SMU Campus, An Aerial View from the North — 1940s

smu-campus_from-the-north_squire-haskins_UTA_nd(Squire Haskins Collection, UTA Libraries)

by Paula Bosse

When you see aerial views of the SMU campus, they’re usually looking to the north, toward Dallas Hall. Which is one reason this photo by ace photographer Squire Haskins is interesting. It’s also noteworthy because it shows “Trailerville,” the trailer camp set up on the campus from 1946 to 1953 for married war-vet students, and it also shows the pre-fab men’s dormitories, which look like army barracks. Housing in post-WWII Dallas was was very, very tight, and people had to make do and were crammed into all sorts of spaces. (See a very large image of this photo on the UTA website here.)

For reference, Mockingbird Lane is running horizontally at the top (I was wondering if that might have been the Mrs. Baird’s bakery (built in 1953) at the top left, but it’s not far enough east), Bishop Blvd. is in the center, and Hillcrest Avenue is at the right. And there’s also a whole lot of empty land — a startling sight if you’ve seen the present-day bursting-at-the-seams campus.

Here are a few blurry close-ups. First, Trailerville (which I’ve been meaning to write about for years!) — just northeast of Ownby Stadium:

smu-campus_from-the-north_squire-haskins_UTA_nd_det-2

Men’s dorms in temporary buildings which were removed in 1952/53:

smu-campus_from-the-north_squire-haskins_UTA_nd_det-1

And something that isn’t the Mrs. Baird’s Bread factory (scroll down to see what it was):

smu-campus_from-the-north_squire-haskins_UTA_nd_det-3

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Thanks to the comments below by reader “Not Bob,” it appears that the photo of the long building at the top left corner — on the site later occupied by Mrs. Baird’s Bread — was once an armory for the 112th Cavalry (Troop A) of the Texas National Guard. The building was originally built in 1921 as the headquarters of the Wharton Motor Company, a short-lived automobile and tractor manufacturer. It appears to have closed by 1922 and the company was bankrupt by 1924. The 112th Cavalry (with about 40 horses) moved in at the end of 1927 — they were forced to move out by the end of 1930 because of neighbor complaints (and a lawsuit) about the horses being in such close proximity to residences. By the time of the photo above, it was the Town and Country food business which rented freezer-locker space to the public. Mrs. Baird’s Bread decided to build on the site in 1949 (with the intention, presumably, to raze the existing building) — construction began in 1952 and the factory opened in 1953 (incidentally, the factory was designed by legendary Dallas architect George Dahl). (I should write about the Wharton building sometime — it has an interesting history.) 

The commenter (“Not Bob”) also linked to a similar view of the campus in 1955, post-Trailerville:

smu_from-the-north_1955_degolyer-library_SMU_cropped(DeGolyer Library, SMU)

By then, Central Expressway had been built and Mrs. Baird’s was cranking out that delicious aroma that filled the neighborhood for decades:

smu_from-the-north_1955_degolyer-library_SMU_det-mrs-bairds

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Sources & Notes

“Aerial view of the campus of Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas” is by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries; more information on this photo can be found here (click thumbnail photo to see larger image).

“1955 aerial view of campus from the north” — by William J. Davis — is from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more information on this photo is here.

smu-campus_from-the-north_squire-haskins_UTA_nd_sm

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.