Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1930s

Happy 4th Anniversary, Flashback Dallas!

tx-centennial_stamp_cook-coll_degolyer_SMU

by Paula Bosse

This weekend marks the fourth anniversary of this blog. It’s hard to believe, but, completely coincidentally, this is my 1,000th post! That’s a lotta Dallas. (Some might argue that’s too MUCH Dallas….) There are now just over 9,000 Flashback Dallas followers across various social media platforms, and it’s always nice to know there are others out there who share my interest in Dallas history. Thank you to all who read, follow, share, and comment. It wouldn’t be as much fun if I were just typing for myself.

Thank you! And now, Year 5!

–Paula

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Sources & Notes

“Texas Centennial Exposition Stamp” from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this image can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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Thompson & Swanson: “The Oldest Exclusive Optical House In Dallas”

thompson-swanson_1914-ad_erik-swansonDon’t blink… (1914 ad, courtesy Erik Swanson)

by Paula Bosse

Dr. Alfred F. Thompson (1862-1942) and Dr. Frank V. Swanson (1885-1949) opened their “manufacturing opticians” practice, Thompson & Swanson, in 1911. In addition to examining and treating patients, they also ground lenses and manufactured their own glasses, something which I gather was somewhat unusual in 1911 for such a small practice.

They first set up shop on Elm Street, and their ads — generally eyeball-themed — were always attention-grabbers: not only did they stare at you from newspaper pages, they also seemed to follow you around the room.

thompson-swanson_1911-ad1911 ad

They soon moved to the Sumpter Building, in late 1912 (ad at top), directly across from the brand new Praetorian Building. By February of 1916 they’d hit the big-time and were actually in the Praetorian Building, Dallas’ tallest building and its most impressive address. Not only were they in the building, they were at street-level, which guaranteed that practically everyone who spent time downtown was familiar with Thompson & Swanson, if only because they passed the Praetorian Building. The ad below, featuring the building, is fantastic, in a weird-fraternal-order kind of way. (The ad at the top is also kind of weird — you can practically hear the spooky theremin.) (Click ads to see larger images.)

thompson-swanson_1923-ad_erik-swanson1923 ad (courtesy Erik Swanson)

Thompson & Swanson’s business history:

thompson-and-swanson_erik-swanson(courtesy Erik Swanson)

Similar ad, but aimed at the Texas Centennial visitor. “Good glasses if you need them, good advice if you don’t.”

thompson-swanson_june-1936June, 1936

The successful partnership of Thompson and Swanson lasted into the early 1940s. After Dr. Thompson’s death in 1942, Dr. Swanson continued at the same address as “Swanson & Son,” a practice with his son, Dr. F. V. Swanson, Jr.

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Sources & Notes

The top ad, the ad with the Praetorian Building, and the “85 Years’ Experience in Optometry” ads were very kindly sent to me by Erik Swanson (grandson of Dr. Swanson); they are used with permission. I love old ads, especially ones that feature Dallas buildings. Regarding the location of his grandfather’s business in the Praetorian Building, Erik wrote: “Little did he know there would one day be a giant eyeball at the location where he had his optician shop.” Ha! Now when I see that giant eyeball I’ll think of Thompson & Swanson (and hear that spooky theremin).

I was doubly happy to exchange emails with Erik because I’ve been a fan of his Western Swing bands for many years. His current band is Shoot Low Sheriff (listen to them here), but I first became a fan when I heard his former band, Cowboys & Indians. Thanks for the ads, Erik!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“All the Beer You Can Drink In an Hour For 60 Cents” — 1935

beer_60-cents_AP_1935LOOK! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Summertime in Big D. It’s hot. REAL hot. For some, the only way to properly slake that nagging thirst is with a tall frosty mug of beer. In the summer of 1935, the management of the Texan Hotel Drug Store (at the northeast corner of S. Houston and Jackson streets) decided to offer a headline-grabbing promotion: “ALL THE SCHEPPS BEER YOU CAN DRINK: 60¢ PER HOUR!” (60¢ in 1935 would be the equivalent of about $11.00 today.) Sounds like a bargain, right? Maybe. Depends on your constitution — it meant that you would have to consume over a gallon of beer in one hour to save any money. (Not a problem for some, I realize.)

This made national news — there’s even newsreel footage. The photo above is from an AP wire story, accompanied by this caption: “A Dallas beer parlor offered ‘all the beer you can drink’ for 60 cents an hour. There were plenty of takers, but the proprietor said none had beaten him. The drinker would have to consume more than nine pints an hour to show a profit.”

beer_scranton-PA-repubican_072935
Scranton (PA) Republican, July 29, 1935

Speaking of newsreel footage, you can watch it below. As you can see, there certainly were a lot of very enthusiastic Dallas beer-drinkers doing their very best to surpass that gallon hurdle in order to feel they’d spent their money (and their hour) wisely.

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Ah, back when you could guzzle beer in a drugstore. (Several drugstores that same year — including this one — were routinely getting busted for selling illicit whiskey.)

The promotion appears to have been a hit, both publicity-wise and beer-sales-wise. The Dallas proprietor said no drinker had managed to come out ahead, but in Fort Worth, men appear to be made of stronger stuff. Cafe operator Byron Gaines hadn’t anticipated Chauncey C. Brown, a hops-loving patron described as “heavy-set” and “amiable.”

beer_FW_olean-NY-times-herald_081235Olean (NY) Times Herald, Aug. 12, 1935

According to United Press reports (this made national news, too), Brown took 58 minutes (rather than 53), but that “seven minutes of that time was spent in playing a slot machine.” It’s good to have hobbies.

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Sources & Notes

AP photo, taken in July, 1935, from the Press of Atlantic City site, here

Newsreel footage is from Critical Past, on YouTube here, and, for sale, here.

The Texan Hotel Drug Store was located at 218 S. Houston St. (northeast corner of Houston and Jackson) — see what the corner looks like today, here.

texan-hotel_south-houston_1936-directory
1936 Dallas directory

And … Schepps Beer? I was familiar with Schepps dairies, but not a Schepps brewery. But, yes, the Schepps family produced highly guzzleable beer: the Schepps Brewing Co. launched in 1933 and lasted into the early ’40s. (Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.)

schepps-beer_nov-1933Nov., 1933

schepps-beer_aug-1934Aug., 1934

schepps-beer-bottle-cap

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

A Bird’s-Eye View to the North

downtown_fairchild-aerial-survey_lgAs the crow flies… (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This is a great view, produced by the Fairchild Aerial Survey Co., taken sometime between 1925 (when the Ferris Plaza waiting station was built) and 1934 (when the land between the Trinity and the courthouse began to be cleared to begin construction of the “million-dollar project” which would eventually be known as Dealey Plaza and the Triple Underpass).

UPDATE: Brian Gunn posted this fantastic now-and-then overlay on the Dallas History Guild Facebook page. I love this. Thank you, Brian!

downtown-aerial_fairhchild-survey_brian-gunn-overlay

These images are huge. Click ’em!

UPDATE #2: Such participation from Flashback Dallas readers! Eric Hanson has now animated Brian Gunn’s overlay. Watch Dallas shoot up! Thank you, Eric! (Click GIF to see it slightly larger.)

eric-hanson_GIF-overlay

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Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Our Lady of Good Counsel, Oak Cliff — 1901-1961

our-lady-of-good-counsel_1944-yrbkOur Lady of Good Counsel, 1944… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Talking to my aunt today reminded me that she briefly attended Our Lady of Good Counsel, the all-girls Catholic high school in Oak Cliff next to the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, at the northwest corner of North Marsalis (originally named Grand Avenue) and 9th Street. I’m still not sure why she went there (our family isn’t Catholic), but she seems to have enjoyed her time there for a year or two before she transferred to Crozier Tech.

The school building was the former palatial home of wealthy businessman James T. Dargan, a one-time partner of Thomas L. Marsalis. The house was built about 1888, and according to Dallas Rediscovered author William L. McDonald, it was designed by the Dallas architectural firm of Stewart and Fuller.

dargan_1889-directory1889 Dallas directory

The church was holding services in Oak Cliff as early as 1901, and an affiliated school was established by Rev. Francis P. Maginn in September of that year. It appears that the Dargan house was acquired in 1902, the same year that the (new?) church building was dedicated in ceremonies officiated by Bishop E. J. Dunne.

Below, the new church can be seen in a photo which appeared in The Dallas Morning News on the day of its dedication in June, 1902 (all images are larger when clicked):

church-of-blessed-sacrament_dmn_061502_photoDMN, June 15, 1902

The neighboring school can be seen in this photo, taken around 1905:

our-lady-of-good-counsel_ca-1905_dallas-rediscovered
Our Lady of Good Counsel, ca. 1905

The school’s founder, Rev. F. P. Maginn:

maginn-francis-p_dmn_061502_church-of-blessed-sacrament
DMN, June 15, 1902

OLGC_dmn_042302DMN, April 23, 1902

And an early ad for the school, from 1903 (“Discipline mild, yet firm”):

our-lady-of-good-counsel_1903-ad
1903

Here it is in 1942:

our-lady-of-good-counsel_1942-yrbk

And here are some of the LGC high school students from 1944, looking bobby-soxer-y (with another view of the augmented house in the lower left corner):

our-lady-of-good-counsel_1944-yrbk_candids

The newest additions to the building can be seen in the 1959 yearbook:

our-lady-of-good-counsel_1959-yrbk

In 1961, Our Lady of Good Counsel was a fast-fading memory: a new 32-acre campus had been acquired and on it had been built the new (coed) Bishop Dunne High School. Mr. Dargan’s old house-turned-school-building was torn down a few years later, and the land became a parking lot for the Blessed Sacrament church next door (which had also seen many changes and a new building over the years). Today, the view of the land the Dargan house sat on 130 years ago looks like this. (The church looks like this.)

The church in 1930:

church-of-blessed-sacrament_1930

And in 1958 (from the LGC yearbook):

blessed-sacrament-church_OLGC-yrbk_1958

This visual aid will help give an idea of the acreage of both the school (circled in red) and the church (circled in blue), via the 1905 Sanborn map:

OLGC_sanborn_dallas-1905_sheet-171

I’m still not sure why my aunt went there….

OLGC_address_1958
1958

UPDATE: For those who might have wanted to see some interior photos, I didn’t find many, other than typical classroom shots, but here are some additional photos, a couple of which show the hallway.

Between classes, 1959:

OLGC_1959-yrbk_hallway

Girls lining up to go into class, 1960:

OLGC_1960-yrbk_hallway

Girls outside playing volleyball, 1960:

OLGC_1960-yrbk_volleyball

I had erroneously assumed that LGC was an all-girls 4-year high school; I believe it was a 12-year school, with boys and girls up to high school level, when it became girls-only. This photo appeared in the 1960 yearbook with the following caption: “The safety of all LGC students is the responsibility of the school as long as the students are on campus. For this reason, Officer H. A. Baxtley is available every day as a gracious escort for our little ‘Lions’ across the busy Ninth and Marsalis intersection.”

OLGC_1960-yrbk_crossing-guard

And finally, because I’m such a movie nerd who loves character actors, I was happily surprised to see that the actress K Callan was a 23-year-old drama teacher (etc.) at the school in 1959. (Callan was born in Dallas as Katherine “Kay” Borman and attended Ursuline and North Texas.)

callan-k_our-lady-of-good-counsel_1959-yrbk_drama-teacher

callan-k_our-lady-of-good-counsel_1959-yrbk_drama-teacher_b

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Sources & Notes

All photos of the school (except the one from 1905) are from various editions of Reveries, the yearbook for Our Lady of Good Counsel.

The 1905 photo is from Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald (p. 215), with the following credit: “Courtesy of Sister M. Adelaide Mars.”

The Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church still stands, at 231 N. Marsalis; their website is here.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Weber’s Root Beer Stands: “Good Service with a Smile”

webers-root-beer_traces-of-texasFeeling parched?  (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve heard of these legendary root beer stands from family members, but, sadly, I missed their heyday, which seems to stretch from the 1920s to the 1950s.

“It’s so different.”

ad-webers-root-beer_1930-dallas-technical-high-school-yrbk_frank-rogers

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Sources & Notes

Top photo appeared on the fantastic Facebook page Traces of Texas. It was submitted by reader Shelly Tucker showing her aunt (second from left) working as a Weber’s carhop around 1940. (The 1940 Dallas directory lists only two stands: at Greenville and Richmond (currently a 7-Eleven) and 1119 N. Zang.

Ad is from the 1930 yearbook of the Dallas Technical High School (later named Crozier Tech); the photo is by the always-busy Dallas photographer, Frank Rogers.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Architect Donald Barthelme’s Hidden Signature on the Hall of State

hall-of-state_barthelme_080917“B-A-R-T-H-E-L-M-argh!” (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A large number of Texas architects had a hand in designing the Fair Park buildings built expressly for the Texas Centennial in 1936. One such architect was the young (still in his 20s!) Donald Barthelme (1907-1996) of Houston, the principal architect for the Centennial park’s crowning jewel, the Hall of State. Years ago — when the only Donald Barthelme I had ever heard of was the acclaimed writer (who was the son of the architect) — I read an amusing factoid about Barthelme’s amusing “signature” which adorns his beautiful building. It can be seen on the wing to the left of the Hall’s entrance — seen above. (I took the photo this week — the flags are at half-mast in honor of the recent death of former governor Mark White.)

Around the top of the building is a frieze containing names of notable Texans. I’m sure a committee of some sort came up with this list of names which were carved into what was then the most expensive public building in Texas. All I can say is that it’s a shame they couldn’t have come up with just one more name — someone whose last name began with the letter “E,” because Mr. Barthelme arranged the first eight names to spell out his last name (which ended one letter too soon, at “M” — for Milam). I think if I had been in Barthelme’s position I might have just thrown in another name. Maybe “Erath.” …For closure. Click the photo below to see Mr. B’s winking historic signature.

hall-of-state_barthelme_080917_det

hall-of-state_080917

A couple of sentences on the Hall of State by David Dillon, former architecture critic for The Dallas Morning News, written for the paper in November, 1989:

Few Texans know who designed the Hall of State — it was Donald Barthelme of Houston, assisted by 10 other architects — yet 53 years after it opened it continues to stir us. It is a building of exceptional individual pieces held together by a powerful central idea — an exemplary period piece that reminds us what public design used to be, and what much contemporary civic architecture is not.

barthelme-donald_1949_univ-houston-yrbk_faculty

barthelme-donald_1950_faculty_univ-houston

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Sources & Notes

Photos of the Hall of State taken by me on Aug. 9, 2017.

Photos of Donald Barthelme, Sr. taken from the 1949 and 1950 yearbooks of the University of Houston where he was an Architecture professor for many years.

David Dillon quote from his article “An Old Friend Triumphs Anew: The Hall of State Redo Affirms the Power of Great Architecture” (DMN, Nov. 14, 1989), written after an extensive renovation to the building.

More on Barthelme at the Handbook of Texas History and on Wikipedia.

More on the exterior of the Hall of State from Steven Butler (with a list of the names carved into the frieze) here.

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Need Bonnie & Clyde and Smoot Schmid Memorabilia?

bonnie-and-clyde_ring_rr-auction_june-2017Nothing says “I love you”…

by Paula Bosse

Thank you, Robin McLauren, for making me aware of the upcoming “Gangsters, Outlaws, & Lawmen” auction presented by RR Auction (the sale is June 24, 2017, with the lots available to be previewed here and bidding to begin next week). Of particular interest to those of us in Dallas are the lots concerning Bonnie & Clyde and the lots concerning Dallas County Sheriff Smoot Schmid (known for, among other things, his involvement in the Bonnie & Clyde case) — these Dallas-specific lots can be viewed separately, here (there are three pages, see the page numbers at the bottom of the page).

There is everything from photos of B&C’s bullet-ridden car, photos of the two West Dallas outlaws lying on morgue slabs, Bonnie’s blood-stained glasses, Schmid’s gun, and even his Shriners fez. Here are a few of the items I found interesting.

The first one is pictured at the top: a 3-headed serpent “promise ring” Clyde made for Bonnie while in prison (information on the lot can be found here). It’s kind of cool. (Most images on this page are larger when clicked.)

Another lot (here) contains four photos: two show the crowds attending Bonnie Parker’s viewing at the McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home on Forest Avenue, taken by Dallas Times Herald photographer Denny Hayes, and two show the gravesites of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

bonnie-parker_mckamy-funeral-home_rr-auction_june-2017

bonnie-and-clyde_funeral-home_rr-auction_june-2017

bonnie-parker_grave-marker_rr-auction_june-2017

clyde-barrow_grave-marker_rr-auction_june-2017

Another lot (here) has 36 photos concerning Blanche Barrow, wife of Clyde’s brother Buck Barrow. Here she is marcelled and striking a pose.

blanche-barrow_rr-auction_june-2017

By far the best item is the bitter and angry letter of April, 1934 sent by Clyde Barrow to ex-Barrow Gang member Raymond Hamilton who was incarcerated in the Dallas County jail. Clyde dictated the letter to Bonnie, who must have had better penmanship (he signed it). A month later, Bonnie & Clyde were dead. The content of the 4-page letter is fantastic — read it here.

barrow_letter-to-raymond-hamilton-april-1934_rr-auction_june-2017

barrow_letter-to-raymond-hanilton_april-1934_signature_rr-auction_june-2017

There are several items that once belonged to Sheriff Richard A. “Smoot” Schmid, including this 14K gold diamond-studded badge presented to “Smoots” Schmid by his detectives in 1933.

smoot-schmid_badge_front_rr-auction_june-2017

smoot-schmid_badge_back_rr-auction_june-2017

And, his boots, with his “SS” initials on each.

smoot-schmid_boots_rr-auction_june-2017

And just because it’s odd, I have to admit I’m quite taken with this photo tucked into a lot containing several photographs which shows Schmid slapping cuffs on a robot.

smoot-schmid_robot_jail_rr-auction_june-2017

Bidding begins June 15!

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Sources & Notes

The RR Auction website is here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Bonnie and Clyde are here.

Most photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Cowtown Extra: Fort Worth Zookeeper Ham Hittson and His Forest Park Friends

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_fawn_062937_UTAZookeeper Hittson and tiny friend… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today, Fort Worth. I was looking for photos of the old Forest Park in Oak Cliff (which was renamed Marsalis Park in 1925) and came across photos of the Forest Park Zoo. A search on the internet showed me that there was also a Forest Park Zoo in Fort Worth. I’ve never actually been a big fan of zoos, but I saw the photo above and was won over by its sheer cuteness. So let’s just take a little trip westward and enjoy some photos of cute animals, most of which feature zookeeper Henry Hamilton (“Ham”) Hittson.

Ham Hittson (1912-1966) began working as a zookeeper at the Forest Park zoo in the early 1930s — if his obituary is correct, he became the zoo’s director in 1933 — at the age of only 21! During World War II he served for two years in the Coast Guard, assigned to work with sentry and attack dogs and with patrol horses. After the war he returned to the zoo (he was the director of the zoo for 21 years) and eventually became the director of the Fort Worth Park Department. His 1966 obituary (he was only 54 when he died) noted that he was instrumental in forming the Fort Worth Zoological Association. And, well, these photos are very sweet.

(All photos are from the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries. Click pictures to see larger images; click the link below each photo for more information.)

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The photo at the top is my favorite — it shows Hittson with a tiny fawn born the previous day. The photo above and the one below were taken on June 29, 1937.

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_fawn_062937-b_UTAMore info here

Below, Hittson with a new baby lion cub named Will (June 29, 1939).

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_lion-cub_062939_UTAMore info here

Actor Jimmy Stewart stopped by the zoo on May 22, 1953 to check out the zoo’s new rhinoceros, Marilyn Monroe. F. Kirk Johnson, zoological board president, is at the left and Hittson, then park department director, is at the right.

FW-zoo_jimmy-stewart_052253_UTAMore info here

Back to Ham’s zookeeper days: in the photo below (taken on August 2, 1940), he’s standing with one of the zoo’s top attractions, an elephant named Queen Tut. He’s bidding her farewell as he is about to leave for New York where he will pick up a baby elephant to be her companion. (Hittson and the zoo’s veterinarian brought the one-year old elephant back with them in a trailer — they must have attracted a lot of stunned looks along the highway as they drove back from New York.)

FW-zoo_hamilton-hittson_elephant_080240_UTAMore info here

The arrival of this new elephant was big news — there were almost daily updates in the pages of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In order to buy the elephant, the zoo had had to take out a loan from the bank, and in what was both a speedy way to pay off the debt and a clever way to garner publicity, there followed a successful drive to raise money to pay off the “mortgage” — countless school children happily did their parts by contributing pennies, nickels, and dimes in the fundraising effort and then flocked to the zoo to see the newest member of the zoo family and welcome her to Fort Worth.

And here’s Queen Tut with her new little pal, Penny, on September 10, 1940.

FW-zoo_queen-tut-and-penny_091040_UTAMore info here

Awww.

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Sources & Notes

There are tons of photos of the Forest Park Zoo in the UTA Libraries Special Collections, here (20 pages’ worth!).

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The G. B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State

hall-of-state_dealey-library_entrance_042517A quiet place to read or study… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I spent time this week walking around the G. B. Dealey Library and Reading Room at the Hall of State in Fair Park. It is part of the Dallas Historical Society, and it is a quiet, high-ceilinged, airy-but-cozy Western-themed oasis filled with lots of warm wood and featuring two large murals by legendary El Paso artist Tom Lea. If you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to go take a look.

What we now call the Hall of State was the architectural jewel in the crown of the Art Deco splendor created throughout Fair Park for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936. The room now housing the Dealey Library was originally the West Texas Room — one of four geographically-specific rooms in the Hall of State. The two Tom Lea murals (one depicting a cowboy, the other, pioneers) are on opposite walls (walls finished with an adobe-like plaster, decorated with famous Texas brands, in relief). One wall is covered with cowhide. There are painted ceramic tiles set into both the walls and the floor (the ones on the floor decorated with images of cactus are great!). There is a wood sculpture of a cowboy, carved by Dallas artist Dorothy Austin, who was only 25 years old when the Centennial opened. And … well — like everything in the Hall of State — everywhere you look you see incredible attention to detail. Every fixture, grating, knob … everything is absolutely wonderful.

In 1989, after a two-and-a-half-year renovation, the West Texas Room became the home of the G. B. Dealey Library (named in honor of the former publisher of The Dallas Morning News). The project was headed by architect Downing Thomas who took great care in choosing the Arts and Crafts-style furniture (the chairs, tables, and bookcases were handmade by Thomas Moser in Portland, Maine, the chairs emblazoned with bronze Texas stars and upholstered in tanned leather), reading lamps with mica shades (made by Boyd Lighting of San Francisco), and a woven rug by Sally Vowell of Fort Worth (I don’t recall seeing a rug, but there’s a lot to take in and I might have missed it). I really love this room.

When the library opened in November, 1989, the first guest through the doors was Tom Lea who had been shocked to learn that his then-53-year-old murals were still in place. And they’re still there, 81 years after Lea created them. And you should go see them.

The library and reading room is open Tuesday-Sunday, same hours as the Hall of State. If you are interested in researching materials from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society, you are encouraged to contact the staff in advance of your visit and make an appointment; though the room is open to the public, research hours are limited. More about this and the hours of operation can be found here.

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Below, one of the Tom Lea Murals can be (partially) seen above the cowhide wall-covering and above Dorothy Austin’s cowboy sculpture. (Click photo to see a larger image.) That light fixture is fantastic! (See the full Tom Lea mural here.)

hall-of-state_dealey-library_042517_inside-entrance

Here’s the view from the back corner looking toward the entrance, over which can be seen Lea’s second mural.

hall-of-state_dealey-library_042517_toward-entrance

In the photo at the very top, you can see the floor, which is studded with all sorts of cactus-themed tiles. Here are examples of four of them.

hall-of-state_dealey-library_042517_floor

My absolute favorite of the cactus tiles is this one, in a very Japanese-like rendering.

hall-of-state_dealey-library_cactus-tile

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That’s what the room looks like today. Here are a few photos of the West Texas Room under construction in 1936 (photos from the Dallas Historical Society’s Centennial Visual Collection). The first one shows Dorothy Austin standing below the Tom Lea mural, about where her cowboy statue would be placed. Those ceilings are pretty high.

tom-lea_dorothy-austin_west-tx-room_DHS

And here’s the statue. (See Austin’s statue close up, here, in a 2014 photo by Carol M. Highsmith, from the Library of Congress.)

dorothy-austin_cowboy-sculpture_west-tx-room_DHS

And here is a look into the room from the entrance, showing a construction crew at work.

west-tx-room-construction_hall-of-state_DHS

Below are 28-year-old Tom Lea’s thoughts on being informed of his important commission, from the El Paso Herald Post, March 24, 1936.  (Click to see larger image.)

tom-lea_west-tx-room-murals_el-paso-herald-post_032436

It seems strange that Lea was only in the preliminary-drawing stage of the murals’ creation in March — the Centennial was scheduled to open in June, less than three months away. (It’s worth noting that even though the Centennial — which ran for almost six months — opened in June, the Hall of State did not open to the public until September, three months behind schedule and the only Exposition building that did not meet its deadline. It was finally dedicated on September 5, 1936, the 100th anniversary of Sam Houston’s election as the first President of Texas.)

Below, a photo of Mr. Lea at the 1989 opening of the Dealey Library, with his 1936 mural behind him.

tom-lea_west-texas-room_1989_tom-lea-institute
via Tom Lea Institute

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To read more details on the 1989 opening of the G. B. Library and the renovation of the West Texas Room, please check out these articles from The Dallas Morning News archives:

  • “A Rare Blend — Art Deco, Western and Shaker Unite for a Modern Adaptation at the Hall of State” by Mariana Greene (DMN, Nov. 12, 1989)
  • “G. B. Dealey Library Dedicated at Fair Park — Center Will House Texas Documents” by Todd Coplivetz (DMN, Nov. 13, 1989)
  • “How the West was East at the Hall of State Redo”  by Alan Peppard (DMN, Nov. 14, 1989)
  • “An Old Friend Triumphs Anew: The Hall of State Redo Affirms the Power of Great Architecture” by David Dillon (DMN, Nov. 14, 1989)
  • “Reviving a Cultural Paean to Dallas — Fair Park Changes Designed to Restore Centennial’s Glory” by David Dillon (DMN, April 9, 1986) (this article concerns Fair Park as a whole)

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Sources & Notes

Photos of the Dealey Library and Hall of State door (below) are by me.

Photos of the West Texas Room from 1936 are from the collection of the Dallas Historical Society. You can search through low-res thumbnails of some of the images from their very large collection here.

As mentioned above, if you plan a trip to the Dealey Library in order to inspect or research items from the DHS collection, these materials must be requested in advance and an appointment must be scheduled (info here).

More on Tom Lea (1907-2001) can be found at the Tom Lea Institute website, here (with specific information on the Hall of State murals here); a profusely illustrated blog post with an emphasis on his time as a WWII artist-correspondent can be found here.

Obituary for Dorothy Austin Webberley (1911-2001) can be found on the Dallas Morning News site, here; family obituary is here.

Detailed info on the architecture and design of the Hall of State can be found in a Dallas Historical Society PDF, here. The Wikipedia entry is here (someone please correct the erroneous info that the Dealey Library is in the “East” Texas room!), and the always informative Watermelon Kid site has information on the East Texas and West Texas rooms here.

A series of photos of Fair Park, taken in 2014 by Carol M. Highsmith, can be found at the Library of Congress website, here. Her photo of the Hall of State is below.

hall-of-state_library-of-congress_carol-m-highsmith_2014

And, lastly,  a photo I took showing one of my favorite elements of a building packed with aesthetically pleasing details (seriously, everywhere you look): one of the doors of the main entrance to the Hall of State, designed by Houston architect Donald Barthelme, honoring Texas industry (ranching, timber, oil, agriculture, etc.). That sawmill blade gets me every time. And the aerial perspective of oil coming up through a derrick (middle right) is pretty cool, too. (Click to see a larger, more exciting image!)

hall-of-state-doors_042517_bosse

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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