The Magnolia Cafe, N. Lamar & Munger — 1947
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
I love stumbling across photos of random small businesses. This photo from 1947 shows an interesting modification of a rooming house in the area immediately north of downtown at 1914 N. Lamar, at the corner of what is now N. Lamar and Munger (the curb shows “Caruth St.,” the street’s original name). Unsurprisingly, this former residential area — which became an industrial warehouse district — looks pretty different today (see the current Google Street View here). A succession of cafes operated here over the years (while people lived in rented rooms upstairs) since at least 1927.
I love the entrance to the rooming house with the concrete steps to the right of the cafe, the street light, the streetcar tracks, The Metzger’s Milk sign, the Stier’s Laundry truck, the parked cars, and the street names (probably in tile?) on the curbs.
Three years after this photo was taken, the building was up for sale:
Its future? A parking lot.
A longtime owner of this combo building was Mrs. Ella Mae Stuart, who was living there with her husband as early as 1913 (possibly 1909). After her husband’s death in 1915, she ran a boarding house upstairs and rented out the cafe below. She seems to have been a much-married woman who was very creative with her age as given to census takers: every 10 years she continued to grow younger and younger, ending up in 1930 with her age listed as 50. She died three years later at the actual age of 68, leaving behind a husband 26 years her junior. Her great stamina might be the result of her regular consumption of a wonder tonic called Konjola (a patent medicine popular during Prohibition, made from roots, herbs, and a lot of alcohol). (Click to read Mrs. Stuart’s testimonial.)
Sources & Notes
Photo from eBay; taken by Rogers Studio (the business owned by noted Dallas photographer Frank Rogers and his son Norman Rogers), with the date “May 8, 1947” stamped on the back. Also on the back of the photo: “Magnolia Cafe, Lamar and Munger; seating capacity: 32.”
See the building on the 1921 Sanborn map here, which shows 1914 N. Lamar at the corner of Caruth Street. It appears the house might have become renovated to include a cafe on the ground floor in 1926 or 1927 when one of Mrs. Stuart’s boarding-house roomers opened up Frank’s Lunch Room.
Images larger when clicked.
Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.