Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

The Majestic Theatre’s Centenary

majestic-theatre_tsha_1920sThe Majestic Theatre, 1925 Elm Street

by Paula Bosse

The Majestic Theatre opened on Elm Street 100 years ago this week. We’re lucky to still have such a beautiful building, one which we came close to losing in the late ’60s/early ’70s when so many other “old” buildings were being demolished in downtown Dallas.

The Majestic opened at 1925 Elm on April 11, 1921. The promotional blitz was pretty intense: for months the local papers were full of every little tidbit about the building and the grand opening. A pilot was even hired to drop leaflets and float balloons over 25 North Texas towns in order to reach those farther afield who might be outside the Big City theater loop. 

There was a lot of bragging that the showplace theater cost over $2 million, a huge amount of money at the time. That would be about $30 million in today’s money, and there is no way that beautiful, beautiful theater and its luxurious decor could be built today for a mere $30 million.

Like I said, we’re lucky to have it. Happy 100th, Majestic!

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Here it is under construction in 1920:

majestic_under-constructioin_100120_cinema-treasuresvia Cinema Treasures

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Just read this (click to see a larger image):

majestic-theatre_dmn_040321_grand-openingDallas Morning News, April 3, 1921

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At night, just down from the Melba (originally the Hope):

majestic-theatre_night_cinema-treasuresvia Cinema Treasures

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And it still looks beautiful in the 21st century:

majestic-theatre_LOC_carol-highsmith_20142014, photo by Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress

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majestic-theatre_2009_wikipedia2009, via Wikipedia

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theater_majestic_052522_where-its-cool“Where it’s really cool” (1922)

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Sources & Notes

More about the history of the Majestic Theatre can be found at Cinema Treasures.

The official theater website is here — check out the upcoming shows!

majestic-theatre_tsha_1920s_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lutheran Ministers Visit Dallas — 1911

open-streetcar_rppc_1911_ebayBest way to see the sights of 1911 Dallas…

by Paula Bosse

I’m always a sucker for photos of streetcars. I’m not sure I’ve seen one quite as open as this one.

This image was featured on a real-photo postcard — below the photo, the sender had written “Conference at Dallas, Texas. Sept. 8-12, 1911.”

The card was addressed to Miss Sidonie Wissmann in Matson, Missouri and was mailed from Palacios, Texas on Oct. 11, 1911.

Dear Sidonie,

Here you have a postal of Dallas, Tex. We are all on that “special” car taking a trolley ride through Dallas on a hot afternoon. If you wish to see me, look at the sixth seat from the front end of the car.

You must have some pretty cold weather up there. Saturday at about noon, the wind began to blow from the north. It grew stronger, and Sat. night it was pretty cool. I was at Francita’s [?] staying with Mr.  Luebben.  My bed was just before the north window. The wind blew with great force. The window was open. Instead of closing the window, I clung to the covers that were there (a thin quilt and a white spread) to keep them from flying away. I put everything but my face under the covers. So I lay in the north wind all night. Those “Northers” are feared by these southern people. I did not take cold. But several people were holding their nose the next day. When I left for Blessing in the P.M. I saw one man at the depot have a bad cold. Monday night I closed my windows in Palacios.

Some curious news!! Here you are: On account of the bad connections, I walked from Blessing to Palacios Monday A.M. 8:30-11:30. Twelve miles!! Hard work.

–Fred–

I checked The Dallas Morning News to see what kind of conference was held in Dallas in September, 1911 — it was the Texas State pastoral conference of the Missouri evangelical Lutheran synod. One of the 60 Lutheran ministers in attendance was Rev. F. H. Stelzer (Fred Stelzer), fresh out of seminary in Missouri — in fact, he was so fresh out of seminary that he had been ordained for only two weeks when he visited Dallas and wrote his sweetheart this card.

Fred Stelzer (1888-1978) and Sidonie Wissmann Stelzer (1888-1950) eventually married and had 8 children. They lived in Thorndale, Texas where Fred was the pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church for 40 years. But when he was a newly ordained 23-year-old minister, he visited Dallas where he rode a cool “special” streetcar to see the sights,and spent a miserable night trying to sleep in a freezing-cold room with an open window, under nothing more than a thin quilt and a white spread.

lutheran-tour_dmn_091111Dallas Morning News, Sept. 11, 1911

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Sources & Notes

Real photo postcard found on eBay.

open-streetcar_rppc_1911_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Jerry Bywaters: “City Suburb at Dusk” — 1978

bywaters_city-suburb-at-dusk_1978_amer-art-review_2008Northwest Highway noir…

by Paula Bosse

You’re a Dallasite. You’ll probably immediately recognize the location of this (somewhat uncharacteristic) painting by famed Dallas painter Jerry Bywaters: it’s Northwest Highway, looking west from just past Hillcrest. Its title — “City Suburb at Dusk” — is a bit misleading. It was sort of a suburb (Preston Hollow) back when Jerry was a young man, but by 1978, when this was painted, its “suburb” days were long, long gone.

I love this painting. On the “suburb” side it’s got Kip’s, El Fenix, Centennial Liquor, and the cool curved Preston Tower. On the University Park side it’s got the silhouettes of the omnipresent water tower (once a much more pleasing shape than it is today, back when it was painted in a whimsical red-and-white checkerboard pattern), the spire of the Park Cities Baptist Church, and a Preston Center-adjacent office building. West Northwest Highway never looked so tranquil.

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Sources & Notes

“City Suburb at Dusk” by Jerry Bywaters, 1978 — oil on masonite, 18 x 24, collection of G. Pat Bywaters.

Printed in American Art Review, Vol. XX, No. 1, 2008.

bywaters_city-suburb-at-dusk_1978_amer-art-review_2008_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bird’s-Eye View Down Main Street — 1954

dallas_birdseye_1954_color_ebayMain Street, 1954

by Paula Bosse

A nice color photo showing Main Street, looking west from about Field. For reference, Hotel Southland was in the 1200 block of Main, at Murphy, and Turner’s Clothiers, across the street, was at 1113 Main.

There’s a lot to look at (click to see a larger image). It’s always nice to see a viaduct (top right).

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

dallas_birdseye_1954_color_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Thompson’s, 1520 Main — 1916

thompsons_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_XLOpen for business…

by Paula Bosse

Above, the newly constructed building at 1520-1522 Main Street, between Akard and Stone, home to Thompson’s, a national chain of restaurants owned by John R. Thompson of Chicago. It was built and opened in 1916.

thompsons_dmn_071615Dallas Morning News, July 16, 1915 (click for larger image)

The site had previously been the location of the Happy Hour Theater (which can be seen in this photo), the demolition of which was announced in January, 1916. 

1520-main_dmn_010416DMN, Jan. 4, 1916

And it was a beautiful building!

thompsons_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers

Thompson’s remained in this location until the 1930s. When Bond Clothes took over the space in 1938, news accounts rather ominously mentioned that the building would be completely remodeled, inside and out.

Workers are engaged in ripping out the front of the building. An all black glass front will be installed on most of the building and near the top of the second floor glass brick will be featured. Bronze trim will be used throughout. (DMN, Feb. 13, 1938).

All that beautiful glossy white terra cotta “ripped out”!

But things got worse. Much worse. It’s hard to believe, but this is the same building:

1520-main_selzer-assoc_facebook_crop_campisisPhoto from Selzer Associates Facebook page

In recent years, though, Selzer Associates Architects and Nedderman & Associates worked some absolutely stunning restoration magic. (Read the story of the restoration in Texas Architect magazine here, starting on p. 36.) I mean, look:

iron-cactus_google-street-view_feb-2020Google Street View, Feb. 2020

It’s beautiful again! Thank you, magic-workers!

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Sources & Notes

The circa-1916 photograph by Dallas photographer Frank Rogers is from the Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin — more info on this photo can be found here.

See an interior shot of a Thompson’s restaurant in a 1927 photo here.

Read more about the Thompson’s restaurant chain in the following articles:

thompsons_atlantic-terra-cotta-co-coll_UT_frank-rogers_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Few Photo Additions to Past Posts — #15

streetcar_belmont_color_ebaySorry, “Llano only…”

by Paula Bosse

Time for another round-up of miscellaneous photos I’ve come across over the past few months and which I’m adding to previous posts.

First, the photo above, showing a Belmont streetcar, has been added to the post “Ghost Rails of the Belmont Streetcar Line.” I’m not sure where or when the photo was taken, but it makes me very happy to see an actual streetcar which would have travelled through the neighborhood I grew up in. (Source: eBay)

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The photo below, showing Marvin’s Drug Store (aka the Rowan Building) on the northwest corner of Main and Akard, has been added to “Marvin’s Drug Store, Main and Akard.” (Source: eBay)

rowan-bldg_marvins-drug-store_ebay

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This photo of the Haskell Exchange Building has been added to “The Haskell Exchange — ca. 1910.” (Source: Dallas Historical Society)

haskell-exchange_ca-1915_DHS

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Below, a photo of Wigton’s Sandwich Shop, which was located near one of my least favorite 3-point intersections in Dallas (East Grand-Gaston-Garland Road, near White Rock Lake), joins another photo of the same establishment in the post “Orphaned Factoids: Year-End Grab Bag, 2017.” (Source: eBay)

wigtons-sandwich-shop_white-e-grand-and-gaston_ca-1930_ebay

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I love the long-forgotten “waiting station” which was adjacent to the Jefferson Hotel and faced Union Station across Ferris Plaza. I’m adding two photos to “Ferris Plaza Waiting Station — 1925-1950.” (Sources: first one is from eBay, second one is a cropped image from the DeGolyer Library, SMU)

waiting-station_ebay

waiting-station_jefferson-hotel_degolyer-lib_SMU_cropped

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Two images of the Cabana have been added to “The Cabana Motor Hotel of Dallas.” (Sources: both are from UTA’s Squire Haskins Collection — more info on the first (cropped) image can be found here, and on the second one here)

cabana-motel_aerial_squire-haskins_UTA_cropped

cabana-motel_squire-haskins_UTA

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This 1958 ad for Texas Instruments (when it was located on Lemmon Avenue, near Love Field) mentions hyperbolic paraboloids, which means that it has, of course, been added to a weirdly popular post, “The Hyperbolic Paraboloids of the Prairie.” (Source: eBay)

texas-instruments_hyperbolic-paraboloid_1958_ebay

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Two 1964 photos of Jack Ruby pal/roomie George Senator have been added to “Newly Discovered Footage of Jack Ruby — 1960.” (Source: Associated Press)

senator-george_at-jack-ruby-trial_associated-press-website_030964_1

senator-george_at-jack-ruby-trial_associated-press-website_030964_2

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Two images of a Mystic Revellers invitation from Dallas’ first Mardi Gras celebration in 1876 have been added to “Mardi Gras: ‘Our First Attempt at a Carnival Fete’ — 1876.” (Source: Memphis Public Libraries, Colton Greene Collection)

mardi-gras_mystic-revellers_invitation_1876_memphis-public-library

mardi-gras_mystic-revellers_1876_envelope_memphis-public-library

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This 1936 Coca-Cola ad which ran during the Centennial has been added to “‘The Pause That Refreshes at the Texas Centennial’ — 1936.” because I had previously had only part of the full-page ad. (Source: eBay)

tx-centennial_coca-cola_ebay_1936

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And these last two are replacing other photos already used. The first one, from 1924, showing Knox Street looking southeasterly from Travis, replaces a previously used photo which had part of the image on the right side (with the horse) cropped out. It’s been added to “Knox Street, Between Cole and Travis.” (Source: DeGolyer Library, SMU

knox-street_degolyer-lib_SMU_1924

And, finally, this photo, which shows the Woolworth store, at the northwest corner of Main and Stone, and the Praetorian Building (now the site of a giant eyeball) has replaced a tiny, low-resolution image in the post “The Praetorian Building and Its 19th-Century Neighbors.” (Source: Dallas Public Library)

praetorian_william-langley_DPL_ca-1940

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streetcar_belmont_color_ebay_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Aerial View: Movie Row from the Rear

aerial_south-from-pacific_color

by Paula Bosse

This is a cool aerial shot of downtown, looking toward the south, with a nice look at the back side of the waning Movie Row, with the Pacific Avenue rear entrances of the Majestic and Capri theaters visible.  I’m not sure of the date, but the Melba Theater was renamed the Capri on Dec. 25, 1959 and was ultimately demolished in 1980 or 1981, and the Medical Arts Building (seen in the middle at the far right) was demolished in 1977. I’m guessing the ’70s, if only because of the vast expanse of parking lots.

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Sources & Notes

Another instance of muddled/incomplete notes on my end. This is a screenshot from… something. I don’t remember if the image seen here is a photo or is from moving footage shot over Dallas.

majestic from behind aerial screenshot_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Art Landry Is At The Palace — 1927

palace-theatre_u-s-coffee_frank-rogers_1927_DPLMarquees, schmarquees… (Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Great photo of the Palace Theatre on Elm and Ervay in November or December of 1927 (“My Best Girl” starring Mary Pickford opened at the end of November and ran for a week or two into the middle of December). The movie seems like a bit of an afterthought, though — I mean… ART LANDRY IS IN TOWN, and his giant 78 disc replica promotional sign is crowding out others on the marquee. The touring jazz-band leader (who insisted he did NOT play jazz music — “I became a bandmaster when jazz was jax. In those days noise was the objective. […] The day of jazz is gone….” ) was nestled here in Big D for the holiday season and was apparently well-received. (See another photo of the Palace from about this same time here.)

palace_art-landry_111327Nov. 13, 1927

palace_pickford_my-bes-girl_112727Nov. 27, 1927

You know how when you get a new car you suddenly start seeing that same model everywhere? I’m like that with the U.S. Coffee & Tea Co. — seen right next door to the theater. (See it here, peeping around the Wilson Building in a squattier incarnation.)

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Sources & Notes

Photo titled “[Palace Theatre, Art Landry exclusive Victor Artist]” — by Frank Rogers — is from the Ted C. Steinberg Collection, Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library, call number PA2018-03-14 (the library has the date this photo was taken as Dec. 27, 1927, but “My Best Girl” was long-gone by then — it was probably taken on Nov. 27, the day after “My Best Girl” opened).

Quote from Art Landry about not being a jazz-band leader is from an interview with him in The Dallas Morning News (“Jazz Is Thing of the Past Says Palace’s New ‘Jazz Band’ Leader Who Specializes in Modern Music” — DMN, Nov. 12, 1927). I can’t find any other instances of early jazz music referred to as “jax” music. Can anyone point me to another reference?

palace-theatre_u-s-coffee_frank-rogers_1927_DPL_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Snow at White Rock Lake: The Bath House and Winfrey Point

snow_white-rock-lake_bath-house_squire-haskins_UTA_ndA snowy Bath House at WRL… (photo: Squire Haskins/UTA)

by Paula Bosse

I’m racing to post this — like many in the Dallas area (or, really, in the ENTIRE STATE OF TEXAS!), power availability has been spotty. Mine has been out more than it’s been on over the past few days. I have a brief window here to post a couple of wonderful aerial photos showing a snow-dusted White Rock Lake, taken by ace Dallas photographer Squire Haskins. Both are undated.

Above, a shot of the eastern edge of the lake, with the Bath House seen in the center. (Take a look at a larger image at the University of Texas at Arlington website here — click the thumbnail image on that page  to see the larger image — then click one more time to magnify.)

Below, a shot of Winfrey Point, also on the eastern edge of the lake, a little farther south. (See the larger image at the UTA site here.)

snow_white-rock-lake_winfrey-point_squire-haskins_UTA_nd

Here’s a map of WRL showing the locations, via Google:

wrl-map_google

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Funny, I used to love snow. It was always such a thrill on those rare occasions when it snowed. …Back when we all had heat and electricity. Ah, those were the days….

Stay warm, y’all. If you need information on “warming stations,” the City is directing people to call 211.

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Sources & Notes

Both photos are by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections. More information on these photographs is at the links above.

snow_white-rock-lake_bath-house_squire-haskins_UTA_nd_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Wes Wise, Dallas Texans, WFAA — 1961

wfaa_sports_sponsor-mag_101661_detA future mayor interviewing future Kansas City Chiefs 

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows future Dallas mayor Wes Wise in 1961 (when he was sports director for WFAA-Channel 8) interviewing players of the Dallas Texans. Wes Wise served as Mayor of Dallas for three terms, from 1971 to 1976. The (second iteration of the) Dallas Texans played in the AFL from 1960 to 1962 until owner Lamar Hunt relocated them to Kansas City where they became the Kansas City Chiefs. (Read about the first, sad, Dallas Texans in the post “The 1952 Dallas Texans: Definitely NOT America’s Team.”)

Below is the full ad. (Click for larger image.)

wfaa_sports_sponsor-mag_101661

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Sources & Notes

Ad from Sponsor, “the weekly magazine Radio/TV advertisers use” (Oct. 16, 1961).

wfaa_sports_sponsor-mag_101661_det_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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