A new patient has arrived at Cook Children’s. After receiving a donation from the historic preservation non-profit Historic Fort Worth, the hospital system has taken over guardianship of the 118-year-old Thistle Hill home. 1509 Pennsylvania Ave12,000-square-foot .’s home has been utilized as a wedding location. According to a news statement from Cook Children’s, the hospital system is dedicated to preserving the mansion’s splendor and aims to utilize it as a “gathering area for the health care system and the community.”
Thistle Hill was erected in 1904 for the Waggoner Ranching family’s newlywed heiress. It was sold to another cattle baron family in 1910 before becoming a boarding home for the Girls Service League of Fort Worth, a non-profit organization dedicated to women’s higher education, in 1940. After the league abandoned the mansion in 1968, it went into ruin until being purchased in 1976 by the historical preservation charity Save-the-Scott.
Historic Fort Worth took up guardianship of the home in 2006, investing $3 million to renovate the interior, pergola, and 1,500-square-foot terrace. According to Historic Fort Worth executive director Jerre Tracy, the gift made perfect sense given Cook’s expansion and how much parents, children, and employees have used the mansion’s grounds. She mentioned that the mansion’s pergola garden provides a haven of leisure for patients and their families, and that hospital employees were the primary clients for Historic Fort Worth’s food truck park.
“It was a good stress break for the personnel and their families,” Tracy explained. She also stated that the carriage house in the estate is an ideal discovery zone for children. The carriage house was designed as a combination between a horse stable and a contemporary garage to hold the three primary modes of transportation at the turn of the century: horses, vehicles, and carriages. Tracy described this multi-modal structure as “exceptional” and “one of the nicest in Texas.”
Cook Children’s turned rejected an offer to purchase Thistle Hill in 2005, but Tracy said that discussions between Cook CEO Rick Merrill and Historic Fort Worth board member Gail Landreth led the hospital to realize the possibilities in acquiring the site. Merrill drew metaphorical connections between the mansion’s past and the foundation of Cook Children, noting that both are steeped in Fort Worth’s history of ranching and oil barons. “We are thankful to Historic Fort Worth, Inc. for entrusting us with the care of this extraordinary touchstone of Texas history,” Merrill stated in a news statement.