Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Oak Cliff/West Dallas

10th and Lancaster, Oak Cliff — ca. 1902

oak-cliff_tenth-and-lancaster_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1902Lancaster, intersecting Jefferson & E. 10th… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This photo, taken around 1902, shows a northward-view of an intersection of the soon-to-be-annexed (or a just-annexed) Oak Cliff: Lancaster (the dark road running at a slight diagonal to the upper left of the photo), E. 10th St. (crossing Lancaster behind the “Eselco 10¢ Cigars” sign and running horizontally in the middle of the photo), and Jefferson, which contains the double tracks of the then-new Dallas-Fort Worth interurban railway.

The location of this photo can be seen on a 1905 Sanborn map here (in that map, 10th St. is at the right edge — to see the area just south of Jefferson — where the photographer snapped his photo — that map is here). The view today? Lancaster (which became N. Lancaster just north of E. 10th) no longer exists immediately north of 10th — that land is now occupied by Hector P. Garcia Middle School  — the location seen in the 116-year-old photo above can be viewed on Google Street View, here.

Let’s zoom in on this photo. Though grainy, it’s still really exciting to see views of Oak Cliff, just after the turn of the century (Oak Cliff was annexed by Dallas in 1903 but had been a thriving community for many years before that). Below, a couple of men are seated on a bench beneath a sign that says “Interurban Ticket Office,” a bicycle lies at the curb, men stand on the corner, and a horse-drawn buggy is parked underneath a sign that says “drugs.” Eselco brand cigars were ten cents apiece at the time (about $3.00 in today’s money). The “ticket office” sign helps date this photo, as the Dallas-Fort Worth interurban service (through Oak Cliff) began in July, 1902.

oak-cliff_tenth-and-lancaster_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1902_det-1

On the east side of Lancaster, a two-story building with “Britton & Collins Drugs” painted on the side dominates the block. The drug store was owned by T. Jefferson (“Jeff”) Britton and J. Willie Collins. Tennessee-born Britton (1874-1926) had opened a well-known drug store in downtown Dallas at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard in the late 1890s (seen here in 1900) — this attempt at an expansion into Oak Cliff does not seem to have lasted long: I find listings for this OC location in only the 1902 and 1903 city directories.

oak-cliff_tenth-and-lancaster_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1902_det-2

britton-and-collins-drug-store_1902-directory1902 Dallas city directory

Back to the interurban service (the arrival of which was, no doubt, both a welcomed convenience as well as a financial boon to Oak Cliff residents and businesses): here are the double tracks of the Northern Texas Traction Co.,  running along Jefferson. (More on this interurban line is at the bottom of this post.)

oak-cliff_tenth-and-lancaster_mcafee_degolyer_SMU_ca-1902_det-3

Below is a detail from a 1905 map showing this confusing intersection of E. 10th, Jefferson, N. Lancaster, and S. Lancaster. (As with all images in this post, click to see a larger picture.)

oak-cliff_tenth-and-lancaster_worleys-map-greater-dallas_1905_det

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Sources & Notes

This photo — titled “10th and Lancaster, Oak Cliff, 1900” — is part of the George A. McAfee photographs collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more information about this photo can be found here.

According to the DeGolyer Library, the photo has the following notation written on the back: “10th & Lancaster. Oak Cliff — looking toward Dallas. Taken 1900.” I think the photo was taken a little later — somewhere between mid-1902 and very early 1904: the Britton & Collins drug store was listed in only two Dallas directories (1902 and 1903), and the interurban service from Dallas to Fort Worth (which passed through Oak Cliff and past the “Tenth St. Station”) did not begin until July, 1902.

Everything you could possibly want to know about the Dallas-Fort Worth interurban line, including mechanical specs and several photographs, can be found in a PDF of the July 18, 1903 issue of the Street Railway Journal, here (the 10-page article “The System of the Northern Texas Traction Company” begins on p. 82). (Lots on “Lake Erie” at Handley can also  be found in this article.)

A few newspaper snippets from the first month following of the launch of the Dallas-Fort Worth interurban service.

oak-cliff_interurban_dmn_070102Dallas Morning News, July 1, 1902 (click to see larger image)

oak-cliff_interurban_dmn_070702_first-week-operationDMN, July 7, 1902

The one-way fare to FW from Dallas was 70¢, and a round-trip fare was $1.25 (a rather hefty $20 and $36, respectively, in today’s money, adjusted for inflation).

oak-cliff_interurban_tenth-station_dmn_071702DMN, July 17, 1902

oak-cliff_interurban_tenth-station_dmn_071102DMN, July 11, 1902

oak-cliff_interurban_el-paso-herald_072102El Paso Herald, July 21, 1902

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Oak Cliff: “A City Within a City” — 1929

oak-cliff-city-within-a-city_cover_ca-1929_SMU

by Paula Bosse

Publications like Oak Cliff, A City Within a City (“Stop and Shop — Buy it from your neighbors!”) are wonderful glimpses into a city’s proud self-promotion. This little booklet is for the newcomer to Oak Cliff — to show that it is its own self-contained community, full of friendly, neighborhood businesses; even better, each ad is accompanied by a photograph. Though undated, the photo of the famed Cliff Queen movie theater features movies released in 1929. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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CLIFF QUEEN THEATRE (L. L. Dunbar, proprietor), 616 E. Jefferson. On the marquee: “South Sea Rose,” starring Charles Bickford and Lenore Ulric (1929). Talking pictures — “clean entertainment” for the whole family.

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cliff-queen-theater_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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BARRETT’S CLEANERS (E. B. Tipton, prop.), 607 E. Jefferson (building still stands, here). “We clean everything but a guilty conscience.”

barretts-cleaners_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

barretts-cleaners_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF BANK & TRUST (aka Jefferson Bank & Trust), 106-108 W. Jefferson (with the Texas State Mutual Life Insurance Co. upstairs). “Plenty of parking space.”

oak-cliff-bank-and-trust_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-bank-and-trust_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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CAMERON MAN SHOP (prop. C. C. Cameron), 115 W. Jefferson. Stop in and say howdy to “Oak Cliff’s dress-up man.”

camerons-mans-shop_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

camerons-mans-shop_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca_1929_SMU

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LAKESIDE LAUNDRY & CLEANING CO., 1454 N. Zang (at Marsalis). “Let the biggest washwoman in Oak Cliff do your laundry.”

lakeside-laundry_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

lakeside-laundry_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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H. BOEDEKER & SONS, Grocery and Hardware (Huber Boedeker, Oscar Boedeker, and W. C. Boedeker), 113 N. Lancaster. “The store complete.”

boedeker_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

boedeker_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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LAMAR & SMITH, Funeral Directors and Ambulance Service, 800 W. Jefferson. “Keep Oak Cliff safe!” (…or there will be unfortunate consequences you will be calling us to deal with).

lamar-and-smith_ambulance_funeral-directors_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

lamar-and-smith_ambulance_funeral-directors_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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RICK FURNITURE CO. (Louis F. Rick, prop.), 418 N. Bishop. “More than 50 years in Dallas.”

rick-furniture_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

rick-furniture_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF PHARMACY, various locations. “Candy, soda, cigars, sick-room supplies.”

oak-cliff-pharmacy_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-pharmacy_ad_OC-city-within-a-city__ca-1929_SMU

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SKINNIE & JIMMIE SERVICE STATION, W. Jefferson and Madison (northeast corner). A free grease job awaits the coupon-bearing newcomer.

skinnie-and-jimmie_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

skinnie-and-jimmie_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF ICE DELIVERY CO., 1027 S. Beckley (building may still be standing, here). “We help to make Oak Cliff a cooler place.”

oak-cliff-ice_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-ice_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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KIDD SPRINGS, 715 W. Canty (see the amusement area on a 1922 Sanborn map, here). “Where Dallas plays.”

kidd-springs_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

kidd-springs_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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Sources & Notes

“Oak Cliff, A City Within a City,” published by The Welcome Wagon, Dallas, ca. 1929, is from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information may be accessed here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: Businesses

mkt-bldg_western-architect_july-1914

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.)

boren-and-stewart_western-architect_july-1914

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.)

davis-hat-co-bldg_western-architect_july-1914

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.)

butler-brothers_western-architect_july-1914

It even had its own artesian “deep well.”

butler-brothers_det_western-architect_july-1914

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.)

oak-cliff_mallory-drugstore_western-architect_july-1914

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.)

huey-and-philp_western-architect_july-1914

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.)

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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.

 

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: Residences of East Dallas, South Dallas, and More

higginbotham-r-w_house_western-architect_july-1914

by Paula Bosse

This is the second installment of a week-long look at the wonderful photos published in 1914 in the journal The Western Architect. Today’s installment features photos of homes built between 1911 and 1913 in Munger Place and Old East Dallas, South Dallas, Uptown, and Oak Cliff — of the eight homes featured here, six are still standing. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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Residence 1: (above) the beautiful sprawling home of businessman RUFUS W. HIGGINBOTHAM (Higginbotham-Bailey, Boren-Stewart, etc.), 5002 SWISS AVENUE, designed by Charles Erwin Barglebaugh, chief designer for Lang & Witchell and a former employee of Frank Lloyd Wright (more on Barglebaugh — who was one of the architects responsible for the Medical Arts Building — can be found here). This beautiful Prairie-style house still stands. (It can be seen on a 1922 Sanborn map here.)

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Residence 2: another house from the firm of Lang & Witchell, this one for banker GEORGE N. ALDREDGE, 5125 LIVE OAK (at Munger). (In 1921 the family moved into the former Lewis home at 5500 Swiss — that house is now known as “The Aldredge House.”) This Live Oak house was torn down in 1958 to make way for an apartments. (The surprisingly large lot this house sat on can be seen on a 1922 Sanborn map here.)

aldredge-g-n_house_western-architect_july-1914

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Residence 3: an apartment house built for J. H. MEYERS, 4920 VICTOR (between Fitzhugh and Collett), designed by C. W. Bulger & Son. The elder Bulger designed what was probably the most famous building in the city when this apartment was built — the Praetorian Building, the tallest “skyscraper” in the Southwest. But the key to business success is to diversify, and this nifty apartment house still stands and looks great (I love that those “arrows” on the front are still there). (On the 1922 Sanborn map here.)

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Residence 4: the unusual-looking (in comparison to the others) house belonging to lawyer MARION N. CHRESTMAN, 4525 JUNIUS, also designed by C. W. Bulger & Son. (When I saw it, my first thought was that it was reminiscent of the nearby “Bianchi House” at Reiger and Carroll, which was built at the same time and has been in preservation news in the past couple of years.) This house is still standing and, though renovated, looks pretty spiffy (I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s privacy, but if you Google the address, some MLS listings show photos of the house’s interior). (See it on the 1922 Sanborn map, here — right next to the Haskell Branch creek, the proximity of which no doubt caused problems during heavy rains. And mosquito season.)

chrestman-house_western-architect_july-1914

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Residence 5: the beautiful home of Sanger Bros. executive MAX J. ROSENFIELD, 2527 SOUTH BOULEVARD, designed by Woerner & Cole. I love this house, and I’m happy to see it’s still standing in the South Boulevard-Park Row Historic District in South Dallas — and it still looks beautiful. (Rosenfield was the man who built the circa-1885 “blue house” in the Cedars which was recently moved to a new location — I wrote about him and that previous house, here.) (See this house — and the one below — on the 1922 Sanborn map here. It’s interesting to note that this map — drawn almost 10 years after the construction of Rosenfield’s house — shows most of the lots on that side of South Blvd. being vacant; the south side of the street, however, is mostly full.)

rosenfield-max-house_western-architect_july-1914

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Residence 6: a house with distinctive arches built for MRS. SALLIE SALZENSTEIN (widow of clothing merchant Charles Salzenstein), 2419 SOUTH BOULEVARD, designed by Lane & Witchell. This house — one block from the Rosenfield house — is still standing. (This and the Rosenfield house can both be seen on the 1922 Sanborn map, here.)

salzenstein-house_western-architect_july-1914

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Residence 7: the ELMWOOD APARTMENTS, built by A. R. PHILLIPS, 2707 ROUTH STREET (at Mahon), designed by Hubbell & Greene. No longer an apartment house, the building is still standing in the Uptown area and looks great (see it from a 2011 Google Street View here). (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

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Residence 8: the Oak Cliff home of developer LESLIE A. STEMMONS (yes, that Stemmons), 100 N. ROSEMONT (at Jefferson), designed by Brickey & Brickey. This home is no longer standing (the block is now occupied by the Salvation Army), but while it was it was named an “Example of Civic Attractiveness” in 1913. (See it on a 1922 Sanborn map, here — a large lot north of W. Jefferson, on the left side of the map.)

stemmons-house_western-architect_july-1914

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Coming next: skyscrapers and civic pride.

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Sources & Info

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.

 

Oak Cliff: “A City Set On a Hill Cannot Be Hid” — 1887

oak-cliff_railway-over-trinity_dallas-herald_122987Next stop: The Cliff… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Below is an article (which reads like a real estate ad) from the December 29, 1887 edition of The Dallas Herald, rhapsodizing about the wonders of Oak Cliff, the brand new development springing up across the Trinity River, not yet part of Dallas. According to the ad article, “the Cliff” was quickly becoming a bedroom community for neighboring Big City Dallas, which was apparently bursting at the seams with newly-arrived residents looking for someplace to live. Accompanying this paean were six drawings (in varying degrees of artistic accomplishment), including an interesting, if hard-to-read, map of Oak Cliff at the time (all images are larger when clicked). Here is a transcription of the Dallas Herald article (which can be seen in its original layout on the Portal to Texas History website, here).

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OAK CLIFF

STILL BOOMING IN SPITE OF THE BAD WEATHER

The Iron Bridge Will Soon be Completed and the Transportation Problem forever Settled

(Dallas Herald, Dec. 29, 1887)

Oak Cliff was born of natural advantages and abundant enterprise. Mother Dallas has a dozen sprightly children but in the face of all of them, Oak Cliff walks off with the schnap. There is some talk of moving Dallas over to the Cliff, but the city council will not do it. It would not be a good thing. “A city set on a hill cannot be hid.”

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We don’t intend to say that Dallas is hid. The Cliff dwellers look down upon her as an open page every day. People from all sections of the state and county have turned both eyes toward Dallas, and her prominence is rapidly increasing. The growth of her population is marvelous. There are at least 2,000 recent arrivals living in tents around the city waiting for houses. Between three and five hundred of these are at Oak Cliff. It is certainly not necessary to add that the constantly increasing prominence and growth of Dallas rendered it necessary to cross the river and find desirable and delightful homes for the people. For a solution of this problem the reader is referred to the above illustration. 

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The dummy engine brought from the Crescent City for that purpose could not pull the people. So a new larger engine was brought on to try the track and haul the folks. From the court-house to Tenth street station there is one unbroken line of excellent track, except the break at the temporary bridge over the Trinity’s channel. The iron bridge is on the ground, the huge pillars are up and the material all ready for the one missing link, which will soon be completed.

The splendid pike leading from Commerce street west is the wagon way to Oak Cliff. This is macadamized from the bridge to Grand Avenue which is a fine graded and macadamized street running entirely through the heart of the new city. Limestone in blocks about a foot square is laid first upon the well graded street and this is finished off with a filling of excellent gravel, almost a foot deep. Leaving the Lancaster road near the bluff, you turn right and follow Grand avenue more than a mile without encountering enough mud to bog a mosquito. Of course other streets, fifty of them, have been graded also. So much for TRANSPORTATION. Good roads of both kinds to the city.

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Now we are over there. The first thing we find its altitude. As Col. Oliver, editor of the Oak Cliff Weekly puts it, “we are much nearer heaven.” We feel better. Next we find beautiful scenery all around us for almost a weekday’s journey. The circle around us is broad and grand. We find pleasant groves, enchanting jungles, quiet retreats, hoary rocks, delightful springs and then the lake.

The water tower and school house are not hard to find. No city in the state has better. (School begins January 1st.)

oak-cliff_public-school-bldg_dallas-herald_122987

A nobby little station after the Japanese plan of architecture, is found where each street crosses the railway. Scores of laborers are seen at work on the streets, and the saw and hammer keep up a terrible racket. There are thirteen homes now going up and as many more under contract. Scarcely a day passes without sales by the Dallas Land & Loan Co., as the lists of “Real Estate Transfers” attest. $200,000 will cover the real estate sales of most Texas towns of 5,000 people and under for six months or a year. Oak Cliff has sold that much in six weeks, and began virtually without any population at all. There has been more public improvement at Oak Cliff within the past three months than in the entire city of Dallas, or any city or town in Texas. This is a strong statement but it is backed by the figures. It is true. This improvement has been made by private capital too. It cannot stop now – it does not have to. But it is safe to say it does not wish to.

With such lovely places for home, school privileges, quick and cheap transportation to the city, highly improved streets and an abundance of as pure water as there is in Texas, the investors in Oak Cliff stock need not wait long for their bread to float back to them. But the point of chief interest has not been touched yet. THESE PLEASANT, HEALTHFUL, CONVENIENT PLACES TO LIVE ARE OFFERED AT REASONABLE PRICES. It takes more than most mortals possess to buy a 25 x 75 foot lot of black mud in other places and nothing is left to buy lumber or build a house. You do not need a fortune to get you a home at the Cliff, and you get a lot 100 x 250 or larger, in some instances. Of course you have no city tax to pay. Property will never be lower than it is now. The completion of the iron bridge will be sure to raise the value of lots. (–Dallas Herald, December 29, 1887)

oak-cliff_map_dallas-herald_122987

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Sources & Notes

Text and drawings from the pages of The Dallas Herald, Dec. 29, 1887; the original page layout can be viewed on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site here.

Other Flashback Dallas posts on the early days of Oak Cliff:

  • “Oak Cliff, The Beautiful Suburb — 1888,” here
  • “The Marsalis House: One of Oak Cliff’s ‘Most Conspicuous Architectural Landmarks,'” here
  • “Thomas Marsalis’ Spectacular Oak Cliff Hotel: 1890-1945,” here
  • “Oak Cliff Wants YOU! — 1890,” here
  • “Oak Cliff Presbyterian Church, Organized 1890,” here
  • “‘Oak Cliff Is To Dallas What Brooklyn Is To New York’ — 1891,” here
  • “The St. Joseph Orphanage — 1891,” here

General posts on Oak Cliff/West Dallas can be found here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dallas House Moving Company — 1940

ad_dallas-house-moving-co_aug-1940Moving from W. 12th to … W. 12th…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

My brother and I are helping our mother move. At least we aren’t having to move a two-story brick apartment building, as seen in the photo above, which is from a 1940 ad for the Dallas House Moving Company (est. 1935), owned and operated by Homer Gardner. The caption for the photo is below (click to see a larger image):

ad_dallas-house-moving-co-aug-1940-captionDallas House Moving Co. advertisement, Aug. 1940

The apartment house (which contained six units) was one of several houses and apartment buildings which were moved in 1940 to accommodate the widening of Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff. The building was moved from 138 W. 12th Street to 214 W. 12th. The 900,000-pound structure was loaded onto a steel track and was moved the short distance on steel rollers.

So when I sigh heavily on having to move things my down-sizing mother really does not need to be keeping (like … schnapps glasses?!), I have to take a moment and keep this relatively simple move in perspective. No steel tracks necessary

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“The Cedars” Maternity Sanitarium, Oak Cliff — ca. 1923-1944

cedars-maternity-sanitarium_texas-state-journal-of-medicine_oct-1933_portalA “seclusion home for unwed mothers”… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The rather blurry photo above shows a “maternity sanitarium” for unwed mothers, where “unfortunate women” could spend their days in seclusion until their babies were born there on the premises. The home/sanitarium was called “The Cedars” and was located on N. Ravinia Drive in the Beverly Hills area of Oak Cliff; when it opened, it was just outside the Dallas city limits. (It has nothing to do with The Cedars area south of downtown; its name may have had something to do with the name of a nearby street which intersected Ravinia. …Or it might have been located near a cedar grove. …Or it might have been used to subliminally suggest famed Cedars-Sinai Hospital.)

The sanitarium was opened around 1923 by Mrs. Lillie Perry (1876-1929), a woman who might have had some personal experience with the “fallen women” she cared for, as it appears she might have had a child out of wedlock herself. When she died in 1929, her daughter Lillian Hanna took over the running of the sanitarium. Lillian died in 1938, and that seems to have been around the time that the home became part of the Volunteers of America organization, which, among its many social services, provided maternity care for women and also assisted in adoption placement. The last mention I saw of “The Cedars” was in 1944.

The photo above appeared in an ad placed in the Oct., 1933 issue of the Texas State Journal of Medicine with the accompanying text (for larger images, click pictures and clippings):

cedars-maternity-sanitarium_tx-state-journal-of-medicine_oct-1933_portal_text
1933

Another ad, featuring friendly-looking nurses, appeared in the same issue, a few pages earlier:

cedars-maternity-sanitarium_tx-state-journal-of-medicine_oct-1933_portal_nurses

cedars-maternity-sanitarium_tx-state-journal-of-medicine_oct-1933_portal_nurses_text1933

Below are a few discreet newspaper ads for The Cedars which appeared over the years in the “personals” section of the classifieds.

cedars-maternity-home_dmn_070623
1923

cedars-maternity-home_dmn_042724_westmoreland
1924

cedars-maternity-home_dmn_1006291929

cedars-maternity-home_dmn_0105311931

cedars-maternity-home_dmn_0418341934

1937_cedars-maternity-sanitarium
Listing from the 1937 Dallas city directory

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Sources & Notes

Ads from the Texas State Journal of Medicine appeared in the October, 1933 issue, which can be found scanned in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History site, here.

Homes for “unwed mothers”/”unfortunate girls”/”fallen women” were generally places families sent their daughters in order to avoid the social stigma that unmarried girls and women faced when pregnant. They just kind of “disappeared” for several months and had their babies in secret, often feeling pressured to put their children up for adoption. An interesting Salon article on the topic is “The Children They Gave Away” by Sarah Karnasiewicz.

More on the Beverly Hills neighborhood of Oak Cliff can be found in articles from Heritage Oak Cliff and Preservation Dallas.

Thanks to Patricia M. who wrote to ask me a question about this place. I’ve learned a lot of interesting things about Dallas I would never have thought to look into were it not for obscure questions from readers. Like this one! Thanks, Patricia!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Eccentric Medford Compound On the Old Eagle Ford Road: 1945-1950

medford_trinity-cafe_west-dallas_FB_dallas-historyYou need it, he’s got it… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, 409-413 Singleton Blvd. in West Dallas, not long after the name of the street had been changed from Eagle Ford Road. The name-change happened in 1942 because of “unfavorable incidents in the past which had been associated with Eagle Ford Road” (The Dallas Morning News, April 26, 1942) — “Singleton” was Vernon Singleton, a former Oak Cliff County Commissioner. Today, this area is part of the super-hipstery Trinity Groves neighborhood; the block seen in the photo is now mostly occupied by a parking lot and looks like this.

Back then, “Eagle Ford Road” would have conjured up all sorts of unsavory images of bad behavior and illegal activities, and, even now, one tends to think immediately of the area’s most notorious exports: Bonnie and Clyde. Immediately after World War II, the population of West Dallas (an area which would not become part of the City of Dallas until its annexation in December, 1952) was about 12,000, and its residents were generally poor and living in substandard housing with inadequate water and drainage and little in the way of sanitary facilities.

The “complex” above — which consisted of, basically, the Trinity Cafe, a grocery/drug/dry-goods store, and a residence — was perhaps a bit more colorful than most of the businesses that lined Eagle Road/Singleton Blvd. in post-war West Dallas. The property was owned by Richard Elbert Medford (1864-1950), who, as one of the signs says, was also known as “The Rev. R. E. Medford, Preacher” (although I’m not sure if he was an actual ordained minister or just a self-styled preacher). In 1944 or 1945 — after several years of selling mattresses — Medford took over the collection of rickety buildings seen in the photo above, sold a wide-ranging collection of unrelated stuff, and painted a lot of signs. He remained in business there until his death in 1950 at the age of 86 (the cause of death was “senile exhaustion” which I gather means “died of old age”).

The signage in the photo is … well … it’s fantastic. It’s verging on Outsider Art. Medford offered everything, including (but not limited to):

  • Real estate
  • Beer
  • Notary Public services (deeds, mortgages, birth certificates…)
  • Keys
  • Appliance repair
  • Lawn mowers
  • Oil
  • Fish bait (minnows, crawfish, worms, and “flys”)

He also offered religious advice (“Repent & Be Babtised By Emmersion For Your Sins You Will Be Saved”).

Mr. Medford’s personal life was not a happy one, and perhaps the unrelenting family dramas caused him to become more and more eccentric as the years went by. Many of his children found themselves caught up in the crime and violence West Dallas had become known for.

  • One teenage son was shot and wounded during an attempted robbery in 1930, two months before one of his daughters married at the age of 13.
  • Another son, who was 11 years old, was killed when he attempted to intervene in a fight between his sister and her husband and was fatally kicked in the abdomen by his brother-in-law.
  • Another son was a habitual criminal who committed an eyepopping range of crimes and was in and out of city, county, state, and federal correctional facilities throughout his life. (This son, Homer, was also married for a short time to the ex-wife of Clyde Barrow’s brother L. C. Barrow, but that marriage hit the skids when she shot Homer, sending him to the hospital with critical —  but not fatal — wounds.)
  • And in 1951, after Rev. Medford’s death, the son who had been shot in 1930 while attempting to break into a store in Irving, shot and killed his wife and young son before killing himself.

So, yeah, Rev. Medford’s life was a rough one, and there were definitely some dark days in hardscrabble West Dallas. I’d like to think his store, plastered with its kooky signs, offered him some respite from the incessant melodramas percolating all around him.

medford_trinity-cafe_west-dallas_1940sSingleton Blvd., late 1940s, not yet part of Dallas

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The location of the Medford house/cafe/store, seen on a 1952 Mapsco (click for larger image).

medford_1952-mapsco1952 Mapsco

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Sources & Notes

I came across the photo years ago on the Dallas History Facebook group. There was no source, but there appears to be a copy of this photograph in the Jim Doster Collection at the Dallas Pubic Library titled “Meford [sic] Trinity Cafe on Singleton Blvd.,” incorrectly dated as 1930 (call number PA97-7/147). I’m sure a higher resolution image of this would offer up quite a few amusing details and discoveries.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Cliff, The Beautiful Suburb — 1888

oak-cliff_1888_degolyer_SMU_illus_lgOak Cliff, early days… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The above view of Oak Cliff is taken from an 1888 broadside advertising land opportunities in Dallas’ most beautiful, healthful, and picturesque suburb. The text:

OAK CLIFF

This beautiful suburb of Dallas is situated on the south side of the river, on a chain of hills from 200 to 250 feet above and overlooking the city, and about three-fourths of a mile from the MERCHANTS’ EXCHANGE, being from any part of it within ten to twenty minutes’ walk from the business center, or eight to fifteen minutes’ drive, or five to ten minutes’ ride by the suburban cars, which run all the time from the court house, from 6 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock at night. Fare, five cents.

Oak Cliff has a first-class water works system, furnishing clear, pure spring water; good schools; broad, macadamized avenues and streets; lovely lakes and parks (from the pavilion, surrounding towns can be seen). Owing to its great altitude and topographical formation, perfect drainage is insured, and it is unexcelled in the Southwest as a healthful and picturesque residence site and educational center. 

Its superior accessibility to business, makes it the most desirable portion of the city to live in for the citizen of Dallas, whether he be poor, rich or of moderate means.

Within the past seven months, residences approximating in value one million dollars, costing from $1,000 to $45,000 each, have been built and contracted for in this popular suburb. A few choice lots remain unsold, and persons desiring a site for a home on easy terms will please call on or address

DALLAS LAND & LOAN COMPANY
Knepfly Building
Dallas, Texas, October 1, 1888

oak-cliff_1888_degolyer_SMU_typog

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Sources & Notes

Images taken from a promotional broadside, which may be seen in full in a downloadable PDF here, from the collection of Texas Promotional Materials held by the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University.

This drawing is similar to another Oak Cliff promotional piece (also from SMU’s vast collections) which I wrote about in the post “Thomas Marsalis’ Spectacular Oak Cliff Hotel: 1890-1945,” here.

Top image is much larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Flashback Dallas on the Radio: La Reunion

la-reunion-marker_today_bigdhistoryThe La Reunion marker today… (photo by Big D History)

by Paula Bosse

Today a short and informative radio piece on the La Reunion French colony was aired across the state on the public radio program Texas Standard. The story was produced by Stephanie Kuo of KERA News, who was nice enough to invite me to participate as one of the interviewees (along with Dallas historian and storyteller Rose-Mary Rumbley and developer John Scovell). Listen to the 5-and-a-half-minute story here on the KERA site, or here on the Texas Standard site, via Soundcloud.

I’ve written about La Reunion before, but here are a few photos I took last year when I trekked over to all that remains of the original colony, its cemetery (known as both “La Reunion Cemetery” and the less romantic “Fish Trap Cemetery”). It’s fenced off to protect the few remaining historic grave markers, which have been eroding in the elements for over 160 years. Somehow I walked away having taken photos only of grape leaves and flowers and not the cemetery. (There are several photos online of the cemetery, including this one, from the Dallas Parks department; read the Texas Historical Commission marker here. You’ll note that 20th-century headstones can be seen: the cemetery was an active cemetery well after the colonists had moved away; in fact, Bonnie Parker was originally buried there until her remains were moved to the Crown Hill Cemetery.)

There are surprisingly few monuments or plaques in Dallas recognizing the historically important colony. In April, 1924, the Jane Douglas Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated the very first monument to the La Reunion settlement. The site of this granite marker was originally at Westmoreland and Fort Worth Avenue, but the marker (seen at top) was moved at some point to its current home, on the golf course of Stevens Park.

la-reunion-cemetery_grape-leaves_peb_052116

la-reunion-cemetery_flowers_peb_052116

la-reunion-cemetery_peb_052116

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Sources & Notes

Photo of the 1924 marker, relocated to Stevens Park, is used with permission of Big D History.

All other photos were taken at La Reunion Cemetery/Fish Trap Cemetery in West Dallas by Paula Bosse on May 21, 2016. The location of the cemetery can be seen on Google Maps here.

An interesting tidbit about the grapevines: when the French colonists prepared to venture to Texas, several took cuttings of plants to take with them, with the intention of planting them in their new home and being able to enjoy wine made from the grape varieties of their homeland. When the colonists arrived in Texas, they planted/propagated the cuttings in Houston, unsure if the plants would survive the month-long walk (!) to Dallas after the lengthy ocean crossing. The flourishing plants were uprooted and transported to La Reunion by later arrivals. It is not inconceivable that the grape leaves seen growing today at the colony’s old cemetery might be descendants of the colonists’ imported grapevines.

The location of the La Reunion land was, more or less, 2,000 acres in West Dallas, with modern-day boundaries being Westmoreland on the west, N. Hampton on the east, the south bank of the Trinity on the north, and W. Davis Street on the south.

In a 1933 letter to The Dallas Morning News, Dallas resident George Cretien — who was born in 1856 in La Reunion (“Frenchtown to the native”) — disputed the location of the colony being near Westmoreland, where the old Delord ruins still stood at the time:

“The village of the colonists was located about a mile northeast of the Delord place on the bluff that the cement company has mostly destroyed for the making of its product.” (DMN, Sept. 17, 1933)

So there. In other words, Cement City: The Early Years.

Thanks again to Stephanie Kuo of KERA for inviting me to participate!

Click photos to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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