Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

City Park Construction Work — 1941

city-park-construction_1941“City Park, 1941″ (click for huge image) Collection of David Roberts

by Paula Bosse

This great family photo was sent in by reader David Roberts. It shows his grandfather, David Crockett (D.C.) McKay working on a construction crew. The reverse of the photo reads “City Park, 1941.” David has identified his grandfather as the man standing on the makeshift wooden bridge, just to the right of the cement mixer. I love this photograph!

City Park (now “Old” City Park), was Dallas’ first park, acquired in 1876. It became a popular (and beautiful) recreation area, and the adjacent Browder Springs was home to the city’s first waterworks. In 1936, City Park was briefly re-named “Sullivan Park” in honor of Dan F. Sullivan, the city’s first highly-accomplished Water Commissioner. But it was officially UN-re-named (or RE-re-named) and went back to being “City Park” again in May, 1941, because after 60 years of being known as City Park, the “Sullivan” thing just never caught on, and the two names were causing confusion. So the name was changed back.

So what construction was going on around City Park at the time this photo was taken? In 1941, there were major improvements going on throughout the city’s park system, and City Park was one of the beneficiaries of an $800,000 city-wide improvements package. ALSO happening in 1941 was some Mill Creek storm sewer work — Mill Creek ran through the park and there had been ongoing work to its sewers since the ’30s. In January, 1941, The Dallas Morning News reported that a large construction contract was pending on a Mill Creek storm sewer “from Browder to Beaumont” — this may have been a bit beyond the actual park, though. I mention this only because the photo above appears to show construction of a large sewer in the City Park area.

On April 16, 1941 a short article ran in The Dallas Morning News about a fatal accident at a City Park construction site, perhaps the same site that DC McKay was working on:

“BRIDGE CAVE-IN KILLS WORKER

“Crushed when a concrete bridge in Sullivan Park collapsed on him, Henry D. Pilgrim, a 37-year old city laborer, was killed Tuesday afternoon while working underneath the bridge on a storm sewer project. He lived at 1310 Williams, just off Eagle Ford Road.

“The accident was blamed on the weakened condition of the bridge due to rains and the weight of workmen on it.

“Pilgrim is survived by his wife, Mrs. Maggie Pilgrim, and three children.”

Construction work is hard, sweaty, and dangerous. Mr. Roberts says his grandfather worked for the J. W. Slaughter Construction company, often on concrete culvert and drain projects.

“Some of my earliest memories of visiting his house in the evenings (early ’60s) was that you had to be quiet during the weather, because that forecast was how he knew if he had to work the next day.”

Mr. McKay, who was born in 1903, would have been in his 60s then! But hard construction work must have agreed with him, because DC McKay lived until the ripe age of 84.

Thank you so much for sharing your photo, David! It’s great to see Dallas infrastructure in the making!

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Photograph from the personal collection of David Roberts, used with permission.

A photo of D. C. McKay (1903-1987) and his wife, Opal McKay, is here.

Two pertinent articles from the Handbook of Texas: the history of Old City Park is here; the history of Browder Springs is here.

Photo is really big. Click it!

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lively Street Life Outside the Dallas Morning News Building — ca. 1900

dmn-bldg-c1900-degolyerCommerce & Lamar (click for larger image) DeGolyer Library, SMU

by Paula Bosse

A photo showing the bustling streets surrounding the newly-expanded Dallas Morning News building, back when it was located at Commerce and Lamar streets. Below, a closer look at turn-of-the-century pedestrian traffic. Click pictures for larger images.

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dmn-bldg_detail1I love the man on the far left … contemplating posting a few illicit bills?

dmn-bldg_det2Those curbs!

dmn-bldg_det3Journos.

dmn-bldg_det4A woman either stooped by age or bending over to pick something up, a woman with a carpet bag, and a high-off-the-ground buggy which illustrates one reason those curbs needed to be so high.

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Photo titled “The Dallas Morning News building, Commerce & Lamar” from the Belo Records 1842-2007 collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here.

A previous Flashback Dallas post showing the same view of the building at about the same time, but with much less pedestrian traffic, can be seen here; a previous post showing the beautiful interior (the newsroom) and another shot of the exterior can be seen here.

More posts where I’ve zoomed in on historic Dallas photos can be found here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

2222 Ross Avenue: From Packard Dealership to “War School” to Landmark Skyscraper

packard-dealership_2222-ross_detroit-pub-lib_1940Packard automobile showplace, 1940 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In late summer of 1939, a new 60,000-square-foot. $250,000 home for Packard-Dallas, Inc. featuring a “luxurious showroom” was announced. The first Packard automobile dealership had opened in 1933 at Pacific and Olive, and in the intervening six years, their growth had been tremendous, necessitating several moves and expansions.

packard_dmn_082739DMN, Aug. 27, 1939 (click for larger image)

The attractive art deco building, faced with Cordova limestone and decorated with glass bricks, cast aluminum letters, and neon, was designed by J. A. Pitzinger and Roy E. Lane Associates, and was constructed at 2222 Ross Avenue in a mere three months. The large building was right across the street from the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, in the block bounded by Ross, Crockett, San Jacinto, and N. Pearl. The president of Packard-Dallas was J. A. Eisele and the secretary-treasurer was his son, Horace. The grand opening on Dec. 16, 1939 was a big enough deal that the home-office Detroit honchos flew in, and there was even a 15-minute radio program devoted to it on KRLD.

Under the headline “Growing With Dallas,” the opening-day ad featured a photograph of Joe and Horace Eisele and “A Message of Appreciation and an Invitation”:

packard_dmn_121639_ad1

packard_dmn_121639_ad2DMN, Dec. 16, 1939 (click for larger image)

“It’s Texanic!”

And another ad featured this nifty little line drawing of the cool building:

packard_dmn_121639-drawing-detDMN, Dec. 16, 1939 (ad detail)

One of the stories about the opening of Dallas’ new auto showroom palace boasted that this big, beautiful, brash building was here to stay — Packard-Dallas had a 15-year lease on the place. …Which is why it was surprising to read that the building was sold less than two years later.

packard-bldg_dmn_081541-photoDMN, Aug. 15, 1941

The U.S. was on the inevitable brink of involvement in the European war, and the National Defense School had begun operation in Dallas in July, 1940. After a year of classes in which young men were taught “to do the technical and mechanical work necessary to warfare” (DMN, March 20, 1941), classrooms at the Technical high school and at Fair Park were bursting at the seams, and a larger facility was necessary. The Dallas Board of Education (which oversaw the program, often called “the War School”), was given the go-ahead to purchase the building (and, presumably, the property) for $125,000 in August, 1941.

I’m not sure why J. A. Eisele sold the building (his name was listed as owner, rather than the Packard Company) — it wasn’t even two years old, and he got only half of what it cost to build. Patriotism? His son Horace had been drafted in April, so … maybe. Eisele seems to have left the auto sales business, which he had been in for decades, and had moved out of Texas by 1945.

After the U.S. officially entered the war and it became obvious that “defense schools” around the country would have to admit women in order to maintain manufacturing quotas, women began to work beside men in January, 1942.

defense-school_dmn_010442-photo“COED DEFENSE — Women worked side-by-side with men Saturday in aircraft sheet metal riveting classes at the National Defense School, 2222 Ross Avenue. Naomi Wright (left) and LaVerne Kersey are shooting home a rivet in the fuselage of an Army plane. Working below is W. R. Fisk, another student. Half of the eighty women who began their  training this week were assigned by the WPA division of training and re-employment.” (DMN, Jan. 4, 1942)

defense-school_dmn_010442DMN, Jan. 4, 1942 (click to read)

The “Dallas War School” was a training school for war-time jobs at places like North American Aviation.

defense-school_dmn_090643DMN, Sept, 6, 1943

Thousands of men and women trained at the Ross Avenue facility until the war ended in 1945. The school continued, but no longer as a Defense School — it became Dallas Vocational School, and its first students were veterans.

In 1976, the school was designated as one of Dallas’ DISD magnet schools — it became the Transportation Institute, where “students interested in owning their own dealership, becoming a technician-mechanic or an auto body specialist will receive on the spot training in a laboratory consisting of a new car showroom, a modernly equipped repair center and a complete auto rebuilding facility” (DMN, Aug. 22, 1976). Back to its roots! And it only took 37 years.

The school continued for a while but, inevitably, the property became more and more attractive to developers. In 1981, as the developers were circling, a City Landmark Designation Eligibility List was issued. It contained buildings which “have particular architectural, historical, cultural and/or other significance to the City of Dallas,” and which, if approved, would be designated historic landmarks. I’m guessing 2222 Ross Avenue didn’t make the cut, because Trammell Crow bought the building in 1983 and tore it down the next year.

But … Crow sold the facade to real estate developer and investor Lou Reese, who said that he would reassemble the limestone facade and incorporate it into a restaurant he planned to build in Deep Ellum. So that was an interesting plan. (Incidentally, in the same City Council meeting in which the demolition/disassembling of the building’s facade was discussed, the Council also considered “a request for more than $7 million in federal funds for a project to renovate the Adams Hat Co building into apartments” (DMN, Aug. 8, 1984). …Lou Reese owned the Adams Hat building. What a coincidence!)

2222-ross_dmn_072784DMN, July 27, 1984

2222-ross_dmn_080984DMN, Aug. 9, 1984

So? Where’s that facade? There was no mention of it until a June 25, 1987 article in the Morning News about another developer who had big plans for a major Deep Ellum complex called “Near Ellum,” which would be be bounded by Commerce, Crowdus, Taylor, and Henry streets.

“Highlighting Near Ellum will  be a 40-foot art deco facade, formerly on the front of the Transportation Institute on Ross Avenue, in the main parking plaza. The plaza will also include an outdoor stage for concerts and special events.”

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand … that never happened. I wonder if that 76-year-old disassembled limestone facade is still crated up somewhere around town? Somehow I doubt it.

So, 2222 Ross Avenue. What’s there now? None other than the 55-story skyscraper, Chase Tower, also known as “The Keyhole Building.”

You could get a lotta Packards in there.

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Top photo from the Detroit Public Library’s Packard Collection in the National Automotive History Collection, viewable here; I’ve straightened and cropped it. The reverse has this notation: “Packard Motor Car Co., branches/dealerships/agencies, 2300 [sic] Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas, exterior, show windows left to right; 1940 Packard 110 or 120, eighteenth series, model 1800 or 1801, 6/8-cylinder, 100-120-horsepower, 122/127-inch wheelbase, convertible coupe (body type #1389/1399), special furniture display.”

All other photos and clippings from The Dallas Morning News, as noted.

For a detailed description of the architectural and design elements of the building, the article “Packard-Dallas Invites Public To Its Opening” (DMN, Dec. 16, 1939) can be read here.

The developer who apparently came into possession of the facade after Lou Reese was Ed Sherrill. Perhaps someone associated with the Near Ellum project might know what became of the “saved” facade. The article excerpted above — “Developer Plans Deep Ellum Project” by Donna Steph Hansard (DMN, June 25, 1987) — can be read here.

Chase Tower info on Wikipedia here; photo of it here. Imagine a teeny-tiny car dealership at its base.

Packard automobiles? Some of them were pretty cool. Check ‘em out here.

A lengthy article on the notorious developer Lou Reese — “Hide and Seek” by Thomas Korosec (Dallas Observer, June 8, 2000) — is here.

Most images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Periphery of the Texas State Fair Never Looked Better

state-fair_postcard_carrie-ednaApproaching the Fair Grounds… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A couple of pretty, but unusual views of the fairgrounds, turn-of-the-century-ish. The message on the postcard at the top: “Carrie the fair was real good this year better than it has been for years. Edna”

And then there’s this view, “Fair Park Scenery.” Same period as the top one? Later? It shows the “Vehicle Exit.” “Vehicles” meaning buggies and wagons?

state-fair-grounds_postcard_vehicle-exitLeaving the Fair Grounds… (click for larger image)

I think the top postcard shows the entrance — I have another view of the entrance that looks like this, from around 1900 (see it here). And the bottom card? “Scenery” near the Vehicle Exit. So … a parking lot? Or a road leading to the exit? Whatever it is, it’s not really all that “scenic.” Both postcards are fairly odd choices for picture postcards of the Texas State Fair, as neither one shows anything of the actual fair! But if people had fond memories of driving into or out of the State Fair, these were the postcards to buy!

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Postcards from eBay. The second one (with photo by Clogenson) is currently available, here.

Top postcard’s 2-cent stamp was issued in Nov. 1903, per Wikipedia.

Photo in link showing the Main Entrance to the fairgrounds is from The Bohemian magazine, Autumn, 1900; from the Fort Worth Public Library Archives.

Both images really big when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

MORE Random Still-Standing Buildings Featured in Ads From 1929

ad-southern-fountain-fixture_directory_1929-detSoda fountains came from here… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A few more photos of buildings that are still standing, from the ad-pages of the 1929 city directory.

First up is the Southern Fountain & Fixture Mfg. Co. at 1900 Cedar Springs.

ad-southern-fountain-fixture_directory_1929

The Southern Fountain & Fixture plant was built in 1925 at the corner of Cedar Springs and N. Akard. They manufactured and sold soda fountains, showcases, and fixtures.

southern-fountain-fixture_dmn_091625Side view — Dallas Morning News, Sept. 16, 1925 (click for larger image)

A major new residential highrise is going up in the 1900 block of Cedar Springs (or has gone up — it’s been a while since I’ve been over there), but I think it’s going up at the other end of the block. (But somehow its address is 1900 Cedar Springs….) So, I’m not absolutely sure this building IS still there. Here’s a 2014 image from Google Street View. It’s a cool building — hope you’re still there, cool building!

southern-fountain-fixture-now_googleGoogle Street View

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Next, the Loudermilk-Sparkman Funeral Home at 2115 Ross Avenue.

ad-loudermilk-sparkman_belo_directory_1929(click for larger image of house)

The Loudermilk-Sparkman funeral home moved into the former home of Col. A. H. Belo in June, 1926 and settled in for a 50-year lease. The “home-like” funeral parlor looked like this when the lease was announced (read the article here, replete with interior decoration and architectural details):

loudermilk-sparkman_belo_dmn_062726-photoDMN, June 26, 1926

That place was a funeral home for 50 years — longer than it’s been anything else. That’s a lot of dearly departeds. (Clyde Barrow is probably the most famous cadaver to be wheeled through its portals.) In the ’70s, the granddaughter of Col. A. H. Belo sold the house — which was built in 1899/1900 — to the Dallas Bar Association, and today it is a swanky place to get married or eat canapés. And, thankfully, it’s still beautiful.

belo-today_googleGoogle Street View

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 The Evangelical Theological College, 3909 Swiss Avenue, in Old East Dallas.

ad-evangelical-theological-college_directory_1929sm(click for larger image)

This “denominationally unrelated” seminary — where tuition and rooms were free, and board was at cost — was built in 1927 for $65,000. When the three-story-plus-basement building was finished, the college was in its fourth year, having moved from its previous location in The Cedars. “The college now has forty-five students representing fifteen states of the United States, three Canadian provinces and Ireland…. The faculty is composed of thirteen men.”  (DMN, Dec. 25, 1927)

ad-evangelical-theological-college_directory_1929-det

The college has grown by leaps and bounds and is now the Dallas Theological Seminary, and the original building is still there.

dallas-theological-seminary_now_googleGoogle Street View

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Lastly, the Melrose Court Apartments and Hotel, 3015 Oak Lawn.

ad-melrose_directory_1929

The Melrose, designed by architect C. D. Hill, was built in 1924, and as it was about to throw open the doors of its bachelor apartments to eager Dallas bachelors (and whomever), it advertised itself thusly: “Of palatial splendor, rivaling in dimensions the best appointed apartment hotel buildings of this modern day, it is equal to the best of any of America’s cities of a million.” (DMN, Aug. 31, 1924) Well, of course it is!

ad-melrose_directory_1929-det

It’s been a landmark in Oak Lawn for over 90 years. I know it’s officially now the Warwick Melrose Hotel, but I’ve never heard anyone call it anything but The Melrose.

melrose-today(click for GIANT image)

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All ads from the 1929 city directory.

All other images and articles as noted.

My previous post, “Random Still-Standing Buildings Featured in Ads From 1927,” is here.

Most pictures larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Random Still-Standing Buildings Featured in Ads From 1929

ad-boedeker-ice-cream_1929-directoryS. Ervay & Griffin — still there! (click to see larger image of building)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve always had a fascination for old advertisements. Ads for local products and businesses are particularly interesting and can be quite informative — especially those that feature photographs of the businesses being advertised. I always get an exciting little jolt when I see a still-standing building that I recognize in a 50-, 60-, or 70-year-old ad. Below are a few ads from 1929 — 86 years ago! — featuring buildings that have somehow survived the wrecking ball. Not all of them are architecturally interesting, but they’ve all seen a lot more than you and I have. Click the ads below to see larger images of the buildings.

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Above, the Boedeker Ice Cream plant — the “finest in the South,” located at S. Ervay & Griffin (1201 S. Ervay). The company was founded in 1887 by German Frederick Boedeker, the first ice cream manufacturer in Dallas. This building was built, I believe, around 1921. I’m not sure what’s in there these days (if anything), but here  is it today, via Google Street View:

ad-boedeker-ice-cream_now_google

UPDATE: Apparently there are plans afoot — read about them here.

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Next, the Dallas Tent & Awning Company at 3401 Commerce.

ad-dallas-tent-awning_directory_1929(click to see larger image of building)

This very successful company moved several times to larger and larger spaces, until they decided to build their own showroom and manufacturing plant in 1921. A 1922 Chamber of Commerce ad described the building as “a three-story modern building, 100 feet square with a warehouse in the rear which covers 40,000 square feet, Commerce and Race streets.” They manufactured tents, awnings, automobile tops, tire covers, and seat covers.

Here it is today, the cool-looking Murray Lofts, between Deep Ellum and Exposition Park:

murraylofts

(I’m not sure if the house in this ad was in Dallas, but I hope so! What a beautiful house! A larger image is here.)

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Next, the Dallas Show Case & Mfg. Co. at 329-337 Exposition.

ad-dallas-show-case_directory_1929(click to see larger image of building)

According to a 1962 interview with the son of the company’s founder, the factory was built in 1920 just blocks from Fair Park — a location so far “out in the country” that there was no city electric service. Since its founding in 1880, the company had manufactured “bank, office and store fixtures, showcases, hardwood floors and special household and church furniture.” The building still stands, but I’m not sure who occupies it these days.

ad-dallas-show-case_now_google

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And, lastly,the Columbia Fence & Wire Co. at 3120 Grand Avenue.

ad-columbia-fence-wire_directory-1929sm(click to see larger image of building)

Though it’s been there since at least 1922, this building is one that I have to admit I probably wouldn’t shed a tear over were it to be demolished. Still, it’s been around a lot longer than I have, and I have to admire the fact that it’s managed to hang on for so many years.  After the Columbia Fence & Wire Co. moved on, the building was occupied by a succession of light industrial businesses. In the 1970s it must have gone through quite a renovation, because it became home to a string of discos, including the short-lived Lucifer’s (owned by Dallas Cowboy Harvey Martin), the Plush Pup, and Papa Do Run Run. Below, the current Google street view (the sign above the vacant building says “S. Dallas Cafe”):

ad-columbia-fence-wire_now_google

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All ads from the 1929 city directory. (Apologies for the muddy images. Whenever I post these directory ads, they look great before they’re posted, then something happens during the uploading process, and … argh.)

Present-day images from Google Street View.

A continuation — “MORE Random Still-Standing Buildings Featured in Ads From 1929″ — can be found here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

An Incredible View From Republic Tower 2 — 1968

republic2_parrish_1_1968Photo by Bill Parrish, 1968, used with permission (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

On August 15, 1968, teenager Bill Parrish — a former Dallasite who was back in town on a visit — was surprised to see that a new building has sprung up since he’d left: the 50-story Republic Tower 2 (built in 1964), the much-taller sister-building to one of Dallas’ most famous skyscrapers, the 36-story rocket-topped Republic National Bank Building. He wondered if he could get to the top of the building to take some photos. Bill remembers the day clearly:

“I lived in Dallas until I was 9 years old, at which time we moved to Palo Alto, Califorinia. I spent the summer of 1968 at Texas A&M in an engineering program for high-ability science students. My parents picked me up in College Station and we came back via Dallas. I was a ‘tourist who used to live there’ and wanted some shots to remember the city by — even as a teenager. I had a fairly good camera, and I knew how to take pictures, having done photojournalism in high school. Also, I remembered how much fun I had living in Dallas, so maybe I was looking at the city a little differently.

“We stopped in Dallas for a few days on the way back, and we spent one day downtown visiting old haunts. My dad and I were in our suits, and we went to the new (to us) Republic Tower 2 and rode the elevator to the top and asked around if we could take some shots out of some windows. Some very nice folks allowed us to use an office that was currently not being used. A number of shots were made from the same office. I think we were in and out in about 5 minutes — I remember the folks up there were very nice to us … considering we just ‘dropped in.’

“I just wish I had shot like 3 rolls of film — like inside the Mercantile lobby, inside Titche’s, and inside Neiman’s. I would have shot stuff at Walnut Hill Village, Marsh Hill Village, in the terminal at Love Field, at my old school, peoples’ houses I remembered, restaurants, etc. if I had known they would be of value in 50 or so years.

“I guess the takeaway is that today if something catches your eye, shoot it (with your phone even), and archive it so it can be found later… and don’t throw away old pictures! You may not be able to keep everything, but be careful about what might be of value to someone.”

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Below are some of Bill’s really, really wonderful photos taken on that summer day in 1968 from a top floor of the tallest building in Dallas. (Many of these are HUGE. Click to enlarge.)

republic2_parrish_2_1968

republic2_parrish_5_1968

republic2_parrish_4_1968

republic2_parrish_3_1968

republic2_parrish_6_1968The office Bill shot from; his aluminum camera case is on the windowsill.

republic2_parrish_7_1968The original be-rocketed Republic National Bank Building on the left, the taller Republic Tower 2 in the middle.

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All photos in this post by Bill Parrish, used with his permission. They first appeared in the Retro Dallas Facebook group.

During this short trip to Dallas, Bill’s family also shot some home movie footage, which can be seen here.

Below, a Google map showing the Bill’s general view of the photos looking over Pegasus to Oak Cliff:

map-view-from-republic2

Some photos by a different photographer, taken from the top of the Republic Center Tower II (its official name) in 2007, can be seen here. A couple of the photos show the exact same shots Bill took. A lot can happen in 40 years!

The Wikipedia page for Republic Center is here; the official Republic Center site is here (worth checking out if only to see the BEAUTIFUL shot of the two buildings, including the re-lit “rocket” tower).

My previous post, “The Republic National Bank Building: Miles of Aluminum, Gold Leaf, and a Rocket,” is here.

All of Bill Parrish’s photos are very large. Click to see some of them much, much larger!

Thank you so much, Bill, for sharing these fantastic pictures. The photo at the top is now one of my favorite-EVER shots of the Dallas skyline!

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Triple Underpass — 1950s

triple-underpass_1950s(Click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A view toward Oak Cliff, back before the words “triple underpass” began to be capitalized.

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Photo found here (along with other JFK-related photos of Dealey Plaza).

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lakewood’s “Modernistic” Skillern’s Drug Store — 1934

lakewood-skillerns_dmn_011434-drawingArchitect’s drawing, 1934 — Abrams & Gaston (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The drawing above — by architect J. N. McCammon — appeared in the Jan. 14, 1934 edition of The Dallas Morning News to announce the construction of a new shopping area in Lakewood, at Abrams and Gaston. It was to be built by Rae Skillern, whose Skillern’s drug store would anchor the development; a Wyatt Food Store would also occupy a large chunk of the property. The “retail village” was to be modeled (…somewhat) after the much-lauded Highland Park Village shopping center, and its design was described in articles as being “modernistic.”

lakewood-skillerns_dmn_011434-captionThis and drawing, DMN, Jan. 14, 1934

Construction hit a bit of a roadblock when Lakewood residents objected to a shopping area in their “high-class” residential neighborhood (charming though Skillern’s design might have been…), and construction was delayed until the City Planning Commission gave the builders the go-ahead.

lakewood-skillerns_dmn_030934DMN, March 9, 1934

Skillern’s No. 4 opened in December of 1934 at 6401 Gaston and humbly hailed its newest emporium as “America’s most beautiful drug store.” It was, by far, the largest in the local company’s quickly expanding chain, and it featured a large, varied inventory, beautiful fixtures and innovative merchandising, a large soda fountain (with curb service), a “perfume bar,” and an open view into the “prescription department” where customers could watch the pharmacists doling out their medications.

lakewood-skillerns_dmn_121334DMN, Dec. 13, 1934 (click to read)

The small shopping area quickly became a popular shopping destination (along with the larger Lakewood Shopping Center across Gaston (and across Abrams), and the big, new Skillern’s — which sat at the point of the triangular-shaped “village” — was its focal point.

lakewood-skillerns_dmn_121334-photoDMN, Dec. 13, 1934 (click for larger image)

Skillern’s left its cool building sometime around 1971, after a fire caused heavy damages in November, 1970. It moved across the street, into the equally cool old Gaston Avenue Pharmacy (known familiarly as Doc Harrell’s drug store, the place with the iconic conical roof), not long after Harrell’s death in 1969. The Lakewood outpost of Mickey Finn’s chain of pool halls opened in the old Skillern’s space in February, 1972. In 1978 the property was condemned by the city to make way for the weird Abrams Bypass, which cut through that northeast corner of the Gaston-Abrams intersection; several buildings in the immediate vicinity deemed to be in the way of progress were demolished, including Rae Skillern’s “modernistic” drug store, a Lakewood landmark for over 40 years. Such a shame.

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Clippings from The Dallas Morning News as noted.

Skillern’s was located on the northeast corner of Gaston and Abrams. The drawing at the top shows Abrams running vertically (to its west), and Gaston running horizontally (to its south). It would have faced what is now the Dixie House. The Abrams Bypass skewed everything, but it was about where the little triangular “park” is now — between Abrams Parkway and Abrams Road, just west of the Whole Foods parking lot. (UPDATE: I now know that that greenspace has a name: Harrell Park!) Below is an aerial photo of what this part of Lakewood used to look like. Gaston is in yellow, Abrams is in blue, the Skillern’s building is circled in red, and the Lakewood Theater (for reference, because this all looks pretty freaky to us today and it’s hard to get one’s bearings) is circled in white. Looking northeasterly.

lakewood_aerial_marked

To see a larger image of this aerial photo — without the markings — click here. (Photo from the book The Dallas Public Library, A Century of Service by Michael V. Hazel, presumably from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.)

An interesting account of the how the bizarro Abrams Bypass happened can be found in the D Magazine article “Why Lakewood Doesn’t Trust Itself” by Charles Matthews (Oct., 1978), here. A Dallas Morning News article on the same topic — “Lakewood Plan May Benefit Bank” by Henry Tatum (March 12, 1978) — can be read here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Allen Street Taxi Company

allen-st-taxi-co_cook-degolyerAllen St. Taxi Co. (click for larger image) Cook Collection, SMU

by Paula Bosse

This has to be one of my favorite “unknown Dallas” photographs that I’ve come across. It shows the Allen St. Taxi Co. — in the State-Thomas area — at 1922 Allen Street (now pretty much vacant land under the Woodall Rodgers freeway). My ability to date cars is not good, but from city directory information, it seems that this photo might date from somewhere between the mid-1920s to around 1930. The owners/proprietors of the company were listed as John Leonard and Andrew Short in the 1929 telephone book. I wonder if they are in this fantastic photo? Let’s look a little more closely at some of the details. (All pictures larger when clicked.)

allen-st-taxi-co_cook-degolyer_det2Those phones!

allen-st-taxi-co_cook-degolyer-det4I love these guys. All business.

allen-st-taxi-co_cook-degolyer_det5“Bullweed.” What is all this writing? I love the guy’s face looking out of the window.

allen-st-taxi-co_cook-degolyer_det1“Dallas.” Car-people know exactly what make and model this vehicle is. …I am not one of these people.

allen-st-taxi-co_cook-degolyer_det3

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Top photo, titled “Allen Street Taxi Co.,” is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here.

The first “official” listing of the Allen St. Taxi Co. was in the 1929 city directory. The address at that time (which usually reflected information supplied the previous year) was 1907 Allen St. It didn’t appear again in the directory until 1932 when it was listed at 2816 Juliette St. In 1933 and 1934 it was listed at 2114 Hall St. In 1936 and 1937 it had moved to 2217 Hugo. And in 1938, the taxi part of the business seems to have fallen by the wayside, and it became Allen St. Transfer.

In 1925 there were only three official cab companies listed in the city directory. But the rough-and-tumble world of taxi cab service in the unregulated ’20s and ’30s was pretty intense. There were a lot of unlicensed jitneys rolling around town, especially, one would assume, in the segregated black neighborhoods of the city unlikely to be served by white-owned companies. My guess is that this might have been how the Allen St. Taxi Co. began.

For more on the go-go-go competitive world of taxi service at this time, see my previous post, “Washington Taxi Company: ‘Call George!'” here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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