Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Cedars

The Majestic Hotel/The Park Hotel/The Ambassador Hotel: R.I.P. — 1904-2019

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by Paula Bosse

The historic Ambassador Hotel at 1312 S. Ervay in the Cedars was destroyed by fire this morning — the building was 115 years old and was under renovation. Watching news footage of flames engulfing the South Dallas landmark is heart-wrenching.

Built in 1904 alongside City Park, the Majestic Apartment Hotel opened in early 1905. It was designed by popular local architect Earle Henri (E. H.) Silven (who, incidentally, was arrested on suspicion of setting fire to the then-historic Knepfly Building in 1906, a fire which resulted in two deaths, but a grand jury declined to prosecute because of insufficient evidence — I actually wrote about this fire in passing a few years ago in a completely unrelated post).

The Majestic was originally an “apartment hotel” which was more apartment house than hotel, intended for long-term residents. Financial backing of this endeavor was shaky, and the Majestic soon fell into receivership; after a change of owners, the newly renamed Park Hotel opened in 1907. Several years later, in 1933, it became the Ambassador Hotel. Over the 115-year life of the building, these various incarnations came with a dizzying number of owners and operators, and news of its impending renovation and rebirth was heard frequently over the past 20 or 30 years. Recent plans, though, seemed like they were actually going to finally happen. …And now, unfortunately, they won’t.

Below are several images of the hotel, beginning back when Dallasites were still using a horse and buggy to get around. (All images are larger when clicked.)

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Majestic Apartment House, Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 1905

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Majestic Hotel, 1905 Dallas directory (ad, detail)

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Majestic Hotel, 1905 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

I’m not sure which iteration of the hotel is seen in this postcard, but here it is viewed from City Park, with the Confederate Monument in the foreground:

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(via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

The Park Hotel opened in September, 1907.

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Park Hotel, August 11, 1907

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Park Hotel, Oct. 1, 1907

One of my favorite views of the hotel is this one, from City Park, with the Hughes Candy factory at the left (the original photo is here):

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In 1933 the hotel got a new stucco exterior and tile roof and was renamed the Ambassador.

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(via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

Ambassador Apartment Hotel Dallas

For a while the hotel served as a retirement community — here is an odd, incredibly wordy ad, beckoning retirees with prospects of late-life romance, while also sharing (somewhat) accurate local history:

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Ambassador Retirement Hotel ad, Jan. 30, 1972

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ca. 1982

This morning:

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Dallas Fire Rescue, via Twitter

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Sources & Notes

Top image from the Portal to Texas History.

Read a comprehensive history of the building in an article by Harvey J. Graff in Historic Dallas here and here.

Read the City of Dallas Designation Report from 1982 seeking Landmark Status here.

Read the 2018 application for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (with MANY pages of photos) here.

Coverage of today’s fire can be found on the NBC-DFW site here; a 2017 video walk-through of the Ambassador in happier, more optimistic times can also be found on the Channel 5 site, here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: City Buildings and Churches

parkland-hospital_western-architect_july-1914

by Paula Bosse

The 7-part Flashback Dallas series of buildings and houses featured in the Dallas issue of The Western Architect finally comes to an end! What I thought would be a quick and painless way to share tons of cool Dallas photos I’d never seen has turned into a seemingly endless dive into the research of a whole slew of buildings, most of which I knew very little (if anything) about. I feel like I’ve been through an immersive, three-week course in “Lang & Witchell”!

This final installment features buildings built by the city (mostly fire stations) and a few churches — six of these eight buildings are still standing. Today’s star architects are Hubbell & Greene.

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1.  PARKLAND HOSPITAL (above), Oak Lawn & Maple avenues, designed by Hubbell & Greene. This new, sturdy, brick “city hospital” was built in 1913 on the beautiful park-like 20-acre-site of the previous city hospital (the old wood frame building — built in 1894 — was cut in pieces and moved farther back on the property, “across a ravine” — it was reassembled and for a time housed patients with chronic and contagious diseases and was the only institution in Dallas at the time that served black and Hispanic patients — part of this old building can be seen at the left in the background of the photo above). The new hospital was “entirely fireproof” and was built with very little wood  — other than the doors, trim, and banister railings, it was all steel, cement, reinforced concrete, plaster, and brick. The original plans called for two wings, but the city had to put construction of the second wing on the backburner until funds became available. As it was, this one-wing hospital (with beds for 100 patients) cost in excess of $100,000 ($2.5 million in today’s money). The building still stands but is barely visible these days behind a wall, trees, and dense shrubbery — it is surrounded by a huge, recently-built complex of similarly-styled buildings. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.) (All images are larger when clicked.)

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postcard dated 1914, via Pinterest

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2.  ART BUILDING, Fair Park, designed by Hubbell & Greene. Known as the Art & Ladies’ Textile Building when it was erected in 1908, this domed building gave Dallas its first public art museum. No longer would the 14 paintings owned by the Dallas Art Association (including works by Childe Hassam and Robert Henri) be relegated to being displayed (when staff was available) in a room in the public library. The building was initially built as a nod to “ladies” and was the place where textile crafts and artworks were displayed during the State Fair (Texas artist Julian Onderdonk was given the task of beating the bushes in New York City for works to be loaned for display in this building during the fair). The art gallery was set in the rotunda — a sort of gallery within a gallery — while textiles and other exhibits were shown in the outer area of the octagonal building. One interesting bit of trivia about the construction of this building is that it was built largely of cement blocks — 70,000, according to newspaper reports. In order to facilitate construction, a “cement block plant” was set up on the grounds in Fair Park, turning out hundreds of blocks a day, which were then laid out to “season” in the sun. (Incidentally, this building was under construction during the historic flood of 1908 — which the newspaper refers to as “the recent high water,” and the bad weather was slowing the construction process.) The building is no longer standing, but it seems to have lasted at least through the end of 1956. It stood just inside the Parry Avenue entrance, to the left, next to the Coliseum (now the Women’s Building) — the site is now occupied by a parking lot directly behind the D.A.R. house. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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via Dallas Museum of Art blog “Uncrated”

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3.  CENTRAL FIRE STATION, 2012 Main Street (adjoining the Municipal Building), designed by Lang & Witchell. When Adolphus Busch acquired the land Dallas’ City Hall and central fire station sat on (in order to build his Adolphus Hotel), there was a sudden springing to action to build new homes for both displaced entities. The new location for the firehouse was in a building facing Main, adjacent to the new Municipal Building — when it became the headquarters for the Dallas Fire Department in 1913, the already-standing two-story building was remodeled, and a third floor was added. It was, I believe, the first Dallas firehouse built without horse stalls, as it housed only motorized firefighting vehicles. The building’s use as a fire station ended in the 1920s; it was thereafter used by other municipal offices: for a while in the 1930s its third floor was used as a women’s jail, and for many years it was the site of Dallas’ corporation court. It looks like the building is still there, but I’m unsure of its current use. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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central-fire-station_dallas-firefighters-museum_portalDallas Firefighters Museum, via Portal to Texas History

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4.  OAK LAWN FIRE STATION, Cedar Springs & Reagan, designed by Hubbell & Greene. This still-active firehouse (!) — Dallas’ first “suburban” fire station — was built in 1909 as the home of No. 4 Hook and Ladder Company. When construction of the building was announced, it was described as being a gray brick structure topped by a roof of “cherry red Spanish tiling.” It was — and still is — a beautiful building. (I’ve written about this firehouse previously, here.) (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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5.  NO. 6 ENGINE COMPANY, Forest Avenue (now MLK Blvd.) & Kimble, South Dallas, designed by H. B. Thomson. This South Dallas fire station was built in 1913 and was in service until 1955 when it was demolished to make way for the “South Central Expressway” (see more photos in a previous post on this, here). (See it on a 1922 Sanborn map, here.)

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Dallas Firefighters Museum, via Portal to Texas History

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6.  FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, S. Harwood & Wood, designed by C. D. Hill. Built in 1911-12, this impressive building boasted “the largest monolith columns in the city” (a claim which might have been surpassed by architect Hill’s be-columned Municipal Building built soon after this church, two blocks away — and rivaled by Hubbell & Greene’s Scottish Rite temple, one block away). Still standing and much expanded, the church is still looking great. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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first-presbyterian-church_dmn_032412Dallas Morning News, March 24, 1912

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7.  WESTMINSTER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 2700 Fairmount (at Mahon), designed by Hubbell & Greene. Before looking this one up, I had no idea what part of town this church was in — I was surprised to see it was in the area now known as “Uptown” … and it’s still standing. This congregation (organized in 1892) had occupied churches in the McKinney Avenue/State-Thomas area for several years before this church was built in 1910-11. When the congregation moved to their current location on Devonshire in the 1940s, the building was taken over by Memorial Baptist Church. When that congregation was dissolved, the church was given — for free! — to the First Mexican Baptist Church (Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana). After several decades, they, too, eventually moved to a new location, and the old church has had a variety of occupants come and go. (Read about its recent past — and see tons of photos — at Candy’s Dirt, here.) (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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westminster-presbyterian-church_websitevia Westminster Presbyterian Church website

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8.  FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, corner of Cadiz & Browder, designed by Hubbell & Greene. This Christian Science church was built in 1910 on the southern edge of downtown for $100,000 (over 2.5 million dollars in today’s money). Following its days as a Christian Science church, it has had secular and non-secular occupants. It still stands (as a lonely building in what is mostly a sea of parking lots), and it is currently a house of worship once again. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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And that concludes this 7-part series featuring photos from the 1914 all-Dallas issue of the trade publication The Western Architect, which can be viewed in its entirety (with additional text), here (jump to p. 195 of the PDF for the July, 1914 scanned issue).

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Sources & Notes

The Western Architect, A National Journal of Architecture and Allied Arts, Published Monthly, July, 1914. This issue, with text and critical analysis in addition to the large number of photographs, has been scanned in it entirety by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as part of its Brittle Books Program — it can be accessed in a PDF, here (the Dallas issue begins on page 195 of the PDF). Thank you, UIUC!

In this 7-part series:

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Dallas Morning News, June 4, 1914

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: Places of Leisure, Etc.

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by Paula Bosse

Continuing with the series of photos from the all-Dallas issue of The Western Architect, which featured photos of new buildings which had popped up all over the city between the years of about 1910 to 1914. Today, in an attempt to categorize the seven buildings in this post, I’ve decided on “places of leisure” — although one of the places is a high school, and a high school is hardly a place of leisure. Two of these buildings are still standing: one which you’ve no doubt heard of as being at death’s door for a few decades now, and the other… well,  you’ve probably never seen it or been aware of it (but it’s my favorite one in this group!). 

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1.  THE HIPPODROME THEATER (above), 1209 Elm Street, designed by architects Otto Lang & Frank Witchell. Built along Dallas’ burgeoning “theater row” in 1912-1913, the Hippodrome was one of the city’s grandest “moving picture playhouses.” Among its lavish appointments was this odd little tidbit: “Over the proscenium arch there is an allegorical painting representing Dallas as the commercial center of the Southwest,” painted by the theater’s decorator, R. A. Bennett. Below was a fire curtain emblazoned with a depiction of Ben Hur (a “hippodrome” was a stadium for horse and chariot races in ancient Greece). So that was a nice little weird culture clash. Though originally a theater which showed movies exclusively, it eventually became a theater featuring movies as well as live vaudeville acts. As the Hippodrome became less and less glamorous, it resorted to somewhat seedier burlesque acts (it was raided more than once,for employing female performers who were too scantily clad) and the occasional boxing or wrestling match. The building was sold several times and was known as the Joy Theater, the Wade, the Dallas, and, lastly, the Strand. I was shocked to learn this old-looking-when-it-was-new building stood for almost 50 years and wasn’t demolished until 1960 (that façade must have looked very different by then). (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.) (All images are larger when clicked.)

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via Flickr

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2.  THE CAMPBELL HOUSE HOTEL, 2004 Elm Street (southeast corner of Elm & Harwood), designed by Lang & Witchell. A few blocks east on Elm from the Hippodrome was the Campbell Hotel, built in 1910-1911 by Archibald W. Campbell, a man who knew how to invest in Dallas real estate and left an estate worth more than a million dollars when he died in 1917 (a fortune equivalent to almost $20 million today). The Campbell Hotel lasted until 1951, when it  was sold and became the New Oxford Hotel. It was demolished sometime before 1970; the site is currently occupied by a parking garage. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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campbell-house_flickr_coltera_ca-1918

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3.  DALLAS AUTOMOBILE COUNTRY CLUB, at the time 6 miles north of Dallas (roughly at what is now Walnut Hill and Central Expressway), clubhouse designed by Lang & Witchell. Built in 1913/1914, this club for wealthy “automobilists” was located on what was originally 26 acres donated by W. W. Caruth — in order to get there, you had to drive, which was part of the relaxing experience this golf course-free country club counted as one of its benefits. The club grounds included a 6-acre lake and was a popular site for boating, fishing, and swimming (a top-notch golf course was eventually added). The name of the country club changed a couple of times over the years: it became the Glen Haven Country Club in 1922 and then the Glen Lakes Country Club in 1933. Glen Lakes had a long run, but northward-development of Dallas was inexorable, and the club and golf course were closed in 1977 when the land the country club had occupied for over 60 years was sold for development. (See it on a 1962 map here — straddling Central Expressway — and just try to imagine the value of that land today.)

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4.  DALLAS COUNTRY CLUB, Preston Road & Beverly Drive, clubhouse designed by C. D. Hill. One of the reasons the Dallas Automobile Country Club had to change its name was because people kept confusing it with the granddaddy of Dallas’ country clubs, the Dallas Country Club, in Highland Park, built in 1911 and still the most exclusive of exclusive local clubs and golf courses. (See part of the club’s acreage on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.) (I don’t think any of the original clubhouse still stands, but I could be wrong on this.)

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dallas-country-club_matchbook_cook-collection_degolyer_smuvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

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5.  LAKEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB, 6430 Gaston Avenue, clubhouse designed by C. D. Hill. This East Dallas country club and golf course was built in 1913-1914 on 110 acres of “rolling prairie and wooded glades, broken with ravines and set with stately trees that offer puzzling hazards” (it was estimated that there were over 1,000 pecan trees on the land). I don’t know anything about golf, but trying to play a round on this original ravine-ravaged course sounds … exhausting. This large structure (which seems too big to be called a “clubhouse”!) stood in Lakewood until it was demolished at the end of 1959 or beginning of 1960 when a new clubhouse was built. (See it on a 1922 Sanborn map — out in the middle of NOTHING — here. Note that many of the street names have changed over the years, including Abrams, which was once called Greenville Rd.)

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lakewood-country-club_dmn_051813_drawingDallas Morning News, May 18, 1913

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6.  DALLAS HIGH SCHOOL, Bryan & Pearl streets, designed by Lang & Witchell. Located on the site of the previous Dallas High School, this new building was built in 1908. For years Dallas’ only (white) high school, the building expanded over the years and has been known by a variety of names (Dallas High School, Bryan Street High School, Crozier Tech, etc.). I like this description of the original “somewhat novel” color scheme of the classrooms: the ceilings were in cream, the “under wall” in warm green, then the blackboards, and beneath them, the walls, in RED. This building has valiantly managed to survive for 110 years — seemingly forever under threat of demolition — but it still stands and, recently renovated into office space, it appears to have a rosy future. (See the main school building on a 1921 Sanborn map here; the gymnasium is here.)

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dallas-high-school_flickr_colteravia Flickr

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7.  SEARS, ROEBUCK & COMPANY OF TEXAS, EMPLOYEES’ CLUB HOUSE, S. Lamar & Belleview, designed by Lang & Witchell. I love this little building! When plans for the 1913 expansion of the massive Sears warehouse were drawn up, this modest building was to be a (three-story) clubhouse for employees. A description of the not-yet-built expansion included this:

This clubhouse will contain ample cafeteria, dining room and lunch room [space] to accommodate 600 employees at one time. The main cafeteria will be so arranged that it can be turned into an assembly room for the benefit of the employees, having a stage built at one end, and means will be afforded for all variety of social, musical and athletic activities as may be developed by the employees themselves. (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 5, 1913)

What a perk! But by 1918, Sears had basically outgrown the building (which had ultimately been built as only one story, with a half-basement), and the company offered the use of it to the Dallas YWCA who used it as an “industrial branch” lunchroom/cafeteria (and lounge) in which meals were served to both YWCA members as well as to the general public (including many who worked at Sears). Prices of these wholesome meals served by wholesome girls varied over the years from a nickel to 25 cents — 200-400 patrons were served daily. The building’s half-basement was used as the men’s dining room and as a gymnasium for the YWCA girls (I believe it was also made available to Sears-Roebuck employees). (Read an article about this little “industrial branch” of the YWCA in a Dallas Morning News article from Aug. 15, 1920, here). The YWCA used this Sears building from at least 1918 to 1922. I’m not sure what its use was after the YWCA closed their “Sears-Roebuck Branch,” but I’m delighted to see that it still stands as part of the South Side on Lamar complex. (See the employee club house on a 1921 Sanborn map, here — it appears to be connected to one of the main buildings by a tunnel).

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Detail of this postcard

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Next: churches, firehouses, an art gallery, and a hospital (the last installment!).

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Sources & Notes

The Western Architect, A National Journal of Architecture and Allied Arts, Published Monthly, July, 1914. This issue, with text and critical analysis in addition to the large number of photographs, has been scanned in it entirety by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as part of its Brittle Books Program — it can be accessed in a PDF, here (the Dallas issue begins on page 195 of the PDF). Thank you, UIUC!

In this 7- part series:

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: Businesses

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by Paula Bosse

The continuing week-long look (…well, it looks like that’s going to be more like a two- or three-week-long look…) at the Dallas buildings featured in the July, 1914 issue of The Western Architect plods on. Today: business buildings. Nine of these ten buildings are, remarkably, still standing (some are even still recognizable!), and, as seems to be the trend with architecture of this period in Dallas, the powerhouse firm of Otto Lang and Frank Witchell dominates.

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1.  MKT BUILDING / KATY BUILDING, Commerce & Market, designed by architect H. A. Overbeck (who also designed the nearby Criminal Courts Building). This building (seen above) was built in 1912 as the general offices of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway; it has been spiffed up in recent years and is one of my favorite downtown buildings. An article appearing at the time the offices opened described the building as being faced with dark brick (“gun metal shade”) and light colored terracotta. The wide-angle photo below, which shows employees in front of the new building, is interesting because of the buildings seen to the left and right (all images in this post are larger when clicked). (See the building on a 1921 Sanborn map here.)

mkt-bldg_dmn_120112_employees-new-bldgDallas Morning News, Dec. 1, 1912

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2.  JOHN DEERE BUILDING, 501 Elm Street (northeast corner of Elm & Houston), designed by Hubbell & Greene. This building was built about 1901/1902 for the Kingman Texas Implement Co. (construction permits were issued the same week in 1901 as its also-still-standing-across-the-street-neighbor, the Southern Rock Island Plow Co., better known as the Texas School Book Depository). It is thought to be the earliest example of Sullivan-esque architecture in Dallas. The John Deere Plow Co. moved into the building around 1907 and built the warehouse, which extends back to Pacific. After the Deere Co. moved out, it was the home of apparel manufacturing and wholesaling offices for many years. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

john-deere-bldg_western-architect_july-1914

john-deere-building_flickr_colteraca. 1949, via Flickr

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3.  BOREN & STEWART BUILDING, 1801 N. Lamar (at Hord), designed by Lang & Witchell. This attractive building was built in 1913 in what is now the Historic West End District — the building is still standing. Boren-Stewart, billed in ads at this time as “Dallas’ oldest grocery house,” had been established in the late 1880s by Robert H. Stewart and Benjamin N. Boren. At the time of the construction of this new building, its president was R. H. Higginbotham (whose Swiss Ave. house was also featured in The Western Architect); its treasurer was A. W. Cullum, who would go on to form the Tom Thumb grocery store chain. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map here.)

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boren-stewart_lang-and-witchell-drawing_dmn_083013Lang & Witchell drawing, 1913

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4.  COTTON EXCHANGE BUILDING, 401 S. Akard (southwest corner of S. Akard & Wood), designed by Lang & Witchell. Built in 1911, this was the hub of the cotton market in Dallas, a city which, in a 1912 article in The Dallas Morning News, was described as “the greatest and largest interior cotton market in the world, handling cotton worth $100,000,000 per year” (about 2.7 billion dollars in today’s money!). The Dallas Cotton Exchange was handling up to one-third of the cotton grown in Texas and Oklahoma. This handsome building was vacated by the cotton people in 1926 when their much larger new exchange building went up at St. Paul and San Jacinto. (Read about the Dallas cotton traders unhappiness with not being acknowledged as one of the country’s most important exchanges in a March 20, 1912 article in The Dallas Morning News here.) (See this building on a 1921 Sanborn map here.) This is the only building in this group of ten that is no longer standing — the site is now occupied by a parking lot.

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cotton-exchange-building_postcard_ebay

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5.  S. G. DAVIS HAT CO. BUILDING, 800 Jackson St. (southeast corner of Jackson and S. Austin), designed by Lang & Witchell. When it was built in 1913 it was advertised as “facing the new Union Depot” (which hadn’t yet been built and was three blocks away). The Davis Hat Company — a manufacturer and wholesaler of men’s hats — was established in Dallas in 1900. This building might be familiar to many people for its “Office Equipment Co. sign painted on the back exterior. (See the location of this building on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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davis-hat-co-building

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6.  BUTLER BROTHERS, 500 S. Ervay (between Young and Marilla, immediately east of City Hall), designed by Mauran, Russell & Crowell Architects (Harre Bernet, Dallas representative). This massive building (11 acres of floorspace before any additions were made) was one of the branches of the Chicago company which was known at the time as the largest wholesale business in the world. Construction began in 1910 (see a photo of the work in progress, by Vilbig Brothers Construction, here) and, over the years, various additions were made. When Butler Bros. sold the building in 1951, it had grown to 670,000 square feet and soon became home to the newly branded Merchandise Mart. The building still stands (as residences), but it doesn’t look a lot like it did a century ago: it was apparently resurfaced in the 1960s and currently sports a regrettable exterior color, which makes it look a bit like a large Hampton Inn. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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It even had its own artesian “deep well.”

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butler-brothers_ad_110610November, 1910

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7.  “STORE AND FLAT BUILDING,” northwest corner of West Jefferson & Tyler, designed by C. A. Gill. Luckily I recognized this building — because I love it and have written about it before — because, otherwise, there’s very little to go on to determine its location. It was built in 1911 or 1912 for use as retail establishments on the ground floor and apartments (“flats”) and the occasional doctor’s offices on the second floor. Still looking good in Oak Cliff. (See it on a 1922 Sanborn map, here.)

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oak-cliff_jefferson-tyler_1929_oak-cliff-advocate_DPL1929 (Dallas Public Library photo, via Oak Cliff Advocate)

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8.  HUEY & PHILP BUILDING, 1025 Elm Street, designed by Lang & Witchell. Built in 1913-1914 for the Huey & Philp hardware company (founded in Dallas in 1872 by Joseph Huey and Simon Philp) — this building is still standing, but you’d probably never ever guess it. First off, it looks nothing like it once did: it’s much taller now and it was one of the many downtown buildings that went through bizarre refacings in the 1950s and ’60s — beautiful buildings were stripped of all their character and uglified, for reasons I can’t fathom. Anyway, the other reason it’s hard to believe this is the same building is that, when it was built, it sat on the northwest corner of Elm and Griffin; now it sits on the northeast corner. How does something like that happen? In the 1960s, Griffin was “realigned” and widened, in order to provide a north-south artery through downtown’s west side — part of this road construction meant that Griffin suddenly cut right through the 1000 block of Elm (it also did away with poor little Poydras Street). The old Griffin can still be seen in the Griffin Plaza walkway (here — with the old Huey & Philp/Texas & Pacific building to the left, now a hotel and looking nothing like the century-old building it is). Crazy. Huey & Philp closed its retail business in 1934 but continued for several decades as wholesalers. (Read more about this building at Noah Jeppson’s Unvisited Dallas site, here. And see a street-level early-1920s photo in the UTA collection here, with the Sanger’s building in the background at the left.) (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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huey-philp_unvisited-dallasvia Unvisited Dallas

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9.  SANGER BROTHERS BUILDING, Main & Lamar, designed by Lang & Witchell. One of the earliest Dallas business institutions (the Sanger brothers arrived in Dallas in the 1870s, at about the same time as Simon Philp), Sanger’s slowly acquired a ton of downtown real estate (for warehouses, etc.), but this building — their retail department store — was their centerpiece, and it grew and grew over the years. The expansion(s) of 1909 and 1910 included the addition of two floors to their already 6-story building, the building of a new 8-story addition which went up at the corner of Main and Lamar, and then when that was completed in 1909, another addition matching the rest of the store was built on the Elm Street side, resulting in a store taking up half a block of prime real estate (they would eventually own the entire block). More than a century later — now as part of El Centro College — the building still looks good. (See it on a 1905 Sanborn map, here, and a 1921 map, here.)

sanger-bros-bldg_western-architect_july-1914

Here’s what it looked like before this flurry of construction began:


sangers-bros-postcard

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10.  SEARS, ROEBUCK & COMPANY OF TEXAS WAREHOUSE AND CLUB HOUSE, S. Lamar & Belleview, designed by Lang & Witchell. When Sears, Roebuck & Co. decided to open their first branch outside of Chicago, their choice was Dallas. A huge warehouse was built along South Lamar in 1910. Then, in 1912 a second huge warehouse was built. And, in 1913 a third one. This growth was pretty spectacular. All three of these buildings were designed by Lang & Witchell (building 3 is the one seen below). The massive Sears complex is now known as South Side on Lamar, and it’s beautiful. (More on this clubhouse is here.) (See the Sears buildings in a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

sears-warehouse_western-architect_july-1914

sears-roebuck_postcard_ebay

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Next: the Adolphus Hotel.

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Sources & Notes

The Western Architect, A National Journal of Architecture and Allied Arts, Published Monthly, July, 1914. This issue, with text and critical analysis in addition to the large number of photographs, has been scanned in it entirety by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as part of its Brittle Books Program — it can be accessed in a PDF, here (the Dallas issue begins on page 195 of the PDF). Thank you, UIUC!

In this 7-part series:

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The “Blue House” Lives

blue-house_google_july-2016July, 2016 / Google Street View

by Paula Bosse

In January, 2016, news of an endangered 19th-century house in The Cedars, the area just south of downtown, was in the news: it was to be torn down in order to put in a parking lot. I followed Robert Wilonsky’s stories on it in The Dallas Morning News and read about it in online history and preservation groups, but there didn’t seem to be a lot mentioned about the history of the house. Who built it? And when? I decided to see if I could find the answers. I’d written about the history of houses and buildings and figured it wouldn’t take that long to find the answers, but it actually took a lot longer than I’d thought. But the detective work was fun, and I was surprised by how much research one can do without ever needing to walk away from one’s computer. So much now is within our digital reach: historical city directories, maps, newspaper archives, and genealogical information.

After a marathon session of using everything mentioned above, plus referring to a couple of Dallas-history-related books, I eventually traced real estate transfers back to the man who appears to have built the house: Max Rosenfield, around 1885. I excitedly messaged Robert Wilonsky at 4:58 a.m., knowing that he would be interested to learn this new info (especially as the man who built the house was the father of one of the most noteworthy arts critics in The Dallas News’ long history), and he passed the news on to his readers. (My step-by-step process of researching the house which once stood in a posh residential area of the city is in the post “The Blue House on Browder,” here.)

The house’s fate has been in limbo for a couple of years, but now the 133-year-old “Blue House” will be moved in pieces to its new home half a mile away (at Browder and Beaumont) where it will be reassembled and restored.

The move begins TOMORROW — April 3, 2018. The public is invited to a ceremony in which comments will be made and then the house will begin the move to its new home. For Preservation Dallas’ details on when and where, information on the event can be found here.

Enjoy your new home, Blue House!

blue-house_then-and-now

browder-house_bing

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UPDATED: More on how the actual move went and an interview with the new owner of the house can be found at Candy’s Dirt, here.

Below is footage of the first part of the move — the disassembly — captured by D Magazine:

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from Google Street View, July, 2016. (This view from Griffin is actually the side of the house — the front originally faced Browder Street, which no longer continues at that block.) Aerial view from Bing Maps.

Black-and-white photo of the house is from Preservation Dallas; color photo below it is from Homeward Bound, Inc. (used with permission), taken in about 2000.

Read the saga of the fight to save the house and how it will be moved in Robert Wilonsky’s Dallas Morning News article “One of Dallas’ oldest homes, built in the Cedars in the 1880s, ready for its new life on a new lot” (DMN, March 29, 2018), here.

My original step-by-step post on tracking down the history of the house — “The Blue House on Browder” — is here.

Click pictures to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Elks Lodge, Pocahontas & Park

elks-lodge_postcard1817 Pocahontas Street, 1914 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The postcard image above shows the lovely Dallas Elks Lodge No. 71 which once stood at 1817 Pocahontas, at the northwest corner of Pocahontas Street and Park Avenue in the Cedars area, just south of downtown — it had a spectacular view of City Park, which it faced.  Designed by architect H. A. Overbeck (the man behind the still-standing Dallas County Jail and Criminal Courts Building and the long-gone St. Paul’s Sanitarium), the lodge was built in 1914; the land and the construction of the lodge cost $45,000. Surprisingly, this lodge served the Elks for only six years — they returned downtown, where they took over and renovated the old YWCA building on Commerce Street.

The building on Pocahontas became another clubhouse when it was purchased in 1920 by a group of Jewish businessmen who opened the exclusive Progress Club/Parkview Club (read about the building’s acquisition in a May 14, 1920 article in The Jewish Monitor, here); in 1922 the 65 members of the Parkview Club presented the clubhouse to the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (YMHA). In 1927, use of the building had expanded, and it became the Dallas Jewish Community Center and the headquarters of the Jewish Welfare Federation — in fact, this was the home for these organizations for more than thirty years, until 1958 when the move was made to the new Julius Schepps Community Center in North Dallas. The building ultimately fell victim to the construction of R. L. Thornton Freeway and was demolished in the early 1960s.

But back to the Elks. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was a social club/fraternal order founded in New York in 1868. Dallas Lodge No. 71 was chartered on January 28, 1888 — it was the first Elks Lodge in Texas and one of the oldest clubs in Dallas. And, after 130 years, it’s still around, now located in Lake Highlands. There aren’t a lot of things that have lasted that long in this city!

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Below, the Overbeck rendering of the Elks’ new home (click for larger image)

elks_dmn_120213_new-lodgeDallas Morning News, Dec. 2, 1913

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A week before its official dedication on Sept. 7, 1914:

elks-lodge_dmn_083014DMN, Aug. 30, 1914

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Colorized and made into an attractive postcard:

elks-club_new_postcard

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In the 1930s, when it was the Jewish Community Center:

jewish-community-center_1817-pocahontas_1930s

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Where it was:

elks-lodge_ca-1912-map_portal1912-ish map detail

Also, see it on the 1921 Sanborn map (as “B.P.O.E. Home”) here.

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The announcement of plans for the construction of the Pocahontas Street lodge:

elks_dmn_112313_new-lodgeDMN, Nov. 23, 1913

And its dedication, on Sept. 7, 1914:

elks_dmn_090814_new-homeDMN, Sept. 8, 1914

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Sources & Notes

Source of postcards unknown. Other images and clippings as noted.

The 1888 report of the first meeting of the Dallas Elks Lodge No. 71 can be read in the Dallas Morning News article “Order of Elks in Dallas; A Lodge Instituted Here Yesterday” (DMN, Jan. 29, 1888), here.

A history of the various Elks’ locations in Dallas between the 1880s and the 1920s can be found in the article “Elks Plan To Have Modern Club Home” (DMN, July 30, 1922), here.

elks_dmn_012903DMN, Jan. 29, 1903

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Beautiful South Ervay Street — ca. 1910

ervay_coltera_flickrStreet life in South Dallas (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today, a few hand-colored postcards from around 1910 showing the lovely houses that used to line Ervay Street in South Dallas. Hard as it is to believe today, the stretch of South Ervay from just outside the central business district down to its end at Forest Avenue (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.), was once a very nice area where many of the city’s most fashionable and well-to-do Jewish families (and, later, African-American families) lived. The intervening century has not been kind to South Dallas. I’m not sure of the location in the postcard above, but it certainly looks like a very pleasant neighborhood — one that no longer exists in this mostly blighted area.

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Below, S. Ervay looking south. The rounded top of Temple Emanu-El can be seen at the left. The light-colored building in the next block was the Columbian Club. The hotel most recently known as the Ambassador (which is still standing) in set back on a curve of the street and is hidden by the Columbian Club. The red building is the Hughes candy plant (also still standing). A Google Street View of this area today can be seen here.

ervay-street_ebay

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Below, we see a view still looking south, but now much farther down Ervay, almost to Forest Avenue (now MLK). The church on the left is the James Flanders-designed Ervay Street Methodist Episcopal Church (South), built in 1908 at the corner of corner of Ervay and South Boulevard — it’s interesting that a Methodist church was located in the center of Dallas’ largest Jewish residential neighborhood. (More on the church from a Dallas Morning News article from July 1, 1908, here. See this area on a 1922 Sanborn map here.)

ervay-residence_coltera

Not seen in the view above is one house worth mentioning. The house — just out of frame at the left, with the steps leading up to it, was the home of Simon Linz, of Linz Jewelers fame. Here is what the Linz house looked like in 1908:

linz-house_dmn_010108Dallas Morning News, Jan. 1, 1908

Remarkably, this house is still standing. It is currently a funeral home at 2830 S. Ervay. The present-day image below, showing the pretty house and the neatly landscaped yard, is a little deceptive; see what the Google Street View looks like just south — where the Flanders church once stood — here. (If you’re up to it, reverse the Google view and move back toward town.)

linz-house_2830-828-s-ervay_google
Google Street View

Hold on, little house!

This was once such a beautiful part of Dallas….

ervay_postcard_clogenson_postmark-1908

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Below, a detail of a 1919 map showing S. Ervay down to Forest. The purple star shows the location of Temple Emanu-El and the Columbian Club. The green star shows the location of the Linz house and the Ervay St. Methodist Episcopal church. (Click for larger image.)

e-ervay_map_1918_portal
1919 map via Portal to Texas History

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First and third postcards are from Flickr: here and here. Others found on eBay.

All images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas Fire Stations — 1901

fire-dept_engine-co-3_gaston-and-college_1901Fire horse in Old East Dallas relaxing between calls (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A few turn-of-the-century photos of Dallas’ fire stations, from a 1901 photographic annual. These seven firehouses were built between 1882 and 1894. One of these buildings is, miraculously, still standing on McKinney Avenue, in the heart of Uptown.

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At the top, Engine Co. No. 3, at Gaston and College Avenues. In service: January, 1892. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, capacity 750 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location (Gaston and Hall) here. (And since I just used it a few days ago, here’s a 1921 Sanborn map, showing Mill Creek running right through the property.)

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fire-dept_central-station_main-harwood_1901

Above, Central Fire Station, Main and Harwood Streets. In service: October, 1887. Equipment: a double-sixty-gallon Champion Chemical Engine and a City Hook and Ladder Truck. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here (the site of the old City Hall/Municipal Building).

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fire-dept_mckinney-leonard_engine-co-1_1901

Engine Co. No. 1, McKinney Avenue and Leonard. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, 750 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. In service: August, 1894. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here. NOTE: This is the only one of these firehouses still standing. I wrote about it here.

UPDATE: Well, sort of. Thanks to a comment on Facebook, I researched this station a bit more and found that it was rebuilt and modernized at the end of 1909 — using materials from the original building seen above, built on the same plot of land. So instead of being 122 years old, the building on McKinney today is a mere 106 years old.

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fire-dept_commerce-hawkins_engine-co-2_1901

Engine Co. No. 2, Commerce and Hawkins Streets. In service: January, 1882. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, capacity 750 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see a shot-in-the-dark guess at a present location here.

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fire-dept_ervay-kelly_hose-co-2_1901

Hose Co. No. 2 and Chemical Co. No. 2, Ervay Street and Kelly Avenue. In service: September, 1894. Equipment: a Cooney Hose Carriage and double-sixty-gallon Champion Chemical Engine. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here (right behind where the word “Cedars”).

fire-dept_bryan-hawkins_hook-and-ladder-1_1901

Hose Co. No. 1 and Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1, Bryan and Hawkins Streets. In service: January, 1893. Equipment: Preston Aerial Truck with 75-foot extension ladder, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the approximate present location here.

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fire-dept_commerce-akard_engine-co-4_1901

Engine Co. No. 4, Commerce and Akard Streets, next door to the City Hall. In service: August, 1894. Equipment: an Ahrens Steamer, capacity 1,100 gallons per minute, and a Cooney Hose Carriage. See it on a 1905 Sanborn map here; see the present location here (just out of frame at the right was the City Hall; the block is now the site of the Adolphus Hotel).

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city-hall_1901_fire-dept-annual_portal

City Hall, Commerce and Akard Streets, now the location of the Adolphus Hotel. Half of the shorter building to the left housed the police department and Engine Co. No. 4.

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The “Historical” page from the book (click to read).

fire-dept-hist_dallas-fire-dept-annual_1901_portal

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Since there is no sign of the actual equipment in these photos, here’s what horse-drawn steam engines (Ahrens steamers) looked like at this time. (Photo from the Wisconsin Historical Society).

fire-steam-engine_wisconsin-hist-soc

UPDATE: I found this photo on Flickr, showing equipment from those early days being driven through the streets of Dallas during a fire prevention parade.

fire-department_pumper_flickr_coltera

UPDATE: Lo and behold, a photo from 1900 of Old Tige, the 600 gallons-per-minute steam pumper, built in 1884, which was in service with the Dallas Fire Department until 1921. (Old Tige can be seen in the Firefighters Museum across from Fair Park.) Found at the Portal to Texas History.

old-tige_1900_fire-dept-bk_1931_portal

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Sources & Notes

Photos by Clifton Church, from the Dallas Fire Department Annual, 1901, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History, here.

A contemporary map of Dallas (ca. 1898) can be viewed on the Portal to Texas History site, here.

More Flashback Dallas posts on historic Dallas firehouses can be found here.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Blue House on Browder

blue-house_homewardboundinc_2000
The Rosenfield house, in about 2000 (photo courtesy Homeward Bound, Inc.)

by Paula Bosse

Perhaps you’ve been following the recent brouhaha over the plans to demolish one of the last remaining 19th-century residences in the Cedars area, south of downtown — Robert Wilonsky of The Dallas Morning News has been covering the story here and here and here. The house is in terrible disrepair, but it has the beautiful details of the period, and it’s obvious that it was once a lovely house in a well-to-do neighborhood. Preservation Dallas posted this in-better-days photo on their Facebook page:

browder-house_preservation-dallas-FB-page

I thought I’d see what I could find about the history of the house — mainly I wanted to see if I could find who built it and when.

The house currently has the address 1423 Griffin, but before highways were built and streets were moved around, its address was 1015 Browder. Dallas changed almost every address in 1911, so I checked Jim Wheat’s very helpful scan of that year’s directory which tells us both the new and the old addresses of houses and businesses and also shows what cross-streets those addresses are between.

browder-house_1911-directory1911 directory, Browder Street

The original address of the Blue House was 285 Browder Street, between Corsicana and St. Louis. In 1911, P. F. Erb was living there.

Next, I checked the Sanborn maps. The earliest Sanborn map I could find which actually showed this part of Browder was the one from 1892. Here’s a detail showing the two-story frame house on the northwest corer of Browder and St. Louis, with Browder running horizontally along the top. The address is 285 Browder. (The house next to it is 169 St. Louis — more on that house later.)

sanborn_1892_285-browder_nw-corner-st-louis_sanborn-1892_sheet-21

When you look at the full-page map this detail comes from (here), you’ll see larger numbers in the middle of the blocks. The block I’m interested in is block 84. Then I hopped over to the Murphy & Bolanz block book to see what I could find there. (I haven’t actually used this block book much, mostly because my old computer would not work with the plug-in required to view the pages, and it takes a while to figure out what you’re looking at.) When I clicked on “Block 84” in the index, I found this (click for larger image):

murphy-bolanz_block-13_block-84

Here’s the detail of the pertinent block:

murphy-bolanz_det

The names and other assorted scrawls indicate title change (I think). This page was very helpful, because it told me that this block was originally part of Browder/Browder’s Addition, and it was originally classified as Block 13. The lot in question is Lot 5 (and probably Lot 6, because Erb’s name shows up under both. So now I had terms to search on.

And then it was just a tedious slog through the Dallas Herald archives (not to be confused with the Dallas Times Herald archives), the Dallas Morning News archives, and old city directories. Here’s what I found.

First mention of this particular parcel of land was in The Galveston News on March 24, 1883. P. S. Browder, a Browder family executor, transferred a lot of property — including the two lots I was interested in — to Mr. & Mrs. Nathan Godbold as part of a quitclaim deed (I’m probably not using the correct terminology here…). For one dollar.

1883-march_browder_galveston-news_032483_QUIT-CLAIMGalveston News, Mar. 24, 1883

A few inches of print over, the record shows that Godbold immediately sold Lots 5 and 6 to Dallas real estate czar Charles Bolanz (misspelled below). For $1,000.

1883-march_browder_galveston-news_032483_to-bolanzGalveston News, Mar. 24, 1883

A few months later, in July, it was reported that Bolanz had sold the adjoining two lots to T. S. Holden, a young man who worked as a salesman for a wholesale grocery firm but seemed to be engaged in land speculation on the side. (It’s a little odd that Bolanz sold it so quickly for a $200 loss, but I’m sure there was probably more to the story.)

1883-july_browder_galveston-news_070283_HOLDENGalveston News, July 2, 1883

At some point, these two lots were sold to Max Rosenfield, another young man who was buying up land in the hopes that its value would increase. From Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald:

“The year 1884 also saw the opening of a new housing subdivision by two Jewish real estate speculators, Gerson Meyer and Max Rosenfield. Their development, bounded by Akard, Corsicana, Browder, and St. Louis streets, was sold primarily to Jewish families who had begun to arrive as early as 1872 as part of the ‘Corsicana crowd’ — the terminal merchants who followed the construction of the H&TC.”

[I couldn’t find anything else about this block being a “sub-division,” but there definitely was a “Rosenfield & Meyer’s Addition” in East Dallas as early as 1886 — see the bottom of this post for more information on Gerson Meyer and the Murphy & Bolanz map of their East Dallas addition.]

In the 1886 city directory, Max Rosenfield is listed as residing at 1118 Browder, which may well have been an address that lasted for a very, very short time — Browder is a very short street, and I wonder if Rosenfield was renumbering addresses in his new development. It does appear to be Lot 5 of the block he and Meyer were developing, though. (Henrietta Rosenfield, widow of Jonas Rosenfield, was Max’s mother, and she lived with or near Max for several years.)

1886_rosenfield_1886-directory_1118-browder1886 Dallas directory

In early 1887, a For Sale ad appeared in the Herald — real estate agents Ducker  & Dudleigh were offering what appears to be Lots 5 and 6. By this time, houses had been built on both lots. (The  numbers 101 and 102 are confusing here, but the property being offered is the lot at the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis and the lot adjoining it.) The price for the two-story house on Lot 5 was $6,250, which the Inflation Calculator adjusts to being about $166,000 in today’s money, taking into account inflation (but not taking into account Dallas’ outrageous real estate prices!).

1887_browder_dmn_050887-FOR-SALEDMN, May 8, 1887 (click for larger image)

It doesn’t look like either property sold, because a few months later, the 1888 directory showed Max still living in the Lot 5 house facing Browder and mother Henrietta living in the Lot 6 house at 169 St. Louis.

1888_rosenfield_1888-directory1888 Dallas directory

Rosenfield placed a For Rent ad in the paper in Feb. of 1889, offering his corner house on Browder.

1889_rosenfield_dmn_021389DMN, Feb. 13, 1889

This appears to have been when businessman Milton Dargan moved in. He is listed as moving into the house at about this time in the addenda section of late changes for the 1889 directory (directories were usually compiled in the year before they were actually published).

1889_dargan_1889-addenda-listing1889 Dallas directory

In that same directory, Rosenfield had moved in with his mother in the adjoining property.

1889_rosenfield_1889-directory1889 Dallas directory

At some point Dargan bought the corner house. Henrietta continued to live in the St. Louis-facing house until about 1892, when she moved in with Max at his new home on Akard.

And, finally, the “285” address shows up in a directory, in 1891.

1891_dargan_1891-directory1891 Dallas directory

Paul F. Erb bought the Browder house from Dargan in 1896 (he also bought the adjoining Lot 6 house facing St. Louis in 1910).

1897_erb_1897-directory1897 Dallas directory

And we’re back to Paul Erb, seen in the 1911 directory listing old and new addresses at 1015/285 Browder.

browder-house_1911-directory1911 Dallas directory

Yay!

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That was a long way to go to establish a chain of ownership. (I’m sure it would have been faster and easier to have consulted city records.)

So. Without access to building permits, it looks as if Max Rosenfield (who, by the way, was the father of John Rosenfield — born Max John Rosenfield, Jr. — legendary arts critic for The Dallas Morning News) was the person who built the 130-year-old house now going through the process of probably being torn down soon. It appears to have been built in 1884 or 1885. In a 1935 Dallas Morning News article celebrating the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Max Rosenfield, the house is mentioned: “…their first home, a house built by Mr. Rosenfield and still standing on the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis streets…” (see the article “Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield To Observe 50th Anniversary,” DMN, Jan. 6, 1935).

Below is a photo of Max Rosenfield and his new bride, Jenny, probably taken the same year the house was built, 1885-ish, when Max was 26 years old.

rosenfields_ca-1885_ancestry

Thank you for building such a pretty  house, Mr. Rosenfield. Maybe some magnanimous person with deep pockets can have it moved to a new location and restore it to its former loveliness.

rosenfield-max_1935Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield, on their 50th anniversary

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Here’s a detail of an 1893 map of the area, with the house in question marked.

browder-house_1893-map

And here’s the lonely little house in its present hemmed-in location.

browder-house_bingBing Maps

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Sources & Notes

Top photo, taken around 2000, from Homeward Bound, Inc., used with permission. Homeward Bound, Inc. took over the house in 1986 (and owned it until October, 2015) for use as Trinity Recovery Center, a substance abuse treatment center. The organization tried hard to save the house, but, according to Homeward Bound, Inc. Executive Director Douglas Denton, when they approached Dallas’ Landmark Commission in the 1990s, “they were not interested in the building.” Thanks to Mr. Denton for allowing me to use this photo, which shows the beauty of the old house better than any other photo of it that I’ve seen. He points to the photo below as an example of what this Cedars neighborhood once looked like. The caption for the photo in McDonald’s Dallas Rediscovered (p. 125): “Looking north toward downtown along Browder Street near the corner of Cadiz, 1895. These homes, built in the early 1890s, began to be razed in the late 1930s and early 1940s for parking space in the expanding business district.” (Photo: Dallas Public Libary)

browder-near-cadiz_ca1895

This would have been about two blocks from the Rosenfield house. Imagine what that neighborhood once looked like!

Watch a news report on the outcry over the possible demolition of this house on the WFAA website, here.

The Dallas Morning News article on the 50th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Max Rosenfield in which it is mentioned that Max built the house (“…their first home, a house built by Mr. Rosenfield and still standing on the northwest corner of Browder and St. Louis streets…”) is “Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Rosenfield To Observe 50th Anniversary” (DMN, Jan. 6, 1935).

Photo of the Rosenfields as a newly married couple found on Ancestry.com.

50th anniversary photo of Mr. and Mrs. Rosenfield is from the book John Rosenfield’s Dallas by Ronald L. Davis (Dallas: Three Forks Press, 2002).

All other sources as cited.

Max J. Rosenfield died in 1935 at the age of 76. His very interesting obituary (probably written by his son, John Rosenfield, amusements editor of The Dallas Morning News), can be found in the Dec. 2, 1935 edition of The News: “M. J. Rosenfield, Business Leader Many Years, Dies.”

It’s worth trying to figure out how to use the Murphy & Bolanz block books, courtesy of the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division of the Dallas Public Library. Background on these very useful books can be found here.

If I’ve made any mistakes or have drawn any incorrect assumptions, please let me know!

browder-house_then-now

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UPDATE: Max Rosenfield developed a real estate partnership with Gerson Meyer, both of whom worked for Sanger Bros. department store. They bought and sold real estate (often to fellow Sanger’s employees), apparently as a lucrative side-business (Rosenfield even conducted his real estate transactions from his Sanger Bros. office). They apparently had acquired enough land by 1886 to have their own “addition” — “Rosenfield and Meyer’s Addition” in East Dallas. The earliest mention I found of it was this ad from May, 1886.

rosenfield-and-meyer-addition_dmn_052786DMN, May 27, 1886

Their addition was in East Dallas. Below, the map from the Murphy & Bolanz block book (click for larger image):

rosenfield-and-meyers-addition_murphy-bolanz

Gerson Meyer (a Jewish German immigrant, just a couple of years older than Rosenfield), moved to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1897 and continued working for several years in men’s clothing.

If something looks too small, click it!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

1615 South Ervay: The Eagle Apartment Building

1615-s-ervay_zillowThe Eagle, today (click for larger image) / Photo: Zillow

by Paula Bosse

Whenever I drive along South Ervay, I always slow down — or pull over — to take a look at this building. It doesn’t look like anything else around it, and I’ve wondered about it from the first time I saw it.

It was built in 1924 and was announced in a newspaper advertorial beneath the headline “New Apartment Building on South Ervay Street to Have Garage Space in Basement.” It was accompanied by a drawing of a fairly grand-looking building.

1615-s-ervay_dmn_0622241924

This new apartment building at 1615 South Ervay street, now being completed by George Kean, embodies many new and novel features in the construction of buildings of this character, one of these being provision of garage space for tenants in the basement. The building will contain eight four-room apartments and sixteen two-room efficiency apartments. J. W. Lindsley & Co. are leasing agents, and contract has been given to Sanger Bros. for furnishings of the building.

A basement garage for a small apartment building like this was pretty unusual for the time. And when they said Sanger’s was supplying the furnishings, they meant everything from furniture down to bed linens and kitchen utensils!

The first “for rent” ads began appearing a week after this announcement. Below, the photo and text of an ad from June 29, 1924.

eagle-apts_dmn_062924-deteagle-apts_dmn_062924-textJune, 1924

Hey, I’d take a look!

But renting’s for chumps — how about owning the entire building? (“Can care for 50 cars”!)

eagle-apts_dmn_080324Aug., 1924

Below, an ad with rates and a bit more info (it sounds like all units had a Murphy bed — even the apartments with a bedroom):

eagle-apts_dmn_071225July, 1925

They were kind of pricey. According to the Inflation Calculator, prices in today’s money would be about $825-$900 for a 2-room efficiency, and about $1,225-$1,375 for a 4-room apartment.

By the fall of 1931, the building had changed hands, was under new management, and had been re-named. It was now the Lafayette Apartments, and units were now being rented “by day, week or month.”

lafayette_dmn_100131Oct., 1931

lafayette-apartments_dmn_101532Oct., 1932

Today this stretch of South Ervay is not the crowded and busy thoroughfare it once was. Though there were several businesses and small industrial buildings, it was also a residential area, lined with houses, apartment buildings, and the large Park Residence Hotel (better known in recent years as the Ambassador Hotel). The Eagle apartment building is in the 1600 block of South Ervay — when it opened in 1924, there were also apartment buildings in the 1500 and 1700 blocks. It’s interesting to take a look at a page from the 1924 city directory to see who and what occupied this South Ervay neighborhood in 1924 (click for larger image):

south-ervay_1924-directory1924 Dallas directory

The building right next door to the Eagle Apartments was the Franklin-Rickenbacker Motor Co., a car dealership (part of the word “Franklin” can be seen painted on the brick wall in the 1924 photograph). For context, here are the automobiles that would have been for sale next door to the Eagle when it opened.

1924-franklin_secondchancegarage1924 Franklin

1924-rickenbacker1924 Rickenbacker

Today, people are still living in 1615 South Ervay. I’m not sure how many condominiums are in the building, but if you search around on the internet, you can find several real estate listings that show what various of the units look like inside. They’re very nice! It’s a much larger building than I realized, as can be seen in this aerial view.

south-ervay_bingBing

I love that red door. Here’s to the continued revitalization of South Dallas and The Cedars!

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from Zillow.

Photo of the Franklin automobile from SecondChanceGarage.com, here. I found the Rickenbacker photo on a Rickenbacker guitar site which froze my computer and which shall remain unlinked; more photos of Rickenbacker cars (as well as a history of the company) can be found here (the car was named after WWI flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, a cousin of the guitar maker).

1615 S. Ervay is located catty-corner to Old City Park/Dallas Heritage Village, near the intersection of S. Ervay and Gano streets.

1615-s-ervay_googleGoogle

Street view of the building, looking north on Ervay toward downtown, here.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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