Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Theaters

Oak Cliff’s Star Theatre — 1945-1959

star-theatre_troy-sherrod-hist-dallas-theatres_DPLShow Hill, with the Star Theatre at right

by Paula Bosse

This is one of those photographs I could stare at all day long. It shows a shopping area in East Oak Cliff at the intersection of E. Eighth Street and N. Moore Street — this part of Oak Cliff was originally settled as a freedman’s town, and this photo shows an area between the Tenth Street Historic District and The Bottoms (or The Bottom) neighborhood (see a great map, here).

When these buildings were built in 1945 by I. B. Clark, it was an exclusively African-American part of Dallas. The anchor of this strip (which occupied what was described as both the 300 block of N. Moore and the 1400 block of E. Eighth) was the Star Theatre, which was, according to Mr. Clark, the only movie house for black customers in Oak Cliff).

star-theatre_boxoffice_042845
Boxoffice, April 28, 1945

star-theatre_oak-cliff_negro-directory-1947-48_adDallas Negro Directory, 1947-48

I. B. Clark was a white businessman who lived on a ranch in Cedar Hill; he had owned the Southern Fireworks Company before the war and had frequently battled with Dallas lawmakers about the constitutionality of banning the selling and shooting of fireworks within the city limits.

In the undated photo above, businesses in the retail strip are the Top-O-Hill Food Mart, the Ebony Cafe (Pit Bar-B-Q), the Easy-Wash laundromat, the second location of the Cochran Street Record Shop, the Star Theatre, and hotel apartments.

This hub of businesses was popular with neighborhood residents, who referred to this area as “Show Hill” (for the picture show). I stumbled across a really wonderful 2018 oral history of Margaret Benson, who, in 1944, moved with her family to Dallas and attended N. W. Harllee Elementary School and both Lincoln High School and Madison High School. She describes these shops and says that whenever black entertainers such as Dinah Washington or Sister Rosetta Tharpe came to town, they frequently stayed in the apartments above these businesses, as hotel accommodations for African Americans were few and far between. (I loved the entire recording of Mrs. Benson reminiscing about living for most of her life in this area of Oak Cliff — the part where she specifically talks about “Show Hill” is at the 8:25 mark in the recording at the link above.)

According to Dallas movie theater historian Troy Sherrod, the Star closed in 1959. Over time the area eventually declined and the remaining businesses closed. The strip, which was looking pretty down-at-its-heels in the 1990s, was demolished around 2000. The photo below shows the once-vibrant strip in its later days. (Three more photos, from 1999, can be found here — the addition of more apartments (the “Ebony Hotel Annex”) can be seen in the third one.)

star-theatre_mark-doty_lost-dallas
via Lost Dallas by Mark Doty

Here is what “Show Hill” vacant lot looks like today on Google Street View:

star-theatre_google-street-view-nov-2019Google Street View, 2019

star-theatre_bing-mapsBing Maps

star-theatre_cinematreasures_advia Cinema Treasures

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Sources & Notes

Top photo showing the Star Theatre is from the excellent book by D. Troy Sherrod, Historic Dallas Theatres (Arcadia Publishing, 2014); the photo is from the collection of the Dallas Public Library.

Second photo showing the dilapidated buildings is from another excellent book, Lost Dallas by Mark Doty (Arcadia Publishing, 2012).

The ad for the Star Theatre appeared in the Dallas, Texas Negro City Directory, 1947-1948 (many thanks to Pat Lawrence).  The address for the theater was listed in various places as both 300 N. Moore and as 1401 E. Eighth.

If you have access to the archives of the Dallas Morning News, I encourage you to read “Inner-City Secret — The Bottoms Residents Say They Are Forgotten” by Bill Minutaglio (DMN, Aug. 28, 1994).

Also worth a read is Texas Tribune article “Dallas Neighborhood Established by Freed Slaves Fights to Keep Its History Alive” by Miguel Perez of KERA News.

More on the Tenth Street Historic District can be found on the City of Dallas website here.

Check out photos of a pop-up market on Show Hill in 2014 here.

Also, of related interest is the Flashback Dallas post “Movie Houses Serving Black Dallas — 1919-1922.”

Thank you to reader Jerry Richburg for contacting me with a question about this old strip shopping area — he remembered attending church services in one of the buildings and asked if I knew more about what had been there and if I might have a photo. Thanks, Jerry! You led me down the path to discovering a little pocket of Dallas history I was completely unaware of!

star-theatre_troy-sherrod-hist-dallas-theatres_DPL_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Guys and Dolls” at the State Fair Music Hall — 1951

sfot_guys-and-dolls_music-hall_1951_john-dominis_life-mag
Wearing the *dress* boots… (photo: John Dominis, © Time, Inc.)

by Paula Bosse

This is the most Texans-going-to-the-theater photo I’ve ever seen.

And this is the most Texans-selling-minks ad I’ve ever seen:

neiman-marcus_ad_guys-and-dolls_oct-1951

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Sources and Notes

Photo by John Dominis, taken in October, 1951 on assignment for Life magazine, ©Time, Inc.; more info is here.

Neiman-Marcus ad is also from October, 1951.

“Take Back Your Mink” is a song from “Guys and Dolls” (hear it here), the musical that played during the 1951 State Fair of Texas, starring Pamela Britton, Allan Jones, Jeanne Ball, and Slapsie  Maxie Rosenbloom.

sfot_guys-and-dolls_music-hall_1951_john-dominis_life-mag_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bel-Vick’s Anchor: The Angelus Arcade and The Arcadia Theatre — 1920s

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060730The 2000 block of Greenville Avenue, 1930… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve written about the Arcadia Theatre before (here and here), but until I discovered the above photo from 1930, I’d never really thought about what had been on that site previously (the northwest corner of Greenville Avenue and Sears Street, now the home of a Trader Joe’s). There’s a lot going on in that photo, not the least of which is the fabulous Arcadia “tree” sign/marquee, made of sculpted concrete.

Greenville Avenue in the 1920s had a small business district with buildings clustered between Ross Avenue and Belmont, an area which many now call “Lowest Greenville” (the stretch of Greenville a little farther north which is now generally refered to as “Lower Greenville” was being developed but was not really an area of note yet — and “Upper Greenville” — which I don’t really hear people say anymore — was a rural highway which passed through small communities and was mostly surrounded by a lot of open farmland).

A look at city directories of the early 1920s suggests that business owners were trying to establish “Belmont” as the name of the area between Ross and Belmont, and many used the word in their business name (“The Belmont Pharmacy,” for instance). But things began to change in 1922 as development picked up, and “Belmont” suddenly became “Belmont-Vickery” (in a nod to the Vickery Place neighborhood), and then that very quickly became “Bel-Vick” or “Belvick” (a couple of rebel business owners went with “Belvic” but that didn’t seem to catch on). In the 1927 directory there were eight Belvick businesses, almost all of which were in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Greenville, the blocks seen in the photo below (you can see the Arcadia “tree” in the distance on the left).

greenville-avenue_1930
Greenville Avenue, 1930 (Dallas Public Library)

belvick_1927-directory
1927 Dallas directory

At least one business came up with a cutesy “Belvick” logo:

belvick-plumbing-logo_1908-greenville_1928-directory_ad-det
Belvick Plumbing logo, 1928

(One of these businesses, Belvick Electric Co., ended up on Garland Road, owned by the family of “King of the Hill” writer and producer Jim Dauterive, a name which should be familiar to all “King of the Hill” fans; I wrote about that tidbit of hyper-trivia at the end of this post.)

There was even a small theater at 1804½ Greenville Ave. for a year or two, pre-dating the Arcadia by five years. The Belmont Theatre opened in Sept. 1922, but when it changed ownership a few months later it became, you guessed it, the Belvick Theatre. I hope patrons didn’t get too attached, because it was out of  business by the time the 1924 directory was published. Here’s what that building looked like in 2012 (sadly, it no longer looks anything like this) — the theater was, I believe, in the right half of the building.

belvick-theater_google_2012
Google Street View, 2012

In 1923, a Greenville Avenue developer, Albert J. Klein, built a large building called the Angelus Arcade in the 2000 block of Greenville, at Sears Street. Here are a couple of woefully fuzzy classified ads for the under-construction “Greenville Market Place” and a list of the types of “first-class” businesses wanted to occupy the new arcade (click for larger-but-still-hard-to-read images).

angelus-arcade_070423
July, 1923

angelus-arcade_112823Nov., 1923

The arcade had several tenants and served as something of a public meeting place for the neighborhood — politicians frequently appeared in front of the large building to give speeches or talk to crowds in impromptu town-hall-like meetings. Like the use of “Belvick,” the name “Angelus” showed up in many of the less-than-imaginitively-named (first-class) businesses:

angelus-arcade_greenville-ave_1927-directory1927 Dallas directory

In 1927 Klein made a deal with the Dean Theatre company to build a new movie theater on the same premises as the Angelus — there would be additions and modifications made to the building, but it would still be home to several other businesses — there’d just be a movie theater inside. It would continue to be an “arcade.” Even though one newspaper article attempted to tie the name “Arcadia” to the new theater’s Italian garden motif which suggested a pastoral harmony with Nature, it seems more likely that people were already calling the building “the arcade,” and “Arcadia” was the next logical step.

The Arcadia Theatre opened on Nov. 4, 1927 with the Mary Astor movie “The Sunset Derby.” A newspaper report noted that “in spite of its remote location” the crowd-size was healthy. Patrons could even pop next door for a chicken dinner if so inclined.

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060928_front1928

One of the unusual things about the theater was the seating. The backs of the chairs were in a variety of colors (desert sand, cafe au lait, light blue, orchid, green, and “Chinese red”) which were placed in a randomly pattern throughout the auditorium. I think the operators probably thought this design-breakthrough was quirky and cutting edge, but it just looks a little odd. The Dallas Morning News described this feature as being reminiscent of a fun carnival; the Arcadia publicity person wrote that “the effect is as startling as it is pleasing.” …I’ll give you “startling.”

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060928_toward-screen1928

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Below are a few more images of the Arcadia Theatre through the years.

First, just an odd little postcard from 1934 which found its way into SMU’s archive — a drawing of that cool tree!

arcadia-sign_postcard_1934_cook-collection_degolyer-library_SMUvia George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

arcadia-marquee_1941_ad-det1941

The Deco years, and a painfully pruned tree, in the daytime, and at night:

arcadia-theater_ca-1941_DHS1941, via Dallas Historical Society

arcadia-theater_mcafee_degolyer_SMUvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

arcadia-theater_mid

There were a few fires over the years — here’s one from November, 1958.

arcadia_fire_nov-1958_portalDallas Firefighters Museum, via the Portal to Texas History

Eventually its days as a second-run suburban theater dwindled, and it became a live-music venue for a while in the 1980s, as seen in this absolutely fabulous photo from 1985 (Joan Jett played the Arcadia on June 13, 1985) taken by Dan Allen, owner of super-cool clothing boutique Assassins.

arcadia-theatre_june-1985_daniel-m-allen-photo_FB©Daniel M. Allen 2014, via Facebook

It also showed Spanish-language films for a few years.

arcadia_spanish-language-theater_dayvia American Classic Images

arcadia_spanish-language-theater_nightvia American Classic Images

But, ultimately, a fire ended it all, on June 21, 2006: 120 firefighters responded to a six-alarm blaze caused by a fire that originated in a restaurant — all the businesses in the block were destroyed.

arcadia_on-fire_2006via Cinema Treasures

Bel-Vick hasn’t been the same since. RIP, Angelus/Arcadia.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from Exhibitors Herald World, June 7, 1930.

The 1930 view of Lowest Greenville, looking north from Alta, is from the Frank Rogers Collection, Dallas Public Library; titled “[Lower Greenville Avenue],” the call number is PA84-9/49.

The two photos from 1928 are from Exhibitors Herald World, June 9, 1928. To see the full 4-page article on the still-new Arcadia (with many photos of the interior) as well as a 2-page article from April 12, 1930 about how the Angelus Arcade building had been renovated to accommodate a theater — complete with floor plan — see a PDF here.

More on the Arcadia Theater — including additional photos of the ever-changing facade — can be found in these Flashback Dallas posts:

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I don’t usually post photos with watermarks, but I found these two really interesting photos of Greenville looking south from Sears, one from 1927 with buildings I’ve never seen, and one from 1930 with brand new buildings replacing those unfamiliar ones. Here’s the first, from 1927, which shows an unusual building with arches and a church (?!), Riggs Memorial Presbyterian Church, at the northeast corner of Greenville and Oram. (I used to have a little bookstore — Chelsea Books — at 1925 Greenville, in the space occupied by Criswell Furniture in this photo.)

greenville-ave_south-from-sears_frank-rogers_1927_DPL
1927, Dallas Public Library, call number PA78-2/1047

chelsea-books_dallas_1925-greenville-avenue

And then, just three short years later… bye-bye, weird building and church. The buildings seen in the 1930 photo below are still standing (except for the gas station at the southwest corner at Sears). I love that this street has been immediately recognizable for decades, even though there has been some unfortunate architectural revision going on in ol’ Bel-Vick in recent years.

greenville-ave_south-from-sears_bud-biggs-collection_1930_DPL
1930, Dallas Public Library, call number PA84-9/48 

And here’s a detail from a 1931 Fairchild Aerial photo showing the Angelus/Arcadia at the center left (you can see the tree sign).

arcadia_fairchild-aerial_1931_detail_DPL
Dallas Public Library, call number
PA83-32/16 

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“I’m No Angel” Packing Them In at The Majestic — 1933

majestic-theatre_im-no-angel_elm-street_1933_portal

by Paula Bosse

Mae West was hot in 1933. Dallas moviegoers lined up on Elm Street to see her in “I’m No Angel” at the Majestic Theater. On a Monday afternoon!

mae-west_im-no-angel_1933
via IMDb

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the Spotlight on North Texas collection, UNT Media Library, Portal to Texas History; more info can be found here.

(Check out the brick paving on Elm Street!)

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Theaters at 1517 Elm: The Garden, The Jefferson, The Pantages, The Ritz, and The Mirror — 1912-1941

garden-theatre_ca-1912_ebayThe Garden Theatre, ca. 1912

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows the Garden Theatre, located at 1517 Elm, on the north side of the street, between Akard and Stone Street. It was opened in the fall of 1912 by partners W. J. Brown and R. J. (Ray) Stinnett (who also operated the Cycle Park Theatre at Fair Park). The Garden was a vaudeville stop for touring companies.

1912_garden-theatre_variety_sept-1912Variety, Sept. 1912

It was one of many local theaters which simulcast World Series baseball games via telegraph updates, in the days before radio and TV (I wrote more about this fascinating subject here).

1912_garden-theatre_101612Oct. 16, 1912

As seen in the top photo, the Garden Theatre sat between the Pratt Paint & Paper Co. and the Roderick-Alderson Hardware Co.

garden-theatre_1913-directory_1517-elm1913 Dallas city directory

The photo at the top was found on eBay, with the seller-provided date of 1912. Zooming in, one can see a placard in front of the theater advertising the appearance of the Hendrix Belle Isle Musical Comedy Company (misspelled on the sign as “Henndrix”) — for many years this troupe toured with a production called “The School-Master”/”School Days,” the very production seen here on offer to audiences at the Garden. (Read a review of a 1912 Coffeyville, Kansas performance of the troupe’s bread-and-butter act here.)

garden-theatre_ebay_det

In April, 1913 Brown and Stinnett split, with Brown taking the Cycle Park action and Stinnett keeping the Garden (and a handful of other theaters).

On March 8, 1915 the theater changed its name and reopened as the Jefferson Theater. As the ad below stated, “This is the only theater in Dallas presenting popular players in repertoire […] Not moving pictures.”

1915_jeffersosn-theater-opens_dmn_030715March 7, 1915

I’m not sure where the “Jefferson” name came from, but….

jefferson-theater_061115June 11, 1915

There were a few back-and-forths as far as operators and leases of the Jefferson, but in 1923, Ray Stinnett “sold” (or probably more accurately sub-leased) the theater in order to concentrate on his other (bigger! better! brighter!) venture, the next-door Capitol Theater, but he reacquired it in 1925 and renamed it the Pantages. (This has caused confusion, with some thinking it had become the Pantages earlier — the confusion is understandable, as the Jefferson was affiliated with the Pantages vaudeville circuit between 1917 and 1920, and during that time the word “Pantages” appeared prominently on the theater’s marquee, but it was still the Jefferson. See a photo from May, 1925, showing the Jefferson from the Pacific side here, after it had become a Loew’s-affiliated theater.)

The Jefferson became the Pantages Theater on December 27, 1928 when Stinnett opened the newly remodeled venue which offered vaudeville stage acts as well as motion pictures. (All images are larger when clicked.)

pantages-opening_122725Dec. 27, 1925

That incarnation didn’t last too long. Goodbye, Pantages, hello, Ritz. The Ritz Theater opened on October 14, 1928, operated by the R & R (Robb & Rowley) chain but leased from Stinnett. The first film shown was “The Lights of New York,” the first all-talking feature-length movie.

1928_ritz_101028Oct. 10, 1928

1928_ritz_101328
Oct. 13, 1928

1928_ritz_101528Oct. 15, 1928

Below, a 1929 photo showing the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Elm Street, the heart of Theater Row: seen here are the Ritz, Capitol, Old Mill, and Palace theaters (the regal Queen was a few doors west of the Ritz, at the corner of Elm and Akard).

ritz_capitol_old-mill_palace_photo_sherrodphoto from “Historic Dallas Theatres” by D. Troy Sherrod

A postcard showing the Ritz (and neighbors) a couple of years later, in 1931:

ritz_capitol_old-mill_palace_postcard_cinematreasures

But the Ritz didn’t last all that long either — a little over three years.

1931_ritz-mirror_120831Dec. 8, 1931

In 1931 the theater was acquired by the Hughes-Franklin company (as in Howard Hughes, the super-rich Texan who had an obsession with Hollywood). The plan was to renovate the building and rename it the Mirror, “a duplicate, in so far as possible, of the famous Mirror Theater of Hollywood. A feature will be the extensive use of mirrors in the lobby and foyer” (Dallas Morning News, Nov. 29, 1931).

mirror_motion-picture-times_122931Motion Picture Times, Dec. 29, 1931

The Mirror Theater opened at 1517 Elm on Christmas Day, 1931.

1931_mirror_122531
Dec. 25, 1931

Theater Row, 1936:

theater-row_mirror_march-1936

More Elm Street:

mirror-capitol-rialto-palace-melba-majestic_theater_row_night_big

The Mirror chugged on for several years as a second-run house, apparently less and less profitable as the years passed. On August 4, 1941 the theater burned down in an early-morning fire. The property owner, Vice Admiral Adolphus Andrews, decided against rebuilding.

mirror-fire_variety_081341Variety, Aug. 13, 1941

Here’s the same view as seen above, only now the space next to the Capitol is a nondescript one-story retail building. (The Telenews, a theater showing newsreels, opened in November, 1941.)

telenews_missing-mirror-post-fire_capitol_postcard

Below, a photo from around 1942, the first time in 30 years without a theater at 1517 Elm Street.

theater-row_by-george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUphoto via the DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Top photo of the Garden Theatre is from an old eBay listing.

More Flashback Dallas posts on Dallas theaters can be found here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Esquire Theater — 1969

esquire-theater_1969_portal“Midnight Cowboy” at the Esquire, 1969… (click for  larger image)

by Paula Bosse

This is a really great photo of the still-missed Esquire Theater in Oak Lawn. Here we see it in 1969, showing the X-rated film Midnight Cowboy, which went on to win several Academy Awards, including Best Picture (the only X-rated film to receive the Best Picture Oscar), Best Director (John Schlesinger), and Best Adapted Screenplay (by Waldo Salt, based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy).

Midnight Cowboy opened at the Esquire in July, 1969 and ran for several months. One of the featured actors in this American classic is Dallas’ own Brenda Vaccaro (Thomas Jefferson High School Class of 1958, daughter of Mario Vaccaro who owned Mario’s Italian restaurant) — I’ve loved her in everything I’ve ever seen her in. (Here’s one of her scenes from Midnight Cowboy.)

vaccaro-brenda_thomas-jefferson_1958_seniorThomas Jefferson High School, 1958

“Whatever you hear about Midnight Cowboy is true!” … “A reeking masterpiece. It will kick you all over town.” … “A nasty but unforgettable screen experience.”

midnight-cowboy_072369_opening_esquire
Opening day, July 23, 1969

It’s been a while since I’ve seen this movie. I had forgotten how much I liked the opening in which Joe Buck leaves Texas to head to New York. Here it is, overflowing with small-town Texas flavor (filmed in Big Spring). Cameo by an evocative Mrs. Baird’s paper hat.

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Sources & Notes

Photo titled “[‘Midnight Cowboy’ at Esquire Theatre]” is from the Spotlight on North Texas collection, provided by UNT Media Library to The Portal to Texas History; more on this photo can be found here.

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Palace — 1969

palace-theatre_1969_color_portalMovies and Dilly Bars, Elm Street, 1969… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The only thing more exciting than seeing a cool nighttime photo of Dallas’ Theater Row with neon blazing, is discovering that there was once a Dairy Queen downtown!

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UPDATE: That DQ was there for a VERY short time. It shows up in none of the directories. In fact, its address — 1621 Elm — shows as “vacant” in the 1969, 1970, and 1971 city directories (it was occupied in 1968 by a newsstand — the Elm Street News — until it was raided that year for selling nudie mags). The address disappears altogether after the 1971 directory (it and the Palace Theatre were demolished in 1971). The only evidence I can find of the downtown Dairy Queen’s brief existence on Elm was in a handful of want-ads placed in October, 1969 (about the same time this photo was taken). My guess is that DQ bugged out when they learned the building was going to be torn down. It may have been there only a couple of months. Downtown DQ, we hardly knew ye.

dairy-queen_elm-street_100269Oct. 2, 1969

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Sources & Notes

“Exterior of Palace Theatre at Night” is from the Lovita Irby Collection via the Spotlight on North Texas project, UNT Media Library, and may be viewed on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site here.

The movie on the marquee is “A Nice Girl Like Me,” starring Barbara Ferris, which opened at the Palace on Sept. 19, 1969.

The Palace Theatre was located on the north side of Elm Street, just west of Ervay, at 1625 Elm — by 1969, “Theater Row” consisted of only a handful of theaters. The Palace (and the building housing the Dairy Queen) was demolished in 1971; most of the north side of that block is now occupied by Thanksgiving Tower.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Cliff: “A City Within a City” — 1929

oak-cliff-city-within-a-city_cover_ca-1929_SMU

by Paula Bosse

Publications like Oak Cliff, A City Within a City (“Stop and Shop — Buy it from your neighbors!”) are wonderful glimpses into a city’s proud self-promotion. This little booklet is for the newcomer to Oak Cliff — to show that it is its own self-contained community, full of friendly, neighborhood businesses; even better, each ad is accompanied by a photograph. Though undated, the photo of the famed Cliff Queen movie theater features movies released in 1929. (All photos are larger when clicked.)

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CLIFF QUEEN THEATRE (L. L. Dunbar, proprietor), 616 E. Jefferson. On the marquee: “South Sea Rose,” starring Charles Bickford and Lenore Ulric (1929). Talking pictures — “clean entertainment” for the whole family.

cliff-queen-theater_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

cliff-queen-theater_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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BARRETT’S CLEANERS (E. B. Tipton, prop.), 607 E. Jefferson (building still stands, here). “We clean everything but a guilty conscience.”

barretts-cleaners_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

barretts-cleaners_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF BANK & TRUST (aka Jefferson Bank & Trust), 106-108 W. Jefferson (with the Texas State Mutual Life Insurance Co. upstairs). “Plenty of parking space.”

oak-cliff-bank-and-trust_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-bank-and-trust_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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CAMERON MAN SHOP (prop. C. C. Cameron), 115 W. Jefferson. Stop in and say howdy to “Oak Cliff’s dress-up man.”

camerons-mans-shop_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

camerons-mans-shop_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca_1929_SMU

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LAKESIDE LAUNDRY & CLEANING CO., 1454 N. Zang (at Marsalis). “Let the biggest washwoman in Oak Cliff do your laundry.”

lakeside-laundry_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

lakeside-laundry_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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H. BOEDEKER & SONS, Grocery and Hardware (Huber Boedeker, Oscar Boedeker, and W. C. Boedeker), 113 N. Lancaster. “The store complete.”

boedeker_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

boedeker_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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LAMAR & SMITH, Funeral Directors and Ambulance Service, 800 W. Jefferson. “Keep Oak Cliff safe!” (…or there will be unfortunate consequences you will be calling us to deal with).

lamar-and-smith_ambulance_funeral-directors_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

lamar-and-smith_ambulance_funeral-directors_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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RICK FURNITURE CO. (Louis F. Rick, prop.), 418 N. Bishop. “More than 50 years in Dallas.”

rick-furniture_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

rick-furniture_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF PHARMACY, various locations. “Candy, soda, cigars, sick-room supplies.”

oak-cliff-pharmacy_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-pharmacy_ad_OC-city-within-a-city__ca-1929_SMU

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SKINNIE & JIMMIE SERVICE STATION, W. Jefferson and Madison (northeast corner). A free grease job awaits the coupon-bearing newcomer.

skinnie-and-jimmie_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

skinnie-and-jimmie_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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OAK CLIFF ICE DELIVERY CO., 1027 S. Beckley (building may still be standing, here). “We help to make Oak Cliff a cooler place.”

oak-cliff-ice_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

oak-cliff-ice_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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KIDD SPRINGS, 715 W. Canty (see the amusement area on a 1922 Sanborn map, here). “Where Dallas plays.”

kidd-springs_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

kidd-springs_ad_OC-city-within-a-city_ca-1929_SMU

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Sources & Notes

“Oak Cliff, A City Within a City,” published by The Welcome Wagon, Dallas, ca. 1929, is from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information may be accessed here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas in “The Western Architect,” 1914: Places of Leisure, Etc.

hippodrome-theater_western-architect_july-1914

by Paula Bosse

Continuing with the series of photos from the all-Dallas issue of The Western Architect, which featured photos of new buildings which had popped up all over the city between the years of about 1910 to 1914. Today, in an attempt to categorize the seven buildings in this post, I’ve decided on “places of leisure” — although one of the places is a high school, and a high school is hardly a place of leisure. Two of these buildings are still standing: one which you’ve no doubt heard of as being at death’s door for a few decades now, and the other… well,  you’ve probably never seen it or been aware of it (but it’s my favorite one in this group!). 

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1.  THE HIPPODROME THEATER (above), 1209 Elm Street, designed by architects Otto Lang & Frank Witchell. Built along Dallas’ burgeoning “theater row” in 1912-1913, the Hippodrome was one of the city’s grandest “moving picture playhouses.” Among its lavish appointments was this odd little tidbit: “Over the proscenium arch there is an allegorical painting representing Dallas as the commercial center of the Southwest,” painted by the theater’s decorator, R. A. Bennett. Below was a fire curtain emblazoned with a depiction of Ben Hur (a “hippodrome” was a stadium for horse and chariot races in ancient Greece). So that was a nice little weird culture clash. Though originally a theater which showed movies exclusively, it eventually became a theater featuring movies as well as live vaudeville acts. As the Hippodrome became less and less glamorous, it resorted to somewhat seedier burlesque acts (it was raided more than once,for employing female performers who were too scantily clad) and the occasional boxing or wrestling match. The building was sold several times and was known as the Joy Theater, the Wade, the Dallas, and, lastly, the Strand. I was shocked to learn this old-looking-when-it-was-new building stood for almost 50 years and wasn’t demolished until 1960 (that façade must have looked very different by then). (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.) (All images are larger when clicked.)

hippodrome_theater-row_night_postcard_flickr_coltera
via Flickr

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2.  THE CAMPBELL HOUSE HOTEL, 2004 Elm Street (southeast corner of Elm & Harwood), designed by Lang & Witchell. A few blocks east on Elm from the Hippodrome was the Campbell Hotel, built in 1910-1911 by Archibald W. Campbell, a man who knew how to invest in Dallas real estate and left an estate worth more than a million dollars when he died in 1917 (a fortune equivalent to almost $20 million today). The Campbell Hotel lasted until 1951, when it  was sold and became the New Oxford Hotel. It was demolished sometime before 1970; the site is currently occupied by a parking garage. (See it on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.)

campbell-house_western-architect_july-1914

campbell-house_flickr_coltera_ca-1918

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3.  DALLAS AUTOMOBILE COUNTRY CLUB, at the time 6 miles north of Dallas (roughly at what is now Walnut Hill and Central Expressway), clubhouse designed by Lang & Witchell. Built in 1913/1914, this club for wealthy “automobilists” was located on what was originally 26 acres donated by W. W. Caruth — in order to get there, you had to drive, which was part of the relaxing experience this golf course-free country club counted as one of its benefits. The club grounds included a 6-acre lake and was a popular site for boating, fishing, and swimming (a top-notch golf course was eventually added). The name of the country club changed a couple of times over the years: it became the Glen Haven Country Club in 1922 and then the Glen Lakes Country Club in 1933. Glen Lakes had a long run, but northward-development of Dallas was inexorable, and the club and golf course were closed in 1977 when the land the country club had occupied for over 60 years was sold for development. (See it on a 1962 map here — straddling Central Expressway — and just try to imagine the value of that land today.)

dallas-automobile-club-house_glenlakes_western-architect_july-1914

glen-lakes-country-club_aerial-photo_1959

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4.  DALLAS COUNTRY CLUB, Preston Road & Beverly Drive, clubhouse designed by C. D. Hill. One of the reasons the Dallas Automobile Country Club had to change its name was because people kept confusing it with the granddaddy of Dallas’ country clubs, the Dallas Country Club, in Highland Park, built in 1911 and still the most exclusive of exclusive local clubs and golf courses. (See part of the club’s acreage on a 1921 Sanborn map, here.) (I don’t think any of the original clubhouse still stands, but I could be wrong on this.)

dallas-country-club_western-architect_july-1914

dallas-country-club_matchbook_cook-collection_degolyer_smuvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

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5.  LAKEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB, 6430 Gaston Avenue, clubhouse designed by C. D. Hill. This East Dallas country club and golf course was built in 1913-1914 on 110 acres of “rolling prairie and wooded glades, broken with ravines and set with stately trees that offer puzzling hazards” (it was estimated that there were over 1,000 pecan trees on the land). I don’t know anything about golf, but trying to play a round on this original ravine-ravaged course sounds … exhausting. This large structure (which seems too big to be called a “clubhouse”!) stood in Lakewood until it was demolished at the end of 1959 or beginning of 1960 when a new clubhouse was built. (See it on a 1922 Sanborn map — out in the middle of NOTHING — here. Note that many of the street names have changed over the years, including Abrams, which was once called Greenville Rd.)

lakewood-country-club_western-architect_july-1914

lakewood-country-club_tea-room_western-architect_july-1914

lakewood-country-club_dmn_051813_drawingDallas Morning News, May 18, 1913

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6.  DALLAS HIGH SCHOOL, Bryan & Pearl streets, designed by Lang & Witchell. Located on the site of the previous Dallas High School, this new building was built in 1908. For years Dallas’ only (white) high school, the building expanded over the years and has been known by a variety of names (Dallas High School, Bryan Street High School, Crozier Tech, etc.). I like this description of the original “somewhat novel” color scheme of the classrooms: the ceilings were in cream, the “under wall” in warm green, then the blackboards, and beneath them, the walls, in RED. This building has valiantly managed to survive for 110 years — seemingly forever under threat of demolition — but it still stands and, recently renovated into office space, it appears to have a rosy future. (See the main school building on a 1921 Sanborn map here; the gymnasium is here.)

dallas-high-school_western-architect_july-1914

dallas-high-school_flickr_colteravia Flickr

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7.  SEARS, ROEBUCK & COMPANY OF TEXAS, EMPLOYEES’ CLUB HOUSE, S. Lamar & Belleview, designed by Lang & Witchell. I love this little building! When plans for the 1913 expansion of the massive Sears warehouse were drawn up, this modest building was to be a (three-story) clubhouse for employees. A description of the not-yet-built expansion included this:

This clubhouse will contain ample cafeteria, dining room and lunch room [space] to accommodate 600 employees at one time. The main cafeteria will be so arranged that it can be turned into an assembly room for the benefit of the employees, having a stage built at one end, and means will be afforded for all variety of social, musical and athletic activities as may be developed by the employees themselves. (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 5, 1913)

What a perk! But by 1918, Sears had basically outgrown the building (which had ultimately been built as only one story, with a half-basement), and the company offered the use of it to the Dallas YWCA who used it as an “industrial branch” lunchroom/cafeteria (and lounge) in which meals were served to both YWCA members as well as to the general public (including many who worked at Sears). Prices of these wholesome meals served by wholesome girls varied over the years from a nickel to 25 cents — 200-400 patrons were served daily. The building’s half-basement was used as the men’s dining room and as a gymnasium for the YWCA girls (I believe it was also made available to Sears-Roebuck employees). (Read an article about this little “industrial branch” of the YWCA in a Dallas Morning News article from Aug. 15, 1920, here). The YWCA used this Sears building from at least 1918 to 1922. I’m not sure what its use was after the YWCA closed their “Sears-Roebuck Branch,” but I’m delighted to see that it still stands as part of the South Side on Lamar complex. (See the employee club house on a 1921 Sanborn map, here — it appears to be connected to one of the main buildings by a tunnel).

sears-warehouse_western-architect_july-1914_clubhouse-det

sears-roebuck_postcard_ebay_det
Detail of this postcard

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Next: churches, firehouses, an art gallery, and a hospital (the last installment!).

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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:

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Elm & Akard, Photographer J. C. Deane, and The Crash at Crush

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUYessirree! Elm & Akard, 1936/1937… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

One of the best collections of historical Dallas photos — and certainly one of the easiest to access online — can be found in SMU’s DeGolyer Library. I can’t say enough good things about the astounding quality of their vast collection or the willingness to make large scans of their photos available online, free to share, without watermarks (higher resolution images are available for a fee, for publication, etc.). I love you, DeGolyer Library (and all the people and entities behind your impressive digitization process)!

When going through recently uploaded photos, I came across photos from different decades showing the same intersection: the southeast corner of Elm and Akard streets (now the 1500 block). The building appears to be the same in each of the photos, and that is interesting in itself — but I was excited to find a connection in one of them to one of my favorite weird Texas historical events.

And that is the photo below. It’s a cool photo — there’s some sort of parade underway. This is Elm Street looking toward the east (or, I guess, the southeast), and the photographer is just west of Akard Street. At the bottom left of the photo is the United States Coffee & Tea Co. (which I wrote about here); in the background at the right is the Praetorian Building on Main; and just left of center is the Wilson Building addition under construction (which dates this photo to 1911). But the building that interested me the most is the one at the bottom right, the one at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard. I noticed “Deane’s Photo Studio” on the exterior of the upper part of the building. I recognized the name, having seen it on various Dallas portraits over the years, but now I realize there were two photographers named Deane in Dallas in the first half of the 20th century: Granville M. Deane (who had a longer career here) and his brother, Jervis C. Deane — J. C. Deane was the photographer who occupied the upper-floor studio at 334 Elm (later 1502 Elm) between 1906 and 1911. His studio was above T. J. (Jeff) Britton’s drugstore.

elm-east-from-akard_deane-photography_ca1912_degolyer_SMUElm Street, looking east from Akard, 1911  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

J. C. Deane (born in Virginia in 1860) worked as an award-winning photographer around Texas, based for much of his career in Waco. He was in Dallas only a decade or so, leaving around 1911, after a divorce, noting in ads that he had to sell his business as he was “sick in sanitarium.” After leaving Dallas he bounced around Texas, working as a studio photographer in cities such as Waco and San Antonio. I have been unable to find any information on his death.

The reason that J. C. Deane holds a place in the annals of weird Texas history? He was one of the photographers commissioned to photograph the supremely bizarre publicity stunt now known as The Crash at Crush, wherein a crowd upwards of 30,000 people gathered in the middle of nowhere, near the tiny town of West, Texas, in September, 1896, to watch the planned head-on collision of two locomotives (read more about this here). Long story short: things did not go as planned, and several people were injured (a couple were killed) when locomotive shrapnel shot into the crowd — one of those badly injured was J. C. Deane who was on a special platform with other photographers. For the sake of the squeamish, I will refrain from the details, but Deane lost his right eye and was apparently known affectionately thereafter as “One Eye Deane.” (For those of you not squeamish, I invite you to read all the gory details, related by Deane’s wife, in an interview with The Dallas Morning News which appeared on October 1, 1896, here.) The photos below are generally credited to Deane, back when he was just good ol’ happy-go-lucky “Two-Eye Jervis.” (All these photos are larger when clicked.) (Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a link to contemporary coverage of the event as reported in The Dallas Morning News.)

deane_crash-at-crush_1_austin-american-statesman_091662Before…

deane_crash-at-crush_2_austin-american-statesman_091662During…

deane_crash-at-crush_3_austin-american-statesman_091662And after…

I’ve been fascinated by the Crash at Crush ever since I heard about it several years ago, and now I know there’s a Dallas connection — and photos of the building where he worked.

Back to Elm Street.

For a brief time (a few months in 1936?) the building was referred to as the “Hutton-Drake Building” and a major renovation of the old building began at the beginning of 1936, when the whole of Dallas was on overdrive to spruce up the city ahead of the crush of Centennial visitors. Here’s an undated “before” photo….

hutton-drake-bldg_jeff-britton_degolyer-lib_SMUvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

The architect’s drawing of the remodeled Deco delight….

hutton-drake-bldg_remodeling_drawing_1936_degolyer-lib_SMUvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

And, because I love this photo so much, here it is again — the finished, revamped building:

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUSoutheast corner of Elm & Akard, 1936/1937, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

What the heck kind of craziness is this?! I mean I LOVE it, but… it’s very… unusual. I would absolutely never have guessed that this building had been in downtown Dallas. And it appears to be the same building seen in the 1911 photo, just with a very fashion-forward new face. Those little hexagonal windows! Along with that fabulous B & G Hosiery sign, there was a nice little bit of art deco oddness sitting there at the corner of Elm and Akard. The Kirby Building, seen at the far right, seems like a creaky older statesman compared to this overly enthusiastic teenager. The businesses seen here — Ellan’s hat shop, B & G Hosiery, and Berwald’s — were at this corner together only in 1936 and 1937. I could find nothing about this very modern facelift — if anyone knows who the architect is behind this, please let me know! (See a postcard which features a tiny bit of this fabulous building here — if the colors are correct, the building was green and white.)

In November, 1941, Elm Street’s Theater Row welcomed a new occupant, the Telenews theater, which showed only newsreels and short documentaries. By that time the A. Harris Co. had purchased the building at the southeast corner of Elm and Akard and expanded into its upper floors. Telenews opened at the end of 1941 and Linen Palace was gone from this Elm Street location by 1943, dating this photo to 1941 or 1942.

theater-row_by-george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUElm Street, 1941/1942  (DeGolyer Library, SMU)

All of these are such great photos. Thanks for making them available to us, SMU!

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Sources & Notes

The three Dallas photos are from the George A. McAfee collection of photographs at the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University — some of the photos in this large and wonderful collection were taken by McAfee, some were merely photos he had personally collected. The top photo (taken by McAfee) is listed on the SMU database with the title “[Looking Southeast, Corner of Elm and Akard, Kirby Building at Right]” — more info on this photo is here. The second photo, “[Looking East on Elm West of Akard / Praetorian Building (Main at Stone) Upper Right Center]” is not attributed to a specific photographer; this photo is listed twice in the SMU database, here and here. The third photo, “[Looking East on Elm from Akard on “Theatre Row” (Including on North Side on Elm from Left to Right — Telenews, Capitol, Rialto, Palace, Tower, Melba and Majestic],” appears to have been taken by McAfee, and it, too, appears twice in the online digital database, here and here. (I’ve updated this post with additional photos from the DeGolyer Library relating to the building’s remodeling in 1936 — links are below the images.)

The three photos from the “Crash at Crush” event are attributed to Jervis C. Deane, and were taken on September 15, 1896 along the MKT railroad line between West and Waco; the images seen above appeared in the Austin American-Statesman on Sept. 16, 1962. More on the Crash at Crush from Wikipedia, here — there is a photo there of the historical marker and, sadly, Jervis Deane’s name is misspelled. Sorry, Jervis!

Read the Dallas Morning News story of the train collision aftermath in the exciting article lumberingly titled “CRUSH COLLISION: The Force of the Blow and Damage Done. Boilers Exploded with Terrific Force, Scattering Fragments of the Wreckage Over a Large Area. The Showers of Missiles Fell on the Photographer’s Platform Almost as Thick as Hail – Description of the Scene,” here.

The southeast corner of Elm and Akard is currently home to a 7-Eleven topped by an exceedingly unattractive parking garage — see the corner on Google Street View here.

There is a handy Flashback Dallas post which has TONS of photos of Akard Street, several of which have this building in it: check out the post “Akard Street Looking South, 1887-2015,” here.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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