Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Exposition Park

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

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And two interior views of the second floor.

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

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

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Google Maps

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Mitchell War Book, ca. 1945

mitchell-building_flickr_colteraFlickr

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Sources & Notes

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

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

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

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

The Mitchell Lofts website is here.

Click pictures and clipping to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The John E. Mitchell Company’s WWII Munitions Work (Part 3)

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The Mitchell War Book

by Paula Bosse

My previous two posts have been on the John E. Mitchell Company’s period as a full-time contract manufacturer of munitions and materiel for the Navy and Army. I had planned for my third Mitchell post to be about the building itself, but I just happened across this book — The Mitchell War Book — and I thought I would go ahead and slip this in now. I’ll write about the building next.

The book appears to be similar to a high school yearbook, with tons of photographs of Mitchell personnel at work on the factory floor and hanging out with their fellow war-workers in lighter off-duty moments. I’ve never seen this book (though I’d love to!), but it appears to be packed with pages and pages of photos.

Hundreds (if not thousands) of Dallasites worked in this factory while the Mitchell Company owned it — who knows? A relative of yours might be in here if he or she worked in it during the war. Below are photographs from a current eBay listing (click photos for larger images):

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The posters above are interesting. When I posted a card the other day describing what this was all about (see it here), I didn’t fully understand. The company made these posters as reminders to the workers who they were working for: their fellow employees who were serving overseas.

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Above, the book’s endpapers show the various items the Mitchell Company was manufacturing for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army.

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A few “autographs” of the John E. Mitchell Company’s wartime workers. Anyone you recognize?

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Sources & Notes

As mentioned above, these photographs are from a current eBay listing, here.

Seems this book is pretty hard to find. I see only one other copy for sale — at about the same price — from a bookseller in Austin, here.

If you’re unwilling to fork over a fistful of cash but still want to look through the book, then hie yourself to the downtown Dallas Public Library to browse through the 127 pages of their only (non-circulating) copy; bibliographic details on the book from the DPL site, here (or if you don’t have a DPL account, here).

The two previous Flashback Dallas posts on the John E. Mitchell Company’s time as a munitions factory can be found here and here.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The John E. Mitchell Company’s WWII Munitions Work (Part 2)

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by Paula Bosse

This is the second part of a post containing a series of postcards issued by the John E. Mitchell Company, which, before World War II was primarily a manufacturer of cotton and agricultural implements. It was located at 3800 Commerce in Exposition Park, a few blocks from Fair Park. During the war, the company ceased producing agricultural machinery and began producing munitions and materiel for the Navy and Army. (Part 1 can be found here.) The cards in a landscape format are larger when clicked.

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The card at the top shows the back of the (still-standing) building, behind which ran railroad tracks of the Missouri-Pacific railway. The card’s text:

ANOTHER CRACK AT THE ENEMY

The steel shavings shown in this picture cascading into a gondola car from the rear of the Mitchell plant represent the scrapped turnings from our lathes and automatics. This steel won’t be wasted; and although it wasn’t quite fortunate enough to find its way into a weapon for winning the war on this trip, maybe it will have better luck next time, for it’s now on its way back to a remelting plant.

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RECORD BREAKERS

This card will introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Lewis J. Smith, the John E. Mitchell Company’s star tapping machine operators, shown here tapping base closing plugs for parafrag bombs.

It wasn’t so long ago that the Smiths’ sons, Dudley and Raleigh Smith, held the company production record on this machine. Then Dudley joined the Army and Raleigh joined the Navy. Mr. and Mrs. Smith decided the record should be kept in the family. So far it has.

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This is one of the most interesting cards in this collection. After the war, the Mitchell Company began to manufacture a wide variety of things, including heaters and air conditioners for cars. This problem of graveyard shift workers being unable to sleep during the summer months because of the oppressive heat must have been a big problem during the war, when factories such as this had to be running 24 hours a day. This was a brilliant solution.

COOL SLEEPING FOR THE GRAVEYARD SHIFT

The graveyard shift is always a problem in Texas war plants during the summer. With the mercury hovering around 100° for days on end, it is almost impossible for the men and women on the midnight shift to get enough sleep during the daytime to stay on the job at night.

When the John E Mitchell Company faced this problem last summer our President had an idea which solved it completely and thoroughly. When Pearl Harbor slapped us in the face, the Mitchell line was in the process of being expanded to include residential heating units. Production naturally stopped at once, leaving us with several dozen units on hand, complete with fan wheels and electric motors.

It was a simple matter to revamp them into forced draft drip-type air coolers, as we see Jake Reilly, Ray Gradick, Bill Beseda, and Horace Johnson doing in this picture. Result: Efficient home air coolers of two-room capacity. Cost: $60.00 per unit. Market value: $100.00. Price per unit to Mitchell employees: $40.00.

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AND IT COMES OUT HERE

When the Navy told us that their rocket program called for three separate coats of lacquer on one of the parts, Joe Cauthen and his crew immediately went to work designing and building a special machine that would do the job automatically.

The machine picks up the parts automatically from the girl who gages them, gives them three separate coats of lacquer, and dumps them out into a box at the other end. In this picture, Joe Cauthen, Johnny Bell and Jake Reilly wait eagerly for their brain child to give out with the next one.

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MAUDE AND CLAUDE

The good old U. S. Army and Navy custom of bestowing affectionate names upon planes, guns, ships, etc., seems to have been carried over to the production front here at the John E. Mitchell Co.

In this picture we see Claude Blacketer in action with his fork truck named Maude, which he handles much more efficiently than anyone else ever handled its mulish namesake. By handling 24 boxes at once, containing 96 airborne wing assault rockets, Claude loads a freight car in less than 2 hours.

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Here is a close-up view of one of the Mitchell Company’s battery of multi-spindle automatic lathes. These machines, which cost about $25,000 apiece, perform the first operations on many of the company’s war items. They operate 24 hours a day under the expert care of men like George Alexander, shown here peeking through at an operation on rocket nozzles.

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PRESSURE BOY

Here’s one of the many presses with which the Mitchell factory is equipped, each operatable with a series of interchangeable blanking, stamping, forming, and drawing dies. This particular press has a capacity of 300 tons and forms the end frame for a Mitchell cotton machine in one lick.

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FIRST IN NORTH TEXAS

The Mitchell Company’s flag-pole carries the first Army-Navy E in the north Texas area to display three white stars. This indicates four E awards (the original and three renewals), each for six months’ continued production excellence.

The treasury flag beneath it still stands for Dallas’ number one war bond record – steady month-in, month-out bond purchases by Mitchell employees averaging over 13% of the total gross payroll. This record does not include corporate purchases by the Company.

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Sources & Notes

Postcards found on eBay. Many of these are currently for sale, here.

Part 1, containing more of these postcards, is here.

Coming next: a look at the building built by the Mitchell Company in 1928, which is still standing in Expo Park, now repurposed as residential loft space.

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Google Maps (click for larger image)

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The John E. Mitchell Company’s WWII Munitions Work (Part 1)

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by Paula Bosse

The John E. Mitchell Company arrived in Dallas in 1928 to join the other nearby manufacturers of cotton gins and other agricultural equipment. They built their factory at 3800 Commerce, between Benson and Willow Streets, in the area now commonly referred to as Exposition Park, a few blocks from Fair Park. (The building still stands and has been converted into lofts. More on the building itself in Part 3.)

In 1942, during World War II, the large cotton machinery factory gradually transformed itself into one wholly concerned with war production, primarily manufacturing munitions for the Navy, but also producing ordnance parts for the Army.

Below are a series of postcards, produced by the Mitchell Company, touting their contribution to the war effort and acknowledging their workers. The second half of these cards will be contained in the next post. (Most of the cards are larger when clicked.)

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The top card shows part of the plant’s inspection department:

TO GO OR NOT TO GO — THAT IS THE QUESTION

Every item of war production turned out at the Mitchell plant, to be acceptable to the Army and Navy, must be held within rigid tolerance of accuracy. Over fifty women do nothing but gage and inspect the various products before shipment. This picture shows a portion of the Mitchell Company’s inspection department.

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DALLAS FIRM AWARDED FIFTH ARMY-NAVY “E”

The John E Mitchell Company of Dallas Texas announced receipt of its fourth renewal of the Army-Navy E award, the fifth presentation, counting the original flag.

John E Mitchell, Jr., president, said so far as he knew the firm was the first in this section of the country to have received five awards, each representing six months of continued production excellence. The award came from Adm. C. C. Bloch, chairman of the navy board of production awards in Washington.

Employees of the Mitchell company have a record of 100 per cent participation in weekly purchases of war bonds, and the average for all employees is above 12 per cent. Absentees, excluding authorized absences, run less than 1 per cent.

From the Daily Times Herald, Tuesday, March 20, 1945

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KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

There are not many families in the country making as much of a contribution to the war effort on the production front as are the Gardners. Here they are, eight of them, all engaged in vital war work in the Mitchell plant.

Left to right: Ernest, Nettie, Fred, Ida, Raymond, Pearl, Herbert, and Maxine.

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A NOSEY DEPARTMENT

This title has nothing to do with the feminine curiosity of the women in this picture. However, the title is appropriate; because every day for the past year, between 8,000 and 10,000 explosive noses for incendiary bombs have passed down this table.

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PERPETUAL MOTION

This view, taken inside the Mitchell factory, shows a portion of our lathe department. Most of these lathes operate 24 hours a day, and most of them are now turning out Navy items for the Pacific War against Japan.

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BIG JOKE

When this picture was taken, our president, John Mitchell, had evidently pulled off some sort of wisecrack which everyone seemed to enjoy, especially Mr. Mitchell himself.

The scene: one of the Mitchell Company’s regular Monday assembly meetings. The honored guests: Barney Kidd and Raleigh Smith, former Mitchell employees, now representing their company in both branches of the armed services.

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MEET OUR INDUSTRIAL CHAPLAIN

Let us introduce you to Art Isbell, the Mitchell Company’s industrial chaplain, shown here consulting with receptionist Doris Aday.

One of the first concerns in the nation to retain a full time industrial chaplain, the Mitchell Company has already discovered how important his services can be. Handling funeral arrangements, visiting the sick, helping with personnel problems, rendering spiritual guidance, Art Isbell has made himself invaluable to Mitchell men and women and has already endeared himself to the hearts of many through his patient understanding and never-failing cooperation.

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WAR POSTERS

This committee keeps 1,000 post cards like this one going out to our men in the armed forces each week. In addition, it also has charge of the Mitchell Company’s war posters.

Every month, a new display of posters is prepared, honoring some one of the hundred ex-Mitchell employees now in uniform. The original is presented to the boy’s parents, a small-sized copy is sent overseas to the boy himself, and the posters themselves are displayed in the plant.

To date, four of the posters honor men who have given their lives for their country.

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Sources & Notes

Postcards found on eBay last year. I was a little surprised to find that most of them are still available for purchase, here.

For more on the Mitchell Company’s early days as a munitions plant, see the Dallas Morning News article “E Award Given Plant Doing Munitions Job” (DMN, Dec. 29, 1942).

The Mitchell Lofts building is a long way from being war-time production plant. Here is what it looks like today.

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Google Maps (click for larger image)

Another Flashback Dallas post on a local munitions plant (this one downtown) —  “2222 Ross Avenue: From Packard Dealership to ‘War School’ to Landmark Skyscraper” — is here.

Part 2 features more of these postcards of the Mitchell Company’s war work, here.

Part 3 will focus on the building itself.

Check back!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Consolidated Candy Co., 826-830 Exposition — ca. 1936

consolidated-candy-co_826-830-exposition-st_jim-wheatCandy manufacturing in Expo Park (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A photo of Exposition Park about the time of the huge Texas Centennial celebration held in 1936 at Fair Park, one block away. The Consolidated Candy Co. at 826-830 Exposition Avenue was liquidated in 1939, and the Rogers Cafe next door at 832 Exposition was around only a couple of years, about 1935 to 1937, so 1936 seems a good guess.

Here’s a list of businesses that were operating along hopping Exposition Avenue in 1936, between Ash and Parry (click for larger image):

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1936 Dallas directory

Most of the buildings from that period along Parry and Exposition are still standing, including the buildings seen in the photo above. Here is a current view.

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Google Street View, Jan. 2016

I’m happy to see these two buildings still holding down that spot after all this time, but they both appear to have lost some character in the intervening 80 years. It’s like someone’s sanded all the interesting bits off and made it as bland-looking as possible. You know what I think needs to make a comeback? Awnings.

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Top photo from Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives site.

A Google Street View showing this block looking toward Fair Park, with these buildings on the left, is here.

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Google Maps

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Images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

James Surls & David McCullough: Art in Exposition Park — 1973

surls-mccullough_dec-1973From the DMA archives (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a postcard advertising a 1973 art show at 839 1/2 Exposition (Parry & Exposition, across from Fair Park), featuring the work of James Surls (right, next to one of his sculptures) and David McCullough (left, in front of one of his paintings).

James Surls (b.1943), originally from East Texas, came to Dallas in the late-’60s to teach sculpture at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, from 1969 to 1976. His first mention in The Dallas Morning News, though, was on Sept. 12, 1967, when a 23-year-old Surls was mentioned as a participant in a group sculpture show at Atelier Chapman Kelley (on Fairmount Street) alongside major artists such as Georges Braque, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, and Henry Bertoia. Surls made his first professional impact on the art world while he was living in Dallas, and for years he was known as a “Dallas artist.” Surls eventually left Dallas for Spendora, Texas, and he now lives and works in Colorado and is an important internationally admired and collected sculptor.

After studying in Boston and Kansas City, and after a stint in California working on “happenings” with Allan Kaprow and Dick Higgins, David McCullough (b. 1945) moved to Dallas in 1970 where he quickly became part of the local art scene. After only seven months as a resident of the city, McCullough was commissioned by the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts to execute “Baggie Mantra Sanctorum March,” an art and performance piece which was Dallas’ first outdoor environment “happening.” A respected artist, McCullough continues to create and continues to call Dallas his home.

The McCullough/Surls show touted in the above postcard paired the two local artists and was well-received by local publications. The exhibition space at 839 1/2 Exposition was McCullough’s studio at the time, and the show presented sculptures by Surls and “relief wall paintings” by McCullough.

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For a FANTASTIC look at this period in Dallas’ contemporary art scene, Ken Harrison’s 1975 documentary “Jackelope” (which aired on KERA, Ch. 13 in January, 1976) is absolutely essential. (Watch it here.)

jackelop_dmn_012576-photo“Jackelope” subjects Wade, Green, and Surls

It profiles Surls, George Green, and Bob “Daddy-O” Wade (who will forever be known in Dallas as the creator of Tango’s dancing frogs), and the Surls and Wade portions are extremely entertaining. I watched this documentary earlier this year, and I’ve found myself thinking about it frequently. I highly recommend this deliberately slow-moving documentary for anyone interested in Texas art (…or just art). Or for anyone who’s a fan of incredible Texas accents (why don’t we hear accents like these anymore?).

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Sources & Notes

Postcard is from the Paul Rogers Harris Gallery Mailings Collection, Dallas Museum of Art Archives; found as part of the interesting article “Fair Park-South Dallas: The City’s First Arts District” by Leigh Arnold, here.

To see just a few of James Surls’ wonderful pieces, click here. To view a slideshow of the DMA retrospective, “Visions: James Surls, 1974-1984,” click here. His official website is here.

Articles of interest from the Dallas Morning News archives:

“Kelley to Unveil Sculpture Show” by John Neville (DMN, Sept. 12, 1867) — first mention of Surls in the pages of The News, this announcement of an upcoming sculpture show at Atelier Chapman Kelley has Surls alongside big-hitters such as Georges Braque, Henry Moore, and Louise Nevelson

“Loft Offers ‘Big Art’ Space” by Janet Kutner (DMN, Feb. 16, 1974) — review of the show advertised on the postcard at the top of this post

“Surls Casts ‘Sams’ for Movie Awards” by Janet Kutner (DMN, March 11, 1972) — about the bronze movie awards — the “Sams” — which Surls created for the 1972 USA Film Festival

“Art for Dog’s Sake” by Janet Kutner (DMN, Dec. 7, 1975) — about a 1975 group show at SMU consisting of over 50 artists (!), which Surls organized (and created a sculpture for) on a $50 budget; contains a thoroughly delightful interview about “The Dog Show” (“It’s both serious and non-serious, maybe ‘arf ‘n ‘arf…”)

“Texas Artists in TV Special” by Janet Kutner (DMN, Jan. 25, 1976) — review of the film “Jackelope”

For a profile on David McCullough that appeared in The Lakewood Advocate, click here. To watch an entertaining video in which he paints before a crowd at the Dallas Arboretum as the Dallas Wind Ensemble plays, followed by an interview, see the YouTube video here. McCullough’s website is here.

Read the background of McCullough’s 1971 “Baggie sculpture” — the outdoor “happening” at the lagoon at Fair Park in these Dallas Morning News articles:

“Baggie Sculpture in Park Lagoon” (DMN, June 12, 1971)

“McCullough Creates ‘Baggie Happening'” by Janet Kutner (…that lady was busy!) (DMN, June 20, 1971)

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Random Still-Standing Buildings Featured in Ads From 1929

ad-boedeker-ice-cream_1929-directoryS. Ervay & Griffin — still there! (click to see larger image of building)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve always had a fascination for old advertisements. Ads for local products and businesses are particularly interesting and can be quite informative — especially those that feature photographs of the businesses being advertised. I always get an exciting little jolt when I see a still-standing building that I recognize in a 50-, 60-, or 70-year-old ad. Below are a few ads from 1929 — 86 years ago! — featuring buildings that have somehow survived the wrecking ball. Not all of them are architecturally interesting, but they’ve all seen a lot more than you and I have. Click the ads below to see larger images of the buildings.

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Above, the Boedeker Ice Cream plant — the “finest in the South,” located at S. Ervay & Griffin (1201 S. Ervay). The company was founded in 1887 by German Frederick Boedeker, the first ice cream manufacturer in Dallas. This building was built, I believe, around 1921. I’m not sure what’s in there these days (if anything), but here  is it today, via Google Street View:

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UPDATE: Apparently there are plans afoot — read about them here.

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Next, the Dallas Tent & Awning Company at 3401 Commerce.

ad-dallas-tent-awning_directory_1929(click to see larger image of building)

This very successful company moved several times to larger and larger spaces, until they decided to build their own showroom and manufacturing plant in 1921. A 1922 Chamber of Commerce ad described the building as “a three-story modern building, 100 feet square with a warehouse in the rear which covers 40,000 square feet, Commerce and Race streets.” They manufactured tents, awnings, automobile tops, tire covers, and seat covers.

Here it is today, the cool-looking Murray Lofts, between Deep Ellum and Exposition Park:

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(I’m not sure if the house in this ad was in Dallas, but I hope so! What a beautiful house! A larger image is here.)

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Next, the Dallas Show Case & Mfg. Co. at 329-337 Exposition.

ad-dallas-show-case_directory_1929(click to see larger image of building)

According to a 1962 interview with the Otto Coerver — the son of the company’s founder — the factory was built in 1920 just blocks from Fair Park — a location so far “out in the country” that there was no city electric service. Since its founding in 1880, the company had manufactured “bank, office and store fixtures, showcases, hardwood floors and special household and church furniture.” The building still stands, but I’m not sure who occupies it these days.

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And, lastly,the Columbia Fence & Wire Co. at 3120 Grand Avenue.

ad-columbia-fence-wire_directory-1929sm(click to see larger image of building)

Though it’s been there since at least 1922, this building is one that I have to admit I probably wouldn’t shed a tear over were it to be demolished. Still, it’s been around a lot longer than I have, and I have to admire the fact that it’s managed to hang on for so many years.  After the Columbia Fence & Wire Co. moved on, the building was occupied by a succession of light industrial businesses. In the 1970s it must have gone through quite a renovation, because it became home to a string of discos, including the short-lived Lucifer’s (owned by Dallas Cowboy Harvey Martin), the Plush Pup, and Papa Do Run Run. Below, the current Google street view (the sign above the vacant building says “S. Dallas Cafe”):

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All ads from the 1929 city directory. (Apologies for the muddy images. Whenever I post these directory ads, they look great before they’re posted, then something happens during the uploading process, and … argh.)

Present-day images from Google Street View.

A continuation — “MORE Random Still-Standing Buildings Featured in Ads From 1929” — can be found here.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Panoramic View of the Entrance to the State Fair of Texas — 1908

state-fair_clogenson_1908_LOC“Texas State Fair, Main Entrance” by Clogenson, 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Today is opening day of the State Fair of Texas. Always an anticipated annual event, this is what the crowded entrance to Fair Park looked like over a century ago — still pretty recognizable, especially the firehouse at the top left. Below is a detail of the first third or so of this amazing panoramic photo. For a gigantic image of the top photo, click here (and then keep clicking until it’s gotten as big as it’s going to get — and don’t forget to use that horizontal scroll bar!).

Below is the detail I’ve cropped from the larger photo, showing the Parry Avenue portion, with the still-standing firehouse at the top left.

Have fun at the fair, y’all!

state-fair_1908-detDetail showing Parry Avenue, looking north (click for larger image)

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Original image titled “Texas State Fair, Main Entrance” by Clogenson, 1908, from the Library of Congress. Photo and details can be viewed at the LOC website here.

In case you missed the link above — and because it’s so fantastic and filled with such incredible detail — you really must see the really big image of that really big panoramic photo,  HERE.

For other Flashback Dallas posts on the State Fair of Texas, click here.

For Flashback Dallas posts on the Texas Centennial, click here.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Expo Park, Circa 1946: Dry Goods, Rooms to Let, Sheet Metal, and Head-In Parking

exposition-827-825_c1946_jim-wheat(Click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Next time you stop by the Amsterdam Bar at 831 Exposition Avenue, whip out your phone and show this photo to your drinking buddies — this is what the street looked like two doors down, just after World War II. The two-story 827 Exposition was home to Lief Dry Goods and the Lief Hotel, and the single-story 825 Exposition was divided up into McNeill’s Tin Shop and the Fair Way Cleaners & Laundry (it currently houses the Ochre House theater space). Today the neighborhood has lost much of its grittiness (and head-in parking), but the buildings are still recognizable almost 70 years later. Below, present-day 827 and 825 Exposition Avenue.

exposition_827-google

exposition_825-google

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Top photo from Jim Wheat’s Dallas County Texas Archives.

Bottom two images from Google Street View.

Click pictures for larger images.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Texas Fire Extinguisher Co. and Hitler — 1942

tx-fire-extinguisher-coTexas Fire Extinguisher Co., across from Fair Park… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

For a place that sells fire extinguishers and tractor equipment, this is a wonderfully comforting image. Hardly even looks like Dallas. The Texas Fire Extinguisher Company — operated for several decades by the Hancock family — was located at the corner of Parry and Second Avenue, across from Fair Park. While checking to see the exact address of this business (which, by the way, was 929 Second Ave.), I came across a 1942 article mentioning it and Hitler.

According to a Dallas Morning News blurblet, the Hancock company owner had placed a want-ad for a painter and paperhanger and received an odd response on a postcard:

“Gentlemen: I wish to apply for the job as a paperhanger. Am hunting bears at present, but am about out of ammunition. Anyway, I am a better paperhanger than I am a bear hunter. –Adolph Hitler, Berlin, Germany. (P.S. Please rush answer as this job is playing out and may have to move soon.)”

Humor doesn’t always translate successfully across the generations. But, hey, that was weird.

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Sources & Notes

Postcard (cropped) from the Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection on Flickr, here.

Quote from Dallas Morning News article “Reply to Want Ad Indicates Hitler Wants a New Job” (DMN, Nov. 6, 1942).

Click postcard for larger image.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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