Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: State-Thomas

African-American Businesses and Notable Dallasites — 1930

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det“Madame Pratt” in her music studio

by Paula Bosse

I’ve recently posted lots of photos of black schools and black churches which appeared in the Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc., an absolutely fantastic historical document (which is scanned in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History site here) — now I thought I’d post some of the businesses and people featured in the directory.

First is the woman seen above, Ella Rice Pratt (1893-1966) who was known professionally as “Madame Pratt” and seems to have taught an extremely wide range of musical instruments. According to this 1930 ad, she was “The only woman of her race in Texas who performs successfully upon two instruments at the same time.”  (Most images are larger when clicked.)

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Her 1966 obituaries (one of which is here ) list a string of accomplishments, including having studied music at the New England Conservatory in Boston, toured as a concert pianist, trained a 30-piece touring orchestra, and opened what was described as “the first music studio in Dallas where Negro musicians could receive training on all instruments” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 3, 1966). Not only was she a notable Dallasite, so were members of her family: her father, Charles A. Rice was a principal at Booker T. Washington High School (and is the namesake of Charles Rice Elementary School), her mother, Sally Rice, was the first supervisor of Griggs Park, and her husband, T. W. Pratt was a long-time principal in Dallas schools (at the time of this directory he was the principal of the Pacific Avenue School (he might be seen in this photo which also appeared in the 1930 Negro Directory). The Pratts lived at 3612 Thomas Ave., near Washington, where Madame Pratt also had her studio. (Her headstone in Lincoln Memorial Park has musical notes engraved on it.)

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Speaking of music, R. T. Ashford was a prominent businessman (he was one of the founders of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce) who owned R. T. Ashford’s Music Shop, a popular record store at 408 N. Central (at Swiss), just north of Deep Ellum. Before this 1930 directory was issued, Ashford had called his shop “Black Swan Music”(I’m not sure whether this was an “homage” to the Black Swan record label or some sort of partnership). Ashford’s store was apparently very popular and Ashford himself seems to have been taken seriously by record labels whenever he would recommend local talent (he appears to have figured prominently in Blind Lemon Jefferson’s recording career). Ashford moved from Central Avenue to Hall Street in 1931, but he was a Deep Ellum music and business fixture for many, many years. I think the location of Ashford’s record shop (if not the actual store) can be seen in this photo from 1919 (on the street-level floor of the Thorburn Broom & Brush building). (Fun fact, perhaps only to me: Ashford’s Music Shop was next door to a business proprietor named “Simpson.”)

ashfords-music-shop_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

ashford_dallas-express_122223Dallas Express, Dec. 1922

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Another entrepreneur was Thad Self, whose main business seems to have been a grocery/general merchandise store on Routh Street south of Colby. He also owned a transfer company, a hotel/boarding house, a barber shop, a cafe, and at least one other general store. Most of his companies were located in buildings on the neighboring lots at 2113 Routh and 2115 Routh, one or both of which he appears to have purchased in 1913 for $100 (about $2,600 in today’s prices). He built a large three-story building on Routh in 1913 (which, according to this 1921 Sanborn map) was built over the Dallas Branch of the Trinity which snaked through downtown and the State-Thomas area — that  basement was probably pretty damp.

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thad-else_dallas-express_120619_HOTELDallas Express, Dec. 6, 1919

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Speaking of hotels, one of the most prominent hotels in the era when blacks were not allowed to stay in “white” hotels by law was the Powell Hotel at 3115 State Street (between Ellis and Hugo), owned by D. H. Powell and his wife Susie. In May, 1929 Powell was issued a permit to tear down a frame house at 3115 State, and he built his 40-room hotel on the property soon after. The Powell Hotel was where almost every notable African-American visitor to the city stayed. By the late 1940s, Powell had built something of a hotel empire in Dallas with several locations. (I will have to write more about him in a future post!) I like this very early ad, from the 1930 directory, describing it as the “Powel Hotel & Pleasure Dome.” The photo shows a pleasant-looking place, but you and I and Kubla Khan and Coleridge would probably agree it’s no Xanadu.

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powell-hotel_legacies_spring-2007Dallas Public Library, via Legacies, Spring, 2007

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Speaking of “resting places”… another essential element in any community is the funeral home. One of Dallas’ most prominent undertaking firms for black Dallas was the E. J. Crawford Funeral Home at 804 Good (now N. Good-Latimer, between Live Oak and Bryan), founded by Mr. Crawford in 1909. “The last word in funeralizing.”

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crawford_e-j_dallas-express_020422Dallas Express, Feb. 4, 1922

Another prominent funeral home/ambulance service was Black & Clark, founded originally around 1914 by S. C. Black; in 1927 he was joined by his nephew C. J. Clark. For years they were located in Oak Cliff, at 1109 E. Tenth St., west of what is now South R. L. Thornton, near Cliff Avenue. This funeral home is still in business, and there was recently a profile of the Dallas institution on Channel 5 News (watch it here).

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black-and-clark_archives_1802-n-washington1802 N. Washington (woozy screenshot of photo in Ch. 5 news story)

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This is Genevieve T. Starks, a woman with a lot of extra-curricular activities! I love this photo.

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The G Clef Club was organized around 1921 by Lincolnia Hayes Morgan, music supervisor for Dallas’ (black) public schools. A blurb about the group appeared in The Crisis, the official publication of the N.A.A.C.P.: “The objects of the club are to assist worthy music students and to raise the music standard of the community” (June, 1921).

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A popular singing group was the Belt Sacred Quartette (comprised of J. J. Mollis, J. Poindexter, F. W. Grant, and N. Tisdale) — listen to their recording of “I Have Another Building” below.

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belt-sacred-quartette_blackwell-OK-journal-tribune_072332Blackwell (OK) Journal-Tribune, July 23, 1932

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The Davis Bible Singers (C. Davis, I. H. Burrell, R. Smith, and O. B. Walker) seem to have been pretty popular, having appeared on KRLD, WFAA, and WRR radio. They even recorded for Columbia Records (listen to their great recording of “Daniel Saw the Stone” below).

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One of the most important doctors in Dallas in the 1920s and ’30s was Dr. Lee Gresham (L. G.) Pinkston (1883-1961), who opened the Pinkston Clinic at 3305 Thomas Avenue, between Hall and Central, in 1928 or 1929 (it made its first appearance in the 1929 city directory). In 1954, Pinkston — physician, surgeon, and civic leader — was one of the first five black doctors allowed to practice in a “white” Dallas hospital (St. Paul’s Hospital) — before that, the only hospital in Dallas where black doctors could practice was the Pinkston Clinic, which had 15 beds (32 beds were allotted for black patients at St. Paul’s in 1954). (See a photo of the five doctors here, Dr. Pinkston is seated.) A new West Dallas school — Pinkston High School — was named in Dr. Pinkston’s honor and opened in 1964, three years after his death. 

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pinkston-clinic_DHSDallas Historical Society

Below, a portrait of Dr. Pinkston with the artist, Calvin Littlejohn (whom I’d known only as a photographer previously), destined to hang in the new school.

pinkston-l-g_portrait_calvin-littlejohn_pittsburgh-PA-courier_112864Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, Nov. 28, 1964

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Sources & Notes

All 1930 images are from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here.

See the two other Flashback Dallas posts which also use this wonderful directory as a source:

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Black Churches in Dallas — 1930

randolph-free-will-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

by Paula Bosse

Yesterday I posted several photos of schools for Dallas’ African American community from a 1930 “Negro Directory” — today it’s churches. Of these, only two survive, and only one continues as a church. (All images are larger when clicked.)

Above, my favorite building of these churches, a small one serving as the home of Randolph Free Will Baptist Church, Flora and Watkins streets (3113 Flora — the location can be seen on this 1921 Sanborn map).

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Below, Boll Street C.M.E. Church (Christian Methodist Episcopal), corner of Boll and Juliette (2631 Juliette), near Booker T. Washington High School. It can be seen on this 1921 Sanborn map as “Morning Chapel C.M.E. Church” (this area was obliterated when Woodall Rogers was built).

boll-street-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal


boll-st-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU (info at bottom of post)

boll-street-church_patton-coll_DHSvia John L. Patton Collection, Dallas Historical Society

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Church of God in Christ, Thomas and Ellis streets (3028 Thomas Avenue).

church-of-god_rev-paige_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Greater Macedonia Baptist Church, corner of Good and Bryan (902 Good Street). This building later became home to Good Street Baptist Church.

greater-macedonia-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

greater-macedonia-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Metropolitan Tabernacle (Baptist), Thomas and Boll streets (this was apparently never built — a Metropolitan Tabernacle was listed in 1930 at 2202 Thomas, but it was not this building.)

metropolitan-tabernacle_baptist_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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New Hope Baptist Church, southwest corner of San Jacinto and Bogle (sometimes spelled “Bogel”) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here).

new-hope-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

new-hope-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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New Salem Baptist Church/Salem Missionary Baptist Church, 1110 S. Preston Street (see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here).

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New Zion Primitive Baptist Church, 2215 Wheeler (address is incorrect in caption; the street name “Wheeler” soon changed to “Lowery”).

new-zion-primitive-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, 5006 McKinney Avenue, between what is now Monticello and McCommas. (This is not to be confused with the church of the same name designed by James Flanders which was located at McKinney and Pearl.)

trinity-methodist-episcopal-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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And, lastly, the two buildings which are still standing. First, St. James A.M.E. Church (African Methodist Episcopal), Good and Florence streets (620 Good Street, now 624 N. Good-Latimer Expressway). Designed by noted black architect William Sidney Pittman (who was also the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington), the building is currently home to several non-profit groups. Read the history of the building in the landmark nomination form here, and see what it looks like now — with its historical marker in front of it — on Google Street View here.

st-james-ame-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

st-james-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, DeGolyer Library, SMU

st-james_a-m-e_church_dallas-express_101819Dallas Morning News, Oct. 18, 1919

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And, finally, the only one of these churches still standing, and still functioning as a church, St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Paul United Methodist Church), corner of Burford and Juliette streets (1820 Burford, now 1816 Routh Street), also designed by architect William Sidney Pittman. See it on a 1921 Sanborn map here as “Juliette M.E. Church” (it wasn’t completed until 1922 and seems to have been given a place-holder name). Read about its history here, and see it today on Google Street View here.

st-paul-methodist-episcopal-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

st-paul-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Photos from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here (the full list of churches begins on p. 10).

The five “ca. 1932” photos are from a scrapbook/photo album of amateur photos called “Graphic History of Negro Dallas” which was compiled by the Priscilla Art Club in 1932; the scrapbook is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; links to the individual photos are in the photo captions.

Of related interest: “Twelve Prominent Black Baptist Churches — 1967.”

randolph-free-will-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Allen & Cochran: Allen Street Drugs, St. Peter’s Academy, St. John Baptist Church — ca. 1946

allen-street-drugs_1920-allen_ca-1946_dpl
Allen Street Drugs at Allen & Cochran… (photo: Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Above, a group of men and boys gathered outside Allen St. Drugs — 1920 Allen Street, at the corner of Cochran — posing for famed Dallas photographer Marion Butts. Behind the group is St. Peter’s Church and St. Peter’s Academy, a Catholic church and affiliated school for black children (at 2018 Allen); facing St. Peter’s (but out of frame) is St. John Baptist Church (2019 Allen). This was a busy and well-traveled intersection for the African American neighborhood of “North Dallas.”

St. Peter’s Academy — which was still around into the late 1980s — was built in 1908, largely due to the urging of black entrepreneur Valentine Jordan and his wife Mary Jordan who were impressed with the education provided to the (white) students attending the Catholic Ursuline Academy; they requested that Bishop E. J. Dunne open a similar school for black children, and Bishop Dunne obliged. Before it was named “St. Peter’s Academy,” it was known as The Sisters’ Institute (named for the Sisters of the Holy Ghost). Elementary and high school classes were taught, and boarding options were offered to girls. In the mid 1960s the school had 600 (predominantly Protestant) students.

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Dallas Express, Sept. 6, 1924

sisters-institure_dallas-express_082721
Dallas Express, Aug. 27, 1921

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Dallas Express, Jan. 6, 1923

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Dallas Express, Jan. 13, 1923

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St. Peter’s Academy, circa 1935

The large St. John Baptist Church was a fixture of the community, led for many years by its pastor Ernest C. Estell.

church_st-john-baptist-church_negro-directory_1947-48
Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1946-47

Sadly, these buildings are no longer standing. St. Peter the Apostle is located in a new building at Allen and what is now Woodall Rodgers Freeway, and much of their congregation is of Polish ancestry, with services conducted in both Polish and English. The drugstore seen at the top sat on land razed for construction of Woodall Rodgers. The view today can be seen here.

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Allen St., between Munger & Hallsville — 1944-45 Dallas directory

allen-cochran_1952-mapsco
1952 Mapsco (star indicates location of Allen St. Drugs)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo by Marion Butts, from the Marion Butts: Lens on Dallas Collection, Dallas Public Library. More information on the work of Mr. Butts may be found here.

Most images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Life on Hall Street — 1947

adolphus-bar-b-q_dallas-negro-directory_1947-48_dining-roomInterior of Adolphus Isaac’s Bar-B-Q Palace… (click/tap for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are a few post-war ads for businesses in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of N. Hall, between Thomas and State, in the heart of “North Dallas,” a once-thriving business and entertainment district which catered to Dallas’ black community, until construction of Central Expressway sliced it in half a year or two after these ads appeared. These two blocks are completely unrecognizable today (a Google Street View looking north on Hall from Thomas can be seen here), and evidence that this area was once a lively African American neighborhood teeming with small businesses, cafes, and clubs exists almost entirely in old photos and ads like these.

Below, the LA CONGA CAFE, 2209½ Hall, S. H. Wilson, proprietor. “Where we serve you the best of foods. The home of Good Foods. Ice cold beer.” (All pictures are larger when clicked/tapped.)


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THE ADOLPHUS BAR-B-Q PALACE, 2314 Hall, Adolphus Isaac (whose name in the ad appears to be misspelled), proprietor. “Always a friendly welcome. Steaks, fried chicken, fish, bar-b-q, frog legs [!], delicacies.”

adolphus-bar-b-q_dallas-negro-directory_1947-48

VASSELL’S JEWELRY STORE, 2317 Hall, Robert Vassell, proprietor. “Diamonds — watches — jewelry. Repairing reasonable, engraving a specialty.” This ad shows the “watch training school” Vassell operated in which WWII GI’s learned watch-repair.

vassells-watch-training-school_negro-directory_1947

NEGRO UNION COUNCIL, 2319 Hall. A group of black unionists shared space at 2319 Hall: the Negro Unions Council, the Musicians Protective Union Local 168 (whose former president was Theodore Scott seen in both photos below), Federated Labor (AF of L), Hotel & Restaurant Employees Intl. Local No. 825. (Ned L. Boyd, pictured below, was a pharmacist who owned Boyd’s Pharmacy a couple of doors down at 2311 Hall.)

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American Federation of Musicians officials (and their hats) standing in front of 2319 Hall.

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Below, the 1947 Dallas street directory, showing the businesses in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of N. Hall.

vassell_hall-st_1947-directory1947 Dallas directory (click to see larger image)

Below, a detail of a 1952 Mapsco page, with Hall Street in blue, Central Expressway (which hadn’t yet been built when the ads above appeared in 1947) in yellow, and the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Hall circled in red.

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1952 Mapsco

As an aside, Roseland Homes seen in the map detail above, was a low-income public housing project for black residents, which opened in June, 1942. It covered a 35-acre tract, with 650 units and was the first of many such housing projects for low-income black, white, and Hispanic families which opened that year, and it continues to this day.

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Sources & Notes

Ad from the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948, with thanks to Pat Lawrence.

Read more about Hall Street — just a few blocks south, near Ross — in the Flashback Dallas post “1710 Hall: The Rose Room/The Empire Room/The Ascot Room — 1942-1975,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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