Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: University Park

SMU Turns 100: A Look Back at Its Very First Days — 1915

smu_dallas-hall-dome-under-construction_1914Dallas Hall’s dome under construction, 1914 (SMU Archives)

by Paula Bosse

Classes began for the very first time at brand new Southern Methodist University on September 28, 1915 — 100 years ago today! Where HAS the time gone? Below, a few photos from those early days (click pictures for larger images).

smu_dallas-hall-columns-under-construction_1914_degolyerDallas Hall’s columns going up, 1914, out in the middle of a mostly empty prairie, well beyond the Dallas city limits.

smu_week-before-opening_1935-rotundaVisitors checking out the new campus, a week before its opening.

smu_visitors-before-opening_091115Genteel visitors on the steps of Dallas Hall, the only building on campus in which classes were actually held.

12smu-rotunda-1916_freshman-classSMU’s first freshman class.

smu_first-freshmen_1950-homecoming-paradeAnd a couple of those freshmen, 35 years later, riding in a car in the 1950 Homecoming Parade downtown.

Below are a couple of logistical and progress-report articles from the week when students began arriving for that first year’s classes. Most interesting is that several classes were held off-campus, because of lack of space in an already crowded Dallas Hall. The fine arts department was housed at the “downtown conservatory” which was located in a former medical building at Hall and Bryan streets. The fine arts faculty had studios there and would move between downtown and the SMU campus. (Click articles for larger images.)

smu_first-day_dmn_092315Dallas Morning News, Sept. 23, 1915

smu_first-day-classes_dmn_092815DMN, Sept. 28, 1915

Happy Centennial, SMU!


Sources & Notes

The photos of Dallas Hall under construction are from the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. The photo of the dome under construction is here; the photo of the columns going up is here.

The photo of campus visitors and their cars lined up in front of Dallas Hall is from the 1935 edition of the SMU Rotunda yearbook; the caption: “Dallas Hall, a week before opening of SMU.”

The photo of visitors on the steps of Dallas Hall is from Bridwell Library, Special Collections, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, and it can be accessed here. The photo was taken on Sept. 11, 1915 and was printed in the Sept. 23, 1915 edition of The Texas Christian Advocate above the caption “[Snapshot] of visitors at entrance to Dallas Hall on occasion of the reception given Saturday the 11th by the citizens of Dallas to the faculty.” (The article and another photo can be seen at the link above.)

The photo of SMU’s first freshman class is from the 1915-16 SMU Rotunda yearbook.

The image of the former SMU freshmen is a screen capture from a home movie of SMU’s 1950 Homecoming Parade which is part of the DeGolyer Library’s collection; the entire 17-minute silent color film can be watched on the SMU Central Libraries site, here. The very entertaining film contains the parade, a tour around campus, an elaborately decorated Fraternity Row, and the football game against Texas A & M at the Cotton Bowl.

These other Flashback Dallas posts related to SMU’s first year may also be of interest:

  • “SMU, ‘The School of the Future’ — 1915-16,” here
  • “SMU’s First Year: The Dinkey, Campus Hijinx, and The Basket Ball — 1915-16,” here
  • “University Park, Academic Metropolis — ca. 1915,” here
  • “Send Your Kids to Prep School ‘Under the Shadow of SMU’ — 1915,” here (Incidentally, the Powell University Training School opened on the same day as SMU as a sort of “sister school” — the building it occupied is still standing, on Binkley, just off Hillcrest — this building celebrates its Centenary, too!)

Click photos and clippings to see larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


“The Only Motel Located In the Park Cities” — 1964

university-house-hotel_smu-rotunda_1965-detA palm tree, a palm tree, my kingdom for a palm tree… (click for large image)

by Paula Bosse

Behold, an architect’s rendering of University Park’s first motel (… motel?!). With palm trees! (The architects — Barron, Heinberg and Brocato  — were from Alexandria, Louisiana, where they might actually have palm trees. Perhaps they assumed they grew in Dallas. Or could be imported. Or just looked nice as a whimsical garnish.) Palm trees or not, look at that great mid-century design!

Plans for the University House Motel were announced in December, 1963 — it was to be built on Hillcrest at Binkley, right across the street from SMU by Edward T. Dicker, the man who built 3525 Turtle Creek. (Interestingly, according to a press release printed in The Dallas Morning News on Dec. 8, 1963, real estate transactions for the property involved a land lease from Shell Oil Co.) With 60 suites, it was the perfect location for hotel lodgings for parents visiting their children in college.

This was to be both a major commercial addition to University Park as well as something of an architectural departure. The closest hotel/motel alternative (according to the ad below, anyway) was farther away than might have been convenient for visiting families — the (also super-cool-looking) Holiday Inn was all the way down Central, just past Fitzhugh.

If I were a visiting parent, I’d probably choose the University House option because of its unbelievably close proximity to the campus. And if I saw the ad below, I’d definitely book a room — pronto!

university-house-hotel_smu-rotunda_1965(click to read text)

When construction was complete and the motel opened for business, the sans-palm-tree reality of the building had to have been a bit of a disappointment to anyone who had salivated over that sleek Mid-Century Modern drawing (even though I’m sure the interior decor was much nicer than most motels). Maybe it’s just me. It sort of looks like the drawing. …Sort of….


The University House hung on for several years, then changed ownership and names several times. It is now the site of the much-expanded and certainly much-swankified Hotel Lumen. Interestingly, the skeleton of the original building is still in there somewhere. As Alan Peppard wrote in the Dallas Morning News on Oct. 16, 2006 soon after Hotel Lumen opened, “The old hotel was gutted back to nothing but the concrete frame and rebuilt as a hip University Park hotel.” (To see what things look like now, click here — the renovated original building is on the left, the expansion is on the right.)

In the 21st century, Hotel Lumen is exactly the kind of hotel that comfortably-well-off-but-still-tastefully-hip SMU parents want to stay in when they arrive in town to visit the progeny. All that’s missing are a few palm trees….


The University House Motel ad appeared in the 1965 Southern Methodist University Rotunda yearbook. That same yearbook also contained the Holiday Inn ad and the photograph of the University House Motel. (The photo appeared over the yearbook’s cheeky “Why be discreet?” caption and was featured in the previous Flashback Dallas post, “The SMU ‘Drag’ — 1965,” here.)

The 1965 ad has the nightly rate at the University House Motel at $8 — about $60 in today’s money, adjusted for inflation. Not bad for parents who could afford to send their children to SMU and who weren’t staying downtown at the Adolphus, the Baker, or the Hilton.

Photos of Hotel Lumen — inside and out — can be found on their website, here.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The SMU “Drag” — 1965

drag3_smu-rotunda_1965Hillcrest, looking south, just north of McFarlin (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Hillcrest, north of Mockingbird, up to Snider Plaza, and maybe all the way up to Lovers Lane. The Drag. Might as well be an unofficial SMU annex. Over the past several decades, some students may have spent more time in the businesses across the street from the western edge of the campus than they did in some of their classes. The look of the area has changed quite a bit recently, but views from the 1965 SMU yearbook are not drastically different from what it looked like up until just a few years ago — and in some stretches, some of the same buildings seen in these photos still stand. Unless something has gone terribly wrong, businesses along the SMU drag that cater primarily to an ever-replenishing SMU student body should never have a lack of customers.

The yearbook caption for the photo above: “Give me your tired, your poor … just give me your money.” (See this view from recent months, with traffic cones, here.)

Below, a few more photos from the 1965 Rotunda tribute to The Drag.


Looking north.


At Binkley, current site of Hotel Lumen.


Smoking welcomed. Preppy look, circa 1965.



All photos from the 1965 Southern Methodist University Rotunda yearbook.

To take a look at a map of the SMU campus from 1964, click here (DeGolyer Library collection, Southern Methodist University).

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

University Park: The Addition — 1916

university-park_dmn_0625161916 ad (click for larger, slightly more legible image)

by Paula Bosse

Mr. M. M. Garrett of the Dallas Trust & Savings Bank wants you to know some facts about the University Park Addition:

  • LOCATION. University Park Addition is due north of Dallas on the Preston Road.
  • SURROUNDINGS. University Park overlooks the city of Dallas and faces a perpetual park in the grounds of Southern Methodist University.
  • IMPROVEMENTS. University Park today represents over $350,000.00 worth of improvements in streets, sidewalks, curbs, trees, water supply, sewerage, gas and beautiful homes.
  • RESTRICTIONS. University Park is under perpetual restrictions of its own, thereby guaranteeing proper building construction and permanent value.
  • EDUCATION. University Park families will be able to send their children from kindergarten to post-graduate diploma within four blocks of home.
  • PRICE. University Park property at from $20 to $50 a front foot is the best realty investment of its kind in the Southwest.



Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


SMU’s School of Engineering, Chemistry Dept. Building, and School of Commerce — 1925

smu-engineering_1925-smBleak campus, cool cars (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’m afraid my updating here has fallen by the wayside a bit as I am STILL plowed under from my recent big move. Today I will finally unpack my books! So, time for a just a quick post. Here’s a photo of some quaint little temporary buildings on the SMU campus, still in its first decade. Below is the description of this image, written in the early 1970s:

“The parking lot in the foreground and the curving driveway are basically still the same today, but the rest of the picture has changed drastically since 1925 when it was taken.

“On the left is the Southern Methodist University Engineering School with the Chemistry Department Building in the middle and the School of Commerce on the right. The smaller building was a construction shack used for carpentry work.

“Not shown, but just to the right of this location was Dallas Hall — still a landmark. Today, the Fondren Science Building has replaced the temporary buildings pictured.

“In the background to the right and left are rows of bois d’arc trees along Airline and Daniels — planted in those days as fences.”


Photo from a postcard issued as part of the Park Cities Bank “Heritage Series” in the 1970s; the credit line on the postcard reads “Donated by Stanley Patterson.” Thanks to the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook group for use of the image.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


“Happy Days,” SMU-Style — 1958

smu_gazing-adoringly_degolyer_1958Oh, the Fifties… (click for larger image) (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

by Paula Bosse

Ralph and Potsie are just out of frame.

smu_gazing_1I love these girls’ faces. And hair! (click for larger image)

smu_gazing_2And their shoes!

smu_gazing_3The Big Men on Campus appear to  be enjoying the attention.

smu_gazing_4That print is kind of … busy. Is it a cowboy motif? Are those horses? Is that Peruna?!


Photo titled “Gazing Adoringly,” 1958, from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; photo can be viewed here.

UPDATE: Yes, the photo does look odd, doesn’t it? Thanks to a commenter on the Flashback Dallas Facebook page, I now realize that this is a strange superimposition of separate images. The fountain is much closer to Dallas Hall, and the image of the students at the fountain has been superimposed over a long shot up Bishop Blvd., with Dallas Hall way in the distance. I’m pretty sure this photo originated at SMU — it might have appeared in a yearbook or promotional material for the university. Or maybe someone was just having fun in the darkroom. If anyone knows more about this photo — or who any of the students are — let me know!

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

McFarlin Auditorium, Following Morning Chapel — 1927

mcfarlin-auditorium_1927McFarlin Auditorium, post-Chapel, 1927 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Another in the series of wonderful postcards celebrating the history of the Park Cities, this one shows McFarlin Auditorium in 1927, then only two years old. From the back of the card:

This is a 1927 photograph taken following morning Chapel in McFarlin Auditorium. The building is located at McFarlin Blvd. and Hillcrest on the Southern Methodist University campus. At that time, Chapel attendance was mandatory for SMU students. Dr. R. E. Dickenson was Chaplain and conducted the daily chapel services, and Dr. Charles C. Selecman was the President of the University.

Below are a couple of details of the photo which show, in the background, interesting (if fuzzy) views of houses and other structures along (and beyond) Hillcrest.




Postcard is from the Park Cities Bank “Heritage Series” issued in the 1970s. Photo credit line on the postcard reads “Donated by Stanley Patterson.” Thanks to the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook group for use of the image.

Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Highland Park Methodist Church — 1927

hp-methodist-church_1927-degolyerHighland Park Methodist Church, 1927 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The beautiful Highland Park Methodist Church (now Highland Park United Methodist Church) was designed by architects Mark Lemmon and Roscoe DeWitt (who also designed several of the buildings on the adjacent SMU campus, as well as Woodrow Wilson and Sunset high schools, to name only a few of their projects). According to the HPUMC website, the first church — a temporary building which was referred to as “The Little Brown Church” — was built at Mockingbird and Hillcrest in 1917. It wasn’t until 1927 that the beautiful French Gothic-inspired building we know today was built on that same site. (At one time, Highland Park Methodist Church was the largest Methodist church in the world.)

(Incidentally, Mark Lemmon built his lovely cottage-like home on Mockingbird, across the street from both the church and the SMU campus, where at any time of the day or night, he could look out his front window and gaze with satisfaction upon his beautiful church and the ever-growing university campus dotted with buildings he had designed.)

hp_methodist-church_post-card-series“The Little Brown Church” — built 1917


hpmc_golden-prologue-backChurch and SMU campus, Hillcrest and Mockingbird, 1960s

Highland Park Methodist Church Dallas, TX


Top photo by Joseph Neland Hester, taken in 1927. From the DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; photo can be seen here. (UPDATE: I erroneously labeled the direction of this photo previously. It actually shows the back of the church, looking toward Mockingbird. It would have been taken from about where the Meadows Museum is now. If this is incorrect, please let me know!)

Photo of “The Little Brown Church” from the Park Cities Bank Heritage Series, used courtesy Lone Star Library Annex Facebook Group.

Aerial view from the back cover of Golden Prologue to the Future: A History of Highland Park Methodist Church by Doris Miller Johnson (Parthenon Press, 1966).

Other images from postcards.

For more on the history of Highland Park United Methodist Church check out the Wikipedia page here; check out the church’s history page here.

All photos larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

University Park, Academic Metropolis — ca. 1915

university-hillcrest_1915University Park, prime real estate (click for larger image; see below for HUGE image)

by Paula Bosse

In the 1970s, Park Cities residents received oversized postcards in the mail featuring historic photos of the area. This “Heritage Series” was presented by the Park Cities Bank and later by Fidelity Bank. I’ll be sharing these wonderful images in the weeks to come. First up is this hard-to-fathom view of the intersection of University and Hillcrest, seen around 1915 when SMU opened, taken from Dallas Hall on the university campus. The description:

“In 1915, University Park was a sparsely populated community north of Dallas. At the time, most Dallas residents thought of Highland Park as ‘country living.’ This photo was taken from SMU’s Dallas Hall looking west along University Boulevard with the cross street being Hillcrest. The two-story home seen on the northwest corner of University and Hillcrest has long been replaced with a series of commercial buildings.”


UPDATE: For a much, much larger image of this photo, click here.

“Heritage Series” postcards used courtesy of the Lone Star Library Annex Facebook page. Postcard credits image to Dallas Public Library.

There is a book all about the houses that were built in that first block of University: The Block Book by Bonnie Wheeler (a review of which can be read here). (You probably won’t be able to find a copy of it, but if you do, snap it up. I see only one copy for sale online, and it is rather outrageously priced at just under $500!)

Click picture for much larger image.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Send Your Kids to Prep School “Under the Shadow of SMU” — 1915

powell-prep_rotunda_1916Powell University Training School, 1915 (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Nathan Powell (1869-1963) was a former Methodist minister who opened his prep school, Powell University Training School, on thirty acres of open land, just across an unpaved road from SMU (which was still in the very early days of its construction). SMU and the Powell school shared more than just adjacent addresses — which they both rather idealistically touted as being “situated on high ground overlooking the university campus and the city” — they also opened on the same day, September 15, 1915.

The location and the opening date were not a coincidence, as Dr. Powell was one of the Methodist movers and shakers who originally promoted the idea of Dallas as the site for a new Methodist university. The following (perhaps exaggerated) sentence can be found in the (perhaps overly laudatory) profile of Powell in one of those ubiquitous late-19th, early-20th century “mug books,” A History of  Texas and Texans (1916):

Beyond his activities as a minister and teacher, the most notable achievement in the life and career of Doctor Powell lies in the fact that he was the sole originator and promoter of the great Southern Methodist University at Dallas, which began its first year September 15, 1915.

Powell University Training School lasted for only about twelve years, until Powell’s rather sudden retirement in 1927 (the good reverend’s “retirement” might have been precipitated by numerous lawsuits and mounting debt). When the school closed, Dr. Powell and his family moved to Harlingen to — as his obituary states — “help organize the grapefruit growers of the Rio Grande Valley.” He operated a citrus nursery himself for a while until it was destroyed by a 1933 hurricane. Nathan Powell died in Harlingen in 1963 at the age of 94.

It’s always exciting to see old buildings still standing in Dallas, and, happily, this one is still around — and it still looks good. Fittingly, it’s currently home to an early-child development center. Next time you’re near the intersection of Binkley and Hillcrest, go take a look.


powell_tx-trade-rev-industrial-record_071515a*powell_tx-trade-rev-industrial-record_071515bBoth items from the Texas Trade Review & Industrial Record, July 15, 1915

powell_school_ad_smu-times_121815SMU Times, Dec. 18, 1915 (click for larger image)

powell_school_smu-times_121815SMU Times, Dec. 18, 1915

ad-powell-prep_smu-rotunda-19161915 (click to read text)


Top image and bottom ad appeared in the very first edition of The Rotunda, SMU’s yearbook for their inaugural year, 1915-16.

More on Rev. Powell’s early life and involvement with the founding of Southern Methodist University can be read in A History of Texas and Texans by Frank W. Johnson (Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1916), here.

Information regarding Powell’s retirement in Harlingen is from “The Chronological History of Harlingen” by Norman Rozeff (circa 2009), in a PDF here.

Powell’s obituary can be found in The Dallas Morning News, Nov. 8, 1963: “Dr. Powell Dies; Helped Found SMU.”

Currently occupying 3412 Binkley is The Community School of the Park Cities. According to the history page of their website (here), the building has been operated as a school since at least the 1950s.

I’m not sure what the actual facts are concerning Nathan Powell’s role in the founding of SMU. There are very few results when searching the internet. Most newspaper articles connecting him with the university seem to have been generated by Powell himself. If Powell was as important in the history of SMU as he claimed to be, it’s surprising to see so little information on any connection. Was Powell’s assertion that he was the driving force behind the creation of SMU a blatant lie? Was it merely an exaggeration of the truth? Or was it accurate, but something happened to cause the university to distance itself from him? A collection of papers in the SMU archives (which I have not seen) seems to indicate that there were those in Methodist circles who disputed Powell’s claims, as Elijah L. Shettles took it upon himself to prove that Nathan Powell was the driving force behind the very existence of SMU. An overview of the collection — The Elijah L. Shettles Papers on the Founding of Southern Methodist University — can be found here.

(I’ve found an article from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1910 that had Powell all but saying Fort Worth — not Dallas — would be the best choice for the university’s location. Read that article and see other photos of the school — and also read about the lawsuit against Powell (which had nothing to do with SMU) that took thirteen years to reach trial and ended in quite a hefty judgement, in a PDF here.)

See more of SMU’s first year in previous posts here and here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


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