Selling Kidd Springs Heights, 1909-1910
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
The above photo shows a car-and-buggy convoy belonging to the L. A. Wilson Land, Loan & Investment Company, stretched out in front of the Gaston Building at Commerce and S. Lamar. There’s a “Sale To Day” and they’re really pushing property in the Kidd Springs Addition in Oak Cliff. The date “April 20, 1910” is written on the back of the photo, and if that’s true, the big show here might be rooted more in desperation than in enthusiasm. The Wilson company began selling the 30-or-so lots in the new Kidd Springs Heights neighborhood in July of the previous year. An ad that appeared seven months before this photo was taken announced that there were only ten lots left. It looks like this was an impassioned display to make Kidd Springs seem more exciting and move that remaining property. People love parades.
(This is another great photo to zoom in on to see the details. All images are larger when clicked.)
The L. A. Wilson Co. was a fairly large real estate company founded by Missouri-born Lewis A. Wilson (1851-1926); at the time of this photo, the company’s offices were in the Gaston Building at 213 Commerce. (In the photo immediately above, I think the man with the moustache is Mr. Wilson.)
The first ad announcing the sale of lots in the Kidd Springs Heights area of Oak Cliff appeared on July 4, 1909. It included the two blocks north of what is now W. Canty, bounded by Turner Ave. on the west and N. Tyler (and Kidd Springs Park) on the east.
Four weeks later, a huge half-page ad ran in The Dallas Morning News, full of wonderful reasons why life would be better in Kidd Springs Heights:
“The newest theory of scientists is that one should sleep at least eighty or ninety feet above the level of the city – and thus escape the germs which are particularly active during the hours of darkness. Here then is the place for your home. Here then is the place for investment. Kidd Springs Heights is higher than the top of the court house. Up where the cooling breezes are found on the hottest of hot days; where the air is ozone-laden; where the nights are cool and refreshing and where insomnia soon becomes naught but a dim memory.”
The effusive sales copy is definitely worth a read (click ad below to read the full sales pitch).
Six weeks later the following self-congratulatory ad appeared. (It’s interesting to note that of the twenty lots sold, two of them had been sold to Mrs. L. A. Wilson, and one each had been sold to the two salesmen. The next year’s telephone directory showed that the Wilsons lived on Live Oak, and the two salesmen lived in boarding houses.)
It wasn’t until 1921 that the tiny little Kidd Springs Heights was annexed to the city of Dallas.
Things may be different today, but in 1909, these were the boundaries of Kidd Springs Heights.
The most interesting odd thing about Kidd Springs Heights? There appear to be two brick archways placed (very awkwardly) across Turner Avenue from one another — each spanning the sidewalk. I can’t find any information about these, but it looks as if they were set right at the northern boundary of the Kidd Springs Heights Addition. Old maps (such as this one from 1919) show no development to the north of this boundary up into at least the ’20s (it doesn’t look as if this addition is even in Oak Cliff proper), so I guess they were there before those sidewalks and served as a welcoming gateway to a new development where germs did not dwell after nightfall.
(Check out both of these markers on Google Street View, here. It’s pretty strange-looking.)
If anyone has information on these markers, please pass it along!
Top photo is titled “L. A. Wilson Land Loan Investment Company, Gaston Building, Commerce Street” — the photographer’s name and the date are written on the back: W. R. Lindsay, April 20, 1910. It is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University, and it can be viewed here. I have adjusted the color.
Lewis A. Wilson’s biography can be read in A History of Greater Dallas and Vicinity (1909), here. His photo:
The Kidd Springs Wikipedia entry is here.
The Sanborn map from 1922 showing this tiny neighborhood at about the middle of the page on the right can be found here. Note how few lots actually have houses built on them. (Taft is now W. Canty; Edwards is now Everts.)
As always, click pictures for larger images.
Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.