the home converted it to commercial use and obtained Texas Historical Commission designation for the property. The house was leased to various commercial enterprises, including a savings and loan, a home health care service, a physician, and an architect.
Art and Lynda Brender purchased the home for Mr. Brender’s law office and began restoration after the great Cinco de Mayo hailstorm inflicted considerable damage. Subsequently, the Brenders purchased and restored the other two homes on the block. All three houses have been admitted to the National Register of Historic Places.
The living room is graced with front door, door panels and windows of faceted glass that hark back to the jeweler who built the home. The traditional Arts and Crafts fireplace and dramatic staircase set the scene for social events of the era. The dining room has an “annunciator” button on the floor by the hostess’s chair so that servants could be discreetly summoned. The dark oak that dominates the living room, dining room, and bathroom give way to pine in the more utilitarian rooms of the butler’s pantry, kitchen, and service porch.
The only major changes that have been made to this floor are the temporary wall and Dutch door added between the living room and parlor to provide privacy for the law office staff and the enclosure of an exterior door to the service porch. The living room and dining room have been furnished with furniture from Stickley Brothers, a manufacturer born in the early twentieth century and still in existence. In the butler’s pantry, by the sink, there is a small door through which ice and other supplies were delivered to the household. The children took their meals on this service porch awhile the adults dined in the formal dining room. The kitchen had a large stove, and the two pantries remain in their original state.
The lighting system was originally designed to use either gas lamps or electricity because Mr. Mitchell did not entirely trust the newer technology. Heat was supplied by fireplaces and a coal burning furnace. In the basement were both a coal room and a room for storage of wood.
The Mitchells hired a married couple as servants, and their bedroom and bathroom were also in the basement. The laundry, food storage, a wine cellar, and a large room for storing furniture and out of season clothes were in the basement as well.
Upstairs there were originally three bedrooms, a parlor with a fireplace, and a bathroom. After the Simmons bought the house, another bedroom was added by converting the upstairs sleeping porch for their granddaughters. Their nanny had an adjoining bedroom.[/text_output]