Neon Refreshment: The Giant Dr Pepper Sign
by Paula Bosse
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.
Thank you for your post about Dallas artists in the 60s and 70s! And how interesting to read Janet Kutner’s reviews again! Regarding neon, I really miss the Esquire and the Broadway-like look of Oak Lawn that has disappeared. Phil’s, Jay’s Marine Grill, The Flower Shop, Lee Optical, that big neon stiletto shoe. Any pictures of those gems? Speaking of neon — How about the China Clipper on McKinney?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks, Craig. Maybe there was more neon than I was aware of! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some cool color photos.
You can narrow your estimate of installation date a little to earlier than 1931. This photo on Flickr is incorrectly dated as 1935: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfwcre8tive/3826247781/ I know it is no later than 1931 because near the center of the right edge of the photo you can see the YMCA building on Ervay under construction and it was completed in 1931 (see this book for reference: https://books.google.com/books?id=0LmGNWK3gSsC&pg=PA29#v=onepage&q&f=false ). If you look closely at the upper right corner of the photo you can just barely see the back of the Dr Pepper sign. Here is an enlarged version of that part of the image: http://i.imgur.com/wc9MsbB.png
Also this book: https://books.google.com/books?id=ZjHXkDJEtFYC&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q&f=false says that the sign came down in 1953 after new owners changed the name to Hotel Dallas.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wow, thanks for going the extra mile, Not Bob. I kind of think the sign is from the ’20s, but I can’t find anything about it in the DMN archives, which just seems weird. Even though it was advertising, it had certainly become a landmark very early on. AND it was the largest neon sign in the state. You’d think that its appearance on the skyline would have justified the paper mentioning it. Thanks for the links. The Childers book has a GREAT photo of the hotel and sign — I added the link above; the photo is here: http://bit.ly/1MT6O9z
[…] department store. The end of the clip has shots of the (surprisingly red) (and no longer standing) Jefferson Hotel; sharing the frame is the fountain in Ferris Plaza (Union Station would be to the left of the […]
[…] Check out another Texlite sign which I wrote about in the Flashback Dallas post “Neon Refreshment: The Giant Dr Pepper Sign.” […]