Traffic at Ross and Pearl — 1920s
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
The photo above shows the intersection of Ross and Pearl. The streetcar tracks ran along Pearl. We’re looking northeasterly on Ross. To the left, out of frame, would be the Sacred Heart Cathedral (renamed Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe in 1977). The photo comes from Diane Galloway’s wonderful book The Park Cities, A Photohistory. Her caption:
Traffic jams such as this one at Ross and Pearl Streets during the twenties encouraged Dallasites to pack up and move to newer developments away from the city.
With the crowd of people at the left, I think the traffic in this photo might have been caused by church-going motorists. The license plates on the cars seem to match those from 1927 and 1928 (links to license-plate-dating sites at bottom of post).
That impressive house at the top left with the pointed turret? At the time of this photograph, it was the George A. Brewer Undertaking Company. Like the two-blocks-away Belo Mansion, which was converted into the Loudermilk-Sparkman funeral home in 1926 (seen here), this spectacular house was once a private residence. It was built by Charles F. Carter (1848-1912), a wealthy cotton merchant, sometime between 1892 and 1895. It took up a huge lot at what is now the northeast corner of Ross and Crockett (see it at the bottom left of the 1921 Sanborn map, here). Here’s what the house looked like, circa 1894. (All pictures are larger when clicked.)
And, below, you can just see part of the house in a 1910 photo of the new-ish Cathedral at the corner of Ross and Pearl.
In 1920 or ’21 the Brewer Undertaking Co. moved into this house at 2303 Ross Avenue and operated as one of the city’s most prominent funeral homes until 1931 when they moved into a new location farther down Ross. When Brewer moved out, the beautiful house was demolished. In its place … a used car lot. Argh. In 1940, Lone Star Olds (later Lone Star Cadillac) moved in, eventually bought up the whole block, and became one of Dallas’ legendary car dealerships. It moved from its Ross Avenue location in 1985.
Also, even though it isn’t really visible in the top photo, across the street from the old Carter house — at 2310 Ross — was Brynce Court, a u-shaped apartment building. I haven’t been able to verify this, but The Dallas Morning News had a blurb about the “First Apartments” in the city which read as follows:
Dallas’ first apartment complex was a two-building development at 2310 Ross Ave. Built in 1919 [note: it appears to have been built in 1912], Brynce Court was the first set of apartments housed in more than one building.” (DMN, Jan. 7, 1984)
I mention this because it’s a cool little factoid, but also because I stumbled across a photo of it in an ad while looking for info on Lone Star Olds-Cadillac. So I have to show it. Surprisingly, this apartment block (which probably looked a lot less charming after fifty years) stood at that location until at least 1964.
I always like to look at things in the background of old photos. Here’s an extremely blurry magnified detail from the top photo, showing a two-story building of shops and businesses at Ross and Leonard. Included in these businesses is the Imperial Drug Store — it’s a little hard to make out, but the vertical sign with white letters appears to read “DRUGS” (this building can be seen in the 1921 Sanborn map mentioned above).
Below, the businesses and residences along Ross Avenue — between N. Pearl and Leonard — from the 1927 Dallas directory.
Ross and Pearl these days looks nothing like that top photo. See what the same view looks like today, via Google Street View, here. At least the Cathedral lives on.
Sources & Notes
Top photo from Diane Galloway’s book The Park Cities, A Photohistory (Dallas: privately published, 1989); from the collection of John Stull/R. L. Goodson, Jr., Inc., Consulting Engineers.
Photo of the C. F. Carter House is from the book Dallas, Texas Through a Camera, a collection of photos by Clifton Church.
Photo of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart from the Dallas Public Library, taken in 1910.
(Cropped) photo of Lone Star Cadillac by Squire Haskins from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections; more info is here (click thumbnail on UTA page to see much larger image).
Info on dating Texas license plates can be found here (PDF), here, and here. (If the first link doesn’t open, Google “The History of Texas License Plates.” It’s a report issued by the Texas Department of Transportation. It’s 255 pages long (!) and it’s exhaustive!)
Click pictures to see larger images.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.