St. Mark’s From the Air
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
The photo above shows an aerial view of the St. Mark’s campus, with a view to the northwest. So. Much. Space. The horizontal road in the top third of the photo is Preston Road. In the top right corner, at 5923 Royal Lane, is the round St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which was built in 1959. (I have learned only tonight that the architect of that church — and many other buildings around Dallas — was designed by architect William H. Hidell Jr., who studied with George Dahl. Hidell grew up in the same house I grew up in — several decades earlier. Small world.) Across the street from the round church is the Preston Royal fire station, built in 1958, and recently destroyed by a tornado (and which I wrote about here). This photo is undated, but it was obviously taken sometime after 1959. That amount of empty land is surprising. (If you really want to freak out about miles of nothing in North Dallas, check out this unbelievable photo of Preston and Valley View in 1958, pre-LBJ).
And here are two other St. Mark’s-centric photos from the same flight — all taken by Squire Haskins (see links below for very large images on the UTA website). Below, a view to the northeast:
And a view to the southeast:
Sources & Notes
These three aerial photos are by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Read more information about these individual photos: the first one is here (view to the northwest); the second is here (view to the northeast); and the third is here (view to the southeast). Click the pictures on the UTA site to see really, really big images.
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Copyright © 2023 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.
That top picture brought back some good memories. In the top picture the field on the southwest side of the Preston-Royal intersection was where we would parasail on Sunday afternoons in the 60’s. Someone had a WW2 parachute, harness, and a long rope that we would tie to the bumper of what ever car that was available to pull the parachute around the field. It was a huge party and everybody that wanted a ride got a turn. There were kids from several different schools there but there were never any fights, shootings, or stabbings. I guess we were more worried about dying in that parachute. Good times.
My kids went to the daycare inside St Luke’s, and I grew up on the street behind St Marks (Brookshire). The two west quadrants of the Preston/Royal intersection haven’t changed much- the building next to the fire station is still the same. Needless to say I love everything about this post and these pics!
Horizontally near the top of the first photo is the Cotton Belt railroad. The Dallas North Tollway was built along that path with construction starting in 1966 and finishing in 1968 so the photo was probably taken in 1962 plus or minus three years. Some of the retail buildings around the Preston Royal intersection may have been built after 1959 but I could not verify that.
Sadly, every single building shown there has since been torn down. Although the Lower School (which might even have been the Boarding Department in these photos) – at the lower left of the campus in the first photo; the gym-later-cafeteria and arts building (the two buildings between the Chapel and the track) were buildings of no architectural distinction whatsoever, the Chapel was a building of fine architectural design, which has been replaced by a far uglier chapel; and Davis Hall the big U shaped building was torn down for really very weak reasons in my opinion, and replaced with an extremely similar building in the same location.
A series of Headmasters and Chairmen of the Board of Trustees who wanted to “leave their marks” on the school have largely erased any vestige of its history. Tearing down the beautiful science and math buildings (upper left of the campus in first photo) completed the evolution of the campus to the educational equivalent of a North Dallas McMansion.
For a school that in the last 30 years has desperately attempted to ape the prep schools of the Northeast (crew and lacrosse in Texas? Really?) they certainly have missed out on the historical aspect of those schools. I rather suspect the Phillips Academies or Groton School haven’t gone whole hog to tear down every building more than 30 years old. While by every account the actual educational content is the best it’s ever been, the school is really going overboard on luxury excess in buildings and facilities.
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St. Mark’s explored every possible way to salvage Davis Hall, but it was beyond obsolete and the cost to retro-fit it made no sense. A new state-of-the-art building was the only sensible answer, instead. Ditto for the math-science quadrangle — it was functionally obsolete, too, and was not up to modern standards at all. The only building that could have been saved might have been the chapel — it was well-known for its architecture.
As for crew and lacrosse, why is that a bad thing to have those sports in Texas? They are extremely popular and both are growing across much of Texas. SM is always turning out top teams and athletes in both sports, and lacrosse is always contending in the state championships.
Most of the northeast schools have buildings that were built long ago, were built to last, and have lasted — whereas SM certainly did not have that legacy of historic buildings as centerpieces to big campuses — now they do. I guess you’re disappointed that a brand new gym will be built to replace the one destroyed by the tornado three years ago.
Well, to tear down Davis Hall was to tear down the first building on the campus. To tear down the chapel was to destroy a building of architectural distinction and significance (if memory serves it was the first building west of the Mississippi built of pre-stressed concrete). There’s no equating that with replacing a building destroyed in a tornado, and you know very well I was not implying they are the same.
I lived in New England for 16 years. Believe me, those old buildings require constant maintenance and repair. They’re kept because they provide a link to the past, not because they’re somehow less needy of it. Of course nothing in Dallas is old like things up there, but with the replace-don’t-repair mentality, it never will be. You know, there was a time when the Old North Church was new.
I meant to type “not because they somehow need less attention”.
This picture was taken sometime in the 1963-64 school year as the 1964 “Marksmen” yearbook has a similar picture as part of a 2-page spread in its earliest pages. If you look at the details, this photo is from the same aerial session as the cars are all in the same place, the discoloration in the grass near Preston is the same, and the various students on the athletic fields are in the same general areas. as on the yearbook photo.
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I think that “discoloration” is a low wet area, related to the creek across the road. Maybe the creek had been culverted when the campus was built, but the ground was still lower there?