The Wilson Building & Its Tenants — 1908/1909

by Paula Bosse

wilson-bldg_greater-dallas-illus-1908Forever & always, Dallas’ most beautiful building (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love the Wilson Building. Who doesn’t? Every time I realize it’s still standing, I’m actually kind of shocked. To find a 100-plus-year-old building still standing in Dallas is a rarity. If the wrecking ball ever strikes this building, there will definitely be hell to pay.

I’d never seen the above photo, which was published along with lovely art nouveau borders in the book Greater Dallas Illustrated, The Most Progressive Metropolis of the Southwest (1908). I’m fascinated by office buildings of the first half of the twentieth century that had business names painted on upper-floor windows. I always think of Sam Spade’s office.

sam-spade_sign-window

I was really hoping to find at least ONE detective agency in the Wilson Building at that time, but steep rents and a choosy leasing agent were probably working against such downmarket enterprises setting up shop in such a grand palace. Below is the list of occupants in the building at about the time the top photo was taken. Aside from the Titche-Goettinger department store occupying the basement and first two floors, Dallas’ premier office building was home to several important local business concerns, lots of insurance companies and agents, some notable architects (Lang & Witchell, C.D. Hill, Overbeck & Willis), and a surprising number of osteopaths (including Edna B. Brown, one of only two women specifically mentioned by name). (Click directory page for larger image.)

wilson-bldg-occupants_1909-directory

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Photo of the Wilson Building from Greater Dallas Illustrated (Dallas: Friends of the Dallas Public Library, 1992 — originally published in Dallas in 1908). The Wilson Building is located on Main and Elm at Ervay.

It’s doubtful that it would fall victim to the wrecking ball, but the Wilson Building may not actually be protected from any possible future threat of demolition. For clarification, see the comment near the top of the comments section in this Dallas Morning News article on recent demolition in the same block, here.

Sam Spade image is a still from the 1941 Humphrey Bogart film The Maltese Falcon, based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel. (Poor Archer….)

Directory page from Worley’s 1909 city directory.

My previous post — “The Wilson Building Under Construction — 1902” — can be found here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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