Clifton Church’s Central Business District — ca. 1894

by Paula Bosse

main_by-church_1894Main Street looking west, toward a ghostly courthouse (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

These three photographs were taken by prominent Dallas photographer Clifton Church, probably in 1893 or 1894. The one at the top shows Main Street looking west, taken just east of Poydras. (The then-new courthouse at the end of the street appears to have been lightly fleshed out by the hand of a photo re-toucher, giving it a mirage-like quality.) The Trust Building, on the right, was at the northeast corner of Main & N. Austin; the Dexter insurance office was in the North Texas Building, at 221-223 Main (under the old numbering system), between N. Lamar and Poydras; and the Scruggs & Scruggs wholesale liquor business was at 237-239 Main, two doors east of the Poydras intersection. The present-day view from the same location can be seen on Google Street View, here.


The photo below shows Elm Street looking east, taken just east of Akard. In the middle of the block on the left is Mayer’s Beer Garden & Saloon, at 361-363 Elm; the tall building behind it was the Guild Building at 369-371 Elm. Across the street, the tall building on the right is the Chilton Building. In the foreground at the right is the Dallas Business College at 342 Elm (which, in the 1892 city directory, showed to be where artist Frank Reaugh had studio space). The present-day view can be seen here.



And, below, Commerce Street, looking east from about Poydras. At the bottom left is the L. J. Bartlett Oriental Livery and stables, at 237-241 Commerce; next to it is the St. George Hotel. In the distance, across the street, is the brand new Oriental Hotel at Commerce and Akard with its distinctive rounded topknot. In the middle of the block is the famed Padgitt Bros. Saddlery at 248-250 Commerce, and in the foreground is Ballard & Burnette at 240-242 Commerce, a company that sold “wholesale hats, caps, gloves, and umbrellas.” The present-day view is here



Below is a handy-dandy visual showing the locations of the above photos on a present-day map. (The black line shows where Poydras used to be. It exists today only as an alley-like block-long stretch of asphalt that runs alongside the downtown McDonald’s.) Click for larger image.

downtown_church-photos_googleGoogle Maps


Photos by Clifton Church (1855-1943), from his book Dallas, Texas Through a Camera: A Collection of Half-Tone Engravings from Original Photographs (Dallas: J. M. Colville, Franklin Printing House, 1894). (Sadly, these images are a bit washed out. I’d love to see the original photographs — and I’d love to see a copy of the original book.)

Address information from city directories and Sanborn maps.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.