Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Photographs

“You Can Get That Famous Marathon Gasoline in Oak Cliff” — 1930

marathon_transcontinental-oil_gas-station_smithsonian_1930Somewhere in Oak Cliff, 1930, via Smithsonian Inst.

by Paula Bosse

Rejoice, Oak Cliff residents of 1930: you’re getting five Marathon gas stations! I’m not sure why these stations were only in Oak Cliff and no other part of Dallas, but they were (a sixth station joined this elite group a year or so later).

I have a fascination with old gas stations, but I have to admit I’m not familiar with Marathon Gasoline or Marathon Oil products or the Transcontinental Oil Co. (they  had a refinery in Fort Worth), but for whatever reason, the Marathon stations in Dallas — all emblazoned with an image of the Greek runner Pheidippides — appear to have faded away by about 1942 when I guess the last straggler finally crossed the finish lane, collapsed, and died. Farewell, Pheidippides.

The photo above shows one of those first 5 stations in Dallas. The location is not specified. 

Marathon stations in the O.C. in 1930:

marathon_transcontinental-oil_gas-station_050430_ad_det

  • No. 1: Jefferson & Llewellyn Sts. (539 W. Jefferson)
  • No. 2: Zangs Blvd. & Beckley Ave. (1111 N. Zang)
  • No. 3 Jimtown Rd. & Montreal Ave. (2120 W. Clarendon Dr.) (in 1931, residents petitioned the city to change the name of the street to “Clarendon” because they thought “Jimtown” was too déclassé)
  • No. 4: Zangs Blvd. & Davis St. (137 W. Davis — this was the station that lasted the longest, appearing to have closed by the time the 1942 city directory was published)
  • No. 5: Polk & Davis Sts. (938 W. Davis)
  • (No. 6: 1804 W. Jefferson)

It doesn’t look like any of the old buildings are still standing, but there IS one of the exact same design still standing in Miami, Oklahoma — a group restored it and even added period gas pumps (which someone later stole) — see it below. 

marathon-station_miami-okla_google-street-view_2016Miami, OK, Google Street View July 2016

Not all of the Dallas stations had the same design — a press release describes the stations of possessing “distinctive architecture.” Another of the Oak Cliff locations looked very different (and certainly more distinctive):

marathon_station_oak-cliff_1930
Somewhere in Oak Cliff, 1930

The one above is the same design seen in this local ad:

marathon_transcontinental-oil_gas-station_042730-adApril 1930

marathon_transcontinental-oil_gas-station_050430_adMay 1930

marathon_rec_ebay

marathon_ebay

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo is from the American Petroleum Institute Photograph and Film Collection, National Museum of American History, Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution — more info can be found here.

I seem to post a lot about gas stations. Here are a few notable posts:

marathon_transcontinental-oil_gas-station_smithsonian_1930_sm

*

Copyright © 2023 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Bullen Store, Exposition Avenue — 1896-1936

bullen-store_exposition-avenue_ca-1905Exposition Ave., ca. 1905 (photo: Bullen family, used with permission)

by Paula Bosse

If you’re reading this, you probably have a fascination with old buildings. When was it built? What had it been? How has it not been torn down? One such building — which, though interesting, doesn’t really strike one as particularly old — is the small building at 507 Exposition Avenue, a few blocks from Fair Park. Actually, the thing that jumped out at me was the sign on the building reading “J. M. Hengy Electric Co.” — back in 2015 I wrote a long post about the exceedingly litigious Hengy family (“F. J. Hengy: Junk Merchant, Litigant”) (J. M. was the grandson of F. J.). The Hengy Electric Co. was in business at that location from at least the 1930s until at least the 1960s. I’m not sure why the current owners kept this sign, but I’m glad they did, because it’s why I noticed it.

This building was most likely built in the 1890s, and it was home to a grocery store owned by J. W. Bullen (John Wesley Bullen Sr.), a Tennesse native who came to Texas in the late 1870s and, after a few years of farming in the area, settled in Dallas. He worked for the Santa Fe railroad for a while before opening this grocery on Exposition Avenue in the 1890s — easy to give directions to because the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe (GC&SF) Railway tracks ran right alongside the store. Bullen’s grocery was a neighborhood mainstay for at least 40 years. He retired in 1936, and he and his wife, Mary, eventually moved to California to live with their daughter. J. W. Bullen died in California in 1948, at the age of 89 — his life spanned the Civil War to the advent of television.

Below, J. W. Bullen is shown with his brothers, Thomas, James, and Joseph — he is at the bottom right.

bullen-j-w_sitting-right_ancestryvia Ancestry.com

I came across the photo at the top of this post on the Dallas Historical Society discussion forum (“The Phorum”) back in 2017 (it’s taken 5½ years for me to finally write this!) — the thread is here. A Bullen relative posted this photo, and I was ecstatic to see it! It’s such a great image — I have never seen a photo of Exposition Park from this period. (I asked Mr. Bullen — the man who posted this photo — if I could reproduce it, and he very nicely gave me permission.)

I would guess that the photo dates from sometime around 1904-1906, when the Glenn Brothers meat market occupied the space next door (originally 214 Exposition and later 505 Exposition).

1905-directory_bullen-glenn-bros1905 Dallas city directory

The Hengy business originally occupied the Glenn Bros. space for several years, from at least 1930. After Bullen’s retirement, Hengy moved into the larger space at 507 Exposition. Today it is occupied by Big Sky Construction.

507-exposition_google-street-view_may-2022
Google Street View, May 2022

The railroad tracks have been pulled up, but below are two Google Street Views from 2012 showing where they once were — they couldn’t have been much closer to Bullen’s store! That’s got to have rattled the merchandise (and the store’s occupants) several times a day.

507-exposition_google-street-view_sept-2012Google Street View, Sept. 2012

507-exposition_google-street-view_sept-2012_bGoogle Street View, Sept. 2012

*

The address of Bullen’s store was originally 216 Exposition Avenue. After the citywide address change in 1911, it became 507 Exposition Avenue. The store was in business by at least 1896, but a newspaper article on the 62nd wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Bullen says that the business began in 1893. At this time, development of Exposition Park was exploding (see the 1889 ad I posted yesterday, here).

expo-park_ad_dmn_1012891889

If you look at Sanborn maps of this area (the 1899 map is here, the 1905 map is here, and the 1921 map is here) you see that almost all of the buildings in the area are houses (designated by the letter “D,” for “dwelling”). Having only ever known the area in recent times, it’s hard to imagine this ever having been an almost entirely residential neighborhood. And, back in the 1890s, it was also full of livestock.

bullen_dmn_120397_stolen-horsesDallas Morning News, Dec. 3, 1897

*

Here’s a map of Dallas from 1898, with Bullen’s store way on the edge of the world, under the star.

1898-map_bullen-store_expositionvia Portal to Texas History

*

507-exposition_then-now_ca-1905-2022

***

Sources & Notes

Photo is from the family collection of Joseph Bullen II, used with permission.

I would LOVE to see historical photos of the Expo Park area — from any time, really, but especially from the time it was primarily residential. If you have any photographs, please let me know!

See this building today on Google Street View, here.

Biographical information on J.W. Bullen from “J. W. Bullens Observe Their Anniversary” (Dallas Morning News, Nov. 22, 1942).

More Flashback Dallas posts on Exposition Park can be found here.

bullen-store_exposition-avenue_ca-1905_sm

*

Copyright © 2023 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Triple Underpass — ca. 1936

triple-underpass_ca-1936_us-bureau-public-roadsThe Gateway to Dallas, or the the Gateway to Oak Cliff?

by Paula Bosse

Above, a fantastic photo showing the new Triple Underpass, about 1936, with the view toward Oak Cliff. (Compare this with a similar view, from the 1950s, here.)

Below, a little earlier, with the view to the east, back toward town.

triple-underpass_construction_looking-east_austin-bridge-and-road-co

The triple underpass was built by the Austin Bridge & Road Company between 1934 and 1936, finishing up just in time to welcome the onslaught of visitors to the Texas Centennial Exposition. I encourage you to visit the company’s public Facebook post here, which includes these and other great photos of this Dallas landmark (including a “then and now” comparison and a history of their involvement in the project). Below is an excerpt from that post:

Once called the “Gateway to Dallas,” the triple underpass near Dealey Plaza was built by Austin Bridge Company and Austin Road Company starting in 1934. The underpass, a joint project with the Texas Highway Department and City of Dallas, created access to the western edge of downtown Dallas under the Union Terminal tracks. Contending with up to 80 trains a day complicated the job, requiring close cooperation with the railway companies. The triple underpass was hailed as a modern marvel, built of concrete with square balusters in a handsome art-deco style. It was unveiled with great excitement in 1936, during Texas Centennial celebrations.

***

Sources & Notes

Top image is a U.S. Bureau of Public Roads photo showing the new underpass, looking to the west.

Both photos and the excerpt are from a post on the Austin Bridge & Road Facebook page, which you can find here.

triple-underpass_ca-1936_us-bureau-public-roads_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

New Wheels for Margo Jones — 1955

jones-margo_theatre-55_dallas-magazine_apr-1955DeWitt Ray and Margo Jones

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows Dallas theater legend Margo Jones accepting the keys to a new Ford truck in March 1955. Below, the caption that appeared in the April 1955 issue of Dallas magazine:

GIFT FOR THEATRE ’55: Margo Jones, director of Theatre ’55, is shown as she accepts the keys to a new 1955 panel truck from DeWitt T. Ray, Dallas banker and member of Dallas Theatre ’55 board of trustees. The truck, gift of a group of 18 Dallas businessmen and civic leaders, will be used for transporting set furniture, props and other necessities for the theatre’s productions.

She looks very, very happy!

***

Sources & Notes

Photo is from the April 1955 issue of Dallas, a periodical published by the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.

More on Margo Jones can be found in the following Flashback Dallas posts:

Watch “Sweet Tornado: Margo Jones and the American Theater,” the full documentary on Margo Jones produced by KERA-Channel 13, here.

jones-margo_theatre-55_dallas-magazine_apr-1955_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

East on Elm

elm-street_gentrys_city-of-dallas-websiteShouldn’t there be cars?

by Paula Bosse

There has been some heavy-duty editing to this post!

Here’s an interesting photo I stumbled across last night on the City of Dallas website. There wasn’t any information about it, but it appears to be a view to the east, taken from the 1400 block of Elm Street (where Exchange Place — originally Scollard Court — intersects). See what it looks like today on Google Street View here.

The main landmarks are what I call the Wilson Building Jr. (the tall dark building in the distance, located on Elm near Ervay), the Praetorian Building (the tall white building at the right, at Main and Stone), and L. W. Gentry’s photography studio in the middle of the photo at the right.

Gentry’s was upstairs at 1304 Elm from about 1904 until about 1911. In 1912, Gentry moved a block down the street to 1502 Elm, at Akard, where he took over the upstairs studio of photographer J. C. Deane. (I wrote about Deane and this building here.)

There is a sign reading “Empress” at the left. That was the Empress Theatre, which was at 1409 Elm from about 1912 to 1915. Directly across the street is a 3-story building with a sign for the Spirella Corset Parlors at 1410 Elm.

Back to the left, across the street, is the hard-to-read sign for Studebaker Bros. of Texas at 1405 Elm. Directly across the street is the new Kress Building (you can see part of the distinctive “K” from the company’s logo at the top right). Kress was at 1404-8 Elm — the building was erected in 1911 and opened that same year in November.

The “new Wilson Building” was also built in 1911, and Gentry’s took over the space above T. J. Britton’s store at Elm and Akard in 1912. And all these places appeared in the 1912 directory (except for the Empress, which was open in 1912 but might not have made the listing deadline). So I’m going to guess that this photo is from 1912 or 1913.

gentry_1912-directory_1502-ELM1912 Dallas directory, Elm Street

But this photo looks older than 1912. So many horses! The only vehicle not pulled by a horse in this photo is the streetcar. Where are the cars? In 1911, Dallas was pretty car-crazy — you’d expect to see at least ONE horseless carriage in there somewhere. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but in 1911, there were about one thousand automobiles registered in Dallas County, and the city was quickly becoming a major distribution hub for car companies (“Dallas Automobile Center of the Southwest,” Dallas Morning News, Dec. 31, 1911). (Check out this photo from 1911 taken a couple of blocks away. The only animals seen are actually riding IN an automobile!) Were cars banned from Elm Street? Seems unlikely. …I’m pretty sure I’m overthinking this.

(Ironically enough, the full entry for Studebaker Bros. which appears in the 1912 directory reads: “Carriages, wagons, buggies, street sprinklers, harness.” Nary a mention of an automobile. That arrived the following year.)

It might just be that I’ve had a very stressful couple of weeks, and it was really late when I originally wrote this. But I’ve had a refreshing night’s sleep, and I’m still fixating on this car thing. (Shouldn’t there be cars on Elm Street in 1912?) So I’m just going to stop looking at this photo, assume that it was snapped when all cars in the area were just out of frame, and wrap this thing up.

**

Here are a few zoomed-in details.

elm-street_gentrys_city-of-dallas-website_det1

elm-street_gentrys_city-of-dallas-website_det2

elm-street_gentrys_city-of-dallas-website_det3

I love these decorative lamp posts (more examples can be seen in a post I really enjoyed writing, “The Grand Elm Street Illumination — 1911”).

***

Sources & Notes

Photo found on the City of Dallas website, here (banner photo).

I have edited this after seeing the reader comment below. I realized that I was basing the original location on Lemuel W. Gentry’s first studio, which was a block or two west from the one seen in the photo. (I kept saying to myself, “That building looks so much like the one the Deane studio was in.” Because… it was the exact same building!) Thanks, NotBob.

Here’s a closer shot of Gentry’s studio around 1915 — on the southeast corner of Elm and Akard, right across the street from the new Queen Theatre. (This photo originally appeared in this post.)

queen_cinema-treasures

NOW we see cars!

elm-street_gentrys_city-of-dallas-website_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Pacific Avenue Warehouse District

pacific-warehouse-district_ebayLooking west on Pacific, from about Good Street

by Paula Bosse

Wandering around the eBay “sold” archives, I came across this unusual photo taken in a not terribly scenic part of town. After checking addresses of these businesses in the 1932 city directory, it looks like the photographer (who appears to have been seated in a car) snapped this shot on N. Pacific Avenue, a block or so west from Good Street (now Good-Latimer). Deep Ellum-adjacent. The view is southwesterly, toward downtown. The businesses are mostly warehouses. See what this view looks like today, 90 years or so later, via Google Street View, here.

I was excited to see two familiar 19th-century buildings which I’ve written about and feel a weird kinship with: the abandoned and shuttered old Union Depot (which I wrote about here) and the Union Depot Hotel (which I wrote about here) — located about where Pacific takes a slight jog to the right. It’s like seeing old friends.

Here are some rather grainy magnifications of the eBay “snapshot” (click to see larger images).

*

Below: the Western States Grocery Co. was located at the southwest corner of Hawkins and Pacific. The Home Furnishings Co. was at 2301-2311 Elm Street (at Preston). Many of the buildings in this view (except for the 5-story-ish tall building straight ahead and to the right) can be seen in this 1921 Sanborn map. (Is that the pre-Pegasus Magnolia Building seen in the distance behind the 5-story building at the right? If so, that would mean that this photo was taken before 1934.)

pacific-toward-downtown_ebay_det-1

*

The building seen below in the foreground at the left is the old Union Depot. I’ve seen so many photos of this building — but it looks TINY here! Just across the street (railroad tracks) from it (in the building seen immediately below the “Radios” sign) is the old Union Depot Hotel. The H&TC railroad used to run between them — Central Avenue later (basically) became Central Expressway. I was really excited to see these two buildings.

The taller building seen in the background, behind the Hart Furniture sign, can be seen in this 1921 Sanborn map — the 5-story building at the southwest corner of Pacific and Preston was home to the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills (another story was added around 1935).

pacific-toward-downtown_ebay_depot-and-hotel

*

The Combs Transfer & Storage Co., the Packer Transfer & Storage Co., and the Baldwin Piano Ware Room were all at 2507-2509 Pacific. It looks like the two buildings seen in this detail (the short one and the taller one) have somehow miraculously survived the insane redevelopment of everything on all sides of it (I’ve haven’t been to Deep Ellum in a few months, but these two buildings seem to be the ones which you can see in the most recent Google Street View). Also, looming like a ghostly whisper in the background (above “Combs”) is the Medical Arts Building.

pacific-toward-downtown_ebay_medical-arts-bldg

*

I wonder why someone decided to take this photo? I’m glad they did, because it’s not a view I’ve ever seen. I love finding photographs taken in places that most people wouldn’t think were interesting enough to document for posterity. Like this one. Thanks, anonymous photographer!

*

I just picked the closest historical map I had easy access to — the 1952 Mapsco. My guess is that the photograph is from the 1930s. The star is about where the photo was taken — just west of what is now Good-Latimer, just before Pacific becomes Gaston — with a view to the west.

pacific-toward-downtown_mapsco_19521952 Mapsco (det.)

***

Sources & Notes

Photo found on eBay — it looks like the item sold a couple of weeks ago, in Sept. 2022.

pacific-warehouse-district_ebay_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Safari Redux

safari_squire-haskins_1961_UTA_1Dallas? Yes!

by Paula Bosse

Back in 2014 — when Flashback Dallas was still in its blogging infancy — I wrote about the Safari Steak House in North Dallas in the post “Back When Preston Royal Was ‘Exotic’ and Had Its Very Own Elephant.” There were a few errors in that post which I corrected today, thanks to a couple of commenters on the original post who pointed out that what I thought showed the Safari restaurant at Preston & Royal showed, instead, the Houston location. Kind of embarrassing!

What better time than this to say that I ABSOLUTELY WELCOME CORRECTIONS!! I’d like this blog to be as unpedantically accurate as possible, so, please, if you see I’ve smugly written something which is blatantly incorrect, please let me know! I’ll be happy you let me know.

I invite you to check out that original post, now updated with a couple of photos of the actual Dallas Safari Steak House, including the one above, taken by the estimable Squire Haskins in 1961.

***

Sources & Notes

Photo “Safari Steak House, Dallas, Texas” by Squire Haskins, 1961, from the Squire Haskins Photography Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections — more info on this photo can be found here. (Thank you for the links, Tom Bowen!)

The Safari space is now occupied by Royal China, which I love from the days I worked across the street at Borders.

safari_squire-haskins_1961_UTA_1_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Old Lake Highlands

white-rock-lake_old-lake-highlands_1956_don-jones1956, Room to spread out…

by Paula Bosse

The photo above — taken in 1956 — shows an aerial view of Old Lake Highlands, looking southwesterly toward White Rock Lake. The street in the foreground is Kirkwood Drive.

But for even older Old Lake Highlands, we need to cast our minds back to 1927, when W. H. Brouse began to advertise for one of his many East Dallas developments. One of the ads from the Lake Highlands Co. (W. McCarty Moore, President and H. W. Brouse, Director of Sales) read:

IN THE MAKING — LAKE HIGHLANDS, “THE INCOMPARABLE”

Another High-Class Residence  Section For Dallas on White Rock Lake

Believing in Dallas — believing in the continued rapid absorption of territory to the north and east for homes — and especially that beautiful terrain surrounding White Rock Lake, Lake Highlands was conceived and made possible by the owning company.

The tract — some 117 acres — is especially advantageously located in that it is right on the lake itself — just a short drive from the dam, and is bounded by water on three sides. A peninsular piece of ground, in fact.

The ad also noted that “lots will be large — prices low”: $1,100 and $1,200 (about $18,000-$19,500 in today’s money).

lake-highlands-co_dmn_100927_det1927

*

And, in a Dallas Morning News real estate advertorial were these additional deets:

Lake Highlands is situated just beyond Dixon’s Branch, on the east shore of the lake, and is accessible directly from the downtown section by Swiss and Gaston avenues and the old Garland road, leading into the lake road. This, in turn, gives access to the 100-foot boulevard, which will circle the whole development, and from which lead streets seventy feet in width, reaching every lot in the development. Roadways and streets will be surfaced with white gravel, while curbs and sidewalks will be installed in advance of building development, as will all utilities, lights, water, gas and sewer facilities….

Construction will be restricted to homes to cost $5,500 to $7,500 minimums [$90,000-$122,000 today], depending on the location of the lots on which they are built. Materials will be limited to brick, hollow tile and stucco, so as automatically to eliminate the fire hazard and also to assure permanence.

I’m sure life on the lake in 1927 was worth every penny.

kirkwood_white-rock-lake_googleGoogle Maps

***

Sources & Notes

I came across the photo at the top of this post several years ago in a photo blog hosted by The Dallas Morning News, but the blog doesn’t seem to exist any longer. The caption noted that the photo had been shared by Lynn Jones who had come across it when going through a collection of color slides inherited by her husband when Don Jones died in 2010.

Quotes from the real estate advertorial, “Plan Homes at White Rock” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 9, 1927).

white-rock-lake_old-lake-highlands_1956_don-jones_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Elks-a-Plenty — 1908

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_fullBegirt with ruffles and studded with elks…

by Paula Bosse

Conventions have always been important to Dallas. One of the most important conventions ever to descend upon the city was the annual convention of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks in July 1908. There were approximately 38,000 attendees, but when you added to that number spouses and various others with business, social, or just looky-loo interests, it was estimated that more than 100,00 out-of-towners clogged the streets of our fair burg during the time of the convention. Dallas was a sizeable city in 1908, but the sudden swarming into town of 100,000 people (twice the actual population of the city!) must have been… challenging. (And profitable!)

Dallas welcomed the Elks with enthusiasm and open arms. Everyone knew they were coming, and everywhere there were splashes of the Elk colors, purple and white. A special (and later notorious) semi-permanent arch was erected to span Main Street at Akard. And businesses competed with one another to see who could decorate their building with the most spectacular and festive bunting.

Above is a photo of the Dallas Morning News Building at the northwest corner of Commerce and Lamar, crammed full of flags, bunting, pennants, cowbells, lights, little statues of elks, medium-sized statues of elks, and large statues of elks. (There is an elk in every window.) It also had a large clock erected which was perpetually stuck at an Elk-y 11:00 and a parallelogram-shaped sign which lit up to flash the Elk greeting “Hello, Bill!” So… a lot. But what might seem like overkill — like The News was trying a little too hard to be noticed… the Elks loved it. LOVED IT. They loved it so much that they awarded the newspaper an award of $250 for the best decorated building in the city (that would be about $8,000 in today’s money!). Scroll down to read a breathless description of these decorations, with details of absolutely everything that was flapping, clanging, flashing, billowing, and throbbing at Commerce and Lamar in the summer of 1908. (I have to put this sentence from the article here because I love it so much: “To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle.”)

So, those elk statues. I mean… they’re fantastic. Little elks in every window, illuminated by a single electric bulb positioned “between the forefeet” of each mini-elk. And then there are the larger ones appearing to step out of — or off of — the building. But back to those little elks — are you wondering what happened to them after the conventioneers headed back home? Wonder no more!

elks_news-bldg_belo-ad_071808Dallas Morning News, July 18, 1908

That would have been a great souvenir!

The photo at the top of this post (by Frank B. Secrest of Hunt County) was issued that summer as a postcard. The News did not miss an opportunity to mention it:

elks_news-bldg_dmn_080708DMN, Aug. 7, 1908

*

And because I love to zoom in on these sorts of photos, here are a few magnified details:

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-2

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-3

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-4

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-5

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-6

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_det-7

**

Here is a lengthy description of the decorations, from The Dallas Morning News — direct from the horse’s mouth:

To decorate The News Building in celebration of the coming of the Elks has been the labor of two men for more than a month, and of a dozen for two days: for, though it was only three days ago that the first bit of color appeared on the outer walls, the preparations were begun in the seclusion of a workshop early in June. The draping of the building with bunting and flags was done under the direction of W. T. Senter of the National Decorating Company of St. Louis, and of Edward A. Gebhard, librarian of The News. In working out their scheme they have used 4,200 yards of bunting, purple, white and purple, and twenty-four immense flags, and disposed of it in such artistic fashion as to avoid a sense of crowding.

PURPLE, WHITE AND PURPLE RUFFLES

The building is thrice begirt with big ruffles of purple, white and purple. But, to begin at the topmost, three large flags, one the United States, another the Texas and the other The News’ flag, float high above the Lamar street side of the building. To the bottom of each of these flags are attached small cowbells of different tones, so that with every strong whiff of wind there is a discordant but merry jingle. From one to the other of the flagstaffs hundreds of small pennants in the colors of the Elks flutter gayly in the breeze. Festooned from the heavy cornice which crowns the building are heavy folds of purple, white and purple so arranged that with every vagrant breeze it swells and sinks like the surface of water. Once on the Lamar street side, over the entrance, again at the corner and once on the Commerce street side this bunting is gathered around an immense United States flag, fashioned fan-shape. Poised on the cornice of the building at the corner, as if surveying the land preparatory of a leap, is the graceful figure of an elk, five and a half feet high, made out of plaster of Paris, painted and enameled until he glistens.

The two lower ledges of the building are draped in similar fashion, except that the streamers at these places are narrower than those that festoon the cornice. Above the main entrance on the Lamar street side and extending from below the second story to the third-story ledge is the piece de resistance. Here set in an embrasure of the building, is a clock dial twelve feet in diameter. The gilt letters marking the divisions of the circle are two feet high. The hands point to the hour of 11. The pure white head and shoulders of an elk seven feet high are shown in the center one foot forward, as if he were about to emerge from the fluffy mass of purple and white bunting that forms the background dial. On each side an immense flag is gathered in a way to make it fan-shaped. Circling the clock dial are six large incandescent lights.

WHOLE HERD OF ELKS

From the third-story corner of the building, above which stands a five and one-half foot Elk, as if surveying the country from a precipice, are festooned two twelve-foot flags that fall almost to the second-story ledge of the building. One is gathered around on the Commerce and the other on the Lamar street side. And there yet remains to speak of the most distinctive feature of the whole scheme of decoration. The News, in preparation for this event, had made a whole herd of elks. There are forty-two of them, each thirty-two inches tall, and one, mounted on a pedestal, stands poised from the ledge of every window in the building. They are pure white, made of plaster Paris, painted twice and then enameled. Between the forefeet of every one is an electric bulb. The elks are from models designed by Mr. Gebhard and were cast in The News Building.

BRILLIANT ILLUMINATION

Of course the whole building is brilliantly lighted. In addition to the electricity used ordinarily, which lights the exterior of The News Building pretty well, bulbs have been studded profusely midst the decorations and over the Lamar street entrance is a parallelogram of electric lights which illuminate the sign, “Hello, Bill!”

*

The article then launches into more self-promotion, with an, admittedly, interesting description of the layout of the News Building:

ATTRACTS GENERAL ATTENTION

The building of The News attracted general attention from the thousands of visiting Elks. Many expressed their surprise that a city the size of Dallas had such a complete, modern building and equipment, and the compliments concerning The News as a newspaper have been very pleasing.

The News Building has all the modern fireproof features. It occupies a space of 300×100, having three floors and a basement, the whole being used by the newspaper. Its business office is one of the handsomest in the State, and, as one visitor remarked, it looks more like a prosperous bank than the ordinary newspaper office.

The first floor is given up to the business and circulation departments, the press room and the mailing department. In the basement are the paper storage rooms and the power department. On the second floor are the editorial rooms, telegraph rooms and the general circulation department and the newspaper job department, besides the Employes’ Library and Recreation Room. On the third floor are the composing and the linotype rooms, the stereotype room and the engraving department.

INDIVIDUAL ELECTRIC MOTORS

Every piece of machinery in the house is operated by its own individual electric motor. Power is supplied from two immense engines and generators combined, the engine room being one of the show places in the building, having a metal ceiling and white glazed brick on the walls, with a cement floor. The press room contains two three-deck presses, one quadruple press and one sextuple press.

TWO DAILY NEWSPAPERS

The Dallas News is the offspring of The Galveston News, which was established in 1842. The two papers are under the same management. The publication offices of The News, Galveston and Dallas, 315 miles apart, are connected by special wires for interchange of news matter. The Galveston paper supplies the southern part of the State and the Louisiana border, while the other covers all North Texas and goes well into Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

THREE SPECIAL TRAINS

For upward of a quarter of a century the two papers have operated at their own expense, every day in the year, three special newspaper trains, one running Galveston to Houston, one Dallas to Denison and the third Dallas to Fort Worth. The Dallas News covers hundreds of thriving towns throughout its territory, many of them before breakfast time, through its unrivaled facilities of distribution. Starting in 1885, The Dallas News has been a continuous success, and has achieved an enviable reputation wherever American newspapers are known. As an advertising medium it is in a class by itself so far as papers in this section of the country are concerned. Starting at 1885 with thirty-three classified ads in its Sunday issue, it now runs each Sunday about 2,000. It is a success because it is enterprising and because it is clean, both in its news columns and in its advertising columns; because it is fair-minded and because its efforts have always been uplifting from a moral and intellectual standpoint and fair to every interest.

*

And then it launches into many, many testimonials from Elk visitors on how much they love the decorations. This is the first. You get the idea.

J. T. McNulty of Baltimore, grand trustee of the Elks, prominent in National circles of the Knights of Columbus and a central figure in the Ancient Order of Hibernians of America, who has traveled largely and visited every State in the Union, being prominent in business and political circles said: “I have been to many conventions, my son, and have seen many decorations, but the one at The News plant, in my estimation ‘takes the cake,’ figuratively and literally speaking. It is the most unique, the most artistic and the most beautiful I have ever seen in all my attendance at conventions in this country, and I have attended many of them. I was agreeably surprised at the way Dallas has decorated, but nothing gave me such a shock of pleasurable surprise as the first sight I had of The News’ decorations.”

*

And this is the dark and grainy photo that ran with the article:

dmn-bldg_elks_dmn_071508_photoDMN, July 15, 1908

**

I kinda want an elk statue now. Also, according to the article, I now know the Morning News has its own flag. Can someone point me to more info?

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo — titled “[The News, First Prize for Decorations, Dallas, Texas]” — is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photograph (postcard) can be found here.

Lengthy quote is from the article “Dallas News Building Decorated In Honor of the Elk’s Grand Lodge Which Is Now Holding Its Annual Session and Grand Jubilee in This City,” The Dallas Morning News, July 15, 1908.

More Elks-related Flashback Dallas posts:

And more photos of this beautiful Dallas News Building can be found in these posts:

dmn-bldg_decorated-for-elks-convention_1908_cook-collection_SMU_full_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

S. Mayer’s Summer Garden, Est. 1881

mayers-garden_DPL_1885Roll out the barrel… (collection Dallas Public Library)

by Paula Bosse

Today is the 4th of July. I had these two articles stuffed into bulging digital files:

4th-july_mayers_dallas-herald_070482
Dallas Herald, July 4, 1882

4th-of-july_dallas-herald_070384_mayer-gardensDallas Herald, July 3, 1884

I had seen the photo of Mayer’s beer garden posted above, but I didn’t really know anything about it.

Simon Mayer (1843-1924) was born in Germany/Prussia and came to the United States in 1866, first settling in Milwaukee. He came to Texas in 1869 where, as his obituary in The Dallas Morning News says, “he owned and operated the first brewery established in Fort Worth.” He moved to Dallas in 1871 and entered into business with pioneer Dallas brewer Charles Meisterhans. 

In December, 1881 he opened what would become one of Dallas’ foremost gathering places, Mayer’s Summer Garden. He built a 3-story-plus-basement building (at what would later be 1601-1603 Elm Street) and added a charming outdoor beer garden. It stood on the north side of Elm and looked directly down Stone Street (now Stone Plaza) toward Main. You can see it on an 1885 Sanborn map here.

A 3-story building in Dallas in 1881 was nothing to sneeze at. He was putting a lot of money into it, and people were interested in its progress. The opening was touted in the paper for several months (click articles to see larger images):

mayers_dallas-herald_090181_constructionDallas Herald, Sept. 1, 1881

From the above article: “Mr. Mayer proposes to have a garden where gentlemen can take ladies and enjoy a glass of beer or wine in a quiet way, without coming into contact with the rough class that frequent beer gardens. No improper characters will be tolerated. There will be music but no dancing.”

mayers_dallas-herald_120981_to-openDallas Herald, Dec. 1, 1881

Finally. the opening was about to happen: “the grandest blow-out ever witnessed in Dallas” was promised (who knew “blow-out” was a term used in 1881?):

mayers_dallas-herald_121081_to-open_blow-outDallas Herald, Dec. 10, 1881

Over a thousand curious and thirsty Dallasites turned out.

mayers_dallas-herald_121181_grand-openingDallas Herald, Dec. 11, 1881

mayer_dallas-herald_121381_adDallas Herald, Dec. 13, 1881

(Don’t know what “drummers” are? Check it out.)

You might have noticed mention of zoological specimens. Yes, not only did this establishment offer a beer garden, a meeting hall, a hotel, a restaurant, a saloon, a performance space, and a lecture hall, it also had lots of animals in (and out of) cages — Dallas’ first zoo. He had alligators, birds, lions, eagles, prairie dogs, a Gila monster, a bear, and a pet crow. And a lot more. The bear escaped at least once — it wandered down the street and bit a guy who was making a commotion about a bear wandering down the street. But the bear was fairly easily recaptured and was waltzed back home along Elm Street without further incident. (Apparently, Mayer was a taxidermist by trade. One wonders how many of these creatures ended up stuffed and mounted and displayed in Herr Mayer’s home.)

People flocked to the Summer Garden. They loved the outdoor beer garden with its trees and fountains and performing bands. …And alligators. Below is a, sadly, washed-out circa-1885 image of Mayer’s garden. It actually seems fairly cosmopolitan for a Texas city in the 19th century. (Although, on the other side of the trees at the right was a livery stable and a wagon yard, so I would assume the jovial tippling, socializing, and oom-pah music was accompanied by unpleasant smells that were hard to ignore.)

mayers-summer-garden_1885_degolyer-library_SMUMayer’s Garden, circa 1885 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

Mayer’s was one of the first businesses in Dallas (or, according to lore, THE first) to have electric lights — lights were switched on to great fanfare in August of 1882. Before that, Mayer utilized an interesting lighting technique I had never heard about: “Mr. Mayer had the latest thing in kerosene lamps. An attachment to the lamp sprayed kerosene on the blaze, making it much brighter” (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 14, 1924). (Perhaps the bear had escaped in fear for his life!)

Mayer eventually closed his very popular business sometime in the 1890s after being unable to fight the “Sunday-closing” laws which forced him to close on his most profitable day of the week. By 1901, he placed the ad below and was selling the building.

mayers_dmn_112401_property-for-saleNov. 24, 1901

I’m not sure when the building was demolished — probably in the ’20s or ’30s. I just found a photo of the building as it looked about the time Mayer sold it (it was the Clifton Hotel for a while).

mayers_clifton-hotel_ca-1900_cook-coll_degolyer-library_SMU_cropped
No more garden, ca. 1900 (via DeGolyer Library, SMU)

The beer-garden era had ended. There were several in Dallas in the 1880s and 1890s, but Simon Mayer’s was perhaps the creme-de-la-creme. I mean, he had an eagle!

mayers-garden_icollector-comvia iCollector

mayers-garden_token_ebayvia eBay

mayers-garden_dmn_091424

***

Sources & Notes

Top photo — “[Mayer’s Beer Garden, Dallas, Texas”] — is from the Dallas Public Library (Call Number PA87-1/19-27-1).

The photo of the “garden” is titled “Mayer’s Summer Garden on Elm and Stone, 1885,” and it is from the Collection of Dallas Morning News negatives and copy photographs, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — more info can be found here. (There is another photo of the garden in this collection — it’s really hard to make out clearly, but I swear I see an alligator int he foreground. And maybe some other zoological specimens out of their cages. …Or not. It’s here.)

The photo showing Mayer’s building in about 1900 has been cropped from “[Elm Street between Stone and Ervay Streets].” which is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — see the full photo here.

All articles and ads are from The Dallas Herald, editions of which are scanned in their entirety and can be found at the Portal to Texas History, here — thank you, University of North Texas!

A lot of colorful info can be found in Mayer’s obituary in the Dallas Morning News archives: “Simon Mayer, Early Dallas Entertainer — Death of Pioneer Brewer Recalls Pleasure Garden He Founded” (DMN, Sept. 14, 1924).

mayers-garden_DPL_1885_sm

*

Copyright © 2022 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: