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WITHERS, ELMER GEORGE

Christopher Long

WITHERS, ELMER GEORGE (1881–1938). Elmer George Withers, Fort Worth architect, was born in Caddo Peak, Texas, in 1881. Withers evidently learned the practice of architecture as an apprentice or through correspondence courses because there is no record that he received a formal education in the field. He moved to Fort Worth from Stamford, Texas, in 1910 and established a practice there. His early works included the Jones County Courthouse (1910–11) in Anson, the Marion County Courthouse (1912) in Jefferson, and the Armstrong County Courthouse (1912) in Claude. During the 1910s and 1920s Withers traveled to small communities throughout the state in search of jobs. The tactic proved to be a successful one, and he was able to land numerous commissions for schools, civic buildings, stores, and service stations. In 1928 Withers founded his own firm, the Elmer G. Withers Architectural Company, Incorporated, and over the course of the next decade he produced a wide variety of structures in Fort Worth, among them the Blackstone Hotel (1929, in association with the St. Louis firm Mauran, Russell, and Crowell), the Firestone Service Garage (1929), as well as numerous small commercial buildings, automobile showrooms, and garages. As was the common practice at the time, Withers designed his works in a wide variety of historical revival styles: Neo-classical, Spanish Renaissance, and Italian Renaissance. During the 1930s he also produced a number of buildings in the Moderne or art deco idiom, including the Fort Worth City Hall (1938, in association with Wyatt C. Hedrick), and the Will Rodgers Memorial Center coliseum, tower, and auditorium (1936, in association with Hedrick). In the late 1930s Withers also designed two additional courthouses, the Ector County Courthouse (1938) in Odessa and the Upshur County Courthouse (1938) in Gilmer, both of them in a spare, streamlined Moderne style. Withers was at work on a public housing project for the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Worth in association with five other architects when he died on December 30, 1938.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Judith Singer Cohen, Cowtown Moderne: Art Deco Architecture of Fort Worth, Texas (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1988). Willard B. Robinson, The People's Architecture: Texas Courthouses, Jails, and Municipal Buildings (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1983).

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Citation

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

Handbook of Texas Online, Christopher Long, "WITHERS, ELMER GEORGE," accessed April 07, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwirl.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 5, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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