Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: East Dallas/Lakewood

On the Grounds of the Ursuline Academy and Convent

ursuline-convent_cook-colln_degolyer_smuBetween classes… (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love this photo of Ursuline girls at the fantastically ornate school and convent in Old East Dallas. See more photos of the school, convent, and grounds in my post “Nicholas J. Clayton’s Neo-Gothic Ursuline Academy,” here.

***

Sources & Notes

Photo by Clogenson, from a postcard in the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it is accessible here. I have un-colorized it.

See the scale of the Ursuline property on a 1922 Sanborn map, here. It is now mostly a parking lot, across from the Dallas Theological Seminary; a sad 21st-century view of what the former campus property looks like is here.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Bob-O-Links Golf Course — 1924-1973

bob-o-links_abrams-rdBob-O-Links golf and St. Thomas Aquinas… (click for larger image)

 by Paula Bosse

The photograph above (with a view to the southeast) shows Abrams Road (at the left), a few blocks south of Mockingbird. On the right is St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and school, and on the left, part of the Bob-O-Links Golf Course, Lakewood’s only public golf course. If you’re familiar with that part of town, it’s pretty incredible to see all that open land right in the middle of it.

Bob-O-Links, a 9-hole course, was opened by Harry McCommas in 1924 on 60 acres of the land originally owned by the pioneer McCommas family (the family’s full 640 acres covered land that stretched from what is now Abrams Road to White Rock Lake). Despite a creek meandering through seven of the course’s nine holes, the course was an immediate hit, mainly because it was one of the few public courses in town. This is where East Dallas residents with golf-fever would go to play if they couldn’t afford to join the Lakewood County Club.

From an article by John Anders in The Dallas Morning News:

When [Harry] McCommas, 75, decided to build a golf course on his grandfather’s sheep pasture in 1928 [sic], there were only three other golf courses in Dallas. And two of those three are now gone. “We were really out in the country then. There was no water, gas or electricity so we hauled in our water by truck. We didn’t need much since it was originally a sand course.” (DMN, July 6, 1973)

When the course opened in 1924, it was pretty much out in the sticks. By the late 1950s, though, Lakewood was booming, and developers were eager to build things — much to the dismay of nearby residents. Development was staved off for over a decade, but during that whole time, developers never stopped trying to get the area re-zoned, either for commercial use or for apartments and townhouses. Eventually — inevitably — the land was sold, and the days of the little golf course came to an end. The only “victory” the neighborhood could claim is that only single-family homes would be built on the land.

Bob-O-Links Golf Course closed on July 4, 1973. And as one drives down Abrams Road these days, it’s almost impossible to believe that it was ever there.

bob-o-links

bob-o-links_matchbook_flickr
via Flickr

bob-o-links_matchbook_2b
via Flickr

bob-o-links_dallas-park-board-minutes_070858Dallas Park Board minutes, July 4, 1958

bob-o-links_1962-map
1962 map detail

***

Sources & Notes

I have no information about the top photo. It was posted on the Lakewood neighborhood group on Facebook by local bon vivant Michael Vouras. Comments on his post suggest that it may be a photo in the possession of St. Thomas Aquinas, taken around the mid 1960s. I welcome more info! (UPDATE: Below in the comments, other dates are suggested.)

A present-day aerial view of the same area can be seen here. The golf course (formerly on the left) has been gobbled up by houses.

A great article on Bob-O-Links — “The Bygone Days of Bob-O-Links Golf Course” — was written by Patti Vinson and appeared in a 2015 issue of The Lakewood Advocate; read it here.

Further reading from the archives of The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Re-zoning Denied for Bob-o-Links” (DMN, Sept. 17, 1960): this re-zoning request was to build a 35-acre shopping center; it was shot down by angry neighborhood residents
  • “Negotiations Finished To Buy Bob-o-Links” (DMN, Feb. 9, 1973): purchaser was long-time Dallas developer Hal McGraw who promised to build only single-family homes
  • “Farewell, Bob-O-Links” by John Anders (DMN, July 6, 1973): very entertaining article about Anders’ last round on the course, with memories of his earlier experiences on the course and quotes from owner Harry McCommas 

Wish I’d been there. “FORE!”

Pictures larger when clicked!

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Lakewood Post Office — 1946-1976

lakewood_post-office_dmn-123045Lakewood Post Office, 6324 Prospect

by Paula Bosse

I’m often surprised to discover things about the part of Dallas I grew up in which I somehow never knew — in this case: Lakewood’s first post office, which was apparently in operation when I was a living, breathing, sentient human being but which I’d never known about until today. (I actually grew up in the nearby Lower Greenville neighborhood, but even though I went to Long and Woodrow, I don’t remember being all that aware of Lakewood proper until I was able to drive myself around it as a teenager.) Somehow I had never known that there was a post office in Lakewood before the one at Swiss and La Vista. Or, rather, I’d never even thought about it. Until I saw this ad earlier today:

lakewood_lighthouse_dmn_0425471947

“The Lighthouse — Unusual Sea Foods, Steak and Chicken — Opposite Lakewood Post Office.”

Post office? New to me. I looked it up. It was just west of Abrams, on Prospect at Kidwell, positioned diagonally across the lot. It was the 13th post office substation in Dallas, and it opened on December 2, 1946, over two years after its approval had been announced, during the war, in August, 1944.

A 1945 Dallas Morning News article had this interesting bit of information:

The contractor is Bascomb E. McClesky [sic]. The building will have 4,000 square feet of floor space. Parking space will be provided on the lot. [McCleskey] will retain title to the property and will lease it to the government, Payne said. (“Lakewood To Get Branch Post Office,” DMN, Nov. 18, 1945)

(I’m not sure I was aware developers leased property to the federal government. B. E.  McCleskey lived in the Pasadena area of Lakewood and seems to have spent his 30-year career as a general contractor who also bought, sold, and developed both commercial and residential properties in and around this part of East Dallas. When he began his career, he had an office on Gaston in the new Lakewood Shopping Center; at the time of his death in 1956, his office was right next door to the post office on land which, presumably, he still owned.)

This post office lasted for 30 years until the newer, hulkier, and far less aesthetically appealing station opened at Swiss and La Vista on May 10, 1976.

lakewood-post-office_dmn_112576_swiss.-photo
1976

Some factoids which will come in handy should you ever find yourself in a U.S. Post Office Trivial Pursuit (Lakewood Edition) competition:

  • When the first Lakewood post office opened in 1946, it employed 3 clerks, 1 supervisor, and 16 carriers.
  • When the second post office opened 30 years later, it employed 13 clerks, 2 supervisors, and 47 carriers.

*

But back to the first post office — the building is still standing and houses the Times Ten Cellars wine bar! I’ve passed that building a lot over the years, but I guess I never paid much attention to it. I don’t know why, because it’s a great little  building. It would never occur to me that it might ever have been a post office. I wish more businesses in Dallas would consider repurposing older buildings rather than building characterless boxes that look like every other characterless box. Thank you, Times Ten Cellars!

times-ten-cellar_google_2015Google Street View (2015)

*

That Lighthouse “unusual sea foods” restaurant? It doesn’t seem to have lasted very long. It changed hands a few times before closing as the Lighthouse Cafe at the end of 1950. At one point it was known as Phil’s Lighthouse — “Dallas’ most unique dining place where the atmosphere is: ‘Nautical But Nice.'”

phils-lighthouse_dmn_121649DMN, Dec. 16, 1949

That’s right … “NAUTICAL BUT NICE”!

***

Sources & Notes

If anyone remembers the Lighthouse restaurant: was it actually shaped like a lighthouse?

Detail of a page from the 1952 Mapsco showing the location of the old post office (click for larger image):

lakewood-post office_1952-mapsco

lakewood-post-office_then-now

Click pictures for larger images.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Lakewood Theater — 1944

lakewood-theater_ad_inset_1944A well-lit staircase to the balcony (click for giant image)

by Paula Bosse

Occasionally one stumbles across a national advertisement featuring someone or something familiar to local audiences which elicits an involuntary exclamation like, “Hey! I know that guy!” I had a response kind of like that when I saw this General Electric light bulb ad featuring a photograph of the interior of the Lakewood Theater (showing a few figures from the mural by Woodrow boy Perry Nichols).

“See how postwar theaters may use G-E lighting to provide attractive atmosphere, to give helpful guide light along the stairs to the balcony.”

lakewood-theater_ad_MPH_072244_med

Yes, the Lakewood certainly did have an “attractive atmosphere.”

***

Ad for G-E Mazda lamps appeared in the July 22, 1944 issue of Motion Picture Herald. Click the above ad to see it much larger. To see it REALLY big, click here. (Apologies for the bleedthrough of the ad on the other side of the page. If you’re a Photoshop wizard who can remove the offending ghost letters plastered across Nichols’ whimsical mural, I’d love a cleaned-up version.)

I have no idea what’s going on with the beleaguered Lakewood Theater these days, but if you’d like to see those murals in color, see the photos in the Lakewood Advocate, here.

Click pictures for much larger images.

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Fletcher’s State Fair Drive-In — 1960-1963

fletchers-state-fair-drive-in_DHSFood-on-a-stick, open all nite (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The legendary Fletcher’s Corny Dog once had its own drive-in! You didn’t have to wait until the State Fair of Texas rolled around to get your favorite “food on a stick” fix — you just needed to head to 3610 Samuell Boulevard, across from the Tenison Golf Course.

Sadly, there was a lot of drive-in and tavern competition along Samuell back then (Keller’s was practically next door!), and the State Fair Drive-In seems to have lasted only a little over three years, from the spring of 1960 to the fall of 1963.

I’d love to see this around NOW! Come on, Fletcher’s family: bring this back!

*

fletchers_dmn_051560May , 1960

fletchers_dmn_062960June, 1960

fletchers_dmn_102463_for-sale
Oct., 1963

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo from the Dallas Historical Society.

An article on Neil Fletcher’s new restaurant and a photo of the interior can be found in the archives of The Dallas Morning News: “State Fair Drive’In Fixtures Designed, Installed by Bab’s” (DMN, June 12, 1960).

After the Fletcher’s Drive-In closed, it was replaced by a Red Coleman liquor store, and was most recently a club, El Palmeras. Google Street View shows the shabby neighborhood these days, here.

3610-samuall_googleGoogle Maps

An entertaining interview with the late Neil Fletcher appeared in the Oct. 1982 issue of D Magazine, here.

A Travel Channel video focuses on the famed corny dog, here.

A previous Flashback Dallas post about that same stretch of Samuell Blvd. — “Red’s Turnpike Open-Air Dance: An East Pike/Samuell Blvd. Joint — 1946” — is here.

UPDATE: I’ve received many comments that Fletcher’s had several short-lived drive-thru restaurants which started popping up in the mid-’80s. More on the franchise plans can be read in the article “Fletcher and Firm Very Much Alive” by Donna Steph Hansard (DMN, Aug. 5, 1984).

*

Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Christmastime in Lakewood — 1951

xmas_WWW_1952Mad tree-trimming fun ahead (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Woodrow kids with a Christmas tree crammed into their convertible, taking a moment to wave at someone in the distance, probably a classmate coming out of Harrell’s Drug Store. Next stop, wholesome 1950s tree-trimming fun, complete with mugs of warm cocoa and Perry Como singing about Christmas on the radio.

If you’re familiar with Lakewood, it might take a second to get your bearings, but this was Abrams Road. It’s now the short stretch known as Abrams Parkway, directly across Abrams from the Lakewood Whole Foods — it basically serves as a parking lot for the businesses now occupying these buildings.

Here is a list of the businesses seen in this 1951 photo, along with what currently occupies those same buildings:

  • 2015 Abrams: then, Abrams Road Cleaners; now, The Heights (formerly Legal Grounds)
  • 2017 Abrams: then, Massey’s Beauty Salon & Barber Shop; now, part of Blow Hair Salon
  • 2019 Abrams: then, Lakewood Shoe Service; now, Blow Hair Salon
  • 2021 Abrams: then, Lakewood Recreation Club; now, Scalini’s Pizza & Pasta
  • 2023 Abrams: then, Lakewood Sporting Goods; now, part of Curiosities
  • 2025 Abrams (mostly out of frame): then, Teter Plumbing Co.; now, Curiosities (an emporium of eclectic antiques and overall super-cool stuff)

Just out of frame to the right, a couple of doors down, was the old El Chico restaurant, now Hollywood Feed.

A detail of a page from the 1952 Mapsco, which will be confusing to those who might not know about the weird “Abrams Bypass” that happened in the early ’80s (click for larger image).

1952-mapsco_lakewood-det

Here’s what this strip looks like today (or recently, anyway — Legal Grounds is now The Heights):

abrams_today_google-street-viewGoogle Street View

***

Photo from the 1952 Woodrow Wilson High School yearbook, The Crusader. Apologies for the quality — the photo appeared across two pages and was scanned at a pretty low resolution. It’s still pretty cool, though.

To see a magnified detail of the businesses on the left half of the photo, click here; for those on the right half, click here.

Since I don’t have access to a street directory showing this block’s info in 1951, here are the businesses that occupied that block per the 1948 and 1953 directories:

48-53

When in doubt, click pictures to see if they get bigger — they usually do!

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lakewood’s “Modernistic” Skillern’s Drug Store — 1934

skillerns-lakewood_architects-rendering_1934
Architect’s drawing, 1934 — Abrams & Gaston… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The drawing above was architect J. N. McCammon’s design for a new 14,000-square-foot concrete-and-stucco building of a new Lakewood development, at Abrams and Gaston (a stone’s throw from land now occupied by the parking lot of the Lakewood Whole Foods). It was to be built by Rae Skillern, whose Skillern’s drug store would anchor the development, with a Wyatt Food Store also occupying a large chunk of the property. The “retail village” was to be modeled (…somewhat) after the much-lauded Highland Park Village shopping center, and its design was described in articles as being “modernistic.”

Construction was to begin in early 1934 and be completed in 90 days, but things hit a bit of a roadblock when Lakewood residents objected to a shopping area in their “high-class” residential neighborhood (charming though Skillern’s design might have been…). A zoning classification change from “local retail” to “residential” was sought by concerned Lakewood inhabitants, but the City Plan Commission nixed this and gave the builders the go-ahead.

Skillern’s No. 4 opened in December of 1934 at 6401 Gaston and humbly hailed its newest emporium as “America’s most beautiful drug store.” It was, by far, the largest in the local company’s quickly expanding chain, and it featured a large, varied inventory, beautiful fixtures and innovative merchandising, a large soda fountain (with curb service), a “perfume bar,” and an open view into the “prescription department” where customers could watch the pharmacists doling out their medications.

The small shopping area quickly became a popular shopping destination (along with the larger Lakewood Shopping Center across Gaston), and the big, new Skillern’s — which sat at the point of the triangular-shaped “village” — was its focal point.

lakewood-skillerns_1930s
Dec., 1934

Skillern’s left its cool building sometime around 1971, after a fire caused heavy damages in November, 1970. It moved across the street, into the equally cool old Gaston Avenue Pharmacy (known familiarly as Doc Harrell’s drug store, the place with the iconic conical roof), not long after Harrell’s death in 1969. The Lakewood outpost of the Mickey Finn’s chain of pool halls opened in the old Skillern’s space in February, 1972. In 1978 the property was condemned by the city to make way for the weird Abrams Bypass, which cut through that northeast corner of the Gaston-Abrams intersection; several buildings in the immediate vicinity deemed to be in the way of progress were demolished, including Rae Skillern’s “modernistic” drug store, a Lakewood landmark for over 40 years. Pity.

 ***

Sources & Notes

Skillern’s was located on the northeast corner of Gaston and Abrams at the tip of a triangular-shaped piece of land. The drawing at the top shows Abrams running vertically (to its west), and Gaston running horizontally (to its south). It would have faced the old Dixie House space. The Abrams Bypass skewed everything, but it was about where the little triangular “park” is now — between Abrams Parkway and Abrams Road, just west of the Whole Foods parking lot. (UPDATE: I now know that that greenspace has a name: Harrell Park!) Below is an aerial photo of what this part of Lakewood used to look like. Gaston is in yellow, Abrams is in blue, the Skillern’s building is circled in red, and the Lakewood Theater (for reference, because this all looks pretty freaky to us today and it’s hard to get one’s bearings) is circled in white. Looking northeasterly.

lakewood_aerial_marked

To see a larger image of this aerial photo — without the markings — click here. (Photo from the book The Dallas Public Library, A Century of Service by Michael V. Hazel, presumably from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.)

An interesting account of the how the bizarro Abrams Bypass happened can be found in the D Magazine article “Why Lakewood Doesn’t Trust Itself” by Charles Matthews (Oct., 1978), here. A Dallas Morning News article on the same topic — “Lakewood Plan May Benefit Bank” by Henry Tatum (March 12, 1978) — can be found in the Dallas Morning News archives.

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Munger Place — 1908

munger-place_city-directory_1908-detGaston Avenue in its salad days… (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This ‘Place’ is a beautiful restricted residence addition to Dallas (being inside the corporate limits), having all of the advantages possible for money to obtain, having already under way a number of handsome residences, as well as a number already finished and occupied. All streets paved with Bitulithic. Sidewalks, curb and gutter of first class cement. It is impossible to describe this place as it looks now, hence we ask that you let us show you, or ask that you go out via Swiss, Gaston or Junius streets and see for yourself. All of these streets are paved into town or into the main streets to town.

It would have taken a great deal of creative vision to imagine what a beautiful neighborhood the one shown in that bleak photo would one day become. (Does anyone know where on Gaston this photo was taken? Are any of these houses still standing?)

munger-place_city-directory-1908

***

Ad from the 1908 city directory.

Info on the Munger Place Historic District on Wikipedia, here, and at MungerPlace.com, here.

Click top image for a much larger image.

*

Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tietze Park

tietze_1946_c

by Paula Bosse

Tietze Park was my neighborhood park growing up — it’s where I learned to swim and got sunburned every summer because I stayed there so long. It straddles 75206 and 75214, in that area that’s not quite Lower Greenville, not quite M Streets, and not quite Lakewood. It’s on Skillman, bordered by Llano and Vanderbilt. You’ve probably seen the famous tree at the Vanderbilt corner. And you’ve probably jokingly referred to it as “Tsetse” Park while suppressing a power-of-suggestion sleeping-sickness-inspired yawn (like right now). It’s a cute little park, with wonderful WPA touches. Here are photos from 1946 of some repair work being done on the stone buildings and construction of a new pool. It looks pretty much the same today.

tietze_1946_b

tietze_1946_a

To see a photo of what the pavilion looks like today, check out a great photo by Sarah Whittaker from CultureMap, here.

***

Photos from the Dallas Municipal Archives, accessed through the Portal to Texas History site.

A history of the park — which started out as “Keith Park” in 1924 but was re-named in 1934 in honor of William R. Tietze, former Parks Department superintendent — can be found on the Friends of Tietze Park Foundation website here.

Here’s a nice drawing of the plan for the park (I came across this somewhere on Facebook, I think, but neglected to make note of the source):

tietze park_plan

A nostalgic look back at the park can be found in the Lakewood Advocate article “Memories of Tietze Park Pool” by Patti Vinson, here.

For a video that captures the laid-back feel of the neighborhood surrounding the park, check out the video of the catchy song “We’ll Go Walkin'” by local band The O’s. It’s great. The first line is “We’ll go walkin’ to Tietze Park.” And then they do. If you’re familiar with the neighborhood, you’ll recognize everything along their walk. And they end it in front of *that tree.* So it’s totally worth it. (The band’s website is here.)

*
Click photos for larger images.

*

Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Old Union Depot in East Dallas: 1897-1935

east-dallas-depot_rendering_art-hoffmanFrom the collection of Art Hoffman (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I saw the above rendering of the old East Dallas rail depot posted recently in a Dallas history group. It was bought several years ago by Art Hoffman who was told it had belonged to a former employee of the Houston & Texas Central Railroad (which, along with the Texas & Pacific, served this station). It’s an odd thing for an architect to sketch — a boarded-up railroad depot. I couldn’t find anything on E. L. Watson, the architect who did the rendering (perhaps a member of the Watson family who were prominent Dallas contractors?), and I couldn’t find any connection between the depot and the F. J. Woerner & Co. architectural firm. The drawing might have been done in 1931, with what looks like “31” next to the artist’s signature. Could the drawing have been done merely as a study for E. L. Watson’s portfolio?

But back to the building itself. It was referred to by all sorts of names: Union Station, Union Depot, East Dallas Depot, Old Union Station, etc. With all these permutations, it took considerable digging to determine exactly when it had been built and when it had been demolished.

A couple of stations had previously occupied this site (about where Pacific Avenue and Central Expressway would cross), the first being built in 1872 at the behest of William H. Gaston who was developing the area, well east of the Dallas city limits. Due to the presence of the railroad, the area grew quickly, and in 1882, it was incorporated as the city of East Dallas. It thrived and continued to grow and on January 1, 1890 it was annexed and became part of the city of Dallas.

dallas-map-ca1900Location of depot in red — map circa 1890-1900 (click to enlarge)

The depot pictured in the drawing above was built in 1897. The previous station, a woefully inadequate and outdated “shanty,” was, by early 1897, being nudged toward demolition in order to remain competitive with the new Santa Fe depot then under construction. In the Feb. 10, 1897 edition of The Dallas Morning News, it was referred to as “the present eye-sore in East Dallas” which would be better off “abandoned and used for kindling wood.”

On April 4, 1897, it was reported that plans for a new Texas & Pacific passenger depot were nearly completed. By the beginning of June, the shanty had been torn down, and on June 6, 1897, the drawing below appeared in the pages of the Morning News, giving the people of Dallas a first look at what the much grander station would look like when completed. (It’s unfortunate that the actual architectural rendering was not used, but, instead, a more rudimentary staff artist’s version was printed.) The accompanying information revealed that the new depot had been designed by Mr. O. H. Lang, an architect who worked in the engineering department of the Texas & Pacific Railroad. This was an exciting tidbit to find, because I had wondered who had designed the structure but had been unable to find this elusive piece of information. And it was Otto Lang! Eight years after designing this railroad depot, Lang and fellow architect Frank Witchell would form the legendary firm of Lang & Witchell, and they would go on to design some of Dallas’ most impressive buildings.

east-dallas-depot_dmn_060697-DRAWING

east-dallas-depot_dmn_060697-TEXTDallas Morning News, June 6, 1897

The building was completed fairly quickly, and its official opening was announced on Oct. 12, 1897.

east-dallas-depot_GRAND-OPENING_dmn_101297DMN, Oct. 12, 1897

Here’s what the station looked like soon after it opened for business, from an 1898 Texas & Pacific publication (click for larger images):

east-dallas-depot_ext_tx-pac-rr_1898

east-dallas-depot_int_tx-pac-rr_1898

Much better than a shanty!

union-depot_flickr_coltera

Below in another early photo of the depot:

east-dallas-depot_c1890_dallas-redisc_DHS

Can’t pass up an opportunity of zooming in on a detail:

east-dallas_c1890_dallas-redisc_DHS-det

Here it is around 1910, a hotbed of activity, now with the addition of automobiles:

old-union-depot_degolyer_ca1910-det

The station served an important role in the growth of (East) Dallas and in the everyday lives of its residents for almost twenty years, but in 1916 the many “independent” passenger and freight depots that had been spread out all over town were shuttered, per the Kessler Plan’s directive to consolidate and run all the rail lines in and out of the new Dallas Union Terminal. (This was when the word “old” began appearing ahead the East Dallas station whenever it was mentioned.)

east-dallas-depot_1916-portal(circa 1916)

So what became of the East Dallas depot? From “Relic of City of East Dallas Being Demolished,” a Dallas Morning News article from Jan. 20, 1935:

Last use of the depot for railroad purposes came in 1933 when it was abandoned as a freight station in August of that year. After that it was used as a station for interviewing destitute clients for the relief board but for several months has been boarded up.

So that original rendering may not have been done in 1931 after all (unless it was a high-concept architect’s vision of what the depot would look like one day all boarded up…).

At some point it was determined that the station would be torn down. It may have been one of those beautify-the-city projects done in preparation for the Texas Centennial Exposition the next year, but it was probably time for the building to come down. It was January of 1935, at the height of the Great Depression, and  not only did the city make it a point to hire laborers on relief to assist in the demolition, but it also approved the use of salvaged materials from the site to be used in building homes for “destitute families.”

Relief Administrator E. J. Stephany received approval Saturday of a project to get men to tear down the old structure and use the materials in building homes for destitute families and work is expected to start immediately. (“East Dallas Station To Be Torn Down and Converted Into Homes,” DMN, Jan. 13, 1935)

Demolition of the depot — which The News called “The Pride of the Gay Nineties” — began on January 18, 1935. The first solemn paragraph of an article reporting on the razing of the landmark is below.

Shorn of all the dignity it possessed for years as the East Dallas Union Depot, the old red structure near the intersection of Central and Pacific avenues began crumbling beneath the blows of wrecking tools wielded by laborers from the Dallas County relief board Friday.” (“Relic of City of East Dallas Being Demolished,” DMN, Jan. 20, 1935)

The red stone slabs bearing the word “Dallas” (3 feet long, 18 inches thick) were offered to the Dallas Historical Society “for safekeeping.”

east-dallas-depot_rendering_dallas_Art-Hoffman_sm

So did that relief housing get built? Sort of. All I could find was an article from June, 1935, which states that one little building was constructed with some of the brick and stone from the razed depot. It wasn’t a house for the needy but was, instead, headquarters for relief caseworkers in donated park land in Urbandale. Presumably there was housing built somewhere, but all that brick and stone salvaged from the old depot may not have been used for its intended purpose. BUT, there is this tantalizing little tidbit:

As a reminder of the historic antecedent, the new structure [in Urbandale Park] has as a headpiece for its fireplace the large carved stone bearing the name Dallas. (“Relief Structure Made of Materials From Razed Depot,” DMN, June 20, 1935)

Does this mean that the Dallas Historical Society might still have the second slab? If not, what happened to it?

I checked Google Maps and looked at tiny Urbandale Park at Military Parkway and Lomax Drive, just east of S. Buckner, but I didn’t see anything, so I assume the building came down at some point. (UPDATE, 3/20/16: Finally got around to driving to this attractive park. Sadly, the little building is no longer there.)

It would have been nice if that little bit of the old depot had survived — a souvenir of an important hub of activity which sprang to life when memories were still fresh of East Dallas being its own separate entity — the “David” Dallas to its neighboring “Goliath” Dallas. I would love to learn more about what might have happened to that “Dallas” sign which, for a while, hung over the fireplace of an odd little building in an obscure park in southeast Dallas where it lived out its days in retirement.

**

Since I keep adding photos of the depot to this post, I’m going to just start putting new additions (with captioned and linked sources) here:

east-dallas-union-depot_degolyer-lib_SMUDeGolyer Library, SMU

union-depot_east-dallas_1933_degolyer-lib_SMUDeGolyer Library, SMU

union-depot_your-dallas-of-tomorrow_1943_portal
“Your Dallas of Tomorrow” (1943), Portal to Texas History

***

Sources &  Notes

Original rendering of the old Union Depot at East Dallas by E. L. Watson is from the collection of Art Hoffman, used with his permission.

More on architect Frank J. Woerner (who designed, among other things, the Stoneleigh Hotel), here (see p. 10 of  this PDF).

History of Old East Dallas (and the city of East Dallas), here and  here.

More on architects Lang & Witchell here, with an incredible list of some of the buildings designed by their firm here.

1898 photos of the depot’s exterior and interior from Texas, Along the Line of the Texas & Pacific Ry. (Dallas: Passenger Department of the Texas & Pacific Railway, [1898]).

Photo immediately following the photos from the T & P book is from a postcard, found on Flickr, here.

Photo (and accompanying detail) immediately following that is from Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald (Dallas: Dallas Historical Society, 1978). (McDonald identifies the photo as being “c. 1890” — well before the station was built in 1897.) From the collection of the Dallas Historical Society.

Photo of the depot with automobiles is a detail of a larger photograph from the collection of George A. McAfee photographs in the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. The original can be seen here.

Photograph dated 1916 from The Museum of the American Railroad, via the Portal to Texas History site, here.

More information in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “East Dallas Station To Be Torn Down and Converted Into Homes” (DMN, Jan. 13, 1935)
  • “Relic of City of East Dallas Being Demolished” (DMN, Jan. 20, 1935) — very informative
  • “Historical Society Will Be Given Slabs of Former Station” (DMN, Jan. 31, 1935)
  • “County Gets Land To Install Relief Depot; Later Park” (DMN, Feb. 27, 1935
  • “Relief Structure Made of Materials From Razed Depot; Station Occupies Land in Urbandale Donated to County For Park” (DMN, June 20, 1935)
  • “Salvaged Materials Go Artistic” (DMN, June 20, 1935) — photo of “relief structure” which accompanied above article

More photos of this immediate area can be found in these posts:

  • “The Union Depot Hotel Building, Deep Ellum — 1898-1968,” here
  • “The Gypsy Tea Room, Central Avenue, and the Darensbourg Brothers,” here

Many of the pictures and articles can be clicked for larger images.

*

Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

%d bloggers like this: