Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: African-American Dallas

State Fair of Texas, Miscellaneous Tidbits from Its History

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by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Main Street, looking west, via Portal to Texas History

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

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via George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

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

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

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

sfot_concessionaires_coke_unt_portal_1936via Portal to Texas History

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

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

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via Portal to Texas History

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

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

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

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

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via Lon Tinkle’s children’s book Key to Dallas (1965)

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Allen & Cochran: Allen Street Drugs, St. Peter’s Academy, St. John Baptist Church — ca. 1946

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Allen Street Drugs at Allen & Cochran… (photo: Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a group of men and boys gathered outside Allen St. Drugs — 1920 Allen Street, at the corner of Cochran — posing for famed Dallas photographer Marion Butts. Behind the group is St. Peter’s Church and St. Peter’s Academy, a Catholic church and affiliated school for black children (at 2018 Allen); facing St. Peter’s (but out of frame) is St. John Baptist Church (2019 Allen). This was a busy and well-traveled intersection for the African American neighborhood of “North Dallas.”

St. Peter’s Academy — which was still around into the late 1980s — was built in 1908, largely due to the urging of black entrepreneur Valentine Jordan and his wife Mary Jordan who were impressed with the education provided to the (white) students attending the Catholic Ursuline Academy; they requested that Bishop E. J. Dunne open a similar school for black children, and Bishop Dunne obliged. Before it was named “St. Peter’s Academy,” it was known as The Sisters’ Institute (named for the Sisters of the Holy Ghost). Elementary and high school classes were taught, and boarding options were offered to girls. In the mid 1960s the school had 600 (predominantly Protestant) students.

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Dallas Express, Sept. 6, 1924

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Dallas Express, Aug. 27, 1921

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Dallas Express, Jan. 6, 1923

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Dallas Express, Jan. 13, 1923

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St. Peter’s Academy, circa 1935

The large St. John Baptist Church was a fixture of the community, led for many years by its pastor Ernest C. Estell.

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Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1946-47

Sadly, these buildings are no longer standing. St. Peter the Apostle is located in a new building at Allen and what is now Woodall Rodgers Freeway, and much of their congregation is of Polish ancestry, with services conducted in both Polish and English. The drugstore seen at the top sat on land razed for construction of Woodall Rodgers. The view today can be seen here.

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Allen St., between Munger & Hallsville — 1944-45 Dallas directory

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1952 Mapsco (star indicates location of Allen St. Drugs)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo by Marion Butts, from the Marion Butts: Lens on Dallas Collection, Dallas Public Library. More information on the work of Mr. Butts may be found here.

Most images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas History on the BBC

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“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.

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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.

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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.

 

Stop at the Delmonico — ca. 1919

delmonico-hotel_degolyer_SMU_ca-1919The Delmonico Hotel & Thorburn Broom factory… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

How does one refer to the area just above Pacific and Central, where Swiss once crossed Central? “Deep Ellum-adjacent”? “Far North Deep Ellum”? The “Extreme Western Edge of Old East Dallas”? It was very close to the old union railroad depot, where the T&P and H&TC tracks crossed (about where Pacific and Central crossed). It was once a bustling area, but after the depot closed in the ‘teens, it didn’t bustle so much anymore. 

The photo above — looking to the northeast and taken about 1918 or 1919 — shows the Delmonico Hotel (at 2309-2311 Swiss Avenue) and, to the right, the Thorburn Broom & Brush Co. factory (2405-2409 Swiss). (See the Swiss Avenue occupants of these two blocks as listed in the 1919 Dallas directory here.) The street that runs between the two blocks is Central Ave. The railroad tracks running horizontally at the bottom of the photo run along Pacific, and the streetcar tracks curve up and to the right to run along Swiss.

The Delmonico Hotel was at this location for only a couple of years until it moved a block around the corner, facing Central — the new, larger “Greater” Delmonico opened in July, 1919, occupying the upper floor at 302 Central. The proprietress of both locations was Miss Mary Howard (later Mrs. L. O. Clark). Miss Howard was, apparently, an enterprising African American woman who ran what was described in Dallas’ premiere black newspaper as “the largest and most commodious hotel for Colored in Texas… [catering] to first class trade” (Dallas Express, July 5, 1919). It remained in business at its second location on Central Ave. until 1927 or 1928.

delmonico-hotel_dallas-express_011119Dallas Express, Jan. 11, 1919

Above, an ad for the hotel’s first location (the address should read “2309-2311 Swiss”). Below, a nice article on the opening of the second location on Central.

delmonico-hotel_dallas-express_070519_NEW-greater-delmonicoDallas Express, July 5, 1919

delmonico-hotel_dallas-express_082319Dallas Express, Aug. 23, 1919

It’s interesting that the 1919 Dallas directory has a business listing for this hotel (the first location, the one seen in the photo) — it is the sole hotel for “colored” patrons listed (denoted with the letter “c” — you can see the list of hotels from the 1919 directory here).

The first location can be seen in this detail of a 1921 Sanborn map, circled in black; the second location is circled in blue; the Thorburn Co. broom factory at Swiss and Central is labeled. (All images are larger when clicked.)

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The 2300 block of Swiss is no longer there — it is now empty land beneath the elevated North Central Expressway. The 2400 block (where the broom factory stood) is still there and is the site of a self-storage business (the Thorburn factory once stood here, across from the Lizard Lounge).

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The large white building housing the Delmonico appears to have been built in 1889 by Swiss-born John Jacob (“J. J.”) Yost, who soon opened the Bear Hotel, which seems to have been a popular rooming house/hotel for German immigrants. By 1902 Yost was looking for a buyer for the hotel (“with saloon”) and placed the ad seen below (an ad which appeared not too long after a court notice appeared in the papers showing  that Yost had been found guilty of operating a “disorderly house” (a brothel) and had been fined $200, which was a huge fine at the time).

bear-hotel_dmn_042602_for-saleDallas  Morning News, April 26, 1902

As Yost described it, the hotel really was in “a fine location” — just a block or two from a very busy passenger-train depot. Perhaps he was asking too much for it, but the Bear Hotel appears to have remained in operation until 1906, when it became the International Hotel (which was in business until 1918 when the hotel became the Delmonico, the first of these hotels to be owned by an African American for a strictly black (segregated) clientele). Below is an amusing (or terrifying) news tidbit from 1909 about a guest at the International Hotel. When you find yourself asking “what did people do before air-conditioning?” remember what happened to poor Fritz Brockmann:

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DMN, July 5, 1909

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The Thorburn Broom & Brush Co. manufactured … brooms and brushes in their factory seen at the right in the photo above. A few bristly factoids about the company were included in a Chamber of Commerce-like series of ads from 1922.

thorburn-broom-brush_june-1922June, 1922

Thorburn’s marquee brand seems to have been the trademarked Red Star brooms (“Red Star brooms are Wife Savers”).

thorburn_red-star-brooms_1924Piggly Wiggly ad, 1924

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Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “[Swiss Avenue at Central and the Houston and Texas Central Tracks]” — is attributed to George A. McAfee and is from the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this photo may be found here.

More info about the old Union Depot — which was one block south from the location seen in the photo above — can be found in these Flashback Dallas posts:

  • “The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935,” here
  • “The Union Depot Hotel Building, Deep Ellum — 1898-1968,” here
  • “The Gypsy Tea Room, Central Avenue, and The Darensbourg Brothers,” here

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Life on Hall Street — 1947

adolphus-bar-b-q_dallas-negro-directory_1947-48_dining-roomInterior of Adolphus Isaac’s Bar-B-Q Palace… (click/tap for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are a few post-war ads for businesses in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of N. Hall, between Thomas and State, in the heart of “North Dallas,” a once-thriving business and entertainment district which catered to Dallas’ black community, until construction of Central Expressway sliced it in half a year or two after these ads appeared. These two blocks are completely unrecognizable today (a Google Street View looking north on Hall from Thomas can be seen here), and evidence that this area was once a lively African American neighborhood teeming with small businesses, cafes, and clubs exists almost entirely in old photos and ads like these.

Below, the LA CONGA CAFE, 2209½ Hall, S. H. Wilson, proprietor. “Where we serve you the best of foods. The home of Good Foods. Ice cold beer.” (All pictures are larger when clicked/tapped.)


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THE ADOLPHUS BAR-B-Q PALACE, 2314 Hall, Adolphus Isaac (whose name in the ad appears to be misspelled), proprietor. “Always a friendly welcome. Steaks, fried chicken, fish, bar-b-q, frog legs [!], delicacies.”

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VASSELL’S JEWELRY STORE, 2317 Hall, Robert Vassell, proprietor. “Diamonds — watches — jewelry. Repairing reasonable, engraving a specialty.” This ad shows the “watch training school” Vassell operated in which WWII GI’s learned watch-repair.

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NEGRO UNION COUNCIL, 2319 Hall. A group of black unionists shared space at 2319 Hall: the Negro Unions Council, the Musicians Protective Union Local 168 (whose former president was Theodore Scott seen in both photos below), Federated Labor (AF of L), Hotel & Restaurant Employees Intl. Local No. 825. (Ned L. Boyd, pictured below, was a pharmacist who owned Boyd’s Pharmacy a couple of doors down at 2311 Hall.)

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American Federation of Musicians officials (and their hats) standing in front of 2319 Hall.

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Below, the 1947 Dallas street directory, showing the businesses in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of N. Hall.

vassell_hall-st_1947-directory1947 Dallas directory (click to see larger image)

Below, a detail of a 1952 Mapsco page, with Hall Street in blue, Central Expressway (which hadn’t yet been built when the ads above appeared in 1947) in yellow, and the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Hall circled in red.

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1952 Mapsco

As an aside, Roseland Homes seen in the map detail above, was a low-income public housing project for black residents, which opened in June, 1942. It covered a 35-acre tract, with 650 units and was the first of many such housing projects for low-income black, white, and Hispanic families which opened that year, and it continues to this day.

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Sources & Notes

Ad from the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948, with thanks to Pat Lawrence.

Read more about Hall Street — just a few blocks south, near Ross — in the Flashback Dallas post “1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

NAACP Southwest Conference in Dallas — 1950

NAACP-conference_the-crisi_june-1950Top delegates of the NAACP regional conference in Dallas, 1950

by Paula Bosse

The third annual NAACP Southwest Region Conference was held in Dallas, March 24-26, 1950. Above we see the top delegates (out of about 200 attendees), standing in front of the Salem Baptist Church, then located at 710 Bourbon in South Dallas. One of their main objectives was to increase NAACP membership in order to more effectively tackle issues of civil rights and social injustice.

The conference’s main speaker was special counsel to the NAACP, Thurgood Marshall. During the conference, he stated that, although there was slow and steady progress being made by African-Americans in American society, he did not expect to see racial segregation abolished in his lifetime. 17 years after this statement, Thurgood Marshall was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to serve as a justice on the United States Supreme Court.

NAACP_thurgood-marshall_FWST_032750Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 27, 1950

Below, the review of the conference that appeared in the April, 1950 issue of the NAACP magazine, The Crisis (click to see larger image).

NAACP-SW-conference_the-crisi_april-1950The Crisis, April, 1950

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the June, 1950 issue of The Crisis, the magazine published by the NAACP. Many decades’ worth of scanned issues of the magazine are viewable via Google Books, here.

The Salem Baptist Church was, at the time of the photo above, located at 710 Bourbon in South Dallas. According to the church’s website, the church moved from that location in the early 1960s when the site was one of many purchased by the Texas Highway Department to be demolished for highway construction.

Click photo and news clippings for larger images.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bishop College — 1969

bishop-college_1969Welcome to Bishop College… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Bishop College was a historically black college founded in Marshall, Texas in 1881 by the Baptist Home Mission Society. The main building on the Bishop College campus was a grand plantation house built with slave labor in the late 1840s for the wealthy Holcombe family, who allowed it to be used during the Civil War it as the headquarters of the Trans-Mississippi Agency of the Confederate Post Office Department. That it became the home of one of the first institutions of higher education for African Americans in Texas seems almost poetic.

In 1961 — 80 years after its founding, Bishop College moved to the Highland Hills area of South Dallas, along Simpson Stuart Road, to become Dallas’ first black college. The move was made in a push to increase enrollment and was made possible by money raised by a group of Dallas businessmen headed by Carr P. Collins, Sr., by the American Baptist Convention, and by the Negro Baptists of Texas. Dallas businessman and philanthropist Karl Hoblitzelle donated the land. What started in 1961 as a 103-acre campus with only seven buildings and an enrollment of 651 students, grew to a campus stretching over 360 acres and a peak enrollment of about 2,000 students.

Despite its move to a major metropolitan area and an increase in enrollment, the college was never on firm financial ground. After years of financial mismanagement, charges of embezzlement, and mounting government debt, the college lost its accreditation and eligibility to receive further funds. In a last-ditch effort to remain open, the college filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1987, but they were never able to recover, and Bishop College closed in 1988 after 107 remarkable years. In 1990, the property was purchased by Comer S. Cottrell, who persuaded the powers-that-be of Waco’s Paul Quinn College — the oldest African-American college in Texas — to move to Dallas and take over the defunct Bishop College campus. Paul Quinn College has been operating in Dallas since 1990.

The photos below are from the 1969 Bishop College yearbook, back in its happier, groovier days of growth and progress. (Click to see larger images.)

Below, class registration.

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Campus buildings, including the “homage” to the old Bishop administration building in Marshall, “Wyalucing.”

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Above, Raymond Hall, who taught classes in African and American culture.

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Above: “Energetic students got in the groove. Charles Hunt and members of the Bishop Collegians, the lab band, played and really socked it to the students attending the show. From the lab band has come four different groups which are worthy credits to the band and Mr. VanBolden, director.”

Below: “Theopolis Jones, a freshman from Birmingham, Ala., worked out on the drums. He was but one of the forty freshmen who were members of the Ambassadors of Band. Fellow members of the class stood by and looked on with real enthusiasm.”

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Below: “Joyce Morris, a sophomore from Oklahoma, was one of the feature vocalists at the talent show which was sponsored by the Ambassadors of Band, the Bishop College Marching Concert Band.”

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Concert choir, under the direction of John S. Meeks.

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Staff of the college newspaper, the Bishop Beacon.

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Zale Library “study-in” (note the 1968 mural by Louis Freund — see it in color, on the Paul Quinn website, here).

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I love these two photos: above, campus security; below, a photo one would never guess was taken in the late 1960s, featuring two men who worked in the receiving department (Wesley Hayes and Roy Sallings).

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Mrs. Annie Mitchell, mother of music teacher Maurine Bailey (who was a legendary instructor at Lincoln High School for many years), with be-ruffled students Harolyn Morris and Estella Parker.

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Homecoming half-time fashion parade.

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Happy students on the hilltop.

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Graduation.

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bishop-college_paul-quinn_paris-news-062490Paris (TX) News, June 24, 1990 (click to read)

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Sources & Notes

All photos from the 1969 Tiger, the yearbook of Bishop College.

More details on the demise of Bishop College can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Where Did Bishop Fail? Those Involved With College Disagree on Cause of Fiscal Problems” by Sherry Jacobson (DMN, March 20, 1988).

Bishop College links-o-rama!

All photos are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975

rose-ballroom_aug-1942_cook-collection_degolyer_smuThe Rose Ballroom, 1942 (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photo above was taken at the Rose Ballroom at 1710 Hall Street (a few steps off Ross Avenue) in August, 1942. 1710 Hall was the home to a string of very popular black nightclubs: the Rose Ballroom (1942-1943), the Rose Room (1943-1951), the Empire Room (1951-1969) (not to be confused with the nightclub of the same name in the Statler Hilton), and the Ascot Room (1969-1975). There seems to have been some overlap of owners and/or managers and/or booking agents, but they all appear to have been very popular “joints” (as described by Freddie King’s daughter), where both big-name touring musicians as well as popular local acts played. Icons T-Bone Walker and Ray Charles were regulars (there are stories of Ray Charles sleeping on the Empire Room’s stage during the time he was living in Dallas in the ’50s). Everybody seems to have played there. Below, a quote from Wanda King, talking about her father, blues legend Freddie King — from the book Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by Alan Govenar (all clippings and photos are larger when clicked):

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Some of the acts scheduled to appear in early 1946 at the Rose Room were Erskine Hawkins, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Johnson, and Andy Kirk. …Wow.

In the days of segregation, when Dallas police threatened to shut the club down if the owner allowed white patrons to mix with black patrons, the club scheduled “white only” nights where Caucasian audiences could see their favorite non-Caucasian performers. (Before these special club nights, which seem to have started in 1945, a revue would be taken “on the road” — over to the Majestic Theatre on Elm Street — to perform live onstage.)

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1945

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1946

The photo up there at the top showed the audience — here’s the stage (1946 photo of the E F Band by Marion Butts, from the Marion Butts Collection, Dallas Pubic Library):

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And here’s what the stage looked like when the club became the Empire Room (onstage is Joe Johnson in a 1954 photo by R. C. Hickman, taken from a great article about Hickman in Texas Highways, here):

empire-room_joe-johnson_1954_r-c-hickman_tx-highways_020299

One thing that probably helped set the Rose Room/Empire Room apart from a lot of the other clubs in town at this time was the man who booked the shows — and who booked acts all over the area: John Henry Branch. The guy knew everyone. Here he is in an ad from 1947:

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Aside from booking acts and musicians for black clubs, he also booked acts for white clubs — including Jack Ruby’s Carousel and Vegas clubs. In fact, Branch chatted with Ruby at the Empire Room the night before Ruby shot Oswald — Ruby had come in to check on a piano player Branch was booking for a gig at the Vegas Club in Oak Lawn. Branch supplied testimony to the Warren Report, and while it’s not all that riveting (because there wasn’t that much to tell), it’s still interesting to hear how Branch describes his own club and Ruby’s personality (“You can’t never tell about him — he’s a weird person.”) — you can read his testimony here.

I have to admit, I’d never heard of the Rose Room or the Empire Room before I saw the photo at the top of this post. I really missed out. So much fantastic music! And I missed it. It’s just another reminder that Dallas has an incredible music history.

rose-room_texas-blues_govenar-brakefieldfrom the Texas African American Photography Archive

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1700 block of Hall Street, 1944-45 city directory

What’s at 1710 Hall these days? A vacant lot — soon to be developed, no doubt. Ross Avenue ain’t what it used to be….

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo is here. Someone has written this on the photo: “Aug. 42, Dallas, Rose Room” — in August, 1942 the club was known as the Rose Ballroom; it changed its name to the Rose Room in early 1943.

Wanda King quote is from the book Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound by Alan Govenar (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2008).

Rose Room ad featuring John Henry Branch is from the 1947-48 Dallas Negro City Directory (with thanks to Pat Lawrence!).

More about the hopping Hall Street area can be found in the Flashback Dallas post “Life on Hall Street — 1947,” here.

Click photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Twelve Prominent Black Baptist Churches — 1967

church_zion-hill-missionary-baptist_1967Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Flipping through the pages of the 1967 Souvenir Program of the 74th Annual Session of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas and Its Auxiliaries (…as one does), I kept coming across ads featuring photos of Dallas churches and wondered how many were still standing. Out of the twelve I’m posting here, all but three are still standing. That’s a healthy survival rate!

All photos are from the above-mentioned program for the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas, which convened in Dallas, October 17-20, 1967. All photos (which are larger when clicked) appeared in this 1967 booklet, but a few were older photos taken in previous years or decades.

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At the top, Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 909 Morrell Avenue, East Oak Cliff (Rev. A. F. Thomas, Sr., Minister). The church is still standing and is still cool-looking — see it on Google Street View here. (According to a history of the church, the building was designed by J. C. Hibbard, the Assembly of God preacher who designed his own Oak Cliff church, the Gospel Lighthouse Church, which I wrote about here — the two eye-catching buildings are only a mile apart.)

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People’s Missionary Baptist Church, 3119 Pine Street, South Dallas (Rev. S. M. Wright, Pastor). Still standing, here

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Allen Chapel Baptist Church, 2146 Overton Road, Oak Cliff (Rev. J. R. Allen, Pastor). Still standing, here.

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Morning Star Baptist Church (photo circa 1947, the year the brick church was built), 2662 Anderson Street, South Dallas (Rev. Howard Gill, Pastor). Still standing, here.

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Good Street Baptist Church, 902 N. Good-Latimer (between Live Oak and Bryan) (Dr. Cesar Clark, Pastor). No longer standing.

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Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 4440 S. Oakland Avenue (now Malcolm X Blvd.), South Dallas (Rev. M. G. Solomon, Pastor). Drawing of their “future church building.” Still standing, here.

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Bethany Baptist Church, 6710 Webster Street, Love Field area (A. L. Schley, Pastor). Still standing, here.

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Munger Avenue Baptist Church, 3919 Munger Avenue (not to be confused with N. Munger Blvd.), near Haskell and Washington, in what used to be the thriving African-American neighborhood of North Dallas (Rev. B. E. Joshua, Pastor). Still standing, here.

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Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church, 2525 Caddo Street, just a few blocks from Munger Avenue Baptist Church (Rev. G. B. Prince, Pastor). No longer standing. The property was sold to the Southland Corporation in 1983 — its location is now occupied by a Cityplace parking lot. According to the history of the church, Pilgrim Rest moved to 1819 N. Washington in 1985.

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Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, 3611 Latimer Street, South Dallas (Rev. B. F. Briggs, Pastor). Still standing, here.

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St. John Baptist Church, 2019 Allen Street, State-Thomas area (Robert H. Wilson, Minister). No longer standing.

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New Zion Baptist Church, 2214 Pine Street, South Dallas (Rev. A. V. Voice, Pastor). Now Greater New Zion Church, this is my favorite of these twelve buildings, and it still looks good, here.

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Sources & Notes

All photos from the Souvenir Program of the 74th Annual Session of the Missionary Baptist General Convention of Texas and Its Auxiliaries, which was held in Dallas in October, 1967.

Many thanks to George Gimarc for passing this wonderful little booklet on to me. I hope to share more from its pages in the future.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Merry Christmas from the Priscilla Art Club — 1968

xmas_priscilla-art-club_123168_uta“Say ‘fondue’!” … (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

These women look like they’ve stepped out of a catalog — perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, perfectly posed. They are members of the Priscilla Art Club, the oldest African-American women’s club in Dallas. The club was formed in 1911, and I think it may still be active — the most recent news I could find of the club was from 2012, when the “centennial legacy quilt,” made by members to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary, was displayed at the African American Museum. Below, a little history of the club from the press release announcing the exhibit in February, 2012.

THE PRISCILLA ART CLUB CELEBRATES BLACK HISTORY MONTH

In honor of Black History Month, the Priscilla Art Club, the oldest African American women’s organization in Dallas County, will host a display of its centennial legacy quilt made by its members […] at the African American Museum of Life and Culture, Dallas Fair Park.

“The idea of a custom designed legacy quilt started out as a novel idea from our Systems Committee in recognition of our 100th anniversary. The twenty-two club members quickly became engaged in seeing it to fruition and we are happy to honor the beauty, the inspiration and the legacy of our Club” said Shirley Porter Ware, Club President.

The Priscilla Art Club, organized in 1911 as a club for young matrons, was organized under the encouragement and direction of Mrs. Mattie Mansfield Chalmers. The organization’s purposes were to establish and maintain the aesthetic, promote congenial companionship and foster all social and community interests that pertain to the general uplift. The Club was named for Priscilla, a New Testament woman of extraordinary culture and the wife of Aquila, a Jewish tentmaker.

Since its auspicious beginning, the Club has invited into its membership many of Dallas’ most distinguished homemakers. These members have exhibited an interest or are talented in arts and crafts.

Besides being homemakers and mothers, the members have been and some still are principals, school administrators, teachers, business owners, social workers, church leaders and servant volunteers in the local community.

Throughout the century of service and sisterhood, recorded in The Priscilla’s prolific history include mention of service rendered in support of the World War I efforts by rolling bandages that were sent overseas to the field hospitals in France. For several years, the Priscillas decorated the shotgun house, located in Old City Park, in observance of the holiday season. In more recent years, the members have decorated t-shirts and jackets made from sweat shirts to give to men and women in local assisted living facilities. Club members have made crocheted skull caps in a variety of vivid colors and patterns and donated to cancer patients actively engaged in treatment regimens.

Regardless of change, the Priscilla Art Club’s concern for its artistic endeavors and for civic and social uplift will continue with deepening interest and commitment as the tradition of the founders’ legacy is carried forward.

I hope the club is still around. This year marks its 105th anniversary.

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Sources & Notes

Photo was taken on December 31, 1968; from the Culmer Family Papers, UTA Libraries, Special Collections, accessible here.

The 2012 press release was posted on the Facebook page of the Dallas Fort Worth Association of Black Journalists, here.

More on the history of the club can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Reception to Honor Art Club’s 65th Year” by Julia Scott Reed (DMN, April 2, 1976).

The most in-depth history of the club that I could find online can be found in the guide to the Culmer Family Papers at UTA, here (scroll down to the paragraph that begins “The Priscilla Art Club was one of the most prestigious, if not elitist clubs for African American women in Dallas….”

Photo and newspaper article are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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