Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: South Dallas

1615 South Ervay: The Eagle Apartment Building

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

by Paula Bosse

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

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


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

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

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

eagle-apts_dmn_062924-deteagle-apts_dmn_062924-textJune, 1924

Hey, I’d take a look!

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

eagle-apts_dmn_080324Aug., 1924

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

eagle-apts_dmn_071225July, 1925

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

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

lafayette_dmn_100131Oct., 1931

lafayette-apartments_dmn_101532Oct., 1932

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

south-ervay_1924-directory1924 Dallas directory

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

1924-franklin_secondchancegarage1924 Franklin

1924-rickenbacker1924 Rickenbacker

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


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


Sources & Notes

Top photo from Zillow.

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

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


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


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Iola Bridge

iola-bridge_city-park_ca-1908“Looks like California…” — City Park, ca. 1908 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Old postcards of (Old) City Park always seem kind of mysterious to me. I’m fascinated by photos of what was, for many years, Dallas’ only park. It was very big and beautifully landscaped — and it was one of the things about the city that those of earlier generations were most proud of. The postcard views above and below are from the early days of the twentieth century, and, sadly, those views don’t exist anymore — it’s hard to  believe they EVER existed here. Even though there’s a hint of what you might see at Reverchon Park, there’s little else about these images that looks like the Dallas of today. What a shame!

But what’s the story behind the attractive little “Iola” bridge? Built in 1905, it was, apparently, Dallas’ first (or possibly second) concrete bridge. The Iola bridge was far sturdier than the wooden bridges around Dallas, and a concrete bridge also required very little upkeep. In fact, this little bridge “of ornamental design” is actually kind of important — it was often cited by city planners and commissioners when discussing the construction of future bridges around the city.

concrete-bridges_dmn_081005Dallas Morning News, Aug. 10, 1905

It seems wooden bridges were being washed away almost as often as Dallas courthouses were burning down. In a letter that appeared in The News on Feb. 21, 1911, it was noted that, while wooden bridges were “under constant repair,” the concrete Iola bridge “has not required one dollar of outlay […] during its six years of existence.” So … cheaper and sturdier. Bye-bye, wooden bridges!

But “Iola” — where did that name come from? I thought it might have been the name of a wife or mother of a mayor or planner, but I HIGHLY suspect it was merely the name of the company that donated the cement for the bridge’s construction, the Iola Portland Cement Company. The company’s canny “civic donation” ultimately paid off BIG for them in the end. Not only did they supply the cement to build that first very pretty little bridge in a very pretty park, they also, ultimately, get whopping new orders from the city for all those new concrete bridges that began to be built — including, less than ten years later (when the Iola company’s West Dallas plant had been sold to the TEXAS Portland Cement Co.) the Trinity River-spanning Oak Cliff/Houston Street viaduct, which, when it opened in 1912, was the longest concrete bridge in the WORLD! And it all began with that unassuming bridge in scenic City Park.




Below, a couple of views showing the charming and rather more rustic wooden bridges in the park.





Top postcard found somewhere on the internet. All other postcards from The Watermelon Kid — here.

Black and white photo by Victor H. Schoffelmayer appeared in The Dallas Morning News on Oct. 9, 1921; it was one of several photographs of the Iola bridge, taken by members of the Dallas Camera Club.

Iola Portland Cement Co. ad from the 1905 city directory.

A Dallas Morning News article from July 14, 1905 detailing the new improvements to City Park (including the concrete bridge) can be read here. (I don’t think the really wonderful-sounding “cascade” was ever built — and that’s a pity, because it sounds like it would have been beautiful!)

Most images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

City Park Construction Work — 1941

city-park-construction_1941_david-roberts-photo“City Park, 1941” (click for huge image) / Collection of David Roberts

by Paula Bosse

This great family photo was sent in by reader David Roberts. It shows his grandfather, David Crockett (D.C.) McKay working on a construction crew. The reverse of the photo reads “City Park, 1941.” David has identified his grandfather as the man standing on the makeshift wooden bridge, just to the right of the cement mixer. I love this photograph!

City Park (now “Old” City Park), was Dallas’ first park, acquired in 1876. It became a popular (and beautiful) recreation area, and the adjacent Browder Springs was home to the city’s first waterworks. In 1936, City Park was briefly re-named “Sullivan Park” in honor of Dan F. Sullivan, the city’s first highly-accomplished Water Commissioner. But it was officially UN-re-named (or RE-re-named) and went back to being “City Park” again in May, 1941, because after 60 years of being known as City Park, the “Sullivan” thing just never caught on, and the two names were causing confusion. So the name was changed back.

So what construction was going on around City Park at the time this photo was taken? In 1941, there were major improvements going on throughout the city’s park system, and City Park was one of the beneficiaries of an $800,000 city-wide improvements package. ALSO happening in 1941 was some Mill Creek storm sewer work — Mill Creek ran through the park and there had been ongoing work to its sewers since the ’30s. In January, 1941, The Dallas Morning News reported that a large construction contract was pending on a Mill Creek storm sewer “from Browder to Beaumont” — this may have been a bit beyond the actual park, though. I mention this only because the photo above appears to show construction of a large sewer in the City Park area.

On April 16, 1941 a short article ran in The Dallas Morning News about a fatal accident at a City Park construction site, perhaps the same site that DC McKay was working on — a construction worker named Henry Pilgrim was crushed when a bridge collapsed on him: “The accident was blamed on the weakened condition of the bridge due to rains and the weight of the workmen on it.”

Construction work is hard, sweaty, and dangerous. Mr. Roberts says his grandfather worked for the J. W. Slaughter Construction company, often on concrete culvert and drain projects.

“Some of my earliest memories of visiting his house in the evenings (early ’60s) was that you had to be quiet during the weather, because that forecast was how he knew if he had to work the next day.”

Mr. McKay, who was born in 1903, would have been in his 60s then! But hard construction work must have agreed with him, because DC McKay lived until the ripe age of 84.

Thank you so much for sharing your photo, David! It’s great to see Dallas infrastructure in the making!


Photograph from the personal collection of David Roberts, used with permission.

A photo of D. C. McKay (1903-1987) and his wife, Opal McKay, is here.

Two pertinent articles from the Handbook of Texas: the history of Old City Park is here; the history of Browder Springs is here.

Photo is really big. Click it!


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.


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:


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


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:


(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.)


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.



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”):



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.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas News Hustler — 1908

newsboy-horse_dmn_012608_lgErnest d’Ablemont, 13, newspaper carrier aboard his trusty steed, 1908

by Paula Bosse

The photo above appeared in the pages of The Dallas Morning News on Jan. 26, 1908 under the headline “One of the Dallas News Hustlers.” The caption:

Ernest A. d’Ablemont is one of the hustlers selling The Dallas News. He began selling the paper in March, 1905, on Sundays at the age of 11 years. He is now 14, or will reach that age on his birthday, March 16, 1908. Since he began, he has never missed a Sunday, rain or shine, hot or cold. Since his business career began he has clothed himself and has accumulated sufficient money to enable him to make a loan of $150 at 10 per cent.

Quite the business-minded newsboy — the Inflation Calculator estimates that $150 in 1908 would be equivalent to almost $4,000 today! In 1909 — just a year later — he had his own entry in the Worley’s city directory, but he had jumped ship from the News and was working for The Dallas Dispatch.


Ernest d’Ablemont was born in Dallas in 1894 to immigrant parents — his father, Felix, was French, and his mother, Inga, was Norwegian. One wonders what could possibly have enticed a Parisian to come to Dallas, but Felix had been in the city since about 1883, working first in a meat market, then spending most of his life as a produce man. Felix was a “truck farmer” (he grew vegetables to sell locally), and he had a small piece of land off 2nd Avenue in the old Lagow Settlement area, south of Fair Park, about where S. 2nd Ave. intersects with Hatcher. Felix placed this ad in 1903:


“German, Swede, Norwegian or French preferred.”

Ernest followed in the footsteps of his farmer father. After his early entrepreneurial foray into the world of newspaper delivery and a couple of years of service in World War I (which took him overseas where he was assigned to a field hospital and a “sanitary train”), he returned to Dallas and worked the family’s truck farm until he retired. He died in 1954 at the age of 60.


Top image of young Ernest on horseback from The Dallas Morning News, Jan. 26, 1908; photo by Clogenson.

Want-ad from the DMN, Nov. 1, 1903.

WWI “sanitary trains”? I’d never heard the term. Find out what they were and see what one looked like in this GREAT photo from Shorpy, here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Exline Park Swimming Pool — 1950s


by Paula Bosse

Summer’s running out, kids.

Plan your waning pool-time opportunities accordingly.



Photos by R. C. Hickman, taken at Exline Park swimming pool; top photo taken on Aug. 6, 1957, bottom photo on July 27, 1955. Both photos © R. C. Hickman/Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Lincoln High School — 1939

lincoln-high-school_1939The cool deco design of Lincoln High School… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

When it opened on eleven acres in South Dallas in January, 1939, Lincoln High School was one of the largest high schools in Dallas, and one of the largest African-American high schools in the entire South. Shockingly, in 1939 it was one of only TWO (!) high school for black students in Dallas. As one would expect, its opening was greeted with great enthusiasm, and students rushed to enroll, pushing its capacity to a maximum. At its height, it had over 3,000 students. The building was designed by architect Walter C. Sharp, who designed many schools in and around Dallas, and with those clean lines and glass bricks, it’s pretty cool.


Photo from the J. L. Patton Collection, Dallas Historical Society.

For more on the background of Lincoln High School, see the info from the “Open Plaques” project here.

Click photo for larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: