Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1920s

Theaters at 1517 Elm: The Garden, The Jefferson, The Pantages, The Ritz, and The Mirror — 1912-1941

garden-theatre_ca-1912_ebayThe Garden Theatre, ca. 1912

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows the Garden Theatre, located at 1517 Elm, on the north side of the street, between Akard and Stone Street. It was opened in the fall of 1912 by partners W. J. Brown and R. J. (Ray) Stinnett (who also operated the Cycle Park Theatre at Fair Park). The Garden was a vaudeville stop for touring companies.

1912_garden-theatre_variety_sept-1912Variety, Sept. 1912

It was one of many local theaters which simulcast World Series baseball games via telegraph updates, in the days before radio and TV (I wrote more about this fascinating subject here).

1912_garden-theatre_101612Oct. 16, 1912

As seen in the top photo, the Garden Theatre sat between the Pratt Paint & Paper Co. and the Roderick-Alderson Hardware Co.

garden-theatre_1913-directory_1517-elm1913 Dallas city directory

The photo at the top was found on eBay, with the seller-provided date of 1912. Zooming in, one can see a placard in front of the theater advertising the appearance of the Hendrix Belle Isle Musical Comedy Company (misspelled on the sign as “Henndrix”) — for many years this troupe toured with a production called “The School-Master”/”School Days,” the very production seen here on offer to audiences at the Garden. (Read a review of a 1912 Coffeyville, Kansas performance of the troupe’s bread-and-butter act here.)

garden-theatre_ebay_det

In April, 1913 Brown and Stinnett split, with Brown taking the Cycle Park action and Stinnett keeping the Garden (and a handful of other theaters).

On March 8, 1915 the theater changed its name and reopened as the Jefferson Theater. As the ad below stated, “This is the only theater in Dallas presenting popular players in repertoire […] Not moving pictures.”

1915_jeffersosn-theater-opens_dmn_030715March 7, 1915

I’m not sure where the “Jefferson” name came from, but….

jefferson-theater_061115June 11, 1915

There were a few back-and-forths as far as operators and leases of the Jefferson, but in 1923, Ray Stinnett “sold” (or probably more accurately sub-leased) the theater in order to concentrate on his other (bigger! better! brighter!) venture, the next-door Capitol Theater, but he reacquired it in 1925 and renamed it the Pantages. (This has caused confusion, with some thinking it had become the Pantages earlier — the confusion is understandable, as the Jefferson was affiliated with the Pantages vaudeville circuit between 1917 and 1920, and during that time the word “Pantages” appeared prominently on the theater’s marquee, but it was still the Jefferson. See a photo from May, 1925, showing the Jefferson from the Pacific side here, after it had become a Loew’s-affiliated theater.)

The Jefferson became the Pantages Theater on December 27, 1928 when Stinnett opened the newly remodeled venue which offered vaudeville stage acts as well as motion pictures. (All images are larger when clicked.)

pantages-opening_122725Dec. 27, 1925

That incarnation didn’t last too long. Goodbye, Pantages, hello, Ritz. The Ritz Theater opened on October 14, 1928, operated by the R & R (Robb & Rowley) chain but leased from Stinnett. The first film shown was “The Lights of New York,” the first all-talking feature-length movie.

1928_ritz_101028Oct. 10, 1928

1928_ritz_101328
Oct. 13, 1928

1928_ritz_101528Oct. 15, 1928

Below, a 1929 photo showing the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Elm Street, the heart of Theater Row: seen here are the Ritz, Capitol, Old Mill, and Palace theaters (the regal Queen was a few doors west of the Ritz, at the corner of Elm and Akard).

ritz_capitol_old-mill_palace_photo_sherrodphoto from “Historic Dallas Theatres” by D. Troy Sherrod

A postcard showing the Ritz (and neighbors) a couple of years later, in 1931:

ritz_capitol_old-mill_palace_postcard_cinematreasures

But the Ritz didn’t last all that long either — a little over three years.

1931_ritz-mirror_120831Dec. 8, 1931

In 1931 the theater was acquired by the Hughes-Franklin company (as in Howard Hughes, the super-rich Texan who had an obsession with Hollywood). The plan was to renovate the building and rename it the Mirror, “a duplicate, in so far as possible, of the famous Mirror Theater of Hollywood. A feature will be the extensive use of mirrors in the lobby and foyer” (Dallas Morning News, Nov. 29, 1931).

mirror_motion-picture-times_122931Motion Picture Times, Dec. 29, 1931

The Mirror Theater opened at 1517 Elm on Christmas Day, 1931.

1931_mirror_122531
Dec. 25, 1931

Theater Row, 1936:

theater-row_mirror_march-1936

More Elm Street:

mirror-capitol-rialto-palace-melba-majestic_theater_row_night_big

The Mirror chugged on for several years as a second-run house, apparently less and less profitable as the years passed. On August 4, 1941 the theater burned down in an early-morning fire. The property owner, Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews, decided against rebuilding.

mirror-fire_variety_081341Variety, Aug. 13, 1941

Here’s the same view as seen above, only now the space next to the Capitol is a nondescript one-story retail building. (The Telenews, a theater showing newsreels, opened in November, 1941.)

telenews_missing-mirror-post-fire_capitol_postcard

Below, a photo from around 1942, the first time in 30 years without a theater at 1517 Elm Street.

theater-row_by-george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUphoto via the DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Top photo of the Garden Theatre is from an old eBay listing.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas theaters can be found here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Birdseye View of Greater Dallas” by Ashley Bond — 1925

birds-eye-view-greater-dallas_DCoC-1925_ashley-bond
Spot your neighborhood? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This great drawing from 1925 features several of Dallas’ then-new (and new-ish) neighborhoods.

The “birdseye view” appeared in a Dallas Chamber of Commerce publication and was drawn (with a few large dollops of artistic license) by Dallas commercial artist Ashley R. Bond.

birds-eye-view-greater-dallas_DCoC-1925_ashley-bond_sig

I couldn’t find much about Mr. Bond except that he had a son who became a child actor in Hollywood — his son was Tommy Bond, who was best known as “Butch,” the bully in the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedies (which featured another Dallasite, Spanky McFarland). Little Tommy was walking down a Dallas street with his mother when a talent scout saw him, thought he had a great face for the silver screen, and told his mother that if she got the boy to Hollywood, he would guarantee a meeting with the famous Hal Roach. A short time later, 6-year-old Tommy Bond signed with the Hal Roach Studios.

Here’s a great clip of Master Bond (who briefly attended Bradfield Elementary School and lived in the 4400 block of Potomac in University Park…) admirably belting out the song “Just Friends” from a short which appeared not long after he had been plucked from obscurity on the streets of Big D:



bond-tommy_our-gang

It’s a good day when an obscure Dallas Chamber of Commerce illustration leads directly to the Little Rascals.

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Sources & Notes

Map by Ashley Bond from the June, 1925 issue of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce magazine.

More on Tommy “Butch” Bond can be found at Wikipedia here. I’m not sure about the dates in that entry. The Dallas Morning News reported on Dec. 3, 1932 that Tommy’s parents had received word the previous day that Hal Roach had offered the boy a 5-year contract and that the youngster had been in Hollywood for two-and-a-half months.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Stoneleigh Pharmacy / Stoneleigh P

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_ebay_2The pharmacy’s soda fountain… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’m pretty sure I was in the old Stoneleigh Pharmacy before it became the Stoneleigh P, but if so, I have no memory of it other than sitting at the fountain. I might have had a grilled cheese sandwich and a milkshake. I’ve definitely been in the “P” post-1980 — in fact, my father’s bookstore used to be across the street from it, and it was definitely a mainstay for great hamburgers.

Despite the location being so familiar, I didn’t know about the history of the old Stoneleigh Pharmacy, so when I came across the (slightly blurry) photo above and the one immediately below, I thought I should look into what was happening at 2926 Maple Avenue before the arrival of the Stoneleigh P.

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_ebay_1

The Stoneleigh Pharmacy was the anchor of a small strip of shops which were built in 1923 at Maple and Wolf, directly across from the brand-new Stoneleigh Court, which, though now a hotel, began life as a very fashionable apartment-hotel (an apartment house with hotel amenities). There were concerns about a shopping strip in what was then a residential area, and the city tried to stop the construction. (Most images are larger when clicked.)

maple-and-wolf_dmn_022523_constructionDallas Morning News, Feb. 25, 1923

But the city lost and the building was completed.

maple-and-wolf_dmn_070823_for-lease
DMN, July 8, 1923

I looked everywhere to find a period photo, and this is the best I could do — it appeared in a special section of The Dallas Morning News which coincided with the opening week of the Stoneleigh Court.

stoneleigh-drug-store_stoneleigh-court-adv-supp_101423_croppedDMN, Oct. 14, 1923

Here’s a drawing:

stoneleigh-drug-store_101423_adv-supp-det
DMN, Oct. 14, 1923

The interior of what was originally called the Stoneleigh Drug Store, at 2926 Maple Avenue:

stoneleigh-drug-store_101423_det_drawing
DMN, Oct. 14, 1923

And a description of what sounds like a showplace of a drugstore, including Circassian-walnut fixtures inlaid with ebony:

stoneleigh-drug-store_101423_pharmacy-det
DMN, Oct. 14, 1923

stoneleigh-pharmacy-label_jim-wheat

Its neighbors, in 1927:

stoneleigh-pharmacy_1927-directoryMaple Ave., 1927 Dallas directory

The drug store was owned by a company presided over by Royal A. Ferris, Jr., whose banker father had, until 1913, owned what many considered to be the most beautiful house in Dallas — Ivy Hall (which was situated at Maple and Wolf, diagonally across from the pharmacy, and which would become the site of the Maple Terrace Apartments in 1924).

The drug store changed hands several times, until 1931 when pharmacist Henry C. Burroughs acquired it — and he was there for the long-haul, owning it until 1970. (H. C. Burroughs is also notable for having served on the very first Dallas City Council, having been elected in 1931 when the city of Dallas adopted the city council-city manager form of government.)

burroughs-h-c_1950sHenry C. Burroughs, 1950s

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_matchbook_ebay_a        stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_matchbook_ebay_b

stoneleigh-pharmacy_fountain_matchbook_ebay_inside

In 1973, the pharmacy stopped being a pharmacy when it was purchased by a group of investors including Tom Garrison, who renovated the old drugstore into a neighborhood bar/pub, while still retaining a drugstore “theme” and naming the new endeavor the Stoneleigh P. It was an immediate hit with the intellectual/artistic crowd, attracting denizens of the (then-funky) McKinney Avenue and Oak Lawn neighborhoods, Stoneleigh Hotel guests, Maple Terrace residents, and staffers from nearby KERA.

It was “happening” but not obnoxious — although the Lou Lattimore ad below — featuring a “glitter jeans” “knockoutfit” (yes, “knockoutfit”) which “can make you outsparkle the gang at the Stoneleigh P” — might have one thinking otherwise. (It was the ’70s, man.)

stoneleigh-p_lou-lattimore-ad_jan-1974
Lou Lattimore ad, January, 1974

Everything seemed to be going along swimmingly when, in the early hours of January 26, 1980 a huge fire engulfed the group of buildings on the southeast corner of Maple and Wolf — according to newspaper reports, at least 15 “major pieces of equipment” and 75 firefighters responded to the multi-alarm fire. The 57-year-old building burned to the ground. Watch the WBAP-Ch. 5 News report here (with additional footage here).

A few screenshots from the above-linked news report:

stoneleigh-p-fire_012680_ch-5-news_portal

stoneleigh-p-fire_012680_ch-5-news_portal_intersection

stoneleigh-p-fire_012680_ch-5-news_portal_sign

Garrison rebuilt, and the new Stoneleigh P opened in the summer of 1981. It still stands and is something of a Dallas institution. It’s now an unbelievable 46 years old. Here’s how it celebrated its 18th anniversary:

stoneleigh-p_ad_1991
1991 ad

I’m certainly glad it’s still around. I’ve got some great memories of the Stoneleigh P (except, maybe, for that one New Year’s Eve in the ’80s…).

stoneleigh-p_aug-2015_bosse-photo

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Sources & Notes

Top two photos found on eBay. They appear to have been taken by the Liquid Carbonic Corporation, manufacturers of soda fountains — read all about the company here.

Stoneleigh Pharmacy label (with red letters) is from Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives site. (J. T. Covington was associated with the pharmacy from about 1925 to 1927.)

Videotape screenshots are from the WBAP-Ch. 5 News report on the 1980 fire; footage is from the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection, UNT Libraries Special Collections, Portal to Texas History.

Photo showing the interior of the Stoneleigh P was taken in 2015 by Paula Bosse.

An entertaining interview with Stoneleigh P owner Tom Garrison can be found in the 2017 D Magazine article “History of Dallas Food: Tom Garrison’s Stoneleigh P” by Nancy Nichols, here.

Stoneleigh P website is here.

stoneleigh-p-fire_sign_012680_ch-5-news_portal

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Caterpillars On the Job at Ross and Market — 1922

caterpillar-ad_1922_photo
Roadwork in the warehouse district…

by Paula Bosse

I’ve loved vintage and historical advertisements since I was a child. Since becoming more focused on Dallas history, I’m always excited to find old ads with photos of recognizable Dallas locations, like the one below for Caterpillar tractors, which was printed in the Saturday Evening Post in 1922. (Click to see a larger image and read the rousing tribute given to these “motorized outfits” by City Engineer George D. Fairtrace.)

caterpillar-ad_1922

The photo shows a Dallas street maintenance crew grading Ross Avenue at the intersection of N. Market in 1922 (see the current Google Street View here). Every building seen in the photo is still standing in the Historic West End:

  • Southwest General Electric Co., 1701 N. Market (it was later occupied by the Higginbotham-Pearlstone Hardware Co.)
  • Federal Glass & Paint Co., 1709 N. Market
  • Fairbanks, Morse & Co., 1713 N. Market
  • Texas Ice & Cold Storage (partially visible at the right), 701 Ross (until recent years the long-time home of The Palm restaurant; in 1922 it was, I believe, a brand new building)

dec-2016_googleGoogle Street View, 2016

ross-and-market_bing-streetside-view_2015Bing Streetside, 2015

Thank you, Caterpillar ad!

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Sources & Notes

1922 Caterpillar ad found on eBay, 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.)

state-fair_imm-gd_1889

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

sfot_poster_1890

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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).

tx-centennial_jerusalem-the-holy-city_postcard

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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.

state-fair_sept-1946_ad-cow
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.

h-l-hunt_state-fair_1971

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.

Skyline — 1926

dallas_goodwill-tour_1926_SMU

by Paula Bosse

This impressive view of the Dallas skyline appeared in a 1926 promotional booklet touting the city’s progressive spirit and intense growth. Click it.

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Sources & Notes

Image is from the 1926 booklet “Dallas, Good Will Tour,” which is held by the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; information on this downloadable publication may be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Cliff: “A City Within a City” — 1929

oak-cliff-city-within-a-city_cover_ca-1929_SMU

by Paula Bosse

Publications like Oak Cliff, A City Within a City (“Stop and Shop — Buy it from your neighbors!”) are wonderful glimpses into a city’s proud self-promotion. This little booklet is for the newcomer to Oak Cliff — to show that it is its own self-contained community, full of friendly, neighborhood businesses; even better, each ad is accompanied by a photograph. Though undated, the photo of the famed Cliff Queen movie theater features movies released in 1929. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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CLIFF QUEEN THEATRE (L. L. Dunbar, proprietor), 616 E. Jefferson. On the marquee: “South Sea Rose,” starring Charles Bickford and Lenore Ulric (1929). Talking pictures — “clean entertainment” for the whole family.

cliff-queen-theater_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

cliff-queen-theater_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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BARRETT’S CLEANERS (E. B. Tipton, prop.), 607 E. Jefferson (building still stands, here). “We clean everything but a guilty conscience.”

barretts-cleaners_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

barretts-cleaners_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF BANK & TRUST (aka Jefferson Bank & Trust), 106-108 W. Jefferson (with the Texas State Mutual Life Insurance Co. upstairs). “Plenty of parking space.”

oak-cliff-bank-and-trust_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-bank-and-trust_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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CAMERON MAN SHOP (prop. C. C. Cameron), 115 W. Jefferson. Stop in and say howdy to “Oak Cliff’s dress-up man.”

camerons-mans-shop_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

camerons-mans-shop_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca_1929_SMU

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LAKESIDE LAUNDRY & CLEANING CO., 1454 N. Zang (at Marsalis). “Let the biggest washwoman in Oak Cliff do your laundry.”

lakeside-laundry_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

lakeside-laundry_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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H. BOEDEKER & SONS, Grocery and Hardware (Huber Boedeker, Oscar Boedeker, and W. C. Boedeker), 113 N. Lancaster. “The store complete.”

boedeker_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

boedeker_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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LAMAR & SMITH, Funeral Directors and Ambulance Service, 800 W. Jefferson. “Keep Oak Cliff safe!” (…or there will be unfortunate consequences you will be calling us to deal with).

lamar-and-smith_ambulance_funeral-directors_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

lamar-and-smith_ambulance_funeral-directors_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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RICK FURNITURE CO. (Louis F. Rick, prop.), 418 N. Bishop. “More than 50 years in Dallas.”

rick-furniture_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

rick-furniture_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF PHARMACY, various locations. “Candy, soda, cigars, sick-room supplies.”

oak-cliff-pharmacy_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-pharmacy_ad_OC-city-within-a-city__ca-1929_SMU

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SKINNIE & JIMMIE SERVICE STATION, W. Jefferson and Madison (northeast corner). A free grease job awaits the coupon-bearing newcomer.

skinnie-and-jimmie_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

skinnie-and-jimmie_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF ICE DELIVERY CO., 1027 S. Beckley (building may still be standing, here). “We help to make Oak Cliff a cooler place.”

oak-cliff-ice_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-ice_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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KIDD SPRINGS, 715 W. Canty (see the amusement area on a 1922 Sanborn map, here). “Where Dallas plays.”

kidd-springs_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

kidd-springs_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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Sources & Notes

“Oak Cliff, A City Within a City,” published by The Welcome Wagon, Dallas, ca. 1929, is from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information may be accessed here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Downtown Dallas Through the Clouds — 1923

birds-eye_fairchild_dallas-a-z_degolyer_SMU_1923Big D from above… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This wonderful, dream-like, “through the clouds” photo shows a growing, booming (pre-Pegasus) downtown Dallas.

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Sources & Notes

Photo by the Fairchild Aerial Camera Corp., from the 1923 promotional brochure Dallas from A to Z (“Where Men Are Looking Forward”), published by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce (note the publication’s staple in the center of the photo). This brochure is in the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University and can be viewed in its entirety here (click the “download” button to view or save the brochure).

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Five & Dime at Elm & Stone

elm-stone_woolworths_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1920_croppedThe 5-10-15¢ store beckons… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This pleasant photo by Dallas photographer George A. McAfee was taken at Elm and Stone streets. On the left, straight ahead is the Juanita Building (later the Deere Building), on Main Street, and, on the right, the Woolworth and W. A. Green buildings (the latter two are still standing).

I’m quite taken with that lamp post. (See the same type of lamp post in two other photos of Elm Street here.)

The view today can be seen on Google here.

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Sources & Notes

This photo by George Andrew McAfee is in the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more information about the photo can be found here. SMU’s descriptive title is: “F. W. Woolworth Company Store, 1520-1524 Elm Street, W. A. Green Company, 1516-1518 Elm Street Looking South at Intersection of Elm and Stone, Praetorian Building at Far Left, Deere Building at 1528-1530 Main (Six-Story Building) Is Visible at South End of Stone Street, Deere Building (Formerly Juanita Building), circa 1920.” (I have inadvertently cropped off the very edge of the Praetorian Building.)

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The New Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. Building — 1928

swb-bldg_atlantic-terra-cotta-booklet_1929Brand new, at S. Akard and Wood streets… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, the beautiful new Southwestern Bell Telephone Company building, photographed not long after its opening at the end of 1928. Designed by noted Dallas architects Lang & Witchell (in association with Southwestern Bell’s chief architect I. R. Timlin) the building took up almost an entire block on the east side of South Akard, between Jackson and Wood streets. Construction began in April, 1927, and the building was finished and occupied in December, 1928. It served as a regional hub, containing not only business offices, but also cumbersome telephone equipment which necessitated very high ceilings on some of the floors. (There were also downtown and suburban telephone exchanges which handled local calls, as well as the Haskell exchange which was handling long-distance traffic.)

The photo above is interesting because it shows the building which this new “skyscraper” replaced. Designed by H. A. Overbeck the previous telephone HQ (seen below in about 1905) was built on the corner of Akard and Jackson in 1897.

southwestern-bell-bldg_come-to-dallas_degolyer_SMU_ca1905

The plan was to maintain the smaller building during the construction of the new building in order that operations would not be interrupted, then demolish it at a later date when expansion would take place. When construction of the new building was completed, the smaller building served primarily as the downtown exchange.

In 1929/1930, S. Akard was widened, which necessitated the condemnation or moving of several existing structures. Luckily, the new telephone building had been built far enough back from Akard to dodge any problems, but the smaller telephone building would have to be moved or demolished — it was moved: Southwestern Bell moved the 4-story, 4,200-ton building 18 feet eastward, at a cost of more than $75,000 (more than a million dollars in today’s money). The planning took six months, with elaborate schemes involving wooden cribbing, steel rods, jacks, rails, slackened power and telephone cables, and flexible joints for water mains. The actual move took 36 hours and was “so gradual that the workers inside [were] unaware of it” (Dallas Morning News, Aug. 18, 1929). There was no interruption of telephone service during this costly relocation. Quite a feat!

The building still stands — in amongst the humongous AT&T complex, but, sadly, one of the original features of the building is long gone: a large, ornate “bell” above the grand entrance (an entrance which is no longer quite so grand). Wonder what happened to it?

Below are a couple of other photos of the brand-new building, from a promotional booklet by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Co. The top photo had the following caption: “A most successful example of modern design in Atlantic Terra Cotta. The detail is carefully scaled and the design has the freshness of originality. Terra Cotta is light gray containing particles of mineral oxide and with an unglazed surface, a color and finish of particular character.”

swb-bldg_atlantic-terra-cotta-booklet_1929_entrance“The main entrance shows an unusual and effective combination of Terra Cotta and granite. The bell design gives an appropriate and original touch.” (Click pictures to see larger images.)

swb-bldg_atlantic-terra-cotta-booklet_1929_bell-det

swb-bldg_atlantic-terra-cotta-booklet_1929_court“The court of the Telephone Building for four stories is faced entirely with Atlantic Terra Cotta. A bell, guarded by a strongly modeled eagle, tops each pier.” I believe this is the Wood Street side — after many expansions and renovations, these details no longer remain. The bells and eagles are difficult to make out in this photo — here is a photo of the terra cotta company’s “shop model”:

swb-bldg_atlantic-terra-cotta-booklet_1929_bells-eagles-det

southwestern-bell-telephone-bldg_postcard

Above, a postcard showing the S. Akard entrance, with Wood Street on the right. The only things still immediately recognizable about Lang & Witchell’s beautiful building are the repeating circular elements, the “court” along Wood, and the granite facing that wraps around the exterior of the ground floor. So much of the decorative detail is gone. No more bells, no eagles, no flash, no filigree. I hope the building’s interior decor has fared a bit better.

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Added: In response to the comment below by elmwoodhobo, I thought I should add a tiny bit about a pertinent later razing, addition, and expansion.

In May, 1961 the old, 4-story telephone building, built in the 1890s at the corner of S. Akard and Jackson, was finally demolished to make way for a new 23-story addition to the SWB building. This addition was finished in 1963 (possibly 1964), substantially increasing the footprint of the Southwestern Bell headquarters. Square-footage was further increased by the concurrent construction of eight new stories built atop the 1928 Lang & Witchell building. Below are drawings showing the original 1959 rendering by the architectural firm of Thomas, Jameson and Merrill, as well as an updated vision from January, 1962, as construction was underway. A lot changed in the those couple of years. (Click to see larger images.)

swb-addition-expansion_architects-orig-drawing_19591959

swb-addition-expansion_architects-updated-drawing_ad_jan-1962_det1962

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Sources & Notes

Top photos are from a promotional booklet titled Atlantic Terra Cotta (Vol. X, No. 3, June, 1929), which features tons of cool photos of then-recent buildings constructed with that company’s product (including San Antonio’s stunning Smith-Young Tower — now the Tower Life Building — which I have to admit I’d never heard of). These photos were found on an eBay listing, and their quality is not the greatest, but I’ve never seen them, and this is just a small attempt to preserve them for posterity. 

Photo of the original Southwestern Bell Building is from a promotional booklet titled Come To Dallas (Dallas: Dorsey Printing Co., ca. 1905); more info on this booklet (held by the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University), is here.

A Google Street View here shows the building these days. It’s still standing — which is great — but its entrance has definitely lost most of its original grandeur.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Southwestern Bell doings:

  • “The Haskell Exchange — ca. 1910,” here
  • “Southwestern Bell Telephone Goings-On, Circa 1928,” here
  • “Work and Play In Telephone Land.” here
  • “Telephone Operators Sweating At the Switchboard — 1951,” here

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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