Ownby Stadium, With Room To Breathe

by Paula Bosse


by Paula Bosse

Look at all that wide open space!


Sources & Notes

This undated postcard — captioned on the back “Southern Methodist University Campus and Owen [sic] Stadium from the Air, University Park, Dallas, Texas.”

What many of us think of as Ownby Stadium began life as the much smaller Ownby Oval, named after SMU alumnus Jordan Ownby who had donated $10,000 toward the construction of the new stadium. The oval was dedicated on Oct. 10, 1923 during its inaugural football game in which the SMU Mustangs defeated the Austin College Kangaroos 10-3.

Info and specs can be found in this captioned drawing that appeared in The Dallas Morning News on July 23, 1923 (click to see larger image).

ownby-stadium_dmn_072323DMN, July 23, 1923

The first phase of Ownby Stadium — much enlarged and improved from the old 8,000-seat oval — was built in 1926. The two steel stands from the old field were moved to form the temporary east section of the new stadium, and a new $190,000 “west unit” (designed by Dallas architects DeWitt and Lemmon) was built, adding more than 12,000 seats. Jordan Ownby Stadium was formally opened on Oct. 2, 1926 during half-time ceremonies of the football game between SMU and Trinity University (SMU won, 48-0).

Here’s a scrubby, somewhat desolate photo from 1927, taken by Joseph Neland Hester, from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Library, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo can be found here.


The new stadium was even featured in an ad for the University Park Development Co., which used the ever-expanding SMU campus as a selling point to attract potential investors.

ownby-stadium-construction_university-park-real-estate-ad_oct-1926Ad detail, Oct. 1926

And a postcard showing the stadium during a football game between SMU and TCU in 1926, a game which clenched the Southwest Conference championship for SMU. The back of this postcard (from the Park Cities Bank series) directs attention to “Oliver Mowatt’s dairy operation at the upper right — he rented the land along Airline Road from the Caruth family.”



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