Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Theaters

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):

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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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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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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.

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That light is blinding.

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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.

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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.

 

Pacific Avenue: Watch for Trains! — ca. 1917

pacific-akard_park-cities-photohistory_frank-rogersToo close for comfort…

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.)

dallas-movie-palaces_1918_dth_020556

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

t-and-p-flier_1909_loc

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.)

pacific-ave_showing-t-and-p-tracks_1920

And another one.

pacific_ave_ca-1920_legacies_fall-1990

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!

pacific_bryan_looking-east_lost-dallas_doty

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Sources & Notes

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 first 1920 photo; the second 1920 photo is from Legacies, Fall 1990, here.

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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.)

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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):

elm-st-color_1920s

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):

elm-street-color_1940s_jeppson-flickr

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

building-collapse_observer-090511

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

1400-block-elm_schaffershot54_flickr_ca-1961

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Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1922

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March 19, 1922

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1940

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1950

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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.

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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.

inwood_dmn_051647_grand-opening
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

inwood_el-chico_dmn-website

inwood_dmn_051947_ad-det
Ad detail, May, 1947

inwood_dmn_051147_ad-det
Ad detail, May, 1947

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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:

inwood_1954-zoom

Images are larger when clicked.

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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.

knox-from-cole_ca-1949

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.

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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.

forest-central_fire-station_portal

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.

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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.)

forest-central_fire-station_dmn_070613
Dallas Morning News, July 6, 1913

forest-central_fire-station_dmn_072213
DMN, July 22, 1913

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forest-ave-central_today_bing
Bing Maps

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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.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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