Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

From the Vault: Joy-Riding Mules on Main Street — 1911

mule-joyride_pop-mechanics_jan-1912“Emancipation Day!”

by Paula Bosse

Mules on a “joy ride” down Main Street — something you (probably) don’t see every day. So what exactly was going on here? Find out in the original post from 2015, here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Saint Jude Chapel Mosaic by Gyorgy Kepes — 1968

gyorgy-kepes_mosaic_st-jude-chapel_websiteMain Street mosaic… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Perhaps you’ve noticed the intensely colorful sunburst-like mosaic that adorns the Saint Jude Catholic Chapel at 1521 Main Street, near Stone Place. It’s hard to miss. The artist is Gyorgy Kepes (1906-2001), an important Hungarian-born avant-garde painter, photographer, and educator who immigrated to the United States in 1937. He taught for a short time at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) in the mid 1940s, and may be known best in Dallas for his work as artistic director for Temple Emanu-El in the late 1950s, a project which artfully brought together contemporary art, architecture, and design into a sacred space.

At the time Kepes was commissioned to create the mosaic for the new Saint Jude Chapel (which opened in 1968), he was immersed in founding the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). One wonders how he found the time!

This mosaic — which as far as I know is untitled — is probably a familiar sight to people who work and live downtown, but most who pass it are completely unaware of the name of the artist. I hope I’ve helped correct that a bit. Thank you, Gyorgy Kepes — and thank you, Saint Jude Chapel — for this nice little addition to Dallas’ public art.





All photos from the Saint Jude Catholic Chapel website, here. The undated black-and-white photos are from a video history of the chapel, here.

Read about Gyorgy Kepes in overviews of his life and career from MIT, from the James Hyman Gallery, and from Wikipedia.

I have been unable to find any information about this mosaic. Had I not stumbled across Kepes’ name in a Sept. 14, 1968 Dallas Morning News article about the new chapel (which I was reading while researching the very interesting history of the building the St. Jude Chapel is in — and the building next to it) (…and that post is coming soon!), I’m not sure I’d be able to track down the identity of the artist. It’s surprising how little is out there about such a prominently displayed work of art!

All photos are larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: The Texas Bookbindery, Arcadia Park


by Paula Bosse

Look at this charming little Oak Cliff building. Isn’t it cute? Wanna see what it looks like today? Click on over to my original post from 2014, here, and see it.

(This is about as close to “clickbait” as I’m likely to get….)


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Dallas Skyline: Late Afternoon From Stemmons Freeway” by Ed Bearden — 1959

bearden_dallas-skyline-late-afternoon-from-stemmons-freeway_litho_1959Skyline and power plant… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I think the 1950s Dallas skyline is my favorite Dallas skyline. This lithograph by Dallas artist Ed Bearden shows all the usual superstars — the Southland Life Building, the Medical Arts Building, the Republic Bank Building, the Mercantile, the Magnolia — but it also shows a building that doesn’t often find its way into artistic renderings of the city’s skyline: the Dallas Power & Light plant (which was demolished several years ago and is now the site of the American Airlines Center). It looks really great here, with its familiar twin steamstacks and its oasis-like “spray pond” shimmering in the foreground. In fact, the presence of the DP&L plant is my favorite element of this artwork. The beauty of that workhorse industrial plant gives those fancy skyscrapers a run for their money!

This same view from the Stemmons of today looks like — brace yourself — this.


Lithograph by Ed Bearden; image from an auction listing on the Live Auctioneers site, here. (Thanks, “Not Bob,” for alerting me to this great artwork!)

See another Bearden skyline seen from a similar vantage point, here.

More on the cool-looking DP&L plant and its twin smokestacks can be found in these Flashback Dallas posts:

  • “DP&L’s Twin Smokestacks,” here
  • “A New Turbine Power Station for Big D — 1907,” here


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Union Station — ca. 1916

union-station_ca-1916_dmn-archives_frontier-top-tierA century ago… (click to see larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A new Union Station, bustling with activity, as seen across a scrubby vacant lot which, today, is the home of the Dallas Morning News building at S. Houston and Young. See the view today, here.

The photo shows the baggage shed which used to be on the south side of the building as well as the passenger bridge heading to and from the trains, with steps leading down to the platforms. See the details on the Sanborn map from 1921 here.

Union Station has weathered some difficult times and suffered from neglect after the golden age of train travel ended, but after recent extensive renovation/restoration, the historic landmark looks as good as new!


Photo from the Dallas Morning News archives, reproduced in the book Frontier to Top Tier (2010, Pediment Publishing).

See a timeline on the history of Union Station from the Watermelon Kid site, here.

Union Station website is here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Keeping Up With Busy Dallas — 1927

dallas-skyline_drawing_forest-avenue-high-school-yrbk_1927Spot the landmarks (click for much larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are two striking graphic depictions of the Dallas skyline, both of which appeared in the 1927 Forest Avenue High School yearbook. The skyline was impressive in 1927, but it would change a lot in the next few years. One important change would come with the addition of what became the unofficial symbol of Dallas: the Magnolia Building was already there in 1927, but Pegasus would not be installed on top of it until 1934.

Below, a drawing that appeared on the last page of the yearbook, showing a locomotive chugging away from the Big City, with the promise/threat “You may leave Dallas, but you’ll come back.”


This is an interesting little tidbit from the same yearbook:


26.44 square miles in area?! Smallest of any major Texas city?! 42nd in U.S. population?! How times change. According to recent figures, the City of Dallas stretches across 385 square miles, is the third largest city in Texas, and is the ninth largest city in the United States. And the Magnolia Building — seen in both of the drawings above and once the tallest building in the state — is now dwarfed by taller buildings all around it. Dallas has been busy.


Drawings from the 1927 Forest Avenue High School yearbook, The Forester. (Forest Avenue High School was the original name of James Madison High School. The all-white South Dallas high school became an all-black high school in 1956.)

The artist of the top drawing appears to be someone by the name of “Bond.” The bottom drawing is signed “GWH” — George W. Harwood, Jr. I think Bond might have been a professional artist affiliated with the printing company that printed the yearbooks, but here is the dashing photo of GWH, Class of 1930 (I believe he left Dallas and didn’t come back…).


Click drawings to see larger images.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Broken Links Are Driving Me to Drink


by Paula Bosse

A couple of months ago I wrote about the arduous task of having to manually migrate files from one cloud to another cloud. Well, I haven’t quite finished, and there are now several links that when clicked will get you to one of those confoundingly cutesy “Oopsie! That file doesn’t seem to be here anymore!” 404 pages.

I’m slogging through the last 40 or so files — I hope to have everything moved by the coming week. If you get one of these error messages, hold tight and check back soon — equilibrium will be restored forthwith!

In the meantime, enjoy the photo of a rusted sign for Dallas Beer above. This is how I currently feel after having spent weeks moving hundreds and hundreds of digital files from here to there, one by one. When I started, I felt a bit fresher, like this:


But there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’ll be fresh as a cynical daisy in no time!


Dallas Beer signs are from somewhere on the internet. That’s the best I can do. I’m really tired….


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

From the Vault: Jim Lehrer Reports on Dallas’ “Irate Irishman” — 1960


by Paula Bosse

What happened when Dallas City Hall repeatedly refused to allow a determined Irishman in possession of 65-dollars’ worth of green calcium paint and a line-painting machine to paint a green stripe down Main Street for a St. Patrick’s Day parade? Luckily, stalwart Dallas Morning News reporter Jim Lehrer (yes, that Jim Lehrer) chronicled the heated battle for posterity. Read the amusing story in a Flashback Dallas post from 2014, “Never Tell an Irate Irishman That He Can’t Paint a Green Strip Down Main Street — 1960.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Long and Woodrow From Above — 1965

woodrow_1965-yrbk_birdseyeSo much open green space! (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

A few days ago, after having done too many recent posts on Dallas high schools, I decided to post this great 1965 photo of J. L. Long Jr. High School and Woodrow Wilson High School on Facebook and Twitter, rather than write another high school post. But then Facebook follower Chris Prestridge went out and took the same shot with his drone and sent it to me. And it’s cool! So now I kind of have to post both of these great then-and-now photos. (Thank you, Chris!)

In the photos we see Woodrow in the center foreground, Long behind it, the Lakewood Country Club at the upper left, and, in the background, White Rock Lake. Things haven’t changed hugely in the intervening 52 years — it’s still a pretty area, but things just seem more crowded. (How I long for the days of school campuses devoid of the clutter of what I used to call “temporary buildings” — but those buildings don’t seem to be “temporary,” because they never go away. And those displaced fields and playgrounds never come back.)

Here’s the same view today.


Below, the two photos, cheek by jowl. Click to see them bigger.



Top photo is from the 1965 Crusader, the yearbook of Woodrow Wilson High School; I found it on Flickr, here.

Many thanks to Chris Prestridge who “droned” the present-day photo yesterday, on March 14, 2017. Thank you, Chris! (And thank you, Chris’ drone!)

See another bird’s-eye view of both campuses — but one looking to the southwest rather than the northeast — in the Flashback Dallas post “J. L. Long, Woodrow Wilson — 1958,” here.

Click photos to see larger images.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Whittle Music Building — ca. 1956

whittle-music_elm-and-murphy_flickr_red-oak-kidSouthwest corner of Elm & Murphy… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Above, the very attractive home of the Whittle Music Co., which sat at 1108 Elm Street on the southwest corner of Elm and Murphy. It was built as a two-story building in 1892 for the A. Harris Co., one of Dallas’ earliest department stores. A third floor was added in 1899. A. Harris Co. eventually outgrew the building, and, around 1914, it moved into several floors of the Kirby Building. In August, 1941, the Whittle Music Co. moved in from their previous nearby location. The company which sold “everything musical” (instruments, radios, phonographs, records, sheet music, etc.) was happy to move into the larger building, which included a basement, an auditorium for performances, meetings, and recitals, and several large display windows to better feature their large selection of pianos (the building was apparently the first store in Dallas designed to include large windows in which to prominently display merchandise to passersby).

D. L. Whittle (1879-1970) came to Dallas in 1912 and was involved in several businesses (including selling Wurlitzer pipe organs and co-owning the Crystal Theater). He became president of Western Automatic Music Co. (which sold electric player pianos) and eventually changed the name to the D. L. Whittle Music Co. A few years later he sold the business to Howard Beasley who decided to keep the Whittle name. (See the 1968 Sam Acheson interview with Whittle at the bottom of this post for more information about Mr. Whittle and his memories of Dallas in the ‘teens.)

Whittle’s became one of Dallas’ premier music companies, selling instruments and recorded music, offering lessons, hosting performances, etc. According to a Dallas Morning News article by Kent Biffle, customers included Van Cliburn and Arthur Rubinstein, and “Al Jolson once sold tickets to one of his own shows” at the store’s ticket window (DMN, May 31, 1964).

Business was flourishing and all was going well, until the early 1960s when it was announced that the block the building was on (as well as other adjacent blocks) was set to be bulldozed to make way for the construction of One Main Place. Interestingly, Whittle’s and the Dallas, Texas Corp. (developers of One Main Place) agreed to a land swap: the music company would get land in Oak Lawn and a fancy new building built on it in exchange for the Elm Street property. Only after Whittle’s had taken occupancy of their new home would the 63-year-old building be demolished. (Seems like a pretty sweet deal for the Whittle company — perhaps the fact that D. L. Whittle was a major stockholder of the Texas Bank & Trust Co. — which had ties to the One Main Place project — was a factor.)

Whittle’s moved into its new location at 2733 Oak Lawn in March, 1965. Not only was it a nice new building, it also finally had “ample parking.” Whittle’s ceased operations sometime in … the ’80s? … but the George Dahl-designed building still stands, here.

I’ve never been a huge fan of One Main Place, but it was a VERY BIG DEAL in the late ’60s. It was envisioned as an entire complex — One Main Place, Two Main Place, and Three Main Place — but only one building was ever built. Yeah, we got another tall building out of the deal (the symbol of “dynamic growth!”), but the view of the attractive three-story building in the photo at the top of this post is, let’s face it, far more aesthetically pleasing than the same view today. Sorry, little building. I wish you’d survived.


Most images and clippings are larger when clicked.

harris_moving_dmn_112092Dallas Morning News, Nov. 20, 1892

Souvenir Guide to Dallas, 1894

DMN, July 2, 1899

DMN, Sept. 23, 1918

DMN, Nov. 2, 1919

DMN, Nov. 2, 1919

DMN, Sept. 13, 1964

DMN, Feb. 22, 1965

DMN, March 12, 1965

DMN, March 7, 1965

DMN, Nov. 25, 1968


Original source of photo at top is unknown — I found it on Flickr, here. The Oliver Luggage Co. appears to have been a next-door neighbor for only a year or two, beginning in 1956.

I was one of thousands of school children who bought instruments and sheet music from Whittle’s on Oak Lawn. I always liked going into that cool building. I had no idea George Dahl designed it. It looks like the Dallas Historical Society has the Whittle Music Co. collection. You can see a ton of thumbnail images here. Here are a couple of those thumbnails blown up (apologies for the picture quality) — the Oak Lawn store:



Two other One Main Place-related posts:

  • “Main & Murphy — ca. 1907,” here
  • “The Elm Street Cave — 1967,” here

Too small? Click it!


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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