by Paula Bosse
The Jefferson Hotel probably made some serious money leasing out rooftop acreage to the Dr Pepper people who erected a huge neon sign there. The hotel was located across from Union Station and a couple of blocks from the Old Red Courthouse. For people approaching the city from the southwest, there was absolutely nothing between them and that refreshing beacon rising tantalizingly above S. Houston and Wood streets.
Texlite — the Dallas company that made the sign — was the first company in the Southwest to build and sell neon signs. Their first neon in Dallas advertised a shoe store in 1926 or 1927. (Texlite is best known as the company that built the red neon Pegasus and installed him on top of the Magnolia Petroleum Building in 1934.) My guess is that this Dr Pepper sign went up sometime between 1927 and 1934. It was up there for quite some time. Below is a detail from a photo taken sometime after 1943, and that DP sign was still there, continuing to make people subliminally thirsty
It’s surprising Dallas didn’t have more neon back then. With a pioneering hometown neon company, the Dallas skyline should have been lit up like a Christmas tree 24 hours a day!
Sources & Notes
Postcard is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be viewed here.
First black-and-white photo was purchased at an antique mall or flea market, origin unknown; found here.
The 1940s-era aerial photo is a detail of a larger photo, “Downtown Dallas looking east (unlabeled)” by Lloyd M. Long, from the Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Central University Libraries, SMU; the full photo can be viewed here.
A great photo of the hotel and sign can be seen in Sam Childers’ Historic Dallas Hotels, here. Childers writes that the Dr Pepper sign came down when the Jefferson was sold and became the Hotel Dallas in 1953. 20-some-odd years for a sign like that to remain in one place is a pretty good run.
The Jefferson Hotel (or as it’s sometimes identified, “Hotel Jefferson”) was at 312 S. Houston St. The building was demolished in 1975. It is now a hotel-shaped parking lot.
See what other clever thing once occupied the roof of the Jefferson Hotel in the Flashback Dallas post “The Jefferson Hotel and Its ‘Wireless Telegraph’ Rooftop Tower — 1921.”
Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.