The Eagle, today (click for larger image) / Photo: Zillow
by Paula Bosse
Whenever I drive along South Ervay, I always slow down — or pull over — to take a look at this building. It doesn’t look like anything else around it, and I’ve wondered about it from the first time I saw it.
It was built in 1924 and was announced in The Dallas Morning News beneath the headline “New Apartment Building on South Ervay Street to Have Garage Space in Basement.” It was accompanied by a drawing of a fairly grand-looking building.
DMN, June 24, 1924 (click for larger image)
“This new apartment building at 1615 South Ervay street, now being completed by George Kean, embodies many new and novel features in the construction of buildings of this character, one of these being provision of garage space for tenants in the basement. The building will contain eight four-room apartments and sixteen two-room efficiency apartments. J. W. Lindsley & Co. are leasing agents, and contract has been given to Sanger Bros. for furnishings of the building.” (DMN, June 22, 1924)
A basement garage for a small apartment building like this was pretty unusual for the time. And when they said Sanger’s was supplying the furnishings, they meant everything from furniture down to bed linens and kitchen utensils!
The first “for rent” ads began appearing a week after this announcement. Below, the photo and text of an ad from June 29, 1924.
DMN, June 29, 1924
Hey, I’d take a look!
But renting’s for chumps — how about owning the entire building? (“Can care for 50 cars”!)
DMN, Aug.3, 1924
Below, an ad with rates and a bit more info (it sounds like all units had a Murphy bed — even the apartments with a bedroom):
DMN, July 12, 1925
They were kind of pricey. According to the Inflation Calculator, prices in today’s money would be about $825-$900 for a 2-room efficiency, and about $1,225-$1,375 for a 4-room apartment.
By the fall of 1931, the building had changed hands, was under new management, and had been re-named. It was now the Lafayette Apartments, and units were now being rented “by day, week or month.”
DMN, Oct. 1, 1931
DMN, Oct. 15, 1932
Today this stretch of South Ervay is not the crowded and busy thoroughfare it once was. Though there were several businesses and small industrial buildings, it was also a residential area, lined with houses, apartment buildings, and the large Park Residence Hotel (better known in recent years as the Ambassador Hotel). The Eagle apartment building is in the 1600 block of South Ervay — when it opened in 1924, there were also apartment buildings in the 1500 and 1700 blocks. It’s interesting to take a look at a page from the 1924 city directory to see who and what occupied this South Ervay neighborhood in 1924 (click for larger image):
1924 Dallas directory
The building right next door to the Eagle Apartments was the Franklin-Rickenbacker Motor Co., a car dealership (part of the word “Franklin” can be seen painted on the brick wall in the 1924 photograph). For context, here are the automobiles that would have been for sale next door to the Eagle when it opened.
Today, people are still living in 1615 South Ervay. I’m not sure how many condominiums are in the building, but if you search around on the internet, you can find several real estate listings that show what various of the units look like inside. They’re very nice! It’s a much larger building than I realized, as can be seen in this aerial view.
I love that red door. Here’s to the continued revitalization of South Dallas and The Cedars!
Top photo from Zillow.
Photo of the Franklin automobile from SecondChanceGarage.com, here. I found the Rickenbacker photo on a Rickenbacker guitar site which froze my computer and which shall remain unlinked; more photos of Rickenbacker cars (as well as a history of the company) can be found here (the car was named after WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, a cousin of the guitar maker).
All other sources as noted.
1615 S. Ervay is located caddy-corner to Old City Park/Dallas Heritage Village, near the intersection of S. Ervay and Gano streets.
Street view of the building, looking north on Ervay toward downtown, here.
Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.