Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Automobile

The Henry Russells Take Possession of Their Rolls Royce Silver Wraith — 1948

The car, the couple, the driver … Preston Hollow, 1948

by Paula Bosse

People seem to expect stories about painfully wealthy Texans to have larger-than-life outrageous elements. The April 5, 1948 issue of Life magazine devoted several pages to the Southwest’s “New Crop of Super Rich.” The photo showing Col. and Mrs. H. E. Russell at their Preston Hollow home appeared with the following caption:

New Rolls-Royce (price $19,500) was bought by Colonel Henry Russell of Dallas as a birthday present for his wife. She liked it because “it goes with my blue hat.” The Russells claim they are just “camping out” in their house, plan to turn it over to the servants and build a bigger one for themselves as soon as they get around to it.

One can only hope this was just gross exaggeration. Or a misinterpreted joke. Or just amusing fiction. Because if not … yikes. 


Henry and Alla Russell had not been in Dallas very long when they took possession of their fabulous Rolls Royce — a Silver Wraith. When production of this model was announced in 1946, it was described as “the world’s most expensive automobile.” The Russell’s purchase made local news, with this blurb appearing in The Dallas Morning News on Feb. 12, 1948:

Col. and Mrs. H. E. Russell, 4606 Park Lane, have taken delivery on their new Rolls-Royce. Known as the Silver Wraith model, the silver and blue car features a bar, vanity and other luxuries. The price? $19,274. Dealers S. H. Lynch & Co. said the car was the first Rolls-Royce sold in the Southwest.

That postwar price would be the equivalent in today’s money of about $200,000. In a 1956 Dallas Morning News article, Frank X. Tolbert wrote that Col. Russell “is still driving his ’48 model, and it’s the only one we ever see around town although there may be one or two more” (DMN, “Rolls-Royce Hard To Find in State,” Nov. 15, 1956).

There had been Rolls Royces in Dallas before 1948, but according to S. H. Lynch — the Dallas dealer of imported British vehicles including Jaguars, Bentleys, MGs, Morris Minors, and James motorcycles (as well as other high-ticket British items such as English china) — he had sold only five or six of the prestigious automobiles while he had the dealership, and that only that first one bought by the Russells had stayed in Dallas.

S. H. Lynch & Co. ad, Feb. 1, 1948 (click for larger image)

March, 1948

In 1948, S. H. Lynch (located at 2106 Pacific, at Olive) was one of only three Rolls dealerships in the county, the others being in New York and Los Angeles. In postwar Britain, American dollars were in such demand that a Rolls spokesman said that at least 75% of his company’s production was earmarked for the U.S. — American orders would take priority over their U.K. counterparts.


Even though a Roller’s always going to wow the hoi polloi, it wasn’t always easy to find a trained mechanic, as Roy Lee discovered:

Abilene, TX Reporter News, July 20, 1946

We all have our bad days, I suppose.


Sources & Notes

The two photos of the Russells are from the Life magazine article “Southwest Has a New Crop of Super Rich” (the top photo was not published).

Col. Russell, an Army veteran of both world wars, appears to have been retired by the time he got to Dallas. The only clue to the source of what must have been fabulous wealth was the final line in the obituary of Mrs. Russell, which noted that he was the son (or possibly the grandson) of the founder of the Russwin Lock Co. Mrs. Russell died in a massive fire which destroyed the large Park Lane house in January, 1976; the colonel died about 15 years earlier, in New York.


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co.

oak-lawn-ice-and-fuel-co_krystal-morrisThe fleet… (click to see larger image) / Photo: Krystal Morris

by Paula Bosse

Above, another great Dallas photo shared by a reader — this one shows the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co., which sold ice to independent dealers and to retail customers. Krystal Morris sent in the family photo — her great-great-grandfather J. F. Finney is standing next to the horse-drawn wagon.

The first mention I found of the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. was in a notice of “New Texas Charters” in Dec., 1912 (there was a classified ad from Dec., 1909, but that appears to be either another company with the same name or an earlier incarnation of the business seen above). Below, an ad from 1913:


The company was located at 3307 Lemmon Avenue, at the MKT railroad track (now the Katy Trail) — on Lemmon between the railroad tracks and Travis Street (see the location on a map composed of two badly-cobbled-together Sanborn maps from 1921 here). The location is marked on a present-day Google map below (click to see a larger image):


In 1917, the City of Dallas, in partnership with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad began to eliminate grade crossings in the Oak Lawn area — one of those crossings was at Lemmon Avenue: Lemmon was to be lowered and the MKT tracks were to be raised. Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. General Manager Clarence E. Kennemer (who, along with his brothers, operated something of an ice empire in Texas) was concerned about the negative impact of this construction on his business. (All images are larger when clicked.)

1917_oak-lawn-ice_dmn_013117_katy-crossing     Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 1917

To the surprise of many, the ice company was awarded damages by the city.

1917_oak-lawn-ice_dmn_120617_katy-crossingDMN, Dec. 6, 1917

Things apparently continued fairly well until 1920 when the company began to experience tensions with its residential neighbors. Early in the year, city building inspectors responded to nuisance complaints and ordered the company to move its horse stables as they were too close to adjoining residences (ice delivery even into the 1940s and possibly 1950s was often done via horse-drawn wagons). Later the same year, still-unhappy neighbors filed suit to “force the company to remove its plant from the thickly settled residence district” (DMN, Dec. 1, 1920). The ice company appears to have won the lawsuit, since the company (under various names) was at 3307 Lemmon until at least 1939 or ’40, but these problems might have led them to build a new plant at Cole and what is now Monticello in 1922 (as with the Lemmon location, this new plant was also built alongside the MKT tracks). The mere prospect of this new icehouse was met with loud protests by the new neighborhood — before construction even began — but a judge ruled in favor of the ice people. Construction went ahead, and the plant was a neighborhood fixture for many years. (See the location on a 1921 Sanborn map here; “Gertrude” — near the top edge — was the original name of Monticello Avenue.)

In 1923, ads for the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. began displaying both addresses: the original location, 3307 Lemmon, was now being referred to as “Plant No. 2,” and the new location, 4901 Cole, was being referred to as the “Main Office/Plant No. 1.”

1923 Dallas city directory

By 1924 the company expanded as it absorbed other ice companies.


By 1925, “Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Company” had become “American Ice Co.” (another C. E. Kennemer enterprise).


By 1933, American Ice Co. was swallowed up by City Ice Delivery Co.

city-ice-delivery_1934-directory1934 Dallas city directory

In the late 1930s or early 1940s City Ice Delivery Co. was acquired by Southland Ice (the forerunner of the Southland Corp., owners of 7-Eleven convenience stores). The Lemmon Avenue location became a meat-packing plant sometime in the mid-’40s (if neighbors were bent out of shape by an ice company, imagine how they felt about a meat-packing plant!); the Cole location became a 7-Eleven store and later a Southland Corp. division office.


But back to Jonathan F. Finney, the man standing next to the ice wagon in the top photo. He came to Dallas from Alabama around 1916 and bought a house at 3001 Carlisle Street, where he lived for most of his life in Dallas. His occupation was “ice dealer,” and he seems to have worked in both the wholesale and retail areas, as a driver, a salesman, and even for a while the owner of his own company. His great-great-granddaughter Krystal Morris (supplier of these wonderful family photos) says she believes he was the manager of the Oak Lawn Ice & Fuel Co. The 1932 directory lists him as foreman of the City Ice Delivery Co., and as he lived at 3001 Carlisle, it seems to make more sense he was working at the Lemmon Ave. location (which was less than half a mile away from his home) rather the Cole Ave. location. The actual address of the photo at the top is unknown, but it may show the Lemmon Ave. location when Finney was working as an independent ice dealer, standing beside his own wagon.

Below, the Finney family around 1920 (J. F., daughters Thelma and Viva Sue, and wife Wenona), and below that, their house at 3001 Carlisle (which was at the corner of Carlisle and Sneed — seen in a 1921 Sanborn map here).

finney-family_krystal-morris-photoFinney family, circa 1920 / Photo: Krystal Morris

finney-home_3001-carlisle_krystal-morris-photo3001 Carlisle, Finney family home / Photo: Krystal Morris

J. F. Finney, born in 1885, died in Dallas in 1962, long after the era of necessary daily ice deliveries to residences and businesses. The occupation listed on his death certificate was “painter” but I have a feeling “once an iceman, always an iceman.”


Sources & Notes

All photographs are from the family photos of Krystal Morris and are used with her permission. Thank you, Krystal!

The history of ice delivery is very interesting, especially to those of us who have never lived in a house without an electric refrigerator. Here are links-a-plenty on the subject:

  • “Icehouses — Vintage Spaces with a Cool History” by Randy Mallory (Texas Highways, Aug., 2000) here (additional photos can be found in the scanned issue on the Portal to Texas History site, here)
  • “Keeping Your (Food) Cool: From Ice Harvesting to Electric Refrigeration” by Emma Grahn on the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog, here
  • “Delivering the Ice: Ice Wagons” — from an online exhibit based on an exhibit that was on display at the Woods Hole Historical Museum in Woods Hole, Massachusetts during the summer of 2015, here
  • “Portals to the Past: Golden Days of Home Delivery (ice, as well as bread, milk, groceries, etc.) by Waco historian Claire Masters, here
  • “The Iceman Cometh” by Dick Sheaff from the Ephemera Society of America blog, here

Here’s a fantastic little clip of a woman ice deliverer manning the tongs (and wearing heels):


And, lastly, the Southland Corp. to the rescue with an ad from Dec., 1948 with news of the arrival in Dallas of “genuine” ice cubes! “Now for the first time in Dallas: Genuine Taste-Free, Hard Frozen, Crystal Clear Ice Cubes delivered to your home!”


All images are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

McKinney & Haskell, Circle “T” Frozen Foods, and VWs in Dallas

mckinney-and-haskell_NDHS_ebayFender-bender in front of NDHS… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Odd stuff shows up on eBay. This photo shows a damaged Circle T Brand frozen-food Volkswagen delivery van at the intersection of McKinney Avenue and North Haskell (with North Dallas High School making a partial cameo in the background). The view today? See it here.

Circle T was one of the many brainchilds of the Southland Corp.’s Thompson family: it manufactured and distributed frozen foods (initially meats and Mexican food) which were sold in the company’s 7-Eleven stores. The company began in 1954 and was located just a couple of blocks from this photo, at Haskell and Central. (In 1954 they announced one of their first specialty products: frozen queso. I’ve never even considered that frozen queso would exist, but 60-some-odd years ago it was flying off shelves at the neighborhood 7-Eleven.)

The Southland Corp. sold off Circle T in 1966.

Below, an ad for Circle T’s frozen steaks, from 1954 (click ad to see larger image).

cicle-t_FWST_062054June, 1954


And because I’m nothing if not pedantic, here’s an ad for VW trucks and vans, from 1961 (which appears to be the date on the van’s license plate in the photo):

volkswagen_ad_fen-1961Feb., 1961

And speaking of Volkswagens, the first Dallas car dealer to import Volkswagens appears to be Clarence Talley — the first ads are from 1954. While I was searching for the link to the eBay listing of the above photo (which I could not find…), I serendipitously stumbled across this 1950s photo of Clarence Talley on N. Pearl, with appearances by the Medical Arts Building and the Republic Bank Building. Thank you, eBay.



Sources & Notes

Photos from eBay: could not find the link to the first one, but the second one sold a couple of months ago, and the archived listing is here.


Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Classified System” Parking Stations — 1930s

classified-system_colteraIs that a ship? And an iceberg? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here’s a cool little ad for what was basically a parking garage that also sold gas and tires (and which seems to have had a ship on top of its building … a building which might be shaped like … an iceberg?). This snazzy-looking garage was at 501 N. Akard (at Patterson) — it was one of several “Classified System” garages that dotted downtown from the early 1930s until at least the early ’70s. The Akard location was station No. 1.

Below, an ad from 1935 informing patrons that they could drive in, have tires installed, and pay for them sometime in the future — for as little as 50 cents a week (which would come out to about $35 a month in today’s money). “YOU DON’T NEED CASH.” (Click ad to see a larger image.)

1935 ad


I love the kooky design of the building, but that ship is just … odd. I like it, I just don’t get it. Maybe that’s the “classified” part.


Sources & Notes

Color image is a matchbook cover found on Flickr, here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Traffic at Ross and Pearl — 1920s

ross-and-pearl_galloway_park-citiesLooking northeasterly on Ross from N. Pearl (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

The photo above shows the intersection of Ross and Pearl. The streetcar tracks ran along Pearl. We’re looking northeasterly on Ross. To the left, out of frame, would be the Sacred Heart Cathedral (renamed Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe in 1977). The photo comes from Diane Galloway’s wonderful book The Park Cities, A Photohistory. Her caption:

Traffic jams such as this one at Ross and Pearl Streets during the twenties encouraged Dallasites to pack up and move to newer developments away from the city.

With the crowd of people at the left, I think the traffic in this photo might have been caused by church-going motorists. The license plates on the cars seem to match those from 1927 and 1928 (links to license-plate-dating sites at bottom of post).

That impressive house at the top left with the pointed turret? At the time of this photograph, it was the George A. Brewer Undertaking Company. Like the two-blocks-away Belo Mansion, which was converted into the Loudermilk-Sparkman funeral home in 1926 (seen here), this spectacular house was once a private residence. It was built by Charles F. Carter (1848-1912), a wealthy cotton merchant, sometime between 1892 and 1895. It took up a huge lot at what is now the northeast corner of Ross and Crockett (see it at the bottom left of the 1921 Sanborn map, here). Here’s what the house looked like, circa 1894. (All pictures are larger when clicked.)


And, below, you can just see part of the house in a 1910 photo of the new-ish Cathedral at the corner of Ross and Pearl.


In 1920 or ’21 the Brewer Undertaking Co. moved into this house at 2303 Ross Avenue and operated as one of the city’s most prominent funeral homes until 1931 when they moved into a new location farther down Ross. When Brewer moved out, the beautiful house was demolished. In its place … a used car lot. Argh. In 1940, Lone Star Olds (later Lone Star Cadillac) moved in, eventually bought up the whole block, and became one of Dallas’ legendary car dealerships. It moved from its Ross Avenue location in 1985.



Also, even though it isn’t really visible in the top photo, across the street from the old Carter house — at 2310 Ross — was Brynce Court, a u-shaped apartment building. I haven’t been able to verify this, but The Dallas Morning News had a blurb about the “First Apartments” in the city which read as follows:

Dallas’ first apartment complex was a two-building development at 2310 Ross Ave. Built in 1919 [note: it appears to have been built in 1912], Brynce Court was the first set of apartments housed in more than one building.” (DMN, Jan. 7, 1984)

I mention this because it’s a cool little factoid, but also because I stumbled across a photo of it in an ad while looking for info on Lone Star Olds-Cadillac. So I have to show it. Surprisingly, this apartment block (which probably looked a lot less charming after fifty years) stood at that location until at least 1964.

Dallas Morning News, May 15, 1921

DMN, April 22, 1912


I always like to look at things in the background of old photos. Here’s an extremely blurry magnified detail from the top photo, showing a two-story building of shops and businesses at Ross and Leonard. Included in these businesses is the Imperial Drug Store — it’s a little hard to make out, but the vertical sign with white letters appears to read “DRUGS” (this building can be seen in the 1921 Sanborn map mentioned above).


Below, the businesses and residences along Ross Avenue — between  N. Pearl and Leonard — from the 1927 Dallas directory.


Ross and Pearl these days looks nothing like that top photo. See what the same view looks like today, via Google Street View, here. At least the Cathedral lives on.


Sources & Notes

Top photo from Diane Galloway’s book The Park Cities, A Photohistory (Dallas: privately published, 1989); from the collection of John Stull/R. L. Goodson, Jr., Inc., Consulting Engineers.

Photo of the C. F. Carter House is from the book Dallas, Texas Through a Camera, a collection of photos by Clifton Church.

Photo of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart from the Dallas Public Library, taken in 1910.

(Cropped) photo of Lone Star Cadillac by Squire Haskins from the Squire Haskins Photography, Inc. Collection, University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections; more info is here (click thumbnail on UTA page to see much larger image).

Info on dating Texas license plates can be found here (PDF), here, and here. (If the first link doesn’t open, Google “The History of Texas License Plates.” It’s a report issued by the Texas Department of Transportation. It’s 255 pages long (!) and it’s exhaustive!)

Click pictures to see larger images.


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.)


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.)


And another one.


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!



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.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Radio Mobile Units — ca. 1940

kfaa_mobile-unit_wfaa-fam-albumWhat? You’ve never heard of KFAA? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Check out these pre-war mobile units for radio stations WFAA and WBAP. The unit above actually had its own call letters — KFAA — and was licensed as a separate station. (That logo!) The caption, from a 1941 promotional booklet issued by stations WFAA (Dallas), WBAP (Fort Worth), and KGKO (Wichita Falls):

The WFAA Mobile Unit shown here is a complete short wave broadcasting station on wheels. The unit has its own call letters, KFAA, because it is a self-contained and separately licensed station. The amazing array of facilities contained in this one-and-one-half-ton truck includes a transmitter, generator, receiving equipment, public address system and pre–amplifiers. The transmitter tower on top of the truck can be raised to a height of 35 feet, making it possible to pick up the mobile unit’s signals for re-broadcast from a distance of 50 miles.

Here’s the WBAP/KGKO unit:


Fort Worth Star-Telegram Mobile Radio Unit – with Chief Engineer R. C. “Super” Stinson, left, and A. M. Woodford, production man, handling a remote or “nemo” pickup from Burnett Park, Fort Worth. The WBAP-KGKO Mobile Unit carries six short wave transmitters and receivers besides a power plant capable of generating electricity for a small town of 500 people. This unit “swam” through a recent flood in Brady, Texas, established communication from the stricken area and received the congratulations of the Texas Highway Patrol. It also played a star role in the Amarillo storm.


Photos from the booklet WFAA, WBAP, KGKO Combined Family Album (Dallas-Fort Worth, 1941).

Why were arch-rivals WFAA (owned by The Dallas Morning News) and WBAP (owned by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram) co-publishing a promotional booklet? Because they shared the same transmitter and had an extremely odd broadcasting agreement. Read about it in my previous post “WFAA & WBAP’s Unusual Broadcasting Alliance,” here.

Click those photos!


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Downtown Parking Innovations

ad-nichols-bros-parking-garage_1945-directory-detSplendiforous parking garage, 1945 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are a couple of ways developers have attempted to cope with the parking needs of downtown Dallas. I’m not sure how long either of these parking garages lasted, but I give them both A’s for effort.

First, 1945: Nichols Bros. Garage & Rent-a-Car Service at 1320 Commerce (just east of Field). Just look at all these amenities — women and chauffeurs are not forgotten.

…Fluorescent lighting — Air-conditioned waiting room for customers — Beautiful powder room for women — Waiting rooms for chauffeurs — Complete facilities for auto storage, washing, lubrication and motor tune-up service.

ad-nichols-bros-parking-garage_1945-directory1945 Dallas directory

I don’t know how long this lasted, but if you’re going to have a garage downtown, it might as well look like that one!



Then in 1954, the 8-story Dallas Carpark at Jackson and St. Paul arrived (a second one at Jackson and Lane was under construction that same year). It was a franchise of the Pigeonhole Parking System of Spokane, utilizing “car-parking machines” invented by Leo Sanders of Spokane, Washington. I’m not exactly sure how these worked, but cars were hoisted and lowered on elevators, and the whole parking process, from start to finish, was conducted without an attendant ever actually touching the cars. Again, I don’t know how long this endeavor was in business (at least through the early 1960s), but — parking-garage-history neophyte that I am — I’ve never heard of such a thing. (There’s a video showing how it worked — thanks, “Not Bob” for posting this in the comments)!

UPDATE: “Found” film footage of a family’s trip to Dallas in 1962 actually shows this pigeon-hole system in action. The whole short video is interesting, but the pigeon-hole footage is what got me really excited — it begins at the 1:32 mark.

A couple of screenshots:




Sources & Notes

Nichols Bros. ad from the 1945 city directory.

The 1951 Universal Newsreel segment can be found on Vimeo here (thanks to “Not Bob”).

1962 YouTube video of found footage can be seen here (thanks to Robert Wilonsky of The Dallas Morning News for posting this link!).

See photos and read about the elevator-centric Dallas Carpark at Jackson and St. Paul in these Dallas Morning News articles:

  • “Parking Gets Lift in Downtown Area” by Robert F. Alexander (DMN, Sept. 26, 1954) (with photos)
  • “Pigeonhole Parking Now in Operation” (DMN, Oct. 10, 1954)

See several photos of the “pigeon-hole” parking system in other parts of the country in the article “Pigeon Hole Parking — An Amusement Park Ride for Your Car,” here. Here’s one in Portland, Oregon (the Dallas Carpark was 8 levels high):


Click pictures for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Pacific Avenue — 1925

pacific_bryan_looking-east_lost-dallas_dotyThe back side of Elm, looking east… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Elm Street gets all the glory as Theater Row, but what about Pacific? It had those very same theaters. …Sort of. Pacific gets overlooked a lot. When I see photos like this one — which shows Pacific Avenue looking east from Bryan — I always think of it as a photo showing the back side of Elm rather than as a photo showing  Pacific. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride.

This photo was taken only a few short years after the Texas & Pacific railroad tracks were removed from Pacific, making it into an automobile and pedestrian thoroughfare only — no more frightening, smoke-belching trains rumbling right down the middle of the street. The city was hoping that Pacific would become a heavily commercial area like Elm, Main, and Commerce, but it never really reached those lofty heights.

I’ve always wondered if the theaters that lined Elm ever considered having entrances/box offices on both Elm and Pacific. I think that they were really only willing to slap a few posters and paint their names on their back, Pacific-facing walls. Elm Street was glitzy and glamorous. Pacific was not. Back in those early days when people were still trying to get used to Pacific Avenue being newly liberated from its railroad tracks, it might have been seen as something of an afterthought — as more of a very wide alley with traffic than as a contender for one of Dallas’ major streets.

But back to the theaters. In the photo above, we see the Old Mill at 1525-27 Elm (where “The Snob” was playing, featuring John Gilbert and Norma Shearer), the Capitol at 1521-23 Elm (which had Alla Nazimova in “The Redeeming Sin”), and the Jefferson Theater at 1517 Elm (featuring Harley Sadler’s repertory company appearing in “Honest Hypocrites and Saintly Sinners” between vaudeville acts). All of these were playing in May, 1925.

It’s interesting that the only business seen here on the south side of Pacific that had an address on both Elm and Pacific was Van Winkle’s Book Store (before it moved a couple of doors up Elm, it was at 1603 Elm/1614 Pacific). Note the sign advising “Free Passage to Elm Street” — several businesses allowed people to cut through their stores to get to the next street over because the blocks were incredibly long and would sometimes have necessitated pedestrians going three blocks out of their way just to get to their destination.

Other notable landmarks in the photo above: the Medical Arts Building (on the left) and the Dallas Athletic Club.

Here’s a view of Pacific from around the same time, looking west, from about Harwood.


Most interesting detail in this photo? That Murphy Door Bed Co. sign!


Sources & Notes

Top photo from Lost Dallas by Mark Doty (Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2012).

Click photos for larger images.


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Selling Kidd Springs Heights, 1909-1910

gaston-bldg_1910_cook-degolyerThe L. A. Wilson Co. is having a sale! (photo: SMU)

by Paula Bosse

The above photo shows a car-and-buggy convoy belonging to the L. A. Wilson Land, Loan & Investment Company, stretched out in front of the Gaston Building at Commerce and S. Lamar. There’s a “Sale To Day” and they’re really pushing property in the Kidd Springs Addition in Oak Cliff. The date “April 20, 1910” is written on the back of the photo, and if that’s true, the big show here might be rooted more in desperation than in enthusiasm. The Wilson company began selling the 30-or-so lots in the new Kidd Springs Heights neighborhood in July of the previous year. An ad that appeared seven months before this photo was taken announced that there were only ten lots left. It looks like this was an impassioned display to make Kidd Springs seem more exciting and move that remaining property. People love parades.

(This is another great photo to zoom in on to see the details. All images are larger when clicked.)




The L. A. Wilson Co. was a fairly large real estate company founded by Missouri-born Lewis A. Wilson (1851-1926); at the time of this photo, the company’s offices were in the Gaston Building at 213 Commerce. (In the photo immediately above, I think the man with the moustache is Mr. Wilson.)

wilson_dmn_070409-detDallas Morning News, July 4, 1909 (ad detail)

The first ad announcing the sale of lots in the Kidd Springs Heights area of Oak Cliff appeared on July 4, 1909. It included the two blocks north of what is now W. Canty, bounded by Turner Ave. on the west and N. Tyler (and Kidd Springs Park) on the east.


ad-wilson_dmn_070409-photosDMN, July 4, 1909

Four weeks later, a huge half-page ad ran in The Dallas Morning News, full of wonderful reasons why life would be better in Kidd Springs Heights:

“The newest theory of scientists is that one should sleep at least eighty or ninety feet above the level of the city – and thus escape the germs which are particularly active during the hours of darkness. Here then is the place for your home. Here then is the place for investment. Kidd Springs Heights is higher than the top of the court house. Up where the cooling breezes are found on the hottest of hot days; where the air is ozone-laden; where the nights are cool and refreshing and where insomnia soon becomes naught but a dim memory.”

The effusive sales copy is definitely worth a read (click ad below to read the full sales pitch).

wilson_kidd-springs-heights_dmnn_090109DMN, Aug. 1, 1909

Six weeks later the following self-congratulatory ad appeared. (It’s interesting to note that of the twenty lots sold, two of them had been sold to Mrs. L. A. Wilson, and one each had been sold to the two salesmen. The next year’s telephone directory showed that the Wilsons lived on Live Oak, and the two salesmen lived in boarding houses.)

wilson-kidd-springs_dmn_091209DMN, Sept. 12, 1909

It wasn’t until 1921 that the tiny little Kidd Springs Heights was annexed to the city of Dallas.

annexed_dmn_051421DMN, May 14, 1921

Things may be different today, but in 1909, these were the boundaries of Kidd Springs Heights.


The most interesting odd thing about Kidd Springs Heights? There appear to be two brick archways placed (very awkwardly) across Turner Avenue from one another — each spanning the sidewalk. I can’t find any information about these, but it looks as if they were set right at the northern boundary of the Kidd Springs Heights Addition. Old maps (such as this one from 1919) show no development to the north of this boundary up into at least the ’20s (it doesn’t look as if this addition is even in Oak Cliff proper), so I guess they were there before those sidewalks and served as a welcoming gateway to a new development where germs did not dwell after nightfall.

arch_google900 block of Turner Avenue (Google Street View)

(Check out both of these markers on Google Street View, here. It’s pretty strange-looking.)

If anyone has information on these markers, please pass it along!


Top photo is titled “L. A. Wilson Land Loan Investment Company, Gaston Building, Commerce Street” — the photographer’s name and the date are written on the back: W. R. Lindsay, April 20, 1910. It is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University, and it can be viewed here. I have adjusted the color.

Lewis A. Wilson’s biography can be read in A History of Greater Dallas and Vicinity (1909), here. His photo:


The Kidd Springs Wikipedia entry is here.

The Sanborn map from 1922 showing this tiny neighborhood at about the middle of the page on the right can be found here. Note how few lots actually have houses built on them. (Taft is now W. Canty; Edwards is now Everts.)

The Murphy & Bolanz map can be seen here. (If the link doesn’t work, you may need to download the plug-in — information on how to do that is here.)

As always, click pictures for larger images.



Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

%d bloggers like this: