John W. Smothers (1869-1925) came to Dallas from Huntsville, Missouri around 1890 to begin his career as a “tinner” working for a family friend/in-law, Frank T. Payne. By 1905, Smothers had married a girl from back home, had a child, and had apparently done well enough in the trade to buy a lot on College Ave. (now N. Hall St., in Old East Dallas) where he built his own tin-manufacturing shop, specializing in various sheet metal work.
1909 city directory ad
It looks like this business lasted until about 1918, when Smothers retired and sold the building to his old friend, F. T. Payne. It became a grocery store in 1919. Smothers died in 1925 at the age of 56 — his death certificate lists the cause of death, somewhat alarmingly, as “exhaustion and malnutrition” following a long illness — an extreme case of St. Vitus Dance.
Originally 212 N. College Ave., the address of Smothers’ tin shop became 912 N. College Ave. in 1911 when new addresses were assigned around the city. (See the location of the shop on a 1921 Sanborn map here.) It sat diagonally across the street from Engine Company No. 3, seen below in a photo from about 1901:
Fire station, Gaston & College, ca. 1901
College Avenue was renamed and became Hall Street around 1946, and the address of the old tin shop building changed again, to 912 N. Hall Street, which is in the area now swallowed up by Baylor Hospital (see what 912 N. Hall looks like now on Google Street View, here).
Sources & Notes
Top photo found on eBay. A copy is also in the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University — it can be accessed here. The SMU photo (apparently from the collection of Ralph Smothers, John’s son) has a notation on the back which reads “912 College Ave. <now Hall St.> about 1913 or 14? John Smothers [in car], [James E.] Curly Wilson left, Bob Critcher right.”
Photo of the fire station with the ghostly horse is by Clifton Church and is from the Dallas Fire Department Annual, 1901, which can be viewed in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History, here. (I used this image in my 2016 post “Dallas Fire Stations — 1901.”)
(“Tinner” was not an unusual word to have come across in the early part of the 20th century, but in the 1910 census, the enumerator was either confused or did not understand what was being said, because Smothers’ trade is listed as “tuner” — it looks like the enumerator then just made a weird leap to attempt to explain this and added “piano” under “General Nature of Business,” which Ancestry.com then repeats in its OCR-generated records. That “piano tuner” profession caused me a lot of confusion! To add insult to injury, OCR tells us that his occupation in 1900 was “turner,” and an illegible entry in the 1920 census transforms him into a “retired farmer”! Always approach census record information with a grain of salt — for many, many reasons!)
I’ve seen a cropped version of this photo, but not the full image. It’s great! I don’t mean to keep posting about restaurants, but seeing this photo was too good not to share. (As I type this, it’s available on eBay, here.)
It shows Pig Stand No. 2 at 1301 N. Zang in Oak Cliff, probably about 1928. It appears that this was the second “No. 2” — it was announced that this brand-new building had just begun construction in January 1928.
Work was started last week on the new Pig Stand, Zang’s Boulevard and Colorado Street, for the Pig Stands Company, a Dallas institution, now operating in 39 cities in 12 states. The ornamental building has been adopted as a standard design for the many future stands now contemplated over the country by this concern. In this building will be embodied modern sanitary features complying with all requirements and laws. It will be faced with brick and highly colored tile with ornamental stone trimmings and a clay tile sweeping roof in several shades. The exterior as well as the interior will be illuminated electrically with the cornice and ornaments decorated out in varied contrasting colors. The Pig Stands Co., starting less than five years ago with small capital, has developed into a national institution. Architects F. J. Woerner and Co. designed and will supervise this work, while M. W. McDade will have charge of the construction. (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 26, 1928)
At the right is the Oak Cliff/Tramway Auto Laundry at 1307 N. Zang.
Read a history of Dallas’ Pig Stand empire — long considered to be the first-ever drive-in restaurants, a revolutionary contribution to American social culture — in the Texas Monthly article “The History of the Pig Stands” by Daniel Vaughn (Feb. 2015).
Rejoice, Oak Cliff residents of 1930: you’re getting five Marathon gas stations! I’m not sure why these stations were only in Oak Cliff and no other part of Dallas, but they were (a sixth station joined this elite group a year or so later).
I have a fascination with old gas stations, but I have to admit I’m not familiar with Marathon Gasoline or Marathon Oil products or the Transcontinental Oil Co. (they had a refinery in Fort Worth), but for whatever reason, the Marathon stations in Dallas — all emblazoned with an image of the Greek runner Pheidippides — appear to have faded away by about 1942 when I guess the last straggler finally crossed the finish lane, collapsed, and died. Farewell, Pheidippides.
The photo above shows one of those first 5 stations in Dallas. The location is not specified.
Marathon stations in the O.C. in 1930:
No. 1: Jefferson & Llewellyn Sts. (539 W. Jefferson)
No. 2: Zangs Blvd. & Beckley Ave. (1111 N. Zang)
No. 3 Jimtown Rd. & Montreal Ave. (2120 W. Clarendon Dr.) (in 1931, residents petitioned the city to change the name of the street to “Clarendon” because they thought “Jimtown” was too déclassé)
No. 4: Zangs Blvd. & Davis St. (137 W. Davis — this was the station that lasted the longest, appearing to have closed by the time the 1942 city directory was published)
Not all of the Dallas stations had the same design — a press release describes the stations of possessing “distinctive architecture.” Another of the Oak Cliff locations looked very different (and certainly more distinctive):
Somewhere in Oak Cliff, 1930
The one above is the same design seen in this local ad:
Sources & Notes
Top photo is from the American Petroleum Institute Photograph and Film Collection, National Museum of American History, Archives Center, Smithsonian Institution — more info can be found here.
I seem to post a lot about gas stations. Here are a few notable posts:
The other day I was looking for some information on the 1971 opening of the new 16-story Federal Center at 1100 Commerce Street (the name was changed to the Earle Cabell Federal Building in late 1973 to honor the former Dallas mayor and U.S. congressman). I came across the Dallas Morning News article “Center Augments Parking Woes” by Earl Golz (DMN, Jan. 12, 1971) which had a couple of surprising tidbits. The new federal building — which was expected to be occupied by more than 5,000 workers — had a grand total of 59 underground parking spaces. …Fifty-nine. FIVE-NINE. Let that sink in. This was a brand-new building. It’s not like they squeezed those pitifully few parking spaces under an existing building. This was in the plans. That’s a lot of car-pooling.
Three years earlier, in 1968, One Main Place opened at 1201 Main — it was more than twice as big as the Federal Building. When it opened, it was noted that there were 800 underground spaces (with a planned-but-never-realized massive underground parking garage for 4,000 cars, to go along with the never-realized Two Main Place and Three Main Place complex). But, somehow, by 1971, One Main Place’s parking had decreased to a mere 400 spaces, all of which were completely filled daily. I have images of panicky office workers constantly circling blocks in search of a place to park. Stories were rampant that parking-lot attendants were reserving weekly and monthly spaces in pay lots for exorbitant under-the-table cash transactions.
How did this happen? Who would design such large modern buildings with such woefully inadequate parking? Were “interested parties” strong-arming architects or city planners to skimp on the parking? Is there such a thing as a big “parking-lot lobby”? (What am I saying? I’m sure there is.) Ever wonder why Dallas kept tearing buildings down in the early ’70s and replacing them with pay parking lots? I’m sure there were many reasons, but I saw more than one newspaper mention that parking lots (not garages, mind you — just lots) could be more profitable than aging buildings. It’s always seemed odd to me that there were (are) so many surface parking lots downtown, rather than multi-story garages. Imagine how much more money parking lot operators would be making with garages. Not that multi-story garages are in any way more desirable, aesthetically, but why didn’t land developers build garages which could accommodate so many more paying customers than these puny little lots? Some lot operators insisted that it benefitted everyone to have these lots — insisting that the buildings which once stood on the land were old and ugly eyesores which needed to be torn down, and that these lots were basically just placeholders until a fat-cat developer forked over multi-millions to build something tall and beautiful on it.
Was the lack of underground spaces in these two new buildings intentional? This would have been a weird way to force people to use public transportation. It might even have been a bit of strain on public transportation — the Dallas Transit System was already losing the fight against car-culture and downtown workers who lived in suburbia.
In the early ’70s, Dallas and Fort Worth were both experiencing a severe lack of downtown parking. In 1970 there had been a major excavation to build underground parking below the Old Red Courthouse — it was probably helpful, but it was just a band-aid on a much bigger problem.
A few of the city’s proposals to deal with these parking woes:
Dissuade people from bringing their cars downtown by significantly raising fees for parking lots and parking meters and to cut the time limit for parking (quickly approved by the City Council)
Build satellite lots outside the Central Business District where people could park and then bus into town (“Park and Ride” stations began, shakily, in 1973)
Investigate the use of “people-movers” in varying degrees of sci-fi futurism
As far as “people-movers,” there were several automated transportation systems on drawing boards around the country at the time, a couple of which were being developed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There was the electrically powered monorail-like AirTrans — a joint project of Vought Aeronautics of Dallas and Varo Inc. of Garland — and there was the similar but less well-known Sky-Kar of Fort Worth. AirTrans was very successful and was first adopted by DFW Airport, but Sky-Kar seems to have fizzled out after the death of the company’s president in the early ’70s.
One of Sky-Kar’s salesmen was Paul Groody (he can be seen being interviewed in one of the kars in a WFAA clip from October 1970 here, with additional kar-footage here). Groody (who, in this interview, is a couple of months from full Asimov muttonchops) had, in the previous decade, gained some national notoriety as the funeral director who had been given the task of driving from Fort Worth to Dallas to pick up the body of Lee Harvey Oswald and “prepare” him for burial — because there were no pallbearers, he had to scrounge for volunteers among the reporters covering the interment. Because I may have no other opportunity to post this, below is the cute and compact Sky-Kar Transivator prototype from 1970. …Sky-Kar, we hardly knew ye.
WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU
Below, Paul Groody, Sky-Kar rep (1970), and Paul Groody, funeral director for Lee Harvey Oswald’s burial (1963) (he is seen partially obscured, all the way at the back right, wearing glasses).
WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Equal time: see the Vought/Varo AirTrans prototype running on its test track in Garland in December 1970 here, along with interviews from company reps here.
WFAA Collection, Jones Collection, SMU
Hopes were that these people-mover systems would be used not only in airports but throughout the Central Business District and on sprawling college campuses, etc. Forget the flying cars. I’m waiting for my monorail. (And it’s probably still best to leave your automobile at home if you’re heading downtown.)
Sources & Notes
Top photo, “Earle Cabell Federal Building and Courthouse” (2019) by Wayne Hsieh — found on Flickr, here. (I have cropped it.)
Screenshots from Channel 8 news film posted on YouTube, from the WFAA Collection, G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University.
If you call yourself a “Super Service Station,” you’d better be pretty super. And the one in the photo above is pretty super. It opened in 1930 at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Maple (on the northernmost tip of the land now occupied by the Crescent).
Construction of the station and attached retail spaces was announced in 1929 by the Dallas-based Simms Oil Company (headquartered in the Magnolia Building, with a refinery on Eagle Ford Road in West Dallas) — it was reported that the impressive building would cost about $40,000 (about $615,000 in today’s money). It would be the 34th Simms service station in the city but it would be the first SUPER service station. Its grand opening at the end of April, 1930 was a big event, broadcast over KRLD radio, with singers, music, and flowers for the ladies. No business was conducted during the grand opening — it was strictly an open house, offering prospective customers the opportunity to walk among the gas pumps and admire what the company called “the last word in service station art.”
Detail from grand opening ad, April, 1930
The filling station will be equipped with ten electrically operated gasoline pumps. Every kind of automobile repairs and battery and tire vulcanizing service will be offered. (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 20, 1929)
The building is of terra cotta in modernistic design with the well-known Simms color scheme of blue, white and red used. […] On top of the structure is a beacon bearing the Simms triangle. It will revolve with flood lights playing on it all the while. (DMN, April 27, 1930)
I never think of businesses of that period being open 24 hours a day, but this one was. Super!
Here are a few zoomed-in close-ups of the top photo, which shows the Cedar Springs side of the building. (Click pictures to see larger images.)
At the left of this detail you can see a glimpse of Maple Avenue, which, at the time, was still lined with large, expensive homes.
In the shadows, a man who no doubt has prodigious vulcanizing skills.
In addition to housing a gas station, the building had 6 retail spaces — 3 on Maple and 3 on Cedar Springs. One of the businesses seen here places the date of this photo at 1930, when The Radio Shop was located at 2304 Cedar Springs (the next year it appears to have moved around to the Maple side of the building). Next to it is the Fishburn Oriental Cleaners at 2308 Cedar Springs. (The official address of the Simms station was 2623 Maple, but it was usually just listed as being at the southeast corner of Maple and Cedar Springs — after Simms, the building’s address was 2312 Cedar Springs.)
Here’s a close-up of the company truck and an easy-to-remember number when you needed to call for help with a broken-down vehicle.
And here it is in an ad. That motorcycle is cool. For some reason I really want that sidecar to be filled with sloshing gasoline.
Ad detail, Aug. 26, 1930
And here’s the revolving rooftop beacon. (What looks like a spray of water is just damage to the surface of the photograph.) (…But a fountain on top of a gas station would be pretty amazing.)
You know you’ve got a cool building if you can include an instantly recognizable line drawing of it in your ads.
Ad detail, June 3, 1930
I think the company might have disappeared before the 1930s ended. Because this is the only “old” “modern” map I’ve got, here’s where the Simms gas station had been located, courtesy of a 1952 Mapsco.
Here are a couple of later photos of the building, post-Simms. The first one is from a grainy Shook Tires ad from 1938. The color postcard is from the 1960s when it was the C. S. Hamilton Chrysler dealership. The beacon is still there but, surely, it was no longer beaconing (unlike the Republic Bank “rocket” seen in the background, which was beaconing big-time). (See below in the comments for a 1940s photo of the building.)
Shook Tires, 1938
C. S. Hamilton Chrysler, ca. 1962
Mohr Chevrolet moved in around 1968.
1975 Dallas directory
Sources & Notes
Photo — titled “Simms Oil Station (Dallas, Tex.): exterior view of front entrance, corner perspective” — is from the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company Architectural records and photographs, 1914-1941, Architectural Terra Cotta, Alexander Architectural Archives, University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin; more info can be found here.
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)
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:
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.
The 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.)
Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 1917
To the surprise of many, the ice company was awarded damages by the city.
DMN, 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.
1934 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, circa 1920 / Photo: Krystal Morris
3001 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!”
Fender-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).
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):
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.
Is 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.)
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.
Looking 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!)