Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Theaters

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).


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.


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).


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.


Photo and article from, yes, The Seed World, Aug. 20, 1920

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 ad, March 13, 1926




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.


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).


Chattel loans and good will:



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



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!



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.



That light is blinding.



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



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.



1941 plates.



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



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


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.


Thanks, Cody and Chris for asking about this photo!

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


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Pacific Avenue: Watch for Trains! — ca. 1917

pacific-akard_park-cities-photohistory_frank-rogersToo close for comfort… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Some people don’t realize that Pacific Avenue used to be lined with the railroad tracks of the Texas & Pacific Railway (hence the name “Pacific”). When trains weren’t barreling down Pacific regularly, the thoroughfare was used by non-locomotive traffic like pedestrians, bicycles, horses, and automobiles. When a huge cinder-spewing train screamed through, everything came to a resigned halt until it passed by. I can’t even imagine what that was like. I wonder how many times people, horses, vehicles, etc. didn’t manage to get out of the way in time?

When Union Station opened in 1916, trains that had previously run through the central business district now went around it (which probably cut the number of people rushed to the hospital with train-related injuries substantially).

The photo above shows Pacific looking east from N. Akard, as a blur of a train whooshes by. The Independent Auto Supply Co. (300 N. Akard) is at the left, and, at the right, the back side of Elm Street businesses, including Cullum & Boren and, to its left, the Jefferson Theater, with “Pantages” painted on the side. (The Jefferson was the Dallas home of the Pantages Vaudeville Circuit from 1917 until 1920, the year the Pantages people bugged out for the greener pastures of the Hippodrome, leaving the Jefferson to start a new relationship with the Loew’s circuit people. At the end of 1925, the Jefferson Theater was actually renamed the Pantages Theater. …Kind of confusing.)

Below, Elm Street in 1918 — what the other side of those buildings looked like. Cullum & Boren’s “CB” logo can be seen painted on the side of its building. (Click photo for much larger image.)


But back to Pacific in its scary, sooty, T&P-right-of-way days. This is what things looked like in 1909.


Fast-forward to 1920 — the trains had long stopped running, but the tracks remained, an eyesore and an impediment to traffic. (Cullum & Boren, again, at the right.)


Thanks to the Kessler Plan, those unsightly tracks were finally removed from Pacific in 1923. Below, a photo from 1925. Big difference. Thanks, George Kessler!



Top photo (by Frank Rogers) from the book The Park Cities, A Photohistory by Diane Galloway (Dallas: Diane Galloway, 1989). The photo is credited to John Stull/R. L. Goodson, Jr., Inc./Consulting Engineers.

More info on the 1918 photo of Elm Street, which was featured in the post “Dallas’ Film Row — 1918,” here.

More info on the super-sooty Pacific Avenue photo, here.

More on the de-track-ified Pacific, here.

Not sure of the source of the 1920 photo.

Four of these photos are really big when clicked. One is not.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Views of Elm Street, With Cameo Appearances by the Fox Theater — 1920s-1960s

fox-theater_sherrod_dplElm looking west from Akard, ca. 1922 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

From the earliest days of moving pictures, most downtown movie houses called Elm Street home. Some were originally vaudeville houses which occasionally featured short films between acts of the live revues, and some were theaters built expressly as move theaters. Most of the downtown theaters could be found on Elm Street, and the stretch between, say, Field and Harwood became known as “film row” or “theater row.” Most theaters were located on the north side of Elm in the blocks east of Akard Street, but a few found a home west of Akard. One of these — which I’ve seen in several of the photos I’ve posted — was the Fox Theater, located next to the Gus Roos store, at 1411 Elm, just west of the Akard intersection.

The Fox — which was named after owner Max Fox, a Polish immigrant who also owned the nearby Strand Theater — opened in the early months of 1922. During its 40-year history, it had something of a “colorful” life: despite opening with a sweet, family-friendly Mary Pickford movie and then showing mostly second-run features, it ultimately became one of Elm Street’s seedier theaters, showing cheap exploitation flicks and, later, becoming a “burlesk” house with on-stage strippers and “adult-only” fare playing continuously from 9 AM (!) to 11 PM. The Fox remained in business until the end of 1961 when property in the 1400 block began to be sold in order to build the First National Bank Building. (A comprehensive history of the theater can be found on Cinema Treasures.)


As I said, I’ve noticed the Fox Theater in a number of photos I’ve come across — some of which I’ve posted previously. Here are a few views of Elm Street in which the Fox pops up in a cameo appearance.

The top photo shows Elm looking west in about 1922. Down the street a bit you can see the Dixie Theater at 1315 Elm, one of the (if not THE) oldest permanent movie theater spaces in Dallas. The Dixie began life in 1909, the third theater in the location originally occupied by the Theatorium, which opened in 1906. (I wrote about the Dixie and other early “photoplay houses” in Dallas here.)

A similar view from about the same year is seen in this postcard (click to see a very large image):


From the WWII-era, this fantastic color photo, looking east (the Queen, Telenews, Capitol, Rialto, and Palace theaters can be seen in this photo, with the silhouette of the Majestic Theatre’s sign seen way in the distance):


In 1955, the wall of the building next door to the theater collapsed, killing several people (I wrote about that building collapse, here):


And, lastly, a photo of a decidedly less glamorous Elm Street, showing the “Fox Burlesk” in its final months, taken about 1961:



Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1922

March 19, 1922




Sources & Notes

Top photo from Troy Sherrod’s book Historic Dallas Theatres; photo from the Dallas Public Library.

1940s color photo from Noah Jeppson’s Unvisited Dallas post, “Elm Street 1945,” here.

UPI photo showing the building collapse was posted a few years ago by Robert Wilonsky on the Dallas Observer’s Unfair Park blog, here.

Bottom color photo from Flickr user Schaffershot54, here.

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

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The Inwood Theatre

theater_inwood_oct_1954_d-mag_dplSeven years after opening, in 1954… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The Inwood Theatre opened at Lovers Lane and Inwood Road on May 16, 1947. Even though the surrounding neighborhood has changed pretty dramatically over the years, the exterior of the H. F. Pettigrew-designed building looks pretty much the same today. Happily, the 69-year old movie theater is still in business.

The Grand OpeningMay 16, 1947 (click to see larger image)

theater_inwood_cinema-treasures via Cinema Treasures

inwood_1947_d-mag_dplvia D Magazine

theater_inwood_instagram_architexasvia Architexas on Instagram


Ad detail, May, 1947

Ad detail, May, 1947


Sources & Notes

Top photo from D Magazine, here; from the Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division, Dallas Public Library. If you zoom in, there seems to be some drama going on inside one of those parked cars:


Images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Knox Street, Between Cole and Travis

knox_from-travis_1924Knox in its salad days… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, Knox Street looking southeasterly from Travis in 1924. The Ro-Nile Theater (later the Knox Theater) is on the left. Today it is, I think, Pottery Barn Baby (and I think it is the original  building). It directly faces what it now Weir’s Furniture. See what this view looks like today, here.

Below, a snow-covered Knox Street — around 1949 — looking northwesterly, from about Cole. The Knox Theater is on the right. See what this view looks like today, here.


I used to love when Knox was charming and funky. When I drive around this area now, I’m afraid I always end up feeling claustrophobic.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


South Central Expressway Under Construction — 1955

central-expwy_forest-ave_092955_squire-haskins_UTAComing soon to a neighborhood near you…  (click for gigantic image)

by Paula Bosse

Behold, a photo of South Dallas on Sept. 29, 1955, showing a lengthy stretch of bulldozed land cleared for the imminent construction of South Central Expressway. We’re looking south, with Forest Avenue (now Martin Luther King Blvd.) running horizontally in the foreground. To the right is the Forest Theater (now playing: “Lady and the Tramp”). And if you zoom in, you can just see the post-Ross Avenue location of the famed Jim Beck recording studio to the right of the theater.

This great swath of land cut through an established tree-filled residential area — it ran alongside the once-swanky Colonial Hill neighborhood. Zoom in and take a last look at some of those straggler houses that haven’t yet met their maker. …But they will. …And they did.

I wondered what had been demolished on Forest between the houses to the left and the theater to the right. It was Fire Station No. 6, at 2202 Forest Avenue. I looked in my bulging file of miscellaneous photos and was surprised to actually find a couple of photos of that No. 6 Engine Company, which was built in 1913.

fire-department_no. 6_forest-ave-mlk

The station was on the south side of Forest Avenue, alone in a very short block. As we look at the station in the photo above, the H&TC railroad runs just to the right of the station, and Kimble Street runs along the left. See a Sanborn map of this area in 1922, here.

The photo  below shows what Forest Avenue once looked like, from the front of the firehouse looking east (the intersection with Kimble is on the other side of the firetruck — you can see the street sign). These houses are still standing in the 1955 photo at the top.


When you know what this intersection looks like today (see this same view today, here), it’s hard to believe it ever looked like a cozy neighborhood. Progress is a helluva thing, man.


A couple of short articles for those who might want a little more info about the fire station, which was demolished sometime between April and September of 1955. (Click articles for larger images.)

Dallas Morning News, July 6, 1913

DMN, July 22, 1913


Bing Maps


Sources & Notes

Top photo by Squire Haskins, from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, UTA Libraries, Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington; it is accessible here.

The two fire station photos are from the collection of the Dallas Firefighters Museum, via the Portal to Texas History, University of North Texas. The first photo can be viewed here, the second photo here.

See an aerial photo of the same view seen in the photo at the top here. The Forest Theater is at the bottom, between the forks of S. Central Expressay on the left, and I-45 on the right.

Photos and clippings larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Elm Street — 1920s


by Paula Bosse

Above, a 1920s postcard showing Elm Street looking west from about where the Majestic Theatre is now. The lovely Melba Theatre can be seen at the right, with its sign partially visible. Originally opened as the Hope Theatre in 1922, it was renamed the Melba in October 1922 and became the Capri on Christmas Day 1959. West of the Melba is the tall red brick Dallas Athletic Club Building. Both of these buildings were demolished in 1981. (Also demolished about the same time were the Kress Building, the Volk Building, and the Baker Hotel. 1981 was a bad year to be an old building in Dallas. Read more in the Dallas Morning News article “Kress Building: Demolition Derby,” DMN, April 24, 1981.)

The same view today can be seen here.

Click for larger images.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Dallas Theater Center

dtc-downtown_dallas-park-dept_portalFLW’s DTC (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dallas Theater Center is seen here nestled amongst the woody landscape of Turtle Creek. There’s a lot of varied architecture going on in this photo!


Photograph is from the Dallas Park and Recreation Department Collection, Dallas Municipal Archives; it is accessible via the Portal to Texas History, here.

The text on the back:

“Opened in 1959, this Center provides pleasure for thousands of Dallasites and visitors yearly through a repertory of plays presented in its Kalita Humphreys Theater. This $1,000,000 Center, the last completed building and only theater designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, also incorporates a children’s and teen theater and a private school of drama.”


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Life in The Grove: Pleasant Grove — 1954-1956

pghs_1956-dairy-queenDairy Queen, 1238 S. Buckner — 1956 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The community of Pleasant Grove was first settled in the 1840s but didn’t officially become part of Dallas until it was annexed in 1954 after a huge postwar surge in population. Upon annexation, the schools that made up the Pleasant Grove Independent School District became part of the DISD, including Pleasant Grove High School, which was located on Lake June Road, between Conner and Pleasant Drive. PGHS closed when the brand new W. W. Samuell High School opened on January 28, 1957, halfway through the 1956-1957 school year. The photos here are from the yearbooks of the last three years that Pleasant Grove High School was open — most of the ads feature students inside or in front of the business establishments. And they’re great! (Click photos for larger images.)


Photos of overcrowded Pleasant Grove High School and its numerous out-buildings, 1955.



Pleasant Grove Pharmacy, Grady’s Clover Farm Grocery, and Grove Shoe Store:


Worthington Service Station:


Schepps Dairy:


The Eatmore Hamburger System (greatest name EVER!!):


Dasch Cleaners:


Harvey Hayes, “The Insurance Man”:


Cassidy’s Conoco Station, Tee-Pee Drive-In Grocery, and Gay and Jones Motor Co.:


Worthington’s Magnolia Service Station (again) and Barrett’s Used Cars:


W. W. Hughes Magnolia Service Station, E & L Service Shop (bicycle and lawnmower service), and, again, Pleasant Grove Pharmacy:


Billie Price Real Estate and Maridell’s:


Martin’s Sinclair Service Station (with a DQ photobomb):


The Kaufman Pike Drive-In, “The Theater With a Heart”:


And lastly, a very dark photo of Pleasant Grove High School from the 1948 yearbook:



All photos and ads are from the 1954, 1955, and 1956 editions of The Bobcat, the Pleasant Grove High School yearbook.

More on the history of Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas, here. More on the history of Pleasant Grove High School here and here. The confusing school changes revolving around the the PGISD/DISD switchover were a bit like musical chairs and affected attendance of numerous high schools (including Forest High School, Crozier Tech, and Woodrow Wilson), junior high schools, and elementary schools. Read about the details in the Dallas Morning News article “Mid-Term Switch Set for Students” (DMN, Jan. 6, 1957).

Google map showing Pleasant Grove and approximate location of PGHS, here.

As always, click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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