Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: West End

Crescent Cafe: Warehouse District — 1944-1952

crescent-cafe_mckinney-and-lamar_ebay904 McKinney Avenue, at N. Lamar

by Paula Bosse

The Crescent Cafe once stood at 904 McKinney Avenue, at the corner of N. Lamar. Also seen in this photo is the national headquarters of the Oil Well Supply Company (2001 N. Lamar), a sign for Western Union (2026 N. Lamar), and part of the Binswanger glass company (2019-21 N. Lamar).

See this corner now, on Google Streete View, here.

About all I can tell you about this place is that it was in operation from about 1944 to 1952 (in the 1950 city directory, Mrs. Olive West was listed as the owner — by 1952, Mrs. Josephine Cashlon had taken over).

Mrs. West ran the cafe (breakfast and lunch only, closed on Sundays) for several years, but on Sept. 23, 1950, an ad appeared in the classifieds which read:

Wonderful location.
904 McKinney

Olive was ready to move on.

A week and a half after the ad appeared, Olive died in a car accident on her way to a nephew’s funeral in Sherman (the nephew had also died in a car accident). No word on whether Mrs. Cashlon (a former waitress who had probably long dreamed of running her own restaurant) had purchased the Crescent Cafe before Mrs. West’s unfortunate demise. 

crescent-cafe_olive-westOlive West (1890-1950)


Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay.



Copyright © 2023 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Miscellaneous Dallas


Wah Hoo Club Lake, Members Only…

by Paula Bosse

Here are several images, most in varying degrees of low resolution. I don’t know what else to do with them other than post them all together, randomly. No research. They’re just HERE! Enjoy!

Above, a handsome couple posing under the entrance to Wah-Hoo Club Lake (I’ve seen it more often spelled “Wahoo” — south of Fair Park).

Below, the Coca-Cola Company building, McKinney and N. Lamar (still standing).



Speaking of Coke, here are some Keen folks, standing on the steps of the Jefferson Hotel (Union Station is out of frame to their right).



A couple of blocks away, the Old Red Courthouse, seen here from an unusual angle — looking toward the northwest (postcard postmarked 1908).



This is a super low-resolution image, but I’ve never seen it before, so, what the heck: I give you a fuzzy Jackson Street looking northeast (postmarked 1907).



The “new” Post Office and Federal Building at Bryan and Ervay (postmarked 1964).



A jog over to Oak Cliff — here’s a horse-drawn hearse.



Up to Preston and Royal (northeast corner, I think) — a Mobil station.



Even farther north, LBJ under construction, looking west at the intersection with Central (1967). (Can’t pass up the opportunity to link to one of the most popular photos I’ve ever posted which shows what is now LBJ and Valley View in 1958 — nothin’ but farmland.)



And, lastly, my favorite of these miscellaneous images: the 2200 block of 2nd Avenue (from about Metropolitan — a couple of blocks south of Fair Park). This part of town used to be really interesting. Unfortunately, it looks nothing like this now (see it on Google Street View here). This is a screenshot from the KERA-produced documentary “South Dallas Pop” (which you can watch in its entirety here).



Sources & Notes

All images found on eBay except for the following: Preston-Royal Mobil station, from Coltera’s Flickr stream; LBJ photo from Red Oak Kid’s Flickr stream; and the photo of 2nd Avenue, which might be from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

See “Miscellaneous Dallas #2” here.



Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Caterpillars On the Job at Ross and Market — 1922

Roadwork in the warehouse district…

by Paula Bosse

I’ve loved vintage and historical advertisements since I was a child. Since becoming more focused on Dallas history, I’m always excited to find old ads with photos of recognizable Dallas locations, like the one below for Caterpillar tractors, which was printed in the Saturday Evening Post in 1922. (Click to see a larger image and read the rousing tribute given to these “motorized outfits” by City Engineer George D. Fairtrace.)


The photo shows a Dallas street maintenance crew grading Ross Avenue at the intersection of N. Market in 1922 (see the current Google Street View here). Every building seen in the photo is still standing in the Historic West End:

  • Southwest General Electric Co., 1701 N. Market (it was later occupied by the Higginbotham-Pearlstone Hardware Co.)
  • Federal Glass & Paint Co., 1709 N. Market
  • Fairbanks, Morse & Co., 1713 N. Market
  • Texas Ice & Cold Storage (partially visible at the right), 701 Ross (until recent years the long-time home of The Palm restaurant; in 1922 it was, I believe, a brand new building)

dec-2016_googleGoogle Street View, 2016

ross-and-market_bing-streetside-view_2015Bing Streetside, 2015

Thank you, Caterpillar ad!


Sources & Notes

1922 Caterpillar ad found on eBay, here.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: Businesses


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.


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


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-building_flickr_colteraca. 1949, via Flickr


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-stewart_lang-and-witchell-drawing_dmn_083013Lang & Witchell drawing, 1913


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.




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.)




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.)


It even had its own artesian “deep well.”


butler-brothers_ad_110610November, 1910


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_jefferson-tyler_1929_oak-cliff-advocate_DPL1929 (Dallas Public Library photo, via Oak Cliff Advocate)


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-philp_unvisited-dallasvia Unvisited Dallas


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.)


Here’s what it looked like before this flurry of construction began:



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.)




Next: the Adolphus Hotel.


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:


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The Magnolia Cafe, N. Lamar & Munger — 1947

magolia-cafe_1947_ebayStep in for a cool glass of Metzger’s Milk… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I love stumbling across photos of random small businesses. This photo from 1947 shows an interesting modification of a rooming house in the area immediately north of downtown at 1914 N. Lamar, at the corner of what is now N. Lamar and Munger (the curb shows “Caruth St.,” the street’s original name). Unsurprisingly, this former residential area — which became an industrial warehouse district — looks pretty different today (see the current Google Street View here). A succession of cafes operated here over the years (while people lived in rented rooms upstairs) since at least 1927.

I love the entrance to the rooming house with the concrete steps to the right of the cafe, the street light, the streetcar tracks, The Metzger’s Milk sign, the Stier’s Laundry truck, the parked cars, and the street names (probably in tile?) on the curbs.

Three years after this photo was taken, the building was up for sale:


Its future? A parking lot.

A longtime owner of this combo building was Mrs. Ella Mae Stuart, who was living there with her husband as early as 1913 (possibly 1909). After her husband’s death in 1915, she ran a boarding house upstairs and rented out the cafe below. She seems to have been a much-married woman who was very creative with her age as given to census takers: every 10 years she continued to grow younger and younger, ending up in 1930 with her age listed as 50. She died three years later at the actual age of 68, leaving behind a husband 26 years her junior. Her great stamina might be the result of her regular consumption of a wonder tonic called Konjola (a patent medicine popular during Prohibition, made from roots, herbs, and a lot of alcohol). (Click to read Mrs. Stuart’s testimonial.)



Sources & Notes

Photo from eBay; taken by Rogers Studio (the business owned by noted Dallas photographer Frank Rogers and his son Norman Rogers), with the date “May 8, 1947” stamped on the back. Also on the back of the photo: “Magnolia Cafe, Lamar and Munger; seating capacity: 32.”

See the building on the 1921 Sanborn map here, which shows 1914 N. Lamar at the corner of Caruth Street. It appears the house might have become renovated to include a cafe on the ground floor in 1926 or 1927 when one of Mrs. Stuart’s boarding-house roomers opened up Frank’s Lunch Room.

Images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Brown Cracker Co. Cracker Wrappers

brown-cracker_ca1918_cook_degolyerThe saltine-wrapping room

by Paula Bosse

I will stop and look at great length at any photograph containing a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt in this photo belonged to the Brown Cracker and Candy Company, a large and important Dallas manufacturer and employer. The cracker, cake, and candy factory opened in 1903 in a brand new building in the industrial area just south of McKinney Avenue (the part of town that borders downtown, now known as the West End). Best known these days as the West End Marketplace building, the structure still stands and, in fact, has just been purchased and is about to undergo renovation.

brown-cracker_postcard_cook-degolyerDeGolyer Library, SMU

As the new building was nearing completion, the company charter was filed in April 1903, and just a few short weeks later, the factory opened itself up for inspection by the community.

brown-charter_dmn_040303Dallas Morning News, April 3, 1903

DMN, May 29, 1903 (click for larger image)

The open house was packed — several thousand people (mostly women) showed up to tour the plant, fascinated by the inner workings of the city’s newest business, a manufacturer of crackers and sweet treats. Of particular interest must have been the two giant brick ovens on the the second floor, which used more than one ton of coal daily, and the huge copper kettles used in candy making on the top floor. There were also things like chocolate dipping machines, starch machines (?), and marshmallow heaters (I don’t know what that is, but I want to see one in action — could it have been a “marshmallow beater,” like the one seen here?).

brown-cracker_dmn-053103DMN, May 31, 1903

The main reason to open the factory to the public for inspection — other than as a PR-managed meet-and-greet — was to let the people see for themselves just how CLEAN the place was. This was at a time when unsanitary food handling and manufacturing practices were much in the news (see here) — concerns which ultimately led to the enactment of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 — and the above article stresses that visitors were impressed by the factory’s “spotless cleanliness” (“The floors they said could be eaten from without discomfort…”). In regard to the “cracker wrappers” pictured at the top, the company wanted to make sure everyone knew that their products were wrapped and boxed — gone were the days of shoppers dipping their (probably unclean) hands into the old “cracker barrel” full of loose, stale crackers.

crackers_dmn_040603DMN, April 6, 1903

Let’s take a closer look at the top photo, probably taken around 1920 (click pictures for larger images).



ad-brown_dmn_122003DMN, Dec. 20, 1903

sodaette-crackers(click to read text)

brown-cracker_1922-directory1922 city directory

brown-cracker_come-to-dallas_degolyer_SMU_ca1905ca. 1905

brown-cracker-greater-dallas-illustrated_ca1908ca. 1908

brown-cracker-co-lettrhead_1919_ebay1919 (eBay)


Sources & Notes

Top photo, titled “Wrapping Saltines at Brown Cracker and Candy Co.,” is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas image collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; it can be accessed here.

Written on the back of the photo: “Miss Bessie Manning, 2724 Roadwood [sic] avenue, Dallas, Texas.” Bessie Manning (born Bena Manina in 1899 to Italian immigrants), began working at the Brown Cracker Co. (with a brother and a sister) around 1917 but wasn’t living on Rosewood (later North Harwood) until 1919; she left Brown in 1921 or 1922. She isn’t identified in the photo, but she is, presumably, one of the women on the left; she would have been about 20.

bessie-manning_1920-censusBessie Manning’s occupation, 1920 census

The color postcard showing the Brown Cracker Co. is also from the Cook collection at SMU; it is here.

The Sodaette ad is from Library of Advertising by A. P. Johnson (Chicago: Cree Publishing Co., 1911).

The photo from about 1905 is from the promotional brochure titled “Come To Dallas” (Dallas: Dorsey Printing Co., about 1905), in the collection of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info is here.

The photo at the bottom is from Greater Dallas Illustrated, The Most Progressive Metropolis in the Southwest (Dallas: The American Illustrating Company, 1908; reprinted by Friends of the Dallas Public Library, 1992). The informative company profile that accompanied the photo can be read in a PDF, here.

All other ads and clippings as noted.

Another very informative article which details the specifics of the building and its machinery — “New Dallas Industry, Brown Cracker and Candy Company About to Begin Operations” (DMN, Apr. 6, 1903) — can be read in a PDF, here.

To see the Brown Cracker Company’s specs on a Sanborn map from 1905, see here; to see where it is on a modern map, see here.

For current info on what’s about to happen to the building (much expanded over the years), see Steve Brown’s Dallas Morning News article, here.

And, yes, a teenaged Clyde Barrow apparently worked there briefly, for a dollar a day.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Locomotive & The White Swan Building

white-swan-bldg_locomotive_flickr_colteraBack when the N. Lamar area was a bit more industrial (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Just a quick one today: loco chugging past the White Swan Building.


Image from Flickr, captioned “Vintage postcard: MKT railroad engine,White Swan Building, Dallas, Texas”; viewable on Flickr here.

The historic White Swan Building is located at 2200 N. Lamar, just north of Woodall Rodgers; it currently houses the House of Blues.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Underwriters Salvage Co., Dallas Warehouse — 1920

underwriters-salvage_1920The company’s Dallas warehouse on N. Lamar (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Underwriters Salvage Company of New York (founded in 1893) was a business that worked with insurance companies and merchants in settling losses due to merchandise damaged by fire, water, etc. In their words:

underwriters-salvage-co_1920Underwriters Salvage Co., 1920

There were branch offices in cities around the country, including Dallas, which was the location of the company’s Southwestern offices, or, their “Gulf Department,” located in the American Exchange National Bank Bldg. on Main St. The warehouse pictured above was at 2014-16 North Lamar (in the West End warehouse district, between McKinney Ave. and Munger). Not only would merchandise being readied for processing be stored there, there would probably also be large fans going full-blast to dry out and remove the smell of smoke from items that would soon be sold for bargain prices, either to the public or to wholesalers via “fire sales” or public auctions.

The company’s most famous fire sale (which they were quick to mention in later national advertising) was the huge dispersal of merchandise from the big fire at Neiman-Marcus in 1964. Instead of the usual, somewhat dull, inventories of shoes or boys’ coats or rope (“all sizes”), that sale included Neiman’s eye-poppingly expensive fur coats and other luxury goods (and, I think, every single piece of merchandise in the store that survived), all marked down to bargain basement prices. Now THAT is a fire sale.






Top photo and text excerpt from a tiny pocket-sized booklet/calendar issued by the Underwriters Salvage Company of New York in 1920, featuring photos of the company’s branches around the United States.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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