Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1890s

19th-Century Sign-Painting and Real-Estating

smithson-and-harris-signs_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1890Need signs and/or land?

by Paula Bosse

Above, a photo of Smithson & Harris, makers and painters of signs in the 1890s. The business — owned by Harry M. Smithson and W. H. Harris — was apparently at 209 S. Akard, which has been described as having been on the northeast corner of Akard and Commerce, later the site of the Magnolia Building. That address does not comport with 209 S. Akard as we know it today — that would be in the southwest block of S. Akard — south of Commerce and on the other side of the street. This is a sentence from Smithson’s obituary: 

Mr. Smithson operated a sign-painting and furniture repair shop in a one-story frame building where the Magnolia Building now stands at the northeast corner of Akard and Commerce. — Dallas Morning News, May 1, 1936

Another source repeats the same info. Below is an excerpt from the small booklet Dallas’ First Hundred Years, 1856-1956 by George H. Santerre. I’m guessing Santerre got his info from the very same obit (and perhaps embellished the importance of the two businesses pictured).

In 1895 Dallas’ merchants obtained their large store signs from Smithson & Harris, whose one-story frame establishment […] facing on Akard was located on the northeast corner of Commerce and Akard streets, the present site of Dallas’ Magnolia Building. The real estate offices of Palmer & McKay, through which many of Dallas’ real estate transfers were handled, adjoined the sign-painters location.

As far as that last little nod to Palmer & McKay (John R. Palmer and James C. McKay), I could find their real estate partnership in only one Dallas directory — 1891, when their office was located at 296 Main. I have no 1890 directory to check, but Palmer left a previous place of employment in 1889. “Palmer & McKay” had disappeared from Dallas directories by 1892, so my guess is that the photo is from about 1890.

As far as the address being 209 S. Akard — Dallas has renumbered and renamed so many streets over the years that it’s hard to keep track of everything. 

Dallas’ most prosperous and well-known sign-maker of this period was P. S. Borich. His shop was at 209 Sycamore (the street was later renamed N. Akard). But around 1890, “209 Sycamore” became, weirdly, 108 South Akard — right where the Magnolia Building was built. Borich was at 209 Sycamore/108 S. Akard until about 1900, when most of the individuals mentioned above had moved on to other professions. (You can see the confusing address numbering in the 1885 and 1892 Sanborn maps.)

borich_1889-dallas-directory1889 Dallas directory

So I’m not sure what’s going on in this photo of a building with the address “209.” 19th-century sublet?

(Incidentally, the Borich company eventually morphed into Texlite, the company that made Pegasus, the city’s symbol who lives atop, yes, the Magnolia Building. I wrote about Borich and Texlite in the post “Texlite, Borich, Pegasus.”

“Smithson & Harris” and “Palmer & McKay” were both very short-lived partnerships, lasting only a year or two. Wherever these businesses were located, it’s a cool photo.

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the George A. McAfee photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University — more information is here (note: there is incorrect info in the description).

I first saw the (cropped) photo in the 1931 Rotunda, the yearbook of SMU, from the collection at the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University, here.

smithson-and-harris-signs_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca. 1890_sm

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Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Main Street, West Toward the Clock Tower

main-street-west-from-st-george-hotel_ebayEnjoy it while you can…

by Paula Bosse

A nice view of Main Street, looking west toward the probably pretty new courthouse (built in 1892). Streetcars, the St. George Hotel, the North Texas Building, the Trust Building. Much the same shot is seen in this photo from 1954 (more buildings, less sky).

I hope citizens back then weren’t getting too attached to that beautiful clock tower, because it would go bye-bye in April, 1919 after it had been determined that it might be on the verge of collapse. 

From The Dallas Morning News, Jan. 22, 1919:

COURTHOUSE TOWER IS ORDERED REMOVED

Believing the courthouse tower to be a nuisance to the safety of persons in the building, the Commissioners Court yesterday ordered H. A. Overbeck, architect, to prepare specifications for its removal. The tower will be leveled off even with the balcony.

Mr. Overbeck recently made an inspection of the tower, reporting that while there is no immediate danger, it is altogether advisable that the tower be demolished, as a strong windstorm might cause it to collapse. The walls have numerous cracks in them, the sandstone is disintegrating in places, and some of the iron supports are rusted and deteriorating, he said.

The work of removing the tower will begin as soon as Mr. Overbeck can complete the necessary plans.

It wasn’t even 30 years old. The tower came down a few months later at a cost to the county of $10,000 (the equivalent today of about $153,000). 

From The Dallas Morning News, April 20, 1919:

COST $10,000 TO REMOVE COURTHOUSE TOWER

The work of razing the courthouse tower was completed this week, and workmen yesterday began tearing down the scaffold and improvised elevator shaft which had been erected to facilitate the removal of the large quantity of stone and steel contained in the old tower.

It is estimated that there were close to 75 tons of material in the tower. It cost the county $10,000 to have it removed.

75 tons!

But, oh dear — it looked bad without the tower. Real bad. …I mean REAL bad.

old-red-courthouse_no-clock-tower_postcard_ebayYikes

But, thankfully, the Dallas County Courthouse got a brand new clock tower in 2007, and Old Red looks beautiful again!

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Sources & Notes

Images from eBay.

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Copyright © 2021 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Random Photos of Turn-of-the-Century-ish Houses

lemmon-avenue_house_rppc_ebayLemmon Avenue home, horse included….

by Paula Bosse

I love looking at old houses — especially ones which once occupied parts of town which are definitely no longer residential areas. It’s always sad to realize that the beautiful house you’re looking at — one which you can imagine living in now, in the 21st century — has, almost always, been torn down decades ago and replaced with something much less interesting. Thankfully, people 120 years ago used to have their homes photographed in order to print up picture postcards which they would then send to friends and relatives. Most of the images below come from these “real photo postcards,” and all show nice little glimpses into Dallas homes from before 1910. Only one of these houses is still standing. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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Sadly, the house above is not still standing. It’s a beautiful house. Even comes with a horse! The house was at 405 Lemmon Avenue in Oak Lawn. After the addresses in Dallas changed in 1911, the address became 3621 Lemmon (in the middle of the block between Welborn and Turtle Creek Park/Lee Park — apartments and a parking garage now occupy that whole block) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here. The owner was W. Leslie Williams, a real estate man. Family horses wandered off a few times, according to “strayed or stolen” ads placed in the paper, such as the one below.

williams_dmn_111211_strayed-horse
Nov. 1911

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Below, a house which once stood at 711 Travis (which later became 4627 Travis), between Knox and Hester (the Katy railroad tracks would have run right behind the house) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here. It was in the “Fairland” addition. The owner of the house was T. B. Baldwin, a traveling agent for The Dallas Morning News. The photo was on a postcard mailed in 1908.

travis-ave-house_fairland_1908_ebay_rppc

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Now to South Dallas (The Cedars?). This house stood at 200 Cockrell Ave. (which became 2130 Cockrell), between Corinth and Montgomery, now part of a large swath of empty land almost certainly being developed in somebody’s head as I type this. See it at the very bottom of this 1921 Sanborn map. The house was owned by Horatio W. Fairbanks, supervisor of the Dallas Cotton Mills, and was later occupied by the Wesley Settlement House for several years. The photo below is from 1896.

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Now to four houses in Oak Cliff. The first stood at 107 10th Street (later 525 E. 10th St.), between Lansing and Marsalis — see it on a 1922 Sanborn map here. This was the home of Dr. William E. King, whom I presume is the man standing in front of the house — he died in 1909, a year after this photo was taken. The land now appears to be occupied by a body-shop parking lot. (This 1908 photo is from the Murphy Historical Society, via the Portal to Texas History, here.)

king-william_oak-cliff_1908_murphy-historical-society_via-portal

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The home of T. Henry Dorsey, a member of the family who founded the Dorsey Printing Co., a pioneer printing establishment in Dallas, was at 161 Grand Ave. (the name of the street was changed to Marsalis, and in 1911 the address of this house became 113 N. Marsalis), between 9th and 10th streets — see it on a 1905 Sanborn map here. The current occupant of this land is, I think, a trucking company. This house — which Dorsey moved into around 1900 — can be seen below from several angles (including one from the back which shows a fence running into part of the house which appears to be encroaching onto a neighbor’s property. 

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Before 1911, the address of the house below — a house I absolutely love — was 174 South Jefferson; after 1911, the address was, rather confusingly, changed to 516 East Jefferson (between Patton and Denver) — see it on a 1905 Sanborn map here. It was on land now occupied by Felix Botello Elementary School. This house was owned for several decades by Dr. William M. Lively. The image below is from a postcard dated 1909. (Great car!)

lively-house_poss-oak-cliff_rppc_1909_ebay

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Below is the only one of these houses still standing. It began life as 120 Madison Ave. (which later became 628 N. Madison), at the corner of W. Neely St. in the Kidd Springs neighborhood of Oak Cliff. See it on a 1922 Sanborn map here (bottom left corner). Claude Marcelle (C. M.) Crawford, a traveling salesman, lived here with his wife, Maud, and their infant son, Marcelle Crawford. Maud Crawford (who died in 1913, just a couple of years after this photo was taken) wrote: “What do you think of our ‘cosy corner.’ Every one tells us it is pretty so much until we almost believe it our selves.” Crawford eventually went to work for Bristol-Myers as a regional branch manager, and after 30 years, when he was in ill health, the company retired him on full pay (!) in gratitude for his service. When he retired, he owned a Beverly Drive home in Highland Park, apparently having done very well. His charming little starter-house in Oak Cliff still stands, having recently been remodeled. 

crawford-house_madison_oak-cliff_ebay_cropped
about 1910

crawford-house_madison_google-street-view_2012
2012, Google Street View

crawford-house_madison_google-street-view_20192019, Google Street View

crawford-claude-marcelle_dmn_081311
Claude Marcelle Crawford, Jr., Dallas Morning News, Aug. 13 1911

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And, lastly, the only house I wasn’t able to determine the location of — it also looks like the oldest. On the back is a faint penciled notation which appears to  be signed “G. P. Taylor.” In a more recent notation in ink, the family members in the photo are identified: “Made in Dallas, Tex. — Elm St. — Mother on porch, Mattie & I in window, Pearl & Joe in gate.” 1870s or 1880s? It’s a mystery!

elm-street-house_ebay_taylor

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Sources & Notes

All images except the William E. King house are from eBay.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Paul Giraud’s 1892 View of Dallas with Trinity River “Improvements” Which Were Never Made

1892_map_birdseye_paul-giraud_wikimediaClick to explore a larger image…

by Paula Bosse

Above is a map titled “Dallas, Texas, With The Projected River And Navigation Improvements. Viewed From Above The Sister City of Oak Cliff.” It was a bird’s-eye view of the city drawn in 1892 by Dallas resident and businessman Paul Giraud.

If you click on the picture you will see a very large image which will allow you to look at all the tiny details. You’ll see a lot of stuff that never actually existed in Dallas, but which Giraud — an adamant and tireless proponent of a navigable Trinity waterway — hoped would become part of Dallas. It’s pretty cool and a lot of fun to wander through. (A good background history on Giraud’s “map” can be found on the Amon Carter Museum website here.)

Born in France in 1844, Paul Giraud settled in Dallas in 1890 where he worked both in real estate and as a draftsman while also acting as a booster of Dallas and Texas to anyone who would listen, especially to Europeans and fellow Frenchmen who were considering the possibility of emigrating to the United States. He was also an inventor and secured at least one patent.

Giraud’s enthusiasm and dedication for the Trinity River scheme could be found in the bird’s-eye view seen above, in a miniature three-dimensional model with working locks and dams which he constructed for the 1892 State Fair, and in newspaper articles printed across the state which he wrote to assure readers (and investors) of the feasibility of the project.

All that work, but, sadly, Giraud’s dream was never realized — the Trinity won. But he did leave us with that fantastic, partially realistic bird’s-eye view of the city.

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1892_map_birdseye_giraud_dmn_091892Dallas Morning News, Sept. 18, 1892

giraud_trinity-lock-and-dam-model_state-fair_dmn_102992
DMN, Oct. 29, 1892

paul-giraud-draughtsman_souv-gd_1894
Souvenir Guide of Dallas, 1894

giraud-paul_dmn_121117_obit_photo

giraud-paul_dmn_121117_obit
Photo and obituary, DMN, Dec. 11, 1917 (click to read)

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Sources & Notes

This map is in the collection of the Library of Congress, here; the picture at the top of this post links to the enlarged Wikimedia image here.

If you’d like to compare some of the buildings with Sanborn maps to see what was real and what was fanciful, you can find the 1892 Sanborn maps here (scroll down). It might be helpful to use Sheet 1 as a guide — if, for instance, you want to look at the area in the immediate vicinity of the courthouse (which was under construction at the time…), you see that you need Sheet 3, so you click on “Dallas 1892 Sheet 3” on the list of maps.

1892_map_birdseye_paul-giraud_wikimedia_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Orphaned Factoids: Year-End Grab Bag, 2019

cyclone-twister_tornado_cigars_1928_ebay“Looks crooked but smokes straight…”

by Paula Bosse

As another year crawls to an end, it’s time to collect the odd bits and pieces that have  piled up over the past few months which struck me as interesting or funny or… whatever. I had nowhere else to put them, so they’re going here! (Most images are larger when clicked.)

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First up, the ad above for the “Cyclone Twister” 5-cent cigar, distributed by Dallas wholesaler Martin L. Richards in 1928. Note the shape of the cigar. “Looks crooked but smokes straight.” Probably looked a little strange when smoked. I guess it might help break the ice at parties. Found on eBay.

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Here’s a nice little crest for SMU I’ve never seen — I’m not sure how long this lasted. From the 1916 Rotunda yearbook.

smu_crest_1916-rotunda

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M. Benedikt & Co. was the “Headquarters for Hard-to-fit-men” — in other words, they specialized in “Right-Shape clothing for Odd-Shape Men.” Here are a couple of examples of what they might consider “odd-shape men” in an ad from 1899.

benedikt-clothiers_odd-shape-men_dallas-fire-dept-souvenir_1899_degolyer-lib_SMU

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This is an interesting selection of ads from a 1968 edition of the Yellow Pages: Dewey Groom’s Longhorn Ballroom, Louanns, El Zarape Ballroom, the It’ll Do Club, the Bamboo Room at the Tower Hotel Courts, the Chalet Club, and the Tamlo Show Lounge (a couple of these show up in the…um… informative story “The Meanest Bars in Dallas” (D Magazine, July, 1975).

clubs_yellow-pages_1968_ebay

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I’ve been working in the G. William Jones Film and Video Archives at SMU for the past few months, and this was something I came across while viewing a 1960 WFAA-Channel 8 News clip which made me really excited (it’s an awful screenshot, but, what the heck): while covering a car wreck at Corinth and Industrial, the Ch. 8 camera panned across the scene, and in the background, just left of center, was a very tall sign for the Longhorn Ranch, which I’d never seen before. Before it was the Longhorn Ranch it was Bob Wills’ Ranch House, and after it was the Longhorn Ranch it was the Longhorn Ballroom (more history of the legendary honky-tonk is in a Texas Monthly article here). So, anyway, it’s a fuzzy screenshot, but I think it’s cool. (The footage is from June, 1960 but the clip hasn’t yet been uploaded online.)

longhorn-ranch_wfaa-june-1960_jones-film_SMU

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Speaking of WFAA footage in the Jones Film collection, there was some sort of story about comely young women in skimpy outfits handing out samples of some sort of food to passing pedestrians on Commerce Street (the one-minute clip is here). In addition to seeing sights associated with downtown streets in 1962 (including businesses such as Sigel’s and the Horseshoe Bar, as well as a large sign advertising the Theatre Lounge), I was really happy to see a few Braniff Airways posters in a window — I love those late-’50s/early-’60s Braniff travel posters! So here’s another screenshot and, below that, the Texas-kitsch poster I was so happy to see in color.

braniff-poser_oil-well_jones-film_SMU_041262

braniff-poser_oil-well_ebayBraniff Airways, Inc., Copyright 1926 2019

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I don’t have an image for it, but I was amused to learn that in 1969 the powers-that-be at the Texas Turnpike Authority nixed the suggestion that the Dallas North Tollway be renamed in honor of president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had recently died — the idea was turned down because 1) new signage would have been very expensive, and 2) officials were afraid that “irreverent motorists” would inevitably refer to the toll road as the “Ike Pike” (I know I would have!).

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Not Dallas, but there’s always time for a little love for Fort Worth: here’s a nice ad from 1955 for a 22-year-old Fort Worth DJ named Willie Nelson, back when he was gigging out on the Jacksboro Highway with his band the Dumplin’ Eaters.

nelson-wilie_FWST_090955Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Sept. 9, 1955

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Apparently there was a time when ladies were uncomfortable patronizing an establishment in which m*n served them ice cream, so this ad from 1899 made sure to note that “lady clerks” were in attendance. (See the back side of the Willett & Haney Confectioners parlor a couple of years before this ad, when the “cool and cozy parlor” was located on Main Street — it’s at the far left in this circa-1895 photo detail from this post.) The parlor was owned by John B. Willett and John S. Haney, and in addition to ice cream and candy, their specialty was oysters, and I can only hope that there was some experimenting with new food combos involving mollusks, ice cream sodas, and crushed fruit.

willett-and-haney_ice-cream-parlor_dallas-fire-dept-souvenir_1899_degolyer-lib_SMU

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This is an odd little tidbit from The Dallas Morning News about a couple of cadets from Camp Dick (at Fair Park) and what happened to them when they attended a lecture on “social diseases.” (The jokes write themselves….) Who knew singing and whistling were so therapeutic”

camp-dick_dmn_081718DMN, Aug. 17, 1918

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The caption for this photo (which appeared in the article “Going Downtown to Shop” by Jackie McElhaney, from the Spring, 2009 issue of Legacies): “In 1946, Sanger’s introduced a portable drapery shop. Two seamstresses sewed draperies in this truck while parked in the customer’s driveway.” Now that’s service!

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“Forward with Texas,” 1947 ad detail

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Two more. This first was a real-photo postcard I found on eBay. It shows the Pink Elephant cafe on Hwy. 80 in Forney (not Dallas, but pretty close!). I love the idea of Forney having a place called the Pink Elephant — it was quite popular and was in business from at least the 1930s to the 1950s. The card below was postmarked in 1936.

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This photo of the interior is from the Spellman Museum of Forney Museum Facebook page.

pink-elephant-bbq_forney_FB_spellman-museum-forney-history

I wondered if the place was still around (sadly, it is not), and in looking for info about it found this interesting article from 1934 about outlaw Raymond Hamilton, the escaped killer who grew up in Dallas (…there’s the Dallas connection!) and was notorious for having been a member of Bonnie and Clyde’s “Barrow Gang.” (Click to read.)

pink-elephant-bbq_forney_austin-american_102234Austin American, Oct. 22, 1934

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And, lastly, a photo of a young woman which appeared in a German-language magazine, captioned simply “Eine Texas Schönheit (A Texas Beauty).” Is the hair wearing the hat, or is the hat wearing the hair?

texas-beauty_1902

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Previous installments of Flashback Dallas “Orphaned Factoids” can be found here.

Until next year!

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Dallas Day” at the State Fair of Texas

state-fair_dallas-day_100956
Hey, Big D — don’t forget “Dallas Day”!

by Paula Bosse

“Dallas Day” used to be an important day at the State Fair of Texas. Like really important. Like national-holiday-important. Below is a typical mayoral proclamation announcing the sweeping closures of public and private businesses and institutions on “Dallas Day,” from 1899 (click to see a larger image; transcription follows):

1899_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_101099Dallas Morning News, Oct. 10, 1899

THE GREAT TEXAS STATE FAIR

PROCLAMATION

Wednesday, Oct. 11, is hereby declared to be, and is to be, a full, free and public holiday within the corporate limits of our good city of Dallas, on account of Dallas Day at the Great Texas State Fair.

All business, public and private, the postoffice, the courts, the banks, and public schools, will close from Tuesday evening, Oct. 10, until Thursday morning, Oct. 12, to the end that all may turn out and have one full day’s benefit of this great educational institution.

Every employer in Dallas is charged to be loyal to this, our proclamation, for his own good, for the good of those he employs, for the good of their wives and families and of their sweethearts.

No loyal concern in Dallas will fail to observe this, our annual holiday, or fail to render to their employes every facility for observing it.

Every citizen of Dallas having in his possession a complimentary ticket to the Fair is hereby requested to keep his ticket in his pocket and to pay his way at the gate. Children in arms will be admitted to the Fair free. School children, accompanied by their teachers, at half price.

Done at Dallas this 9th day of October, 1899.

Signed:
John H. Traylor, Mayor

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For decades, it was expected that most Dallas businesses and government offices would close on “Dallas Day.” The central business district must have been a ghost town. Woe be to anyone needing a new frock, a replacement gasket, a bank draft, or even a postage stamp on “Dallas Day.” The city had bigger fish they wanted its citizens to fry.

1906_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_101806Oct. 18, 1906

Here’s an early “Dallas Day” ad from 1889 with pointing fingers:

1889_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_101489Oct. 14, 1889

The State Fair of Texas was (and continues to be) so filled with other ubiquitous “days” (such as old favorites “Hard Money Day” and “Chrysanthemum Day,” as seen in the ad below from 1895) that if Dallas weren’t Dallas, “Dallas Day” might run the risk of getting lost in the jam-packed fair schedule.

1895_dallas-day_sfot_dmn_102495Oct. 24, 1895

There were, of course, “Dallas Day” parades:

parade_state-fair_dallas-day_come-to-dallas_degolyer_SMU_ca1905ca. 1905, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

“Dallas Day” may still be a thing, for all I know (I guess I think of “Dallas Day” as the day Dallas’ elementary school kids get off to go to the fair, a tradition I hope never dies), but it had lost a lot of steam after those early days. Some businesses continued to close or shorten their hours to let employees enjoy the fair, but the era of a city shutting down so that everyone could flock to the State Fair began to fade after those early decades of the 20th century. But imagine how exciting that must have been, with all of Dallas descending on Fair Park en masse.

state-fair_dallas-day_101056Oct. 10, 1956

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

State Fair of Texas, Miscellaneous Tidbits from Its History

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by Paula Bosse

The State Fair of Texas is, once again, in full swing. Here are a few random SFOT images and ads from the past.

First up, an ad for the very first state fair in Dallas, in 1886. Almost unbelievably, this “Dallas State Fair” (held on 80 acres of land now known as Fair Park) was one of two competing state fairs held in the city that year — the other one was the “Texas State Fair,” which was held about three miles northeast of the courthouse on a 100-acre site roughly about where Cole Park is near present-day North Dallas High School. The two state fairs ran concurrently, and both were smash hits. The “Dallas State Fair and Exposition” eventually became the State Fair of Texas in 1904. Below are the ads for those competing two fairs. (Click to see a larger image.)

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The East Dallas fair, Dallas Herald, Oct. 9, 1886

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The North Dallas fair, Dallas Herald, Oct. 20, 1886

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One of the original buildings built for the 1886 Dallas State Fair was the massive Exposition Building, designed by architect James Flanders. On a site devoted to the career of Flanders, the architect recalled this project many years later: “The progress of the work on the structure was watched by most people with a degree of curiosity far more intense than is excited by the loftiest skyscraper in these days when people have no time to wonder. Such an apparition on the bald prairie attracted crowds of the curious from far and near on Sundays.”

state-fair_exposition-bldg_ca-1890s

Above, the huge Exposition Hall, enlarged from its initial design, which, in 1886 was reported to contain 92,000 square feet of unrivaled exhibition space. Unfortunately, the wooden buildings seen above burned to the ground in the early hours of July 20, 1902. The blaze was so intense that “the whole of the city was lit up with the brilliancy of the sunrise” and that “flames rose to such great height that they were seen as far west as Fort Worth, where it was thought the whole city of Dallas was burning” (Dallas Morning News, July 21, 1902). More on this building can be found on the Watermelon Kid site, here.

Below, the Exposition Building can be seen from the fairgrounds racetrack in a photo published in 1900 in an issue of The Bohemian magazine (via the Fort Worth Public Library).

fairgrounds_racetrack_bohemian_1900_fwpl

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A moment from the opening day parade festivities of the 1903 fair is captured in the photo below, with the following caption from the 1941-42 edition of the Texas Almanac: “Gov. S. W. T. Lanham (in rear seat of pioneer horseless carriage) in opening day parade for 1903 State Fair of Texas formed on Main Street. Fair President C. A. Keating was seated beside him, and Secretary John G. Hunter of Board of Trade is seen standing beside the gasoline buggy.”

state-fair_opening-day_1903_tx-almanac_1941-42_portal
Main Street, looking west, via Portal to Texas History

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Here is a 1911 view of the state fair midway taken by John R. Minor, Jr. in a real-photo postcard. (More on Mr. Minor is here; more images of the Shoot the Chutes water ride can be found here.)

state-fair_street-scene_john-minor_1911_cook-colln_degolyer
via George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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From the 1920s, an ad for Clayco Red Ball gasoline (“It’s RED in color”). I’m always a sucker for ads containing photos or drawings of Dallas landmarks, and here we see the entrance to Fair Park. (Why was the gas red? Why not? It was the brainchild of Dallas advertising man Wilson W. Crook, Sr. who needed a way to make this Oklahoma gas different. He remembered that during his WWI days in France that higher quality airplane fuel was colored red to distinguish it from regular gasoline. When the gas was introduced to Dallas in August, 1924, he devised a promotion that gave away 5 gallons of this gas to every red-headed person who showed up at participating service stations.)

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ad-red-ball-gas_state-fair_dmn_101224Clayco Red Ball ad, Oct. 1924

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If we’re talking about the State Fair of Texas and we’ve come to the 1930s, there’s a pretty good chance there’s going to be a photo from the Texas Centennial. And, looky here: a nice shot of concessionaires waiting for thirsty patrons at the Centennial Exposition in 1936. A couple of nickels could get you a Coke and a phone call.

sfot_concessionaires_coke_unt_portal_1936via Portal to Texas History

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During World War II the State Fair was on hiatus. Here’s an ad from the 1941-42 Texas Almanac pre-closure, with a nice pencil sketch of the Esplanade and Hall of State:

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And a 1946 magazine cover story on the imminent reopening of the fair:

state-fair_texas-week-mag_100446_portal_cover
via Portal to Texas History

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In 1956 Big Tex warned/assured you that the Esplanade lights would “knock your eyes out.”

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Speaking of Big Tex and lights knocking your eyes out, in the 1960s Big Tex was memorialized on the side of a downtown building, like a giant bow-legged Lite-Brite.

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Back at Fair Park, Huey P. Nash was supplying fair throngs with barbecue from his Little Bob’s Bar-B-Q stand. In 1964, Nash was the first African-American vendor to be granted a food concession at the State Fair. Little Bob’s (which I believe is still in business) was, at the time of this 1967 ad, located in South Dallas at 4203 S. Oakland (now Malcom X), at the corner of Pine. (Ad is from the 1967 Souvenir Program of the 74th Annual Session of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas; more photos from this publication can be seen here.)

sfot_little-bobs-bbq_baptist-convention-program_1967_photo

sfot_little-bobs-bbq_baptist-convention-program_oct-1967

The 1960s also gave us the Swiss Skyride, which replaced the Monorail (which, when it was introduced in 1956, was the first commercially operated monorail in the United States). The Swiss Skyride was erected in Fair Park in August, 1964, and the 6-minute ride debuted a few months later at the 1964 State Fair of Texas.

state-fair_swiss-sky-ride_tinkle-key-to-dallas_1965_replaced-monorail_
via Lon Tinkle’s children’s book Key to Dallas (1965)

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sfot_swiss-skyride_FWST_100964

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Spring, Brought to You by The Texas Seed & Floral Co.

1913_tx-seed-floral_1913_rosesThe Texseed Home Collection, 1913

by Paula Bosse

In honor of Spring’s arrival, I give you a collection of lovely illustrated covers from the Texas Seed & Floral Company’s seed catalogs. The company was established in Dallas around 1885 and was located for many years at the northwest corner of Elm and N. Ervay, with offices and a warehouse opening onto Pacific’s railroad tracks. (See photos of the interior of the business — later renamed Lone Star Seed & Floral — in the post “Next-Door Neighbors: The Palace Theater and Lone Star Seed & Floral — 1926.”)

Happy Spring! (All images are larger when clicked.)

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1906_tx-seed-floral_1906_stores1906

1911_tx-seed-floral_1911_roses1911

1912_tx-seed-floral_1912_roses1912

1913_tx-seed-floral_1913_store1913

1915_tx-seed-floral_1915_roses1915

1916_tx-seed-floral_1916_roses1916

1917_tx-seed-floral_1917_flowers1917

1917_tx-seed-floral_1917_flowers_a1917

1917_tx-seed-floral_1917_roses1917

1920tx-seed-floral_1920_flowers1920

1920_tx-seed-floral_1920_daisies1920

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Below is the citation for the company from the book Greater Dallas Illustrated, published in 1908.

Texas Seed & Floral Co.

The great progress which has been made in agricultural and horticultural lines in the southwest has resulted in an ever increasing demand for a high quality of seeds, and to meet this demand many reliable seed houses have been established, among which is the Texas Seed & Floral Co., whose retail store is at 387 Elm street, and whose office and warehouse department is at 311-313 Pacific avenue. The line of seeds carried in stock includes all kinds of garden and flower seeds as well as field seeds, their leading brand being known under the name of “Texseed,” and they have the exclusive right to sell this brand in the southwest.

The company was established in 1885 and it is recognized as the largest seed house in the southwest, and its beautifully illustrated catalogue, which tells all about the best seeds for the southwestern planter, can be had upon request. R. [Robert] Nicholson is the secretary of this company, and the active manager of its affairs. He is of Scottish birth and has resided in Dallas for thirty years. He is a member of the Commercial Club, and is an Elk. Ably assisting him is F. J. Poor who comes to this firm from Kansas City.

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Sources & Notes

All images from the Internet Archive.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

My First Home — 3809 Cole Avenue

cole-avenue-farmhouse_ca-1900_warlick
Home sweet home, circa 1900…

by Paula Bosse

Above is a photo of a stone house which once stood at 3809 Cole Avenue, across from North Dallas High School. It was built by John H. “Jack” Cole — probably around 1880-1900 — and it was occupied for decades by family members, up until the 1960s. By the 1980s it was owned by the Southland Corp. and was ultimately torn down around 1987 or so. And it was the very first house I lived in (…briefly).

Jack Cole was one of the sons of Dr. John Cole, an important early settler who arrived in Dallas in 1843 and whose family soon owned thousands of primo acres in what is now Highland Park and Oak Lawn.

cole-jack_flickr
John H. “Jack” Cole

According to a great-great grandson, Jack’s farmhouse once stood on land which is now the site of Cole Park (about where the tennis courts), and his barn and stock tank were on the land now occupied by North Dallas High School. Below is a photo of the farmhouse (it looks like it might be the back of the house); built in the 1850s (and added on to over the years), it was said to be one of the first brick houses in Dallas County (Jack had his own brick kiln on the property).

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photo: Bill Gillespie

Below is the only other photo I’ve been able to find of the house — apologies for the image quality!

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The smaller house seen at the top was located a short distance away.

At some point Jack Cole’s farmhouse and barn were torn down; the land for Cole Park was donated to the city by the family and became part of the Dallas park system in 1921, and North Dallas High School opened the following year.

The small stone house was occupied by various Cole descendants over the years, primarily the Miers and Warlick families. It was opened up to renters in the 1960s and until sometime in the late ’80s was rented as both living space and retail space.

My parents lived there only about a year. My father ran a small book business out of the front of the house, and my parents lived in the back and upstairs. The floors were brick and the walls were stone, and according to my mother, a lot of the mortar was gone and you could see outside though gaps in the walls. It was a very, very cold place in the winter. I was born during this time, and lived there for a few chilly months until we were off to someplace across town with better insulation.

I mentioned this house a few years ago in a post about North Dallas High School and a guy named Craig Thomas contacted me to tell me that he had lived in that same house in the 1980s — along with friends who were part of local bands The Plan and Luxor. They dubbed the house “Green Acres” because it was definitely something of a fixer-upper along the lines of the TV show of the same name. He even sent me a photo of the house from 1984! It looked a little tired by then, but it was close to a hundred years old by that time.

cole-house_ca-1984_craig-thomas
photo: Craig Thomas

It pleases the history geek in me to know that I started out my life living in a house built by a member of one of the most important founding families of Dallas. …I sure wish I remembered it!

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1952 Mapsco

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Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the collection of Michael Warlick, a Cole descendant who grew up in the house. (Many thanks to Danny Linn for bringing this fantastic photo to my attention!)

The photo of the Jack Cole farmhouse is from the book The Park Cities, A Photohistory by Diane Galloway, credited as coming from the collection of Bill Gillespie, another Cole descendant.

The blurry photo is from Jim Wheat’s site, here (the accompanying article is very interesting, here).

The color photo is used courtesy of Craig Thomas (whose blog is here).

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The State Fair of Texas Over the Decades

state-fair-of-tx_midway_kodachrome_1961_ebaySFOT midway, 1961… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The history of the State Fair of Texas is also the history of Dallas — if you live in Dallas, you know a lot about the fair, if only by osmosis. Here are a few images from the decades since the fair began in 1886.

Below, from 1889, a sedate advertisement for the Texas State Fair and Dallas Exposition (from The Immigrant’s Guide to Texas, 1889). (All images are larger when clicked.)

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A great-looking poster from 1890, colorful and exciting:

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A midway in its infancy, in the aughts. (I wrote about the “The Chute” water ride, here.)

shoot-the-chute_postcard_ca-1906

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Here’s a group photo showing the food vendors at the 1910 fair. No corny dogs in 1910, but plenty of candy, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream, and, sure, why not, cigars and tobacco.

state-fair-concessionaires_1910_cook-colln_degolyervia George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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In the 1920s, Fair Park looked a lot smaller:

fair-park_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1920s
via George A. McAfee Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

Here’s a handy 1922 map of the grounds, from the fine folks at Caterpillar (don’t miss those tractors!) — you can see where the people in the photo above are walking.

state-fair-map_caterpillar_ad_1922

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If it’s 1936, it’s gotta be the Texas Centennial — and here’s an exhibit I’d never heard of: Jerusalem, The Holy City. This was one of many exhibits at the Texas Centennial previously seen at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, where it apparently had attracted more than one million visitors. In the weeks leading up to the Centennial’s opening, it was described thusly: “The Holy City will contain a collection of religious artworks and other material. The entrance will represent the Damascus gate of Jerusalem. No admission will be charged but donations will be asked visitors” (Dallas Morning News, May 17, 1936).

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The State Fair of Texas was not held during much of World War II, but it was back in 1946, with Tommy Dorsey, Gypsy Rose Lee, and Jackie Gleason.

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Sept., 1946

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Neiman-Marcus was at-the-ready in 1950 with suggestions on stylish footwear for ladies wanting to trudge around the Fair Park midway in heels.

For the Million-Dollar Midway — For taking in this famous “main drag” of the State Fair — get into our famous-maker midway heel shoes. Most everybody — after walking a block or two in them — says they’re worth a million! Have all the comfort of low heels, plus the high-heel’s way of making your ankles look prettier.

sfot-neiman-marcus_ad_101650October, 1950

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The 1960s were certainly colorful, and this is a great color photo from 1961 (currently available on eBay as a 35mm Kodachrome slide) — it’s the photo at the top of this post, but in order to cut down on unnecessary scrolling, I’ll slide it in again right here:

state-fair-of-tx_midway_kodachrome_1961_ebay

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The 1970s was a weird decade, and what better way to start off a weird decade than with 80-something-year-old oil tycoon (and eccentric Dallas resident) H. L. Hunt handing out cosmetics at a booth at the State Fair? Hunt — whom Frank X. Tolbert described as “probably the world’s only billionaire health freak” — manufactured a line of cosmetics and other products containing aloe vera, the wonder elixir. Imagine seeing the world’s richest man handing out plastic goodie-bags to awe-struck passersby. Like I said, weird.

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hunt_state-fair_pomona-progress-bulletin_CA_111471Pomona (CA) Progress-Bulletin, Nov. 14, 1971 (click to read)

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And, finally, the 1980s. A century after the State Fair of Texas began, the X-Men came to Big D to do whatever it is they do — and The Dallas Times Herald got a cool little advertising supplement out of it. (If this appeals to you, check out when Captain Marvel came to Dallas in 1944, here, and when Spider-Man came to Dallas in 1983, here.)

sfot_xmen_comic-book_1983

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Sources & Notes

Sources (if known) are noted.

All images are larger when clicked.

I wrote a similar State-Fair-of-Texas-through-the-ages post a few years ago: “So Sorry, Bill, But Albert Is Taking Me to the State Fair of Texas,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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