Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

African-American Businesses and Notable Dallasites — 1930

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det“Madame Pratt” in her music studio

by Paula Bosse

I’ve recently posted lots of photos of black schools and black churches which appeared in the Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc., an absolutely fantastic historical document (which is scanned in its entirety on the Portal to Texas History site here) — now I thought I’d post some of the businesses and people featured in the directory.

First is the woman seen above, Ella Rice Pratt (1893-1966) who was known professionally as “Madame Pratt” and seems to have taught an extremely wide range of musical instruments. According to this 1930 ad, she was “The only woman of her race in Texas who performs successfully upon two instruments at the same time.”  (Most images are larger when clicked.)

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Her 1966 obituaries (one of which is here ) list a string of accomplishments, including having studied music at the New England Conservatory in Boston, toured as a concert pianist, trained a 30-piece touring orchestra, and opened what was described as “the first music studio in Dallas where Negro musicians could receive training on all instruments” (Dallas Morning News, Oct. 3, 1966). Not only was she a notable Dallasite, so were members of her family: her father, Charles A. Rice was a principal at Booker T. Washington High School (and is the namesake of Charles Rice Elementary School), her mother, Sally Rice, was the first supervisor of Griggs Park, and her husband, T. W. Pratt was a long-time principal in Dallas schools (at the time of this directory he was the principal of the Pacific Avenue School (he might be seen in this photo which also appeared in the 1930 Negro Directory). The Pratts lived at 3612 Thomas Ave., near Washington, where Madame Pratt also had her studio. (Her headstone in Lincoln Memorial Park has musical notes engraved on it.)

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Speaking of music, R. T. Ashford was a prominent businessman (he was one of the founders of the Dallas Negro Chamber of Commerce) who owned R. T. Ashford’s Music Shop, a popular record store at 408 N. Central (at Swiss), just north of Deep Ellum. Before this 1930 directory was issued, Ashford had called his shop “Black Swan Music”(I’m not sure whether this was an “homage” to the Black Swan record label or some sort of partnership). Ashford’s store was apparently very popular and Ashford himself seems to have been taken seriously by record labels whenever he would recommend local talent (he appears to have figured prominently in Blind Lemon Jefferson’s recording career). Ashford moved from Central Avenue to Hall Street in 1931, but he was a Deep Ellum music and business fixture for many, many years. I think the location of Ashford’s record shop (if not the actual store) can be seen in this photo from 1919 (on the street-level floor of the Thorburn Broom & Brush building). (Fun fact, perhaps only to me: Ashford’s Music Shop was next door to a business proprietor named “Simpson.”)

ashfords-music-shop_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

ashford_dallas-express_122223Dallas Express, Dec. 1922

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Another entrepreneur was Thad Self, whose main business seems to have been a grocery/general merchandise store on Routh Street south of Colby. He also owned a transfer company, a hotel/boarding house, a barber shop, a cafe, and at least one other general store. Most of his companies were located in buildings on the neighboring lots at 2113 Routh and 2115 Routh, one or both of which he appears to have purchased in 1913 for $100 (about $2,600 in today’s prices). He built a large three-story building on Routh in 1913 (which, according to this 1921 Sanborn map) was built over the Dallas Branch of the Trinity which snaked through downtown and the State-Thomas area — that  basement was probably pretty damp.

thad-else_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

thad-else_dallas-express_120619_HOTELDallas Express, Dec. 6, 1919

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Speaking of hotels, one of the most prominent hotels in the era when blacks were not allowed to stay in “white” hotels by law was the Powell Hotel at 3115 State Street (between Ellis and Hugo), owned by D. H. Powell and his wife Susie. In May, 1929 Powell was issued a permit to tear down a frame house at 3115 State, and he built his 40-room hotel on the property soon after. The Powell Hotel was where almost every notable African-American visitor to the city stayed. By the late 1940s, Powell had built something of a hotel empire in Dallas with several locations. (I will have to write more about him in a future post!) I like this very early ad, from the 1930 directory, describing it as the “Powel Hotel & Pleasure Dome.” The photo shows a pleasant-looking place, but you and I and Kubla Khan and Coleridge would probably agree it’s no Xanadu.

powell-hotel_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

powell-hotel_legacies_spring-2007Dallas Public Library, via Legacies, Spring, 2007

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Speaking of “resting places”… another essential element in any community is the funeral home. One of Dallas’ most prominent undertaking firms for black Dallas was the E. J. Crawford Funeral Home at 804 Good (now N. Good-Latimer, between Live Oak and Bryan), founded by Mr. Crawford in 1909. “The last word in funeralizing.”

crawford-funeral-home_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

crawford_e-j_dallas-express_020422Dallas Express, Feb. 4, 1922

Another prominent funeral home/ambulance service was Black & Clark, founded originally around 1914 by S. C. Black; in 1927 he was joined by his nephew C. J. Clark. For years they were located in Oak Cliff, at 1109 E. Tenth St., west of what is now South R. L. Thornton, near Cliff Avenue. This funeral home is still in business, and there was recently a profile of the Dallas institution on Channel 5 News (watch it here).

black-and-clark-undertakers_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

black-and-clark_archives_1802-n-washington1802 N. Washington (woozy screenshot of photo in Ch. 5 news story)

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This is Genevieve T. Starks, a woman with a lot of extra-curricular activities! I love this photo.

genevieve-starks_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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The G Clef Club was organized around 1921 by Lincolnia Hayes Morgan, music supervisor for Dallas’ (black) public schools. A blurb about the group appeared in The Crisis, the official publication of the N.A.A.C.P.: “The objects of the club are to assist worthy music students and to raise the music standard of the community” (June, 1921).

g-clef-club_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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A popular singing group was the Belt Sacred Quartette (comprised of J. J. Mollis, J. Poindexter, F. W. Grant, and N. Tisdale) — listen to their recording of “I Have Another Building” below.

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belt-sacred-quartette_blackwell-OK-journal-tribune_072332Blackwell (OK) Journal-Tribune, July 23, 1932

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The Davis Bible Singers (C. Davis, I. H. Burrell, R. Smith, and O. B. Walker) seem to have been pretty popular, having appeared on KRLD, WFAA, and WRR radio. They even recorded for Columbia Records (listen to their great recording of “Daniel Saw the Stone” below).

davis-bible-singers_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

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One of the most important doctors in Dallas in the 1920s and ’30s was Dr. Lee Gresham (L. G.) Pinkston (1883-1961), who opened the Pinkston Clinic at 3305 Thomas Avenue, between Hall and Central, in 1928 or 1929 (it made its first appearance in the 1929 city directory). In 1954, Pinkston — physician, surgeon, and civic leader — was one of the first five black doctors allowed to practice in a “white” Dallas hospital (St. Paul’s Hospital) — before that, the only hospital in Dallas where black doctors could practice was the Pinkston Clinic, which had 15 beds (32 beds were allotted for black patients at St. Paul’s in 1954). (See a photo of the five doctors here, Dr. Pinkston is seated.) A new West Dallas school — Pinkston High School — was named in Dr. Pinkston’s honor and opened in 1964, three years after his death. 

pinkston-clinic_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal1930

pinkston-clinic_DHSDallas Historical Society

Below, a portrait of Dr. Pinkston with the artist, Calvin Littlejohn (whom I’d known only as a photographer previously), destined to hang in the new school.

pinkston-l-g_portrait_calvin-littlejohn_pittsburgh-PA-courier_112864Pittsburgh (PA) Courier, Nov. 28, 1964

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Sources & Notes

All 1930 images are from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here.

See the two other Flashback Dallas posts which also use this wonderful directory as a source:

mme-pratt-muisc-teacher_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_det_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Black Churches in Dallas — 1930

randolph-free-will-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

by Paula Bosse

Yesterday I posted several photos of schools for Dallas’ African American community from a 1930 “Negro Directory” — today it’s churches. Of these, only two survive, and only one continues as a church. (All images are larger when clicked.)

Above, my favorite building of these churches, a small one serving as the home of Randolph Free Will Baptist Church, Flora and Watkins streets (3113 Flora — the location can be seen on this 1921 Sanborn map).

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Below, Boll Street C.M.E. Church (Christian Methodist Episcopal), corner of Boll and Juliette (2631 Juliette), near Booker T. Washington High School. It can be seen on this 1921 Sanborn map as “Morning Chapel C.M.E. Church” (this area was obliterated when Woodall Rogers was built).

boll-street-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal


boll-st-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU (info at bottom of post)

boll-street-church_patton-coll_DHSvia John L. Patton Collection, Dallas Historical Society

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Church of God in Christ, Thomas and Ellis streets (3028 Thomas Avenue).

church-of-god_rev-paige_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Greater Macedonia Baptist Church, corner of Good and Bryan (902 Good Street). This building later became home to Good Street Baptist Church.

greater-macedonia-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

greater-macedonia-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Metropolitan Tabernacle (Baptist), Thomas and Boll streets (this was apparently never built — a Metropolitan Tabernacle was listed in 1930 at 2202 Thomas, but it was not this building.)

metropolitan-tabernacle_baptist_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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New Hope Baptist Church, southwest corner of San Jacinto and Bogle (sometimes spelled “Bogel”) — see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here).

new-hope-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

new-hope-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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New Salem Baptist Church/Salem Missionary Baptist Church, 1110 S. Preston Street (see it on a 1921 Sanborn map here).

new-salem-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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New Zion Primitive Baptist Church, 2215 Wheeler (address is incorrect in caption; the street name “Wheeler” soon changed to “Lowery”).

new-zion-primitive-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, 5006 McKinney Avenue, between what is now Monticello and McCommas. (This is not to be confused with the church of the same name designed by James Flanders which was located at McKinney and Pearl.)

trinity-methodist-episcopal-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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And, lastly, the two buildings which are still standing. First, St. James A.M.E. Church (African Methodist Episcopal), Good and Florence streets (620 Good Street, now 624 N. Good-Latimer Expressway). Designed by noted black architect William Sidney Pittman (who was also the son-in-law of Booker T. Washington), the building is currently home to several non-profit groups. Read the history of the building in the landmark nomination form here, and see what it looks like now — with its historical marker in front of it — on Google Street View here.

st-james-ame-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

st-james-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, DeGolyer Library, SMU

st-james_a-m-e_church_dallas-express_101819Dallas Morning News, Oct. 18, 1919

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And, finally, the only one of these churches still standing, and still functioning as a church, St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Paul United Methodist Church), corner of Burford and Juliette streets (1820 Burford, now 1816 Routh Street), also designed by architect William Sidney Pittman. See it on a 1921 Sanborn map here as “Juliette M.E. Church” (it wasn’t completed until 1922 and seems to have been given a place-holder name). Read about its history here, and see it today on Google Street View here.

st-paul-methodist-episcopal-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

st-paul-church_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUca. 1932, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

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Sources & Notes

Photos from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here (the full list of churches begins on p. 10).

The five “ca. 1932” photos are from a scrapbook/photo album of amateur photos called “Graphic History of Negro Dallas” which was compiled by the Priscilla Art Club in 1932; the scrapbook is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; links to the individual photos are in the photo captions.

Of related interest: “Twelve Prominent Black Baptist Churches — 1967.”

randolph-free-will-baptist-church_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Black Schools in Dallas — 1930

booker-t-washington-high-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

by Paula Bosse

Let’s take a look at six schools for African American children in segregated Dallas in 1930. Three of the schools are still standing.

Above, the only high school for black students in 1930 was Booker T. Washington High School. Its address in 1930 was 1801 Burford Street (Burford and Flora). The school still stands and is now the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in a much-renovated and expanded building. See what it looks like now on Google Street View here. (A 1921 Sanborn map showing the neighborhood and school — and street names no longer in use — can be seen here.) (More Flashback Dallas posts about or related to Booker T. Washington can be found here.)

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Below, the N. W. Harllee School (still standing) in Oak Cliff at 1216 E. 8th, at Denley. (The name of the school was misspelled in the caption.) See it today on Google Street View here, and on the same site (then at 8th and Miller, when different buildings housed the 9th Ward Public School) on a 1922 Sanborn map here.

harllee-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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The Phillis Wheatley School is also still standing, in South Dallas at Metropolitan and Meyers. See it on Google Street View here, and on a 1922 Sanborn map here.

wheatley-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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The B. F. Darrell School was at 3212 Cochran, at Hall. See the still-empty lot on Google Street View here, and the location on a 1921 Sanborn map here when the site was occupied by Dallas’ first high school for black students, known as the “Colored High School”; when Booker T. Washington opened in the 1920s, this building was renamed B. F. Darrell and became an elementary school; according to Dallas Rediscovered by William L. McDonald, the building was built in 1895 and was demolished in 1973.

darrel-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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The Pacific Avenue School at 1221 Fletcher, near East Grand in the Fair Park area, was about to be left behind when students moved to the Julia C. Frazier School on Spring Ave. the next year. The site is now occupied by the Fannie C. Harris Youth Center and can be seen on Google Street View here. See the buildings on a 1922 Sanborn map here.

pacific-ave-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

pacific-ave-school_1910_education-in-dallas
Pacific Avenue School, ca. 1910

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And, lastly, the J. P. Starks School, at 1600 S. Preston, at Gano, near Old City Park. There’s nothing there now, but its general location is on Google Street View here. The school can be seen on a 1921 Sanborn map here when it was the Fred Douglass School (the school’s name was changed after the death of principal J. P. Starks — in 1930 there was another Fred Douglass school in West Dallas at Williams and Pine streets — in fact, I think there have been several schools in Dallas named after Frederick Douglass). 

starks-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal

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Other schools for black children in Dallas in 1930 (excluding kindergartens) were the following:

  • Beeman School (2518 Detonte)
  • Fred Douglass School (1401 Williams)
  • Eagle Ford School
  • Elm Thicket School
  • Fair Grounds School (4508 Collins Ave.)
  • Fair Grounds School Annex (Carter, near Spring Ave.)
  • Julia C. Frazier School (Spring Ave. and Carter)
  • Lincoln Manor (Rowan Ave. and Dyson)
  • Wesley School (5123 Keating Ave.)
  • York School (3rd Ave. and Carrie)

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Sources & Notes

Photos from Official Directory: Dallas Negro Churches, Schools and Other Activities; Civic, Business, Fraternal, Social, Etc. compiled by James H. Smith, 1930; from the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, via the Portal to Texas History. This fantastic resource is scanned in its entirety here (the full list of schools, kindergartens, colleges, trade schools, etc. begins on p. 29). I will be posting more from this directory soon.

Photo of the exterior of the Pacific Avenue School is from Education in Dallas, 1874-1966, Ninety-two Years of History by Walter J. E. Schiebel.

booker-t-washington-high-school_dallas-negro-directory_1930_portal_crop_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Dynamic Dallas Skyline — 1930s

skyline_drawing_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_endpapers_1936

by Paula Bosse

Above, a dynamic view of the Dallas skyline, which appeared in the 1936 Forest Avenue High School yearbook. There’s no Pegasus atop the Magnolia Building, so the drawing was probably done in 1934 or earlier. 

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Sources & Notes

Endpaper drawing from the 1936 edition of The Forester, the yearbook of Forest Avenue High School in South Dallas (the school is now James Madison High School).

skyline_drawing_forest-ave-high-school-yrbk_endpapers_1936_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Two Color Home Movies Featuring Downtown Dallas and Love Field — 1940s

love-field_dallas-aviation-school_perisccope_croppedDallas Aviation School, Love Field

by Paula Bosse

I’m a sucker for old home movies, and these two circa-1940s films are pretty cool — the first one has shots taken around Love Field and the second one has views of Main Street and Elm Street, full of traffic, pedestrians, and streetcars. Best of all, both are in color!

The Love Field film shows several of the businesses operating in Love Field, including the Dallas Aviation School, seen above in a screenshot from the film. Also seen is the building below, which appears to have housed offices for Delta Air Lines, Braniff Airways, and American Airlines. I’ve never seen this odd-looking building.

love-field_delta-braniff-american_periscope_ext_cropped

Also seen are these two signs:

love-field_periscope-screenshot_dallas-texas-terminal_cropped

love-field_sign_periscope_cropped

Below is the two-minute silent video:


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The second video contains a lot of non-Dallas things (imagine!), but the first minute and a half were shot moving east down Main and Elm streets. (The Elm Street footage is, for some reason, really sped up — if you want to be able to focus on anything, I suggest fiddling with the YouTube settings and slowing the playback speed to .25.)

Here are a few screenshots — first, looking east down Main, approaching Akard:

downtown_main-street_periscope_cropped_a

And here’s a view of Elm Street, also shot from just west of Akard:

downtown_elm-street_periscope_cropped

And here’s a stretch of Elm you don’t see all that often in historical shots of downtown — Elm east of Harwood (the “camel” sign is for the Campbell House hotel on the southeast corner of Elm and Harwood):

downtown_elm-street_periscope_campbell-house-cropped

The video is here, with the first minute and a half shot in Dallas (and, seriously, turn the playback speed down!):

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Sources & Notes

All images are cropped screenshots from home movies from the Periscope Films archive — the Periscope page with more info on the Love Field film is here; the page with more info on the downtown Dallas film is here.

Thanks to Dallas author Rusty Williams for pointing me to the Periscope website! Check out Rusty’s history books here.

love-field_dallas-aviation-school_perisccope_cropped_sm

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bel-Vick’s Anchor: The Angelus Arcade and The Arcadia Theatre — 1920s

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060730The 2000 block of Greenville Avenue, 1930… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

I’ve written about the Arcadia Theatre before (here and here), but until I discovered the above photo from 1930, I’d never really thought about what had been on that site previously (the northwest corner of Greenville Avenue and Sears Street, now the home of a Trader Joe’s). There’s a lot going on in that photo, not the least of which is the fabulous Arcadia “tree” sign/marquee, made of sculpted concrete.

Greenville Avenue in the 1920s had a small business district with buildings clustered between Ross Avenue and Belmont, an area which many now call “Lowest Greenville” (the stretch of Greenville a little farther north which is now generally refered to as “Lower Greenville” was being developed but was not really an area of note yet — and “Upper Greenville” — which I don’t really hear people say anymore — was a rural highway which passed through small communities and was mostly surrounded by a lot of open farmland).

A look at city directories of the early 1920s suggests that business owners were trying to establish “Belmont” as the name of the area between Ross and Belmont, and many used the word in their business name (“The Belmont Pharmacy,” for instance). But things began to change in 1922 as development picked up, and “Belmont” suddenly became “Belmont-Vickery” (in a nod to the Vickery Place neighborhood), and then that very quickly became “Bel-Vick” or “Belvick” (a couple of rebel business owners went with “Belvic” but that didn’t seem to catch on). In the 1927 directory there were eight Belvick businesses, almost all of which were in the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Greenville, the blocks seen in the photo below (you can see the Arcadia “tree” in the distance on the left).

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Greenville Avenue, 1930 (Dallas Public Library)

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1927 Dallas directory

At least one business came up with a cutesy “Belvick” logo:

belvick-plumbing-logo_1908-greenville_1928-directory_ad-det
Belvick Plumbing logo, 1928

(One of these businesses, Belvick Electric Co., ended up on Garland Road, owned by the family of “King of the Hill” writer and producer Jim Dauterive, a name which should be familiar to all “King of the Hill” fans; I wrote about that tidbit of hyper-trivia at the end of this post.)

There was even a small theater at 1804½ Greenville Ave. for a year or two, pre-dating the Arcadia by five years. The Belmont Theatre opened in Sept. 1922, but when it changed ownership a few months later it became, you guessed it, the Belvick Theatre. I hope patrons didn’t get too attached, because it was out of  business by the time the 1924 directory was published. Here’s what that building looked like in 2012 (sadly, it no longer looks anything like this) — the theater was, I believe, in the right half of the building.

belvick-theater_google_2012
Google Street View, 2012

In 1923, a Greenville Avenue developer, Albert J. Klein, built a large building called the Angelus Arcade in the 2000 block of Greenville, at Sears Street. Here are a couple of woefully fuzzy classified ads for the under-construction “Greenville Market Place” and a list of the types of “first-class” businesses wanted to occupy the new arcade (click for larger-but-still-hard-to-read images).

angelus-arcade_070423
July, 1923

angelus-arcade_112823Nov., 1923

The arcade had several tenants and served as something of a public meeting place for the neighborhood — politicians frequently appeared in front of the large building to give speeches or talk to crowds in impromptu town-hall-like meetings. Like the use of “Belvick,” the name “Angelus” showed up in many of the less-than-imaginitively-named (first-class) businesses:

angelus-arcade_greenville-ave_1927-directory1927 Dallas directory

In 1927 Klein made a deal with the Dean Theatre company to build a new movie theater on the same premises as the Angelus — there would be additions and modifications made to the building, but it would still be home to several other businesses — there’d just be a movie theater inside. It would continue to be an “arcade.” Even though one newspaper article attempted to tie the name “Arcadia” to the new theater’s Italian garden motif which suggested a pastoral harmony with Nature, it seems more likely that people were already calling the building “the arcade,” and “Arcadia” was the next logical step.

The Arcadia Theatre opened on Nov. 4, 1927 with the Mary Astor movie “The Sunset Derby.” A newspaper report noted that “in spite of its remote location” the crowd-size was healthy. Patrons could even pop next door for a chicken dinner if so inclined.

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060928_front1928

One of the unusual things about the theater was the seating. The backs of the chairs were in a variety of colors (desert sand, cafe au lait, light blue, orchid, green, and “Chinese red”) which were placed in a randomly pattern throughout the auditorium. I think the operators probably thought this design-breakthrough was quirky and cutting edge, but it just looks a little odd. The Dallas Morning News described this feature as being reminiscent of a fun carnival; the Arcadia publicity person wrote that “the effect is as startling as it is pleasing.” …I’ll give you “startling.”

arcadia-theater_exhibitors-herald-world_060928_toward-screen1928

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Below are a few more images of the Arcadia Theatre through the years.

First, just an odd little postcard from 1934 which found its way into SMU’s archive — a drawing of that cool tree!

arcadia-sign_postcard_1934_cook-collection_degolyer-library_SMUvia George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

arcadia-marquee_1941_ad-det1941

The Deco years, and a painfully pruned tree.

arcadia-theater_mcafee_degolyer_SMUvia DeGolyer Library, SMU

arcadia-theater_mid

There were a few fires over the years — here’s one from November, 1958.

arcadia_fire_nov-1958_portalDallas Firefighters Museum, via the Portal to Texas History

Eventually its days as a second-run suburban theater dwindled, and it became a live-music venue for a while in the 1980s, as seen in this absolutely fabulous photo from 1985 (Joan Jett played the Arcadia on June 13, 1985) taken by Dan Allen, owner of super-cool clothing boutique Assassins.

arcadia-theatre_june-1985_daniel-m-allen-photo_FB©Daniel M. Allen 2014, via Facebook

It also showed Spanish-language films for a few years.

arcadia_spanish-language-theater_dayvia American Classic Images

arcadia_spanish-language-theater_nightvia American Classic Images

But, ultimately, a fire ended it all, on June 21, 2006: 120 firefighters responded to a six-alarm blaze caused by a fire that originated in a restaurant — all the businesses in the block were destroyed.

arcadia_on-fire_2006via Cinema Treasures

Bel-Vick hasn’t been the same since. RIP, Angelus/Arcadia.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from Exhibitors Herald World, June 7, 1930.

The 1930 view of Lowest Greenville, looking north from Alta, is from the Frank Rogers Collection, Dallas Public Library; titled “[Lower Greenville Avenue],” the call number is PA84-9/49.

The two photos from 1928 are from Exhibitors Herald World, June 9, 1928. To see the full 4-page article on the still-new Arcadia (with many photos of the interior) as well as a 2-page article from April 12, 1930 about how the Angelus Arcade building had been renovated to accommodate a theater — complete with floor plan — see a PDF here.

More on the Arcadia Theater — including additional photos of the ever-changing facade — can be found in these Flashback Dallas posts:

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I don’t usually post photos with watermarks, but I found these two really interesting photos of Greenville looking south from Sears, one from 1927 with buildings I’ve never seen, and one from 1930 with brand new buildings replacing those unfamiliar ones. Here’s the first, from 1927, which shows an unusual building with arches and a church (?!), Riggs Memorial Presbyterian Church, at the northeast corner of Greenville and Oram. (I used to have a little bookstore — Chelsea Books — at 1925 Greenville, in the space occupied by Criswell Furniture in this photo.)

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1927, Dallas Public Library, call number PA78-2/1047

chelsea-books_dallas_1925-greenville-avenue

And then, just three short years later… bye-bye, weird building and church. The buildings seen in the 1930 photo below are still standing (except for the gas station at the southwest corner at Sears). I love that this street has been immediately recognizable for decades, even though there has been some unfortunate architectural revision going on in ol’ Bel-Vick in recent years.

greenville-ave_south-from-sears_bud-biggs-collection_1930_DPL
1930, Dallas Public Library, call number PA84-9/48 

And here’s a detail from a 1931 Fairchild Aerial photo showing the Angelus/Arcadia at the center left (you can see the tree sign).

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Dallas Public Library, call number
PA83-32/16 

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Bright Lights, Big City — ca. 1948

elm-ervay-live-oak_weather-sign_ca-1948“Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares…”

by Paula Bosse

I think present-day downtown Dallas looks really great at night. But it pales in comparison to what downtown Dallas — especially Elm Street — used to look like at night. It was bursting with lights and signs and people. The scene above shows Elm Street looking east from Ervay around 1948. The Coca-Cola weather-forecast sign at the left is one of my favorite by-gone downtown landmarks (other photos of the sign can be seen here and here).

I wouldn’t really encourage anyone to click the link to see what this part of Elm Street looks like today, but if you must, it’s here.

Whenever I imagine times in Dallas history that I’d like to time-travel to, for some reason I always wish I could walk around downtown Dallas in the 1940s. It must have been quite something to have seen this pulsating view in person. 

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Elm Street, 1948 directory (click to see larger image)

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Sources & Notes

I’m unsure of the source of this photo, but there is one almost identical to it in the collection of the Dallas Public Library, but the library’s copy is over-exposed and dated 1930 (it is titled “[Intersection of Elm, N. Ervay, and Live Oak streets]” and has the call number PA82-00324).

This photo was taken sometime between the end of 1947 and very early 1949. Mangel’s department store opened in its brand new building at 1700 Elm in September, 1947, and the Artificial Flower Shop (… “the artificial flower shop”?) lost its lease in early 1949. I can’t make out the lettering on the “Welcome” banners along the street, but there was a large hardware convention in Dallas in January, 1948.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Crown Cork & Seal Co., Dallas Branch — ca. 1910

crown-cork-and-seal-co_cook-coll_degolyer-lib_SMUBicycle, boys, clerk, horse-anchor, horse, wagon…

by Paula Bosse

Above, the Dallas branch office of the Crown Cork & Seal Co. at 600 N. Akard (at San Jacinto), currently the location of the swank Dakota’s Steakhouse, across from the T. Boone Pickens YMCA.

The Baltimore-based Crown Cork & Seal Co. (their founder invented the bottle cap in 1892) opened its Dallas branch at this location around 1909 and remained in this building until about 1913 when they moved their plant to Pacific Avenue.

According to its Wikipedia entry, the company, now called Crown Holdings, manufactures “one out of every five beverage cans used in the world, and one out of every three food cans used in North America and Europe.” That’s a huge share of the market!

I don’t believe the company still has a Dallas branch — the last news I found was that the company was about to begin construction of a new building in the Trinity Industrial District in 1956 to house a regional office and warehouse.

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Sources & Notes

Photo is from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more info on this photo can be found here.

More on William Painter’s revolutionary bottle-cap invention (still in use today) can be found here.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Paul Giraud’s 1892 View of Dallas with Trinity River “Improvements” Which Were Never Made

1892_map_birdseye_paul-giraud_wikimediaClick to explore a larger image…

by Paula Bosse

Above is a map titled “Dallas, Texas, With The Projected River And Navigation Improvements. Viewed From Above The Sister City of Oak Cliff.” It was a bird’s-eye view of the city drawn in 1892 by Dallas resident and businessman Paul Giraud.

If you click on the picture you will see a very large image which will allow you to look at all the tiny details. You’ll see a lot of stuff that never actually existed in Dallas, but which Giraud — an adamant and tireless proponent of a navigable Trinity waterway — hoped would become part of Dallas. It’s pretty cool and a lot of fun to wander through. (A good background history on Giraud’s “map” can be found on the Amon Carter Museum website here.)

Born in France in 1844, Paul Giraud settled in Dallas in 1890 where he worked both in real estate and as a draftsman while also acting as a booster of Dallas and Texas to anyone who would listen, especially to Europeans and fellow Frenchmen who were considering the possibility of emigrating to the United States. He was also an inventor and secured at least one patent.

Giraud’s enthusiasm and dedication for the Trinity River scheme could be found in the bird’s-eye view seen above, in a miniature three-dimensional model with working locks and dams which he constructed for the 1892 State Fair, and in newspaper articles printed across the state which he wrote to assure readers (and investors) of the feasibility of the project.

All that work, but, sadly, Giraud’s dream was never realized — the Trinity won. But he did leave us with that fantastic, partially realistic bird’s-eye view of the city.

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1892_map_birdseye_giraud_dmn_091892Dallas Morning News, Sept. 18, 1892

giraud_trinity-lock-and-dam-model_state-fair_dmn_102992
DMN, Oct. 29, 1892

paul-giraud-draughtsman_souv-gd_1894
Souvenir Guide of Dallas, 1894

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Photo and obituary, DMN, Dec. 11, 1917 (click to read)

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Sources & Notes

This map is in the collection of the Library of Congress, here; the picture at the top of this post links to the enlarged Wikimedia image here.

If you’d like to compare some of the buildings with Sanborn maps to see what was real and what was fanciful, you can find the 1892 Sanborn maps here (scroll down). It might be helpful to use Sheet 1 as a guide — if, for instance, you want to look at the area in the immediate vicinity of the courthouse (which was under construction at the time…), you see that you need Sheet 3, so you click on “Dallas 1892 Sheet 3” on the list of maps.

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Copyright © 2020 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Year-End List: Most Popular Posts of 2019

greenville-reservoir-house_jan-2018_paula-bosseMy “fixer-upper” dream house on Greenville Avenue…

by Paula Bosse

Another year is finally grinding to a close, and that means the appearance of one last “year-end” list, ranking the popularity of posts from the past year (one of which rather surprisingly shot up the list after having been posted only 8 days ago!).

As always, thank you to everyone who reads, comments, shares, and enjoys Flashback Dallas. I’ll be embarking on Year 7 in a couple of months, and I’m happy to say that I still enjoy writing about Dallas history as much now as I did when I started in 2014. Thanks to all of you for coming along for the ride.

Here are the most popular Flashback Dallas posts of 2019, starting with the most popular. To see each full post, click on the title; to see larger images, click on the picture.

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1.  “MY DREAM HOUSE AT THE GREENVILLE AVENUE RESERVOIR” (August)

The fact that this is the #1 post of 2019 amazes me. I see this little “house” all the time, and I have loved it since I was a child, when I dreamed of living in it, imagining it a huge, magical place inside — like Snoopy’s dog house. I guess others have also been fascinated with this very out-of-place little building at Greenville and Mockingbird. We should form a club. (And I kind of STILL want to live there!)

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majestic-hotel_portal_postcard2.  “THE MAJESTIC HOTEL / THE PARK HOTEL / THE AMBASSADOR HOTEL: R.I.P. — 1904-2019” (May) 

I wrote this the day the much-loved landmark in The Cedars burned down — luckily I had been collecting images of the hotel with the intention of one day writing about it and was ready when the disaster happened. I still haven’t driven past where the building used to stand. It had a good long run, but it still had many good years in it.

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3.  “CASA LINDA AERIALS — 1940s” (August) 

I love the main photo in this post which shows the Casa Linda Plaza shopping area at Garland Road and Buckner Boulevard before much of anything other than the theater had been built, with White Rock Lake and the still-in-operation firehouse in the background. As a lack of housing in post-war Dallas reached a crisis point, eastward expansion was inevitable. 

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4.  “BEAUTIFUL LAKE CLIFF — ca. 1906” (August)

This post is filled with pretty postcards that make a person feel incredibly nostalgic for a time and place they’ve never actually known. It would be nice to take a trip back to the Oak Cliff of a hundred or more years ago to visit the Lake Cliff seen in these postcards, in the days when it was one of the city’s most popular amusement destinations.

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5.  “THE LEGENDARY CHRISTMAS CARDS OF ANN RICHARDS AND BETTY McKOOL” (December)

This Christmas post — from last week! — catapulted to the fifth most popular post of the year. I think Ann and Betty would be happy with that — I know I am! (Incidentally, I’ve just added another card to the collection — I hope to add more as they become known to me — I’m aiming for a full set of images!)

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6.  “THE STAR LOUNGE, 4311 BRYAN” (May)

I can’t say exactly what it is about this photo that everyone seems to love, but… everyone seems to love this photo. It helps that there is some interesting history in the 4300 block of Bryan, involving dynamite, extortion and racketeers in the 1930s, followed by a period of space-theme lounges in the ’60s, followed by adult bookstores in the ’70s. Old East Dallas has got it going on.

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7.  “RIP TORN AND ANN WEDGEWORTH’S DALLAS WEDDING — 1955” (July) 

I loved Rip Torn — if I see he’s in a movie, I’ll watch it — and I’m glad this post was so popular. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing “Six Degrees of Separation” when I hear news of the death of a notable person: I bet myself that I can find some sort of connection the Dearly Departed had with Dallas. I actually knew that Rip had ties to Dallas because I had previously written about actress Ann Wedgeworth and remembered that she had married Rip at what is now First United Methodist Church downtown. The old yearbook photos in the post are pretty great. R.I.P., Rip.

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8.  “GLORIA VANDERBILT’S 4 HUSBANDS… AND THEIR DALLAS CONNECTIONS” (June) 

I had employed that “Six Degrees of Separation” thing when I heard that Gloria Vanderbilt had died. It still surprises me, but I managed to connect each of her four husbands (Pat DiCicco, Leopold Stokowski, Sidney Lumet, and Wyatt Cooper) to Big D, which was a fun exercise and surprisingly interesting.

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roger-miller_venetian-room_oct-1969_wfaa_jones-film_SMU

9.  “SUPER-COOL ROGER MILLER IN DALLAS — 1960s” (October) 

I apparently share a love of Roger Miller with many of the readers of Flashback Dallas. This post, which includes a couple of video clips of Roger in Dallas, steadily racks up hits. His quipped response to a Channel 8 reporter’s question of whether he was “serious” when he wrote “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” is classic.

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10.  “TEMPLE EMANU-EL, AT THE ‘NORTHERN LIMITS OF DALLAS’ — 1957” (January) 

Photos of the brand-new location of the not-yet-landscaped Temple Emanu-El in North Dallas served as the springboard to write about this historic Jewish congregation founded in Dallas in 1873. The aerial photo from 1957 showing loads of empty land around Temple Emanu-El above Northwest Highway was one of my favorite photos posted in 2019.

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Below are the top 3 all-time most popular Flashback Dallas posts:

  1. “HOW TO ACCESS THE HISTORICAL DALLAS MORNING NEWS ARCHIVE” (2015)
  2. “BONNIE PARKER: ‘BURIED IN AN ICE-BLUE NEGLIGEE’ — 1934″ (2016)
  3. “CARHOPS AS SEX SYMBOLS — 1940” (2015)

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Sources & Notes

See all three 2019 “Best Of Flashback Dallas” lists here.

See all Flashback Dallas Year-End lists — past and present — here.

Thanks again for reading — may 2020 be a happy and productive year for us all!

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Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

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