by Paula Bosse
You know those photos that just really grab you? This is one of those for me. It shows the Star Lounge & Bar (that sign!), located at 4311 Bryan, just east of Peak in Old East Dallas. The Star Lounge was opened in 1962 by Mrs. Wanda Nolan; Clark K. Curtis closed it in 1978 or 1979: that’s a lot of beer and cocktails over the lips and through the gums.
The building was built in 1922 by J. S. Johnson (the building permit had the estimated cost of construction at $3,500). Before the arrival of the Star Lounge, previous occupants of the space had included a barber shop, a cleaners, and a floor-covering and linoleum-installation company. (In 1931, when ABC Cleaners was there, the back wall of the building was blown out when two sticks of dynamite were planted one night by racketeers who were attempting to control the dry cleaning industry in Dallas by threatening violence if small-business owners refused to raise prices as a bloc and funnel the extra cash — basically “protection money” — back to them. The bad guys were thwarted.)
Early classified ads for the Star Lounge were want-ads for waitresses; in 1965, want-ads for “waitresses” were replaced by ads for “amateur go-go girls and exotic dancers.” I’m not sure how long that lasted, but it’s interesting to note that both sides of the 4300 block of Bryan were, at one time, jammed with bars which had similarly-themed retro-cool names (but which probably were more seedy than cool): the Orbit Lounge, the Rocket Lounge, the Space Lounge, and the Apollo Lounge. I’ve never seen that before. By 1970 those space-age gin mills were joined by an adult theater/bookstore. So… lively place! I’m hoping there was a lot — or even some — neon strobage going on.
This photo was probably taken around 1974, the year that Strom Radio & Appliances seems to have left the neighborhood. Neighboring businesses seen in this photo are Golden Furniture & Appliances (which has signs for Zenith and RCA-Victor out front), Peak & Bryan Beauty Shop, and the D & B Cafe. The three-story building on the corner of Bryan and Peak is the Brannon Building. All those buildings still stand — see the (sadly) more sedate block these days on Google Street View, here.
Sources & Notes
This photo is from a really great, somewhat random collection of 35mm slides from the City of Dallas Historic Preservation Program archives — most are from the 1970s and ’80s. Read about the recently rediscovered photos here, and browse through the entire fantastic collection on Flickr, here.
Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.