Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: 1980s

The Aldredge Book Store — 2909 Maple Avenue

abs_2909-maple-ave_erik-bosse
The last location of The Aldredge Book Store, next to the Stoneleigh Hotel

by Paula Bosse

Today is the birthday of my late father, Dick Bosse. For most of the life of The Aldredge Book Store, he either managed it or, later, owned it. The store’s first location was in an old Victorian house at 2800 McKinney Avenue, at Worthington (a photo showing the house with weirdly overgrown vegetation is here), the second location was at 2506 Cedar Springs, near Fairmount, and the final location was the one seen above, at 2909 Maple Avenue, right next door to the Stoneleigh Hotel. My brother, Erik, took the photo, sometime in the 1980s, I think. The Stoneleigh is the building partially seen at the right. The bookstore occupied the building’s lower floor, and the top floor was occupied by the engineering business of the owner, Ed Wilson.

We closed the store in the early 2000s, a few years after my father’s death. Erik and his friend Pete removed the letters spelling out the store’s name which were bolted to the brick exterior over the entrance. I came across them a few years ago and laid them out in my driveway (in a much jauntier arrangement than was seen on Maple).

abs_sign-letters_paula-bosse

As far as I can gather, the two-story building was built about 1930 and was originally a duplex — a classified ad shows that the lower floor (where the bookstore was) was a 6-room apartment with 3 bedrooms and a tile bath. Sometime in the late ’30s, building owner Glen Shumaker opened up the Dallas Music Center, where students (children and adults) took music lessons; a sort of “music business school” was also offered as part of the curriculum. That business seems to have been around at least into the early 1950s.

dallas-music-center_0527471947 ad

dallas-music-center_0124481948 ad

It was later the home of several businesses, including sales offices and an advertising company, a farming trade magazine, a correspondence school, and the Dallas Diabetes Association. I’m not sure when the bookstore moved in — maybe 1979 or 1980.

Sadly, the building was demolished in the early-to-mid-2000s and is currently a driveway/parking area for the Stoneleigh Hotel. It still surprises me to not see the old building when I drive by.

dick-bosse_aldredge-book-store
Dick Bosse

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Sources & Notes

Photograph of The Aldredge Book Store by Erik Bosse; photo of the ABS letters by Paula Bosse.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on The Aldredge Book Store can be found here.

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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.

 

Dallas History on the BBC

big-tex_bbc_radio-4_julia-barton_photo
“Howdy, chaps!”

by Paula Bosse

A few years ago, when writing about one of the many attempts in the never-ending saga of trying to make the Trinity River a navigable waterway, I stumbled across the 99% Invisible podcast website where I discovered Julia Barton and her long audio piece on the very same topic. I was surprised — and excited — to find someone with a similar background to mine tackling Dallas’ history and looking at it from a thoroughly 21st-century perspective. I felt she and I had been separated at birth, and I enthusiastically contacted her via Twitter. Since then we’ve met a couple of times, chatted back and forth online, and, this year, she asked if I would help with research for a radio piece about Dallas she was preparing for BBC Radio. Of course I would!

Julia Barton is a radio and podcast editor and has worked extensively in public radio; she is currently working on Malcolm Gladwell’s hugely successful Revisionist History podcast. She also presents stories, some of which are about Dallas, a city she seems to have a lingering fascination with, even though she hasn’t lived here in decades. Though born in Minnesota, Julia spent most of her childhood in Dallas, growing up in the Little Forest Hills area, attending Alex Sanger Elementary, Gaston Middle School, and Skyline High School (Class of ’87) where she appears to have been an overachieving student journalist. She lives in New York City now, where she puts those journalism tools to good use.

julia-barton_skyline_1987-yearbook_photo

julia-barton_skyline_1987-yearbook-caption

Julia Barton, 1987 Skyline High School yearbook

The first tidbit I heard about Julia’s story for the BBC involved another former Dallas resident, Dennis Rodman (of basketball and North Korea diplomacy fame), who grew up in both South Dallas and South Oak Cliff and attended Sunset High School for a couple of years before transferring to South Oak Cliff High School, where he graduated in 1979.

rodman-dennis_south-oak-cliff-high-school_senior-photo_1979

Senior photo, South Oak Cliff High School, 1979

I’m not sure about the chronology of the piecing-together of the various aspects of Dallas history which comprise the finished half-hour BBC program, but an important kernel was Rodman’s childhood memory of hiking for miles with friends through underground sewage tunnels to Fair Park in order to get into the State Fair of Texas without the burden of paying — they just popped up a manhole cover when they’d reached their destination and … voilà! — they were inside Fair Park. He wrote about this in his autobiography Bad As I Wanna Be, and you can read this passage here (if bad language offends you, buckle up). I really love Rodman’s story about these tunnels — so much so that after Julia shared it with me, it got to the point where I was asking everyone I ran into if they’d ever heard about what I assumed was an apocryphal story. But the tunnel-to-Fair-Park-legend was true. And that weird kernel snowballed into a half-hour personal narrative about Dallas, race, inequality, education, school desegregation, and, yes, Big Tex. History isn’t always pretty, but let’s hope we can learn from past mistakes.

Listen to Julia Barton’s “Big Tex,” here.

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Sources & Notes

“Big Tex” was presented by Julia Barton for the UK’s BBC Radio 4. It features Julia’s classmates Sam Franklin (Class of ’86) and Nikki Benson (Class of ’87), her former teacher at Skyline Leonard Davis (an all-around great guy and fellow Dallas Historical Society volunteer — hi, Leonard!), as well as former teenage tunneller Melvin Qualls, local historian Donald Payton, and sixth graders from Julia’s alma mater, Alex Sanger Elementary School. It is a Falling Tree production, produced by Hannah Dean and Alan Hall. The link to the audio — and background on the production — is here. (Top photo is from the BBC page.)

Jim Schutze of the Dallas Observer wrote a great piece on this radio program (“Before Desegregation, Black Kids Had a Secret Tunnel Into the State Fair. Truth!”) — read it here (it includes a few production photos taken as Julia researched the story in Dallas).

Julia Barton’s website is here; a collection of her stories for Public Radio International (PRI) is here.

Two of Julia’s Dallas narratives:

  • “Port of Dallas” — history of the attempt to navigate (and monetize) the Trinity River: as an audio-only podcast, and as a video presentation done as a TEDx Talk at SMU
  • “The Failed Socialist Utopian Dream That Helped Dallas Become a Major City” — a look at the La Réunion community of the 1850s, from the PRI “World in Words” podcast (starts at about the 5:30 mark)

Thanks for asking me to help with research, Julia — I particularly enjoyed fact-checking the question “was-Mussolini-*really*-invited-to-the-Texas-Centennial?” (He was!)

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Copyright © 2018 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.

David Bates — “Corny Dog” (1986)

bates-david_corny-dog_litho_tyler-museum-of-art_1986“Corny Dog” by David Bates, 1986

by Paula Bosse

First day, y’all. Here’s how David Bates, one of my favorite contemporary Texas artists, sees it. Click it to see that corny dog real big.

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Sources & Notes

“Corny Dog” by David Bates (lithograph, 1986), shown at the Tyler Museum of Art this summer in the show “David Bates: Selected Works From Texas Collections.” More on that exhibition is here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Willie’s Picnic Or Bust

willie-nelson-picnic_1980_austin-american-statesman“All’s we need is a ride, man…”  (photo: Austin American-Statesman)

by Paula Bosse

Today is July 4th, 2018 — the 45th anniversary of the first Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. The photo above — taken by Austin photographer Stanley Farrar — ran in The Austin American-Statesman in 1980 and shows hitchhikers (including a bare-chested Jerry Rundell and his go-with-the-flow cat “Precious”) thumbing it on Highway 71, hoping for a ride to that year’s picnic at Willie’s Pedernales Country Club, near Austin.

Take a look at the full illustrated program for the second Picnic, which was held at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, July 4-6, 1974, in a PDF, here. The huge line-up included Dallas natives Michael Murphey, B. W. Stevenson, Ray Wylie Hubbard (all three of whom attended Adamson High School in Oak Cliff), and singer-turned-DJ-turned-singer, Johnny Dallas (aka Groovey Joe Poovey). To make this a somewhat Dallas-y, I’ve pulled out a few of the local ads (click ’em to see larger images).

willie-nelson-program_cover-1974

willie-nelson-program_1974_kzewKZEW — from the Zoo’s “Progressive Country” years?

willie-nelson-program_1974_wbapWBAP — how much Ray Wylie Hubbard was WBAP playing?

Speaking of Ray Wylie Hubbard:

willie-nelson-program_1974_ray-wylie-hubbard_mother-bluesMother Blues had a one-buck cover charge, and Gertie’s was rocking until 5 a.m.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lyons-pubLyon’s Pub, 5535 Yale Street.

willie-nelson-program_1974_fannie-annsFannie Ann’s, 4714 Greenville Avenue, the lower part of Upper Greenville.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lone-star-opryhouseThe Lone Star Opry House, 1011 S. Industrial, at Cadiz (formerly the Aragon Ballroom). Willie appeared during its first week in business.

willie-nelson-program_iconoclastThe Iconoclast, Dallas’ underground newspaper, which began as Stoney Burns’ Dallas Notes.

willie-nelson-program_1974_ethylsEthyl’s (“Only Bluegrass Club in Dallas”), 3605 McKinney Avenue.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from The Austin American-Statesman (July 4, 1980); photo taken by photographer Stanley Farrar. See many more photos of Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnics in an American-Statesman slideshow, here.

I wonder if Willie’s picnics have their own Wikipedia page? Of COURSE they do! Have at it.

I’ve written about it before, but, hey, it’s the 4th of July, so here’s Willie’s very … um, unusual ode to Dallas:

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Happy 4th!

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Copyright © 2018 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.

 

Remember the Alamo! — In Plano, Behind the Target

alamo-plano_dmn_051284-photoNever forget… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today is Texas Independence Day. This time last year after posting a photo of the Alamo somewhere, I was informed that there was, in fact, an Alamo replica right here in DFW. I knew about the one(s) in Fair Park, but Plano? Yep, near 75 and Parker Road, at the corner of Lexington and Premier, just west of the highway. See a southward-looking aerial view on Google here; below is the same view, from Bing.

alamo-plano_birdseye-bingBing Maps

Here it is at street level:

alamo-plano_bingBing Streetside

So, um, why is that there?

Not being up on my Plano history, and never having been aware of this, it took me a long time to find anything about it. Which is pretty surprising, because you’d think there would be all SORTS of articles about a very large replica of one of the most famous structures in the world (yes, I’m going to say “in the world”), standing right here in the Metroplex. And it’s been standing here for at least 35 years! I managed to find a couple of ads and an article about the building — it had started out as an arcade called the Alamo Fun Center and later became part of a car dealership — but I could  never find out who built it or why. I thought I’d come back to it in a year — so I could post it on Texas Independence Day — and see if I could find more, looking with fresh eyes. So I tackled it again today, and, glory be, I’ve just discovered that Rick Saigling wrote a piece for Plano Magazine last November titled “Remember the Alamo Fun Center” which answered all of my questions (and had photos of the building when it was new).

The Plano Alamo was built in 1982 by brothers-in-law Nathan White and Gene Cason and other investors as a “fun center” to house a Texas-themed arcade featuring video games, miniature golf, etc. While popular with Plano kids, the Alamo Fun Center was not a successful venture, and it shut its ornately carved doors after only a relatively short time in business. There you have it. Thank you, Rick. I now have closure.

The earliest (only?) mention I found of the “Fun Center” was the ad below, which appeared in The Wylie News a short time before its grand opening in the summer of 1982. The ad seems to indicate that the name of this “western theme park” is Lone Star Recreation Park and Alamo Fun Center (click to see a larger image).

alamo-fun-center_wylie-news_072982
The Wylie News, July 29, 1982

A few months after the Alamo Fun Center opened, Larry Lange Cadillac moved to its new location on the adjacent property. I’m not sure exactly when it closed, but the Plano Alamo was taken by the advancing forces of Larry Lange Cadillac in 1983 or 1984. For whatever reason, the building remained (what Texan is going to demolish the Alamo?) and was incorporated into the Larry Lange business plan.

alamo-plano_dmn_062683-larry-lange-ad-det
June, 1983

In May, 1984, the ad below announced the grand opening of the Larry Lange Adventure Center — the Alamo had been emptied of its batting cages and pizza ovens and had been transformed into an “Indoor Van Showroom Which is ‘As Large as Texas’!” (That doesn’t seem to have lasted very long.)

alamo-plano_dmn_051284-ad
May, 1984

Two years later, in 1986 — the year of the Texas Sesquicentennial — The Plano Star Courier checked in with the then-current occupants of the hometown Alamo, Premier Auto Leasing, to see what it was like working in the Alamo. In Plano. An employee made the impossible-to-believe statement that very few people ever actually commented on the fact that they were leasing their vehicle from a company that occupied a building shaped like the Alamo.

alamo-plano_plano-star-courier_072286
Plano Star Courier, July 22, 1986

In 1999, Diane Jennings of The Dallas Morning News wrote a story on “mock Alamos” around the state. She checked in on the Plano location, then owned by Crest Cadillac, and found it was being used as a warehouse. The general manager, Michael Coston, was not a fan of the building for several reasons, not least of which was the replica’s design.

As a native Texan and history buff, he worries that the inaccurate construction may “deface the fame of the how-many-ever we say gave their lives there.” He is particularly irritated by the parapet, the rounded hump over the door, which most people associate with the Alamo facade, but which was actually added by the U.S. Army decades after the battle. (DMN, Feb. 28, 1999)

Today Crest Cadillac appears to have forsaken Plano for Frisco, but the property is still in the Crest auto family — it’s now occupied by Crest Volvo. But what of The Alamo? It’s now the home of Crest Collision, a body shop.

So there you  have it, the story of Plano’s Alamo.

Instead of rushing out to get a Mirabeau B. Lamar tattoo to show my Texan-ness in these waning hours of Texas Independence Day, I’ve decided instead to post a few photos of the real Alamo, which, strangely enough, was also a neighbor to a car dealership, the Clifton George Ford Motor Co. Remember the Model-T!

alamo_clifton-george-ford_san-antoniovia Texas Transportation Museum

alamo_clilfton-george-ford_e-o-goldbeck_ransom-center_ca-1918via Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas

alamo_herpel-gillespie-ford
via Texas Transportation Museum

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Sources & Notes

Top ad from May, 1984.

Second-from-last photo by an unidentified photographer, circa 1918, from the  E. O. (Eugene Omar) Goldbeck Photography Collection, Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin; more information and a larger image may be found here.

Rick Saigling’s Plano Magazine article “Remember the Alamo Fun Center” (November 21, 2016) is here. It includes several photos of the Alamo Fun Center in 1982/83 and interviews with a former owner and employee. See a (large!) close-up of the unexpectedly ornate stone façade of the Plano Alamo here. (If you’re interested in Plano history, Rick’s also written a nice nostalgic piece, “I Remember When Plano Was a Sleepy Town,” here.)

Photos and clippings are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Mitchell Building: Home to Cotton Gins, Rockets, Frozen Beverages, A/C Units, Slackers, Squatters, Hipsters, and Urban Loft-Dwellers

mitchell-bldg_oct-1988_appl-natl-register-hist-placesIn 1988, the building had seen better days… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

In 1928, the John E. Mitchell Company (discussed previously here, here, and here) arrived in Dallas from St. Louis and built their J. A. Pitzinger-designed 2-story factory at 3800 Commerce Street (a wing was added the next year, and a third story was added the year after that). It produced cotton gins and farm implements. As strange as it seems today, Dallas was once the largest producer of cotton gin machinery in the United States. The Mitchell Company was located in a mostly industrial area very close to several other cotton gin manufacturers (such as the nearby  Continental Gin Company and Murray Company). At the height of their production, these Dallas factories were  responsible for half of the world’s cotton gins.

When World War II hit, the company became an important defense contractor and produced munitions for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army, making things such as “anti-submarine projectiles,” anti-aircraft shells, rocket nozzles, and “adapters for incendiary bomb clusters.”

After the war, the Mitchell Company continued to manufacture agricultural implements but diversified by turning out other types of machinery, like automobile air conditioners and and cleaning systems. As the 1960s dawned, they developed the machine that made ICEE frozen slushy drinks (forever immortalized by 7-Eleven as The Slurpee).

After the death of company president John E. Mitchell, Jr. in 1972, the business began a slow slide downward. The company appears to have gone out of business in the early 1980s. In the fall of 1982, the company’s equipment was sold at public auction, and, in 1984, the building became the temporary home of the Junior Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

In the 1980s, Deep Ellum and Exposition Park began to explode with new bars, clubs, and galleries. If it was cool, it was in Deep Ellum and Expo Park; if it was in Deep Ellum and Expo Park, it was cool. Artists and musicians began to move into many of the neighborhood’s old warehouses. These usually run-down buildings — in which bohemian types lived (not always legally) and used as studio spaces — were huge and (in the beginning) cheap. The Mitchell Building became something of a ground zero for wild parties and was described in a fantastic 1995 newspaper article by Shermakaye Bass (linked below) as both a “flophouse” and “an artists commune and downtown slacker den.” The building was closed and boarded up by its owners in early 1995 in order to avoid code-violation citations, but by 1999 the building had been purchased, cleaned up, modernized, and converted into 79 loft apartments. Today, the Mitchell Lofts have been a part of the Expo Park scene for almost 20 years.

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In 1991, the Mitchell Building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The photographs below (and the one at the top) were included in the application form. They were taken by Daniel Hardy of Hardy-Heck-Moore in October, 1988. Things weren’t looking great for the building in 1988. It must have been quite an undertaking to convert this large L-shaped building (which had certainly seen better days) into hip, sleek lofts.

Below, looking northwest on Commerce. The Mitchell Building is in an L-shape — the smaller building in the foreground is an old Dallas Power and Light substation, built around 1925. (Click photos to see larger images.)

mitchell-bldg_oct-1988_2

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The back, from the old T&P/Missouri-Pacific railroad tracks.

mitchell-bldg_oct-1988_3

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And two interior views of the second floor.

mitchell-bldg_oct-1988_4

mitchell-bldg_oct-1988_5

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Here’s what the exterior looks like today, spiffified. (Explore it on Google Street view here.)

mitchell-lofts_google_jan-2016Google Street View (Jan. 2016)

mitchell-building_google
Google Maps

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mitchell_sign_war-bk
Mitchell War Book, ca. 1945

mitchell-building_flickr_colteraFlickr

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Sources & Notes

Photos are from the application to the National Register of Historic Places; in addition to the photos, there is a thorough history of both the building and the John E. Mitchell Company, written by David Moore of Hardy-Heck-Moore. The 28-page form can be found in a PDF, here. (3/14/17 UPDATE: The link no longer works for me, and I am unable to find the document. Here’s the full URL: ftp://ftp.dallascityhall.com/Historic/National%20Register/John_E_Mitchell_Plant.pdf.)

More info on the Mitchell Company and its building through the years can be found in the following Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Dallas Gets Gin Factory” (DMN, March 17, 1928) — the announcement that a permit has been granted for the construction of a two-story brick factory and warehouse
  • “John E. Mitchell Exemplifies Faith as Secret to Success,” by Helen Bullock (DMN, July 17, 1949) — an entertaining profile of John E. Mitchell, Jr.
  • “Demise of a Dream Factory — Deep Ellum’s Historic Mitchell Building Leaves a Legacy of Artistic and Industrial Vision,” by Shermakaye Bass (DMN, Feb. 5, 1995) — for those who grew up when Deep Ellum was experiencing its (first) renaissance, the article is a great snapshot of what things were like in Deep Ellum and Exposition Park back in the ’80s and early ’90s

See what the Mitchell Lofts look like now in this Candy’s Dirt article from 2014; more photos are here. Pretty hard to believe people used to manufacture things like cotton gins and anti-aircraft missiles there.

The Mitchell Lofts website is here.

Click pictures and clipping to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Belmont & Greenville: From Caruth Farmland to Hub of Lower Greenville

hockaday-campus_aerialHockaday campus — Greenville Ave. at the right (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

If you’ve driven down lower Greenville Avenue lately, you’re probably aware that the buildings that most recently housed a retirement home at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville were scheduled to be been torn down. When I drove past that intersection a few weeks ago and saw the entire block leveled, I was shocked. It’s weird suddenly not seeing buildings you’ve seen your entire life. It got me to wondering what had been on that block before. I’d heard that Hockaday had occupied that block for several years, but even though I’d grown up not too far away, I’d only learned of that within the past few years. When I looked into this block’s history, the most surprising thing about it is that it has passed through so few owners’ hands over the past 140 or so years.

As far as I can tell, the first owner or this land was Walter Caruth (1826-1897), a pioneer merchant and farmer who arrived in this area in the 1840s (some sources say the 1850s), along with his brother, William. Over the years the brothers amassed an absolutely staggering amount of land — thousands and thousands of acres which stretched from about Inwood Road to White Rock Lake, and Ross Avenue up to Forest Lane. One of Walter Caruth’s tracts of land consisted of about 900 acres along the eastern edge of the city — this parcel of land included the 8 or 9 acres which is now the block bounded by Greenville, Belmont, Summit, and Richard, and it was where he built his country home (he also had a residence downtown). The magnificent Caruth house was called Bosque Bonita. Here is a picture of it, several years after the Caruths had moved out (the swimming pool was added later).

caruth_bosque-bonita_dallas-rediscovered

Most sources estimate that the house was built around 1885 (although a 1939 newspaper article stated that one of Walter’s children was born in this house in 1876…), but it wasn’t until 1890 that it began to be mentioned in the society pages, most often as the site of lavish parties. (Click pictures and  articles to see larger images.)

bosque-bonita_dmn_020390Dallas  Morning News, Feb. 3, 1890

At the time, the Caruth house was one of the few buildings in this area — and it was surrounded by endless acres of corn and cotton crops. It wasn’t long, though, before Dallas development was on the march eastward and northward. This ad, for the new Belmont Addition, appeared in April of 1890, and it mentioned the Caruth place as a distinguished neighboring landmark.

belmont-addition_dmn_041690
DMN, April 16, 1890

By the turn of the century — after Caruth’s death in 1897 — it was inevitable that this part of town (which was not yet fully incorporated into the City of Dallas) would soon be dotted with homes and businesses.

caruth-farm_dmn_092703
DMN, Sept. 27, 1903

At one time the Caruth family owned land in and around Dallas which would be worth the equivalent of billions of dollars in today’s money. After Walter Caruth’s death, the Caruth family became embroiled in years of litigation, arguing over what land belonged to which part of the family. I‘m not sure when Walter Caruth’s land around his “farmhouse” began to be sold off, but by 1917, the Hardin School for Boys (established in 1910) moved into Bosque Bonita and set up shop. It operated at this location for two years. The Caruth house even appears in an ad.

hardin-school_dmn_071517_bosque-bonita_ad
DMN, July 15, 1917

I’m not sure if the Hardin School owned the land or was merely leasing it and the house, but in 1919, Ela Hockaday announced that she had purchased the land and planned to move her school — Miss Hockaday’s School for Girls (est. 1913) — to this block and build on it a two-story brick school building, a swimming pool (seen in the photo above), tennis courts, basketball courts, hockey fields, and quarters for staff and girls from out of town who boarded.

hockaday_dmn_051119DMN, May 11, 1919

hockaday_dmn_070619
DMN, July 6, 1919

Ground was broken in July of 1919, and the first session at the new campus began on schedule in September. Below, the building under construction. Greenville Avenue is just out of frame to the right.

hockaday_greenville_construction_hockaday100Photo: Hockaday 100

hockaday_greenville-ave_1919_reminiscences

hockaday_greenville-belmont_1920s_horses

The most interesting thing I read about the Hockaday school occupying this block is that very soon after opening, the beautiful Caruth house was moved from its original location at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville. It was rolled on logs to the middle and back of the property. “Bosque Bonita” became “Trent House.” Former student (and later teacher) Genevieve Hudson remembered the moving of the house in an oral history contained in the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas:

caruth-house_hockaday_reminiscences-bk

You can see the new location of the house in the top aerial photo, and in this one:

hockaday_aerial_dplDallas Public Library

Another interesting little tidbit was mentioned in a 1947 Dallas Morning News article: Caruth’s old hitching post was still on the property — “on Greenville Avenue 100 feet north of the Belmont corner” (DMN, May 2, 1947). I’d love to have seen that.

After 42 years of sustained growth at the Greenville Avenue location (and five years after the passing of Miss Hockaday), the prestigious Hockaday School moved to its current location in North Dallas just after Thanksgiving, 1961. Suddenly, a large and very desirable tract of land between Vickery Place and the M Streets was available to be developed. Neighbors feared the worst: high-rise apartments.

The developer proposed a “low-rise,” “semi-luxury” (?) group of four 5-story apartment buildings, each designed to accommodate specific tenants: one for swinging singles (“where the Patricia Stevens models live”), one for single or married adults, one for families with children, and one for “sedate and reserved adults.” It was to be called … “Hockaday Village.” The architect was A. Warren Morey, the man who went on to design the cool Holiday Inn on Central and, surprisingly, Texas Stadium.

Bosque Bonita — and all of the other school buildings — bit the dust in preparation for the apartment’s construction. Hockaday Village (…what would Miss Hockaday have thought of that name?) opened at the end of 1964.

hockaday-village_dmn_101864
Oct., 1964

hockaday-village_dmn_101864_carpet-of-treetops
Oct., 1964

hockaday-village_dmn_031365
March, 1965

And then before you knew it, it was the ’70s, the era of waterbeds and shag carpeting. (Miss Hockaday would not have tolerated such tackiness, and I seriously doubt that Mr. Caruth would have ever understood why shag carpeting was something anyone would actually want.)

hockaday-village_dmn_052271_waterbeds
1971

Then, in 1973, the insistently hip ads stopped. In April, 1974 this appeared:

hockaday-village_FWST_042874
Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 28, 1974

The apartments were being offered for public auction by the “Office of Property Disposition” of the Federal Housing Authority and HUD. Doesn’t sound good. So who bit and took the plunge? The First Baptist Church of Dallas, that’s who. The plan was to redevelop the existing apartments into a retirement community called The Criswell Towers, to be named after Dr. W. A. Criswell. But a mere three months later, the Baptists realized they had bitten off more than they could chew — the price to convert the property into a “home for the aged” would be “astronomical.” They let the building go and took a loss of $135,000. It went back on the auction block.

Two years later, in the summer of 1976 … the old Hockaday Village became Belmont Towers — and the new owners must have thought the Baptists’ idea was a good one, because Belmont Towers advertised itself as “mature adult living at its finest” — “perfect for retired or semi-retired individuals.”

hockaday-village_dmn_043083_belmont-towers
April, 1983

It was Belmont Towers for 20-or-so years. In 1998, the buildings were renovated and updated, and it re-opened as Vickery Towers, still a retirement home and assisted living facility. A couple of years ago it was announced that the buildings would be demolished and a new development would be constructed in its place. It took forever for the 52-year-old complex to finally be put out of its misery since that announcement. Those buildings had been there my entire life and, like I said, it was a shock to see nothing at all in that block a few weeks ago.

vickery-towers_050516_danny-linn-photoPhoto: Danny Linn

In the 140-or-so years since Walter Caruth acquired this land in the 1870s or 1880s, it has been occupied by Caruth’s grand house, a boys school, the Hockaday School, and four buildings which have been apartments and a retirement community. And that’s it. That’s pretty unusual for development-crazy Dallas. I’ll miss those familiar old buildings. I hope that whatever is coming to replace them won’t be too bad.

greenville-belmont_bing_aerial
Bing Maps

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Sources & Notes

The top aerial photograph is from the Vickery Place neighborhood website, here. Belmont is the street running diagonally at the left, and Greenville is the street running diagonally at the right. I’m not sure of the date, but the Hockaday Junior College (which I had never heard of before) can be seen at the northwest corner of Belmont and Greenville — the original location of Bosque Bonita before it was rolled across the campus.

That fabulous photo of Bosque Bonita is from the book Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald.

Photo of Hockaday girls playing tennis is from the book Reminiscences: A Glimpse of Old East Dallas.

Photo of girls on horseback … I’m not sure what the source of this photo is.

Photo of the block, post-razing is by Danny Linn who grew up in Vickery Place; used with permission. (Thanks, Danny!)

All other sources as noted.

In case you were confused, the Caruth Homeplace that most of us might know (which is just south of Northwest Highway and west of Central Expressway) was the home of Walter Caruth’s brother William — more on that Caruth house can be found here.

The Hockaday School can be seen on the 1922 Sanborn map here (that block is a trapezoid!).

More on the history of the Hockaday School can be found at the Hockaday 100 site; a page with many more photos is here. Read about the history of the school in the article “Miss Ela Builds a Home” by Patricia Conner Coggan in the Spring, 2002 issue of Legacies, here.

Additional information can be found in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Proposal to Change Hockaday Site to Apartment Zoning Opposed” (DMN, Oct. 29, 1961)
  • “Retirement Home Plans Going Ahead” (regarding the purchase by the First Baptist Church of Dallas) (DMN, June 15, 1974)
  • “Church Takes $135,000 Loss on Property” (DMN, Sept. 10, 1974)

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If you made it all the way through this, thank you! I owe you a W. C. Fields “hearty handclasp.”

Photos and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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