Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Theaters

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.)

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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.)

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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 three showing the same intersection in three different decades: 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, but it’s weird to say I didn’t even really notice that right away — there’s so much else to look at. This is Elm street looking toward the east (or, I guess, the southeast). 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. 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.)

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 there’s even a photo of the building where he worked.

Back to Elm Street.

The photo at the top…. Here it is again so you don’t have to scroll all the way back up:

elm-and-akard_george-mcafee_degolyer_SMUSoutheast corner of Elm & Akard, 1937/1937  (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.

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.

All photos larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Square Dancing Craze in Big D — Late 1940s

calamity-jane_premiere_-sam-bass_majestic-theatre_july-1949Hoedown at the Majestic, 1949…

by Paula Bosse

The photo above appeared in a show-biz trade publication showing part of the festivities which swirled around the world premiere of the movie “Calamity Jane and Sam Bass” starring Yvonne DeCarlo and Howard Duff at the Majestic Theatre on June 8, 1949. Several of the film’s stars made personal appearances and were made honorary deputies by Sheriff Bill Decker, sworn in by Judge Lew Sterrett (yes, Lily Munster was an honorary Dallas deputy sheriff!). There was a parade, a live show performed by the actors on the Majestic’s stage before the movie, a block party, and square dancing in Elm Street, with music provided by the Big D Jamboree band.

In 1949, as unlikely as it seems, square dancing was a HUGE fad which swept the country (or at least the Southwest). The peak years of the retro craze were probably 1948 to 1950, and its impact was pretty big locally, not only on the dance floor, but also in the fashion pages. When you see every major Dallas department store — even Neiman’s — selling calico and gingham square dance fashions … well, it’s big.

Not only were there lessons available everywhere, but there were clubs and weekly events all over town — every Wednesday in the summer of 1949, there was a big outdoor square dance held at the Fair Park Midway, with music courtesy of local celeb Jim Boyd.

I’m not sure when it stopped (…I’m assuming it has…), but for decades, a lot of us participated in square dancing as part of gym class in elementary school. This interesting throw-back take on physical fitness seems to have begun around 1950 or ’51. Not everyone was thrilled about this odd-but-charming grade-school rite of passage — some ultra-conservative communities complained, but the wholesome and old-timey dancing won out and became a standard part of Texas schools’ physical education curriculum.  Forget young people’s cotillions — most Texas children had their first experience dancing with a partner to the strain of a cowboy fiddle and a voice telling us to “allemande left” and “do-si-do.” And I’m sure we’re all better for it.

Here are a bunch of ads and things (click pictures to see larger images):

square-dance_la-reunion-place_squire-haskins_dallas-municipal-archivesSquare dance at La Reunion Place (Dallas Municipal Archives)

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1946

square-dance_may-1947_a-harris
1947

square-dance_aug-1948_titches
1948

square-dance_jan-1948_sanger-bros1948

square-dance_oct-1948_neiman-marcus
1948

square-dance_april-1948_a-harris
1948

square-dance_oct-1948
1948

square-dance_dec-1950_e-m-kahn
1949

square-dance_june-1949_w-a-green
1949

square-dance_may-1949_fair-park-midway
1949

square-dance_nov-1949_a-harris
1949

square-dance_march-1949_whittles
1949

square-dance_oct-1949_a-harris
1949

square-dancing_promenaders_smu_1951-yrbk1951

Above, a photo of the Promenaders, a group of SMU students whose purpose is described in the 1951 yearbook as being “to promote the appreciation of square and folk dancing on this campus.” (Think you recognize any of those faces? See who’s in the photo here.)

dallas_ringandbrewer_1956
1956

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Sources & Notes

Premiere of “Calamity Jane and Sam Bass” was held at the Majestic Theatre on June 8, 1949, and it seems to have been a pretty big deal. There was newsreel footage filmed that night — wonder if it’s floating around anywhere?

square-dance_calamity-jane_majestic_june-1949

Photo of the square dance taken at La Reunion Place is by Squire Haskins and is from the Dallas Municipal Archives; is can be seen on UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here.

Photo of the SMU Promenaders square- and folk-dancing group is from the 1951 Rotunda, the yearbook of Southern Methodist University.

Jim Boyd was a country-western singer who appeared in a few Hollywood films and was a Dallas disc jockey for many years. He also appeared around town often as a performer and personality. Dallas filmmaker Hugh V. Jamieson, Jr. and director Milton M. Agins made a short film called “Saturday Night Square Dance” (made in either 1949 or 1950); it features Boyd and his Men of the West band, plus square dance groups Silver Spur Square Set and Thompson Square Dance Club. I can find nothing on the two groups, but it seems likely that this film was made in Dallas. The quality of the film uploaded to YouTube is not very good, but, who knows — you might see your parents or grandparents in there if they were big square dancers! You can watch it here.

All images larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Praetorian Building and Its 19th-Century Neighbors

praetorian_empire_main-street_postcard_ebay_detIn the shadow of the Praetorian —  Main Street, 1907

by Paula Bosse

The photo below is a detail of a larger photo from the George W. Cook Collection treasure trove at SMU’s DeGolyer Library, which shows the Praetorian Building under construction. It appeared on a real-photo postcard which shows a postmark of July 25, 1907. What I found most interesting about this photo are the two buildings standing in its shadow, just west of Stone Street (now Stone Place). Here’s a close-up (click to see a larger image):

empire-imperial-praetorian_1907_cook-collection_SMU_det

I knew that the building with “Imperial Bar” on the side is still standing (the Sol Irlandes restaurant at 1525 Main has been its occupant for several years), but I wondered about the one with the “Empire” sign. It took a bit of digging, but I’m happy to report that it was a very early movie theater. I had determined that the address of the building with the Empire sign was 353 Main Street (in what is today the 1500 block of Main) and found this article from 1907 about officials closing down “moving picture shows” which had not complied with fire precautions in the storing and projection of highly flammable celluloid film — one of these movie houses was at 353 Main (clippings and photos are larger when clicked):

fire-code-violations_moving-pictures_dmn_062507
Dallas Morning News, June 25, 1907

Below is a clipping from the Dallas city directory issued in 1907 — the first year a special “Moving Pictures” category was included in the directory.

1907-directory_harris-empire
1907 Dallas directory

These “picture shows” were listed not by theater name (if they had one), but by owner or manager. (This was the era of nickelodeons, which were not so much “theaters” as “viewing rooms” — a great article from 1909 about the sudden surge in popularity of the nickelodeon — what they were and what they were like — can be read here.) The theater at 353 Main was owned by Charles B. Harris (usually referred to as C. B. Harris, who had previously worked as a wholesaler for the Edison Phonograph Co. a couple of doors down the block). When the picture above was taken, the Empire was showing movies at 353 Main, men were playing pool for 45¢ an hour at the New Brunswick Billiard Hall next door at 355 Main, and Bartholomew Lynch was running the Imperial Bar on the corner, at 357 Main.

pool-hall_355_dmn_041307
DMN, April 13, 1907

Construction of the C. W. Bulger-designed Praetorian Building — Dallas’ first skyscraper (14 stories!) — had begun in September, 1906. Here’s what it looked like in March, 1907:

praetorian_construction_dmn_031707
DMN, March 17, 1907

And here it is shortly after completion:

praetorian-building_main-street_postcard_ebay

In January, 1909, C. B. Harris decided to expand up and into the space next door. The Empire Theater stopped showing movies, and in March, 1909, it became a venue for live stage productions.

empire_dmn_032109_opening
DMN, March 21, 1909

Here are a few photos showing the Empire and the finished Praetorian Building, around 1909. The first one may be one of the few to show the short-lived Colonial Theater (352 Main), a vaudeville house, across the street.

empire-imperial-praetorian_flickr_colteravia Flickr

Here is another postcard view, showing the Empire (the detail of this image is at the top of this post).

praetorian_empire__main-street_postcard_ebay

Below, a detail of a larger photo, also from around 1909.

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And below, a detail from a larger photo, with spectators watching a parade in August, 1909, showing the Empire with its new construction.

empire_parade-day_1909_degolyer_SMU_close-up

In December, 1909, Harris changed the name of the theater to the Orpheum — it became a vaudeville house.

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DMN, Dec. 14, 1909

You can see the Orpheum Theater sign in this detail of a larger photo (click thumbnail on page to see full image). (Note that the Happy Hour Theater has taken over the Colonial’s space.)

orpheum_happy-hour_praetorian_uta_det

By 1914, the building’s address was 1521 Main (or, more specifically, 1521-23 Main), and ownership of the theater (which was now featuring “tabloid musical comedy”) had changed hands (to the Dalton brothers, who owned the Old Mill Theater). In October, 1914, the Daltons sold the theater. It was extensively remodeled and became the Feature Theater, a motion picture house (once again!).

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DMN, Oct. 18, 1914

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DMN, Nov. 15, 1914

The Feature hung on through the Great War, but finally sputtered out in 1919. In 1920, Woolworth’s expanded into the space (they were already located on Elm Street, and the expansion afforded them entrances on both Elm and Main — and, I think, Stone. Woolworth’s had already been occupying the old Imperial Bar building on the corner when they took over the old Empire space (1525 Main). That was a big Woolworth’s store.

feature-theater_dmn_122420_woolworths
DMN, Dec. 24, 1920

woolworth_dmn_030421_grand-openingDMN, March 4, 1921

Here’s what our old pal, The Praetorian, and NKOTB, Woolworth’s, looked like around 1930.

praetorian_ca-1930_dallas-rediscovered-cushman-and-wakefield-inc

Here’s Woolworth’s closer up — you can see how the two buildings (the old Empire and the old Imperial Bar) have been joined together a little oddly.

praetorian_ca-1930_dallas-rediscovered_cushman-and-wakefield-inc

Here’s a grainy street-level view from the 1940s (sorry, tried to blow up a thumbnail).

praetorian_william-langley_1940s_DPL
via Dallas Public Library

Fast-forward to 1953: the Shaw Jewelry Company moved into the old Empire Theater space at 1521 Main.

Meanwhile, next door, the old Imperial Bar space had become Texas State Optical. Sadly, someone thought it would be a good idea to wrap the original brick building (which has been estimated as having been built around 1895) in, I don’t know … aluminum siding? Here are before-and-after photos of that corner (Imperial Bar) building. It looked pretty good before TSO took over. (The detail below is from a Squire Haskins photo, via UTA — full photo is here — click thumbnail on UTA page to see a larger image). (I love the delivery boys’ bicycles parked at the curb outside the Western Union office.)

main-and-stone_praetorian_haskins_UTA_det

And here’s the same corner after “improvements” (this is another detail from another of Squire Haskins’ fab photos from the UTA collection — see the full photo here — click on thumbnail), circa 1950s.

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Oh dear. There should be a law….

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1955 (ad detail)

Speaking of “oh dear,” a few short years after this, the Praetorian Building expanded and was … argh … “re-clad.” Here’s a shot of it, mid-cladding, about 1961 (Squire Haskins photo info from UTA here).

praetorian_recladding_ca-1961

I believe it was … yellow.

In 1968, the Saint Jude Catholic Chapel moved into 1521 Main — the old Empire Theater space. The front was adorned with a vivid mosaic by Gyorgy Kepes (I wrote about the mosaic here).

gyorgy-kepes_mosaic_st-jude-chapel_website_videovia St. Jude Chapel website

The chapel is still there.

TSO — and later Pearle Vision — lasted at 1525 Main for years. In 2001, renovation and restoration efforts to develop Stone Place began. 1525 Main was restored as closely as possible to its original design and became home to a succession of restaurants (it has been occupied by Sol Irlandes for several years). ArchiTexas did a GREAT job with the building’s restoration!! (Read a 2001 Dallas Morning News article about this project — and about the historic 1525 building: “Historic Downtown Buildings To Be Restored — Shops, Restaurants Will Breathe New Life Into Stone Place,” DMN, Feb. 21, 2001.)

sol-irlandes_panoramio

So. Back to the top photo. There’s good news and bad news. Empire Theater building: still there. Imperial Bar building: still there. But the Praetorian Building — the most historically important of the three? The fabulous “skyscraper” was demolished in 2013 and replaced by a giant eyeball. Here’s a 2012 Dallas Morning News photo of it in mid death spiral, being slowly dismantled.

praetorian-pre-demo_dmn-photo_2012

See what this view looks like in the most recently updated Google Street View, here.

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Interested in seeing the development of this block, as chronicled in Sanborn maps? Of particular interest is the northwest corner of Main and Stone — before 1911 the addresses of these two building were 353-355 Main and 357 Main; after 1911 the addresses changed to 1521-23 Main and 1525 Main. It appears that both buildings were built between 1892 and 1899.

  • 1885 — not a lot in this block yet — but there is a well
  • 1888 — a building has appeared one lot off Stone
  • 1892 — that building from 1888 is now nothing but “ruins” — likely the result of a fire
  • 1899 — the buildings we’ve been looking at in this post have appeared
  • 1905 — C. B. Harris’ Empire would occupy 353 Main by 1907 — possibly by 1906 (in 1905, Harris was working three doors down, at 347 Main, as an agent for the Edison Phonograph Co.)
  • 1921 — This map indicates that the 1521-23 building is two stories. Pictures going back to 1909 (see a couple above) seem to show three stories, but pictures of the building as part of Woolworth’s appear to show two floors (for comparison, the building on the corner at 1525 was two stories). So … what looks like a third floor on 1521-23 Main might be … architectural trompe l’oeil? Either that, or there was demolition and construction and demolition of the two-story building currently occupied by the St. Jude Chapel. This is confusing. Whatever the case, the renovation/restoration of these two buildings in 2001 shows them to look pretty much as they did in the top 1907 photo — once again, that original roofline is present. Below, the 1907 photo is on the left, a 2012 photo is on the right.

praetorian_main-stone_1906-1912

And here the buildings are today, minus the dearly departed Praetorian (RIP).

st-jude-chapel_website_present-day

Pretty cool.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info is here. (I have edited the image slightly — and rather poorly — please see link for original image.)

The photo and detail showing Woolworth’s, circa 1930, is from William L. McDonald’s book Dallas Rediscovered; photo credit cites Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

Sources of all other images noted, if known.

For an entertaining history of the construction of the Praetorian Building (which had MANY detractors and doubters), read check the archives of The Dallas Morning News for the article by Kenneth Foree, “First Skyscraper Had Its Skeptics” (Oct. 27, 1948).

More on the Praetorian Building on Wikipedia, here.

Most clippings and images are larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

At the Palace: The Streets of Sin and The Mikado of Jazz — 1928

palace-theater_052628_univ-of-washington-librariesElm & Ervay, 89 years ago… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photograph above is not the greatest quality, but it’s a photo I’ve never seen before. It shows the Palace Theatre in the 1600 block of Elm Street, just west of Ervay, with the well-known (and very large) Van Winkle’s Book Store in the background. One of the things that makes this photo so interesting is seeing the cumbersome support tower on top of the building holding up the ornate Palace sign. See what a slightly different Palace sign looked like the next year, lit up in neon, here.

The photo above was an amateur snapshot, taken to document the tour of the traveling live stage revue The Mikado of Jazz which played the Palace in late May of 1928. The photo below — which shows the revue’s stage manager and his wife standing on the sidewalk in front of the Palace — was taken at the same time.

palace-theater_052628_univ-of-washington-libraries_sidewalk

Part of a sign visible behind them was probably advertising that the theater was “cooled by refrigerated air.” The ad at the bottom of this post includes this informative little tidbit:

COMFORTABLY COOL — ALWAYS!

Scientifically correct the Palace ventilation system refreshes you with cooled breezes issued from the ceiling. You are not chilled!

What was The Mikado of Jazz? It appears to have been a jazzed-up version of The Mikado — making Gilbert & Sullivan relevant to 1920s’ audiences — like Hamilton for the Jazz Age (“This is said to be the first time that any comic opera has been syncopated and presented with a stage band.”Dallas Morning News blurb, May 20, 1928)

Also on the bill was the “world premiere” (?) of the film The Street of Sin, starring Emil Jannings and Fay Wray, a live stage orchestra, an organ player, and a Felix the Cat cartoon.

mikado-of-jazz_texas-mesquiter_052528
Texas Mesquiter (Mesquite), May 25, 1928

All at the Palace — “Dallas’ Greatest Entertainment!” Enjoyed at a comfortable temperature.

palace_mikado-of-jazz_dmn_052728
May 27, 1928

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Sources & Notes

Photographs (taken in May, 1928) are from the Rene Irene Grage Photograph and Ephemera Collection, 1921-1930s, University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections: more information on the first photo (the view of the theater from across the street) is here; more info on the second photo is here.

For other posts that show the Palace in this era, see these posts:

  • “Next-Door Neighbors: The Palace Theater and Lone Star Seed & Floral — 1926,” here 
  • “Dazzling Neon, Theater Row — 1929,” here

Click photos and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

What’s Playing at the Palace? — 1950s

elm-street_ten-commandments_1957_flickr_coltera.JPGFilm Row: Elm & Ervay, looking west… (click for large image)

by Paula Bosse

In the 1950s, the two prestige movie theaters in Dallas were the Majestic and the Palace, mainstays of “Theater Row” and just a few blocks apart on Elm Street. The Palace Theater (at Elm and Ervay, across from the Wilson Building) is seen in the two postcards featured here. The one above shows Elm Street looking west. “The Ten Commandments” is playing, placing the date that photo was taken sometime between February and May, 1957. The postcard below shows an eastward-looking view with “The Caine Mutiny” on the marquee, dating that photo to the latter half of July, 1954.

elm-street_looking_east_palace_night_flickr_coltera

“The Ten Commandments” was a huge, huge hit and ran for 11 weeks — no movie had ever run that long in the history of Dallas theaters (it had beat out the then-champ, “Sergeant York,” which had had a seven-week run at the Majestic in 1941).

It was also one of the longest movies to ever play in Dallas. We’re talking a running time of almost 4 hours (with an intermission), something which not only tested the endurance of audiences but also severely limited the number of showings per day. It was an “event” picture, and, accordingly, prices were higher and reserved seats were offered.

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad_det_reserved-seatsFeb., 1957

The number of people in Dallas who saw that movie at the Palace is staggering: over 100,000! Even after its run at the Palace ended, it continued to draw crowds when it moved down the street to the Tower.

The opening-day ad for the movie:

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad
Feb. 14, 1957

There were a couple of things I found interesting about this ad. One was that it had a blurb by First Baptist Church of Dallas’ chief Baptist,  W. A. Criswell.

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad_det_criswell

The second was that patrons could park behind the theater — on Pacific — at the Dunlap-Swain station. (Parking downtown for large crowds in those days must have been challenging —  not everyone took streetcars or, later, buses.)

ten-commandments_palace_dmn_021457_ad_det_parking

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caine-mutiny_palace_dmn_071654_opening-nightJuly, 1954

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Sources & Notes

Both postcards found on Flickr, posted by the unstoppable Coltera: the top one here, the bottom one here.

“The Ten Commandments” ran at the Palace Theater from Feb. 14, 1957 to May 2, 1957. The film that followed was “Boy On a Dolphin,” which featured the debut of super-sexy Sophia Loren in a U.S. movie. …Which is an interesting counterpoint.

“The Caine Mutiny” ran from July 16, 1954 to July 29, 1954.

A previous post about the Palace — “Next-Door Neighbors: The Palace Theater and Lone Star Seed & Floral — 1926” — can be found here.

Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Next-Door Neighbors: The Palace Theater and Lone Star Seed & Floral — 1926

palace-theatre_melting-pot_march-1926_utaElm Street neighbors, March, 1926…. (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, the Palace Theater, one of Dallas’ great moviehouses. It opened in June, 1921, near the northwest corner of Elm and Ervay; this photograph is from March of 1926, three months before the theater’s fifth birthday. It was still a whippersnapper. 

Below, a detail from the photo: by zooming in and tweaking the contrast, the box office is revealed, as are two women chatting in the shadows (all pictures and clippings are larger when clicked).

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As interesting as old movie theaters are, I was more intrigued by the three people to the right of the theater (who all look like characters from a period melodrama) and by the business next door. I’ll never know who those men were or who that woman was waiting for, but finding out what business was selling baby chicks (…next door to the Palace?) was pretty easy.

palace_lone-star-seed_1926_uta_det

The store was Lone Star Seed & Floral (1627 Elm). They sold seeds and flowers, potted plants, canaries, goldfish, and pet and livestock supplies. They could also help you with all your poultry needs: feed, incubators, medicine, and live chickens. …Right next door to one of the plushest and most luxurious entertainment destinations in Dallas.

Lone Star Seed & Floral appears to have once been Texas Seed & Floral and had been around since at least 1892. They set up shop at 1627 Elm in 1902 and remained there quite a while until they moved in January, 1927, just a few months after the top photo was taken. Here is a postcard of its earlier incarnation, with photos of the Pacific Avenue location at the left, and the Elm Street location at the lower right (the view is looking north on Ervay; the Palace would later be built immediately west of this  building, to the left of the lower postcard image, just out of frame).

texas-seed-and-floral_1908_portal

The store looks very clean and extremely well organized. My inexplicable love of things stored in card-catalog-file-like cabinets and fold-out bins tells me I’d probably be stopping in fairly regularly after having seen the latest Buster Keaton film next door.

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lone-star-seed_the-seed-world_082020_article
Photo and article from, yes, The Seed World, Aug. 20, 1920

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Feb., 1922

But back to the Palace. The banner is publicizing the imminent arrival of John Murray Anderson’s “The Melting Pot,” a stage production which opened at the Palace on March 14, 1926. The Palace Theater, owned by the Publix chain, was about to embark on “a new and surprisingly different type of entertainment,” which consisted of musical revue roadshows staged in New York under the direction of producer John Murray Anderson. Each production — its performers, costumes, and sets — would be sent into the hinterlands, playing a circuit which included Dallas, the only stop in Texas. There was a new show every week. And if you missed it, you really had no excuse: there were four shows daily (five on Sunday). (Anderson was later asked by Billy Rose to help with producing Fort Worth’s Centennial celebration.) (John Rosenfield’s tepidly positive Dallas Morning News review, “‘Melting Pot’ Is Presented at Palace, Introducing New Style Film Theater Feature,” ran on March 15, 1926.)

palace_dmn_031326_melting-pot-ad
Palace ad, March 13, 1926

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palace-theatre_1926_uta_det1

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from the Billy Burke Photograph Collection, UTA Libraries, Special Collections; more info here.

See the same view today via Google Street View here.

The Texas Seed & Floral Co. postcard is from the collection of Dallas Heritage Village, via the Portal to Texas History, here.

The beloved Palace — once an honest-to-God “movie palace” was unceremoniously demolished in 1971. It had stood at Elm and Ervay for 50 years. The north side of that block is now occupied by Thanksgiving Tower. The theater and the seed store were just west of Ervay — Lone Star Seed & Floral was just to the left of where the 7-Eleven is, on the ground floor of 211 N. Ervay, the blue building seen here (the view is northwesterly from the Wilson Building across the street).

See a great photo of Elm Street in the ’20s in the post “Dazzling Neon, Theater Row — 1929” here.

Click pictures and clipping to see larger images.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Night View, Downtown Section” by Arthur Rothstein — 1942

rothstein_elm-street_jan-1942_loc_lg“Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty…”

by Paula Bosse

If you’re interested in Dallas history, chances are pretty good that you’ve seen this photograph by Arthur Rothstein, which was taken in 1942 — sometime between January 9th and 16th — taken for the Farm Security Administration (FSA). It shows Elm Street — “Theater Row” — looking west from the block east of Harwood. This photograph is from the Library of Congress (here) a larger image can be explored here.

Below are a few magnified details (click pictures to see much larger images).

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Chattel loans and good will:

rothstein_good-will-loans

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Morton’s Pants Shop (2014 Elm) has a neon sign in the shape of a pair of pants!

rothstein_south-side_a

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More interesting neon: the Texas Pawn Shop (2012 Elm) has the traditional three balls, and, better, the Campbell Hotel (Elm and Harwood) has a camel!

rothstein_south-side_b

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The White Plaza on Main St. (at Harwood) was originally the Hilton Hotel and is now Hotel Indigo. There were some great buildings in this block.

rothstein_south-side_vert

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That light is blinding.

rothstein_center

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The towering Tower Petroleum Building (Elm and St. Paul) is pretty cool-looking here.

rothstein_north-side_vert

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The 2000 block of Elm (seen in the foreground, just east of the Majestic block) was full of furniture stores, pawn shops, and tailors. This is my favorite detail from this photograph. Sadly, the entire block — which was once filled with businesses and activity — was completely demolished; the “camel” side of the street is now occupied by an ugly parking garage, and this side of the street is a wasteland of ugly asphalt parking lots. Yep.

rothstein_north-side

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1941 plates.

rothstein_texas-1941-plate

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Below, Elm Street businesses from the 1943 city directory, beginning at N. St. Paul and ending at N. Olive. Next stop: Deep Elm.

elm-street_1943-directory

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The view today? Here. Hope you weren’t too attached. Kiss most of it bye-bye.

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Sources & Notes

Photo from the Library of Commerce, here. This photo is all over the place, including the great Shorpy website, here (click the “supersize wallpaper” link under the photo to see it BIG). If you want a super-gigantic 26.3 MB file (5978 x 4619) (!), download the TIFF file in the dropdown beneath the photo.

The movie playing at the Majestic Theatre is “Tarzan’s Secret Treasure.” Newspaper ads show that the movie opened on January 9, 1942 and played just one week, closing on January 16.

tarzans-secret-treasure

Thanks, Cody and Chris for asking about this photo!

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and everything’s bigger when it’s clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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