Issuu on Google+

Neighborhood Stories: West Main 2013


POP DALLAS: Neighborhood Stories Active and resilient neighborhoods are the foundation of a successful city. POP [People Organizing Place] Dallas is the bcWORKSHOP public design effort strengthening the social, economic, and physical health of Dallas’s neighborhoods. As a component of POP Dallas, Neighborhood Stories strengthens awareness of our city, celebrates the diverse places that give it character and texture, and creates a platform for active dialogue about its history and future.

The buildingcommunityWORKSHOP [bcWORKSHOP] is a Dallas based nonprofit community design center seeking to improve the livability and viability of communities through the practice of thoughtful design and making.


SINGLETON BLVD

DOWNTOWN

MERCE

W COM

West Main African Americans have lived, and some thrived, in this one-road community known as West Main Street. Running parallel to the railroad tracks, the street measures three-quarters of a mile long by 50 feet across and is bordered by North Beckley Avenue on the east and Yuma Street on the west. For generations, African Americans have migrated to this once-industrial area to make homes and raise their families. It is not certain when nor who the first African Americans to move onto West Main were, but from research and information passed down by mouth, we know that by 1938 the families that

ST

I-30

were living there formed a bond that still exists today. Former West Main resident Paula Hutchison and bcWORKSHOP Fellow Melanie Wood began researching and documenting West Main’s history in 2011 with the intention of creating a record of this once-vibrant community, now at risk of disappearing due to rezoning and development pressure. This booklet was created from oral histories conducted with West Main residents, archival research, and public resources gathered over the course of two years.


right 1873 - Detail, map of the State of Texas showing the line and lands of the Texas and Pacific Railway Image courtesy of the University of North Texas Libraries

Railroads & Railways The railroad boom hit Dallas in 1872 and played a major role in the city’s progression from a small town to a bustling metropolis. On February 22, 1873, the first Texas and Pacific (T & P) locomotive stopped in Dallas; several months later, the city had more than tripled its population and cultivated a flourishing commercial and industrial center. The T & P completed a 125-mile stretch of new track from Longview to Dallas in August 1873, running through downtown on what is today Pacific

Avenue. By 1875, the line had been extended west over the Trinity River to Eagle Ford, just north of the land that would eventually become West Main Street. Ultimately, the rail lines were deemed too disruptive to downtown development. The Kessler Plan of 1911 suggested moving rail traffic to a belt line around the city; by 1921, T & P rail traffic had been rerouted to the Southern Pacific tracks east of the Trinity River. The southern boundary of West Main Street was also shaped by rails; a section


of land was graded for use by the West Dallas Railway Company, a venture of Oak Cliff founder Thomas Marsalis that was established in 1890. The proposed line would have branched off from the T & P track and extended to Mountain Creek via Western Heights and Beverly Hills, crossing the Trinity between the Commerce Street bridge and the T & P line. This plan was abandoned in the Panic of 1893. In addition to creating the physical boundaries that would isolate West Main throughout its history, the railways

made the area attractive to industrial businesses that would later provide employment for West Main residents.


right 1850 - Detail, Murphy and Bolanz map of the John Beeman Survey showing land south of the Texas & Pacific tracks owned by the Cockrell family Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library

West We Go An 1884 Dallas County map shows two parcels of land owned by John Beeman and William Perry Overton that encompass what is today West Main Street. Beeman’s 290 acres was subdivided into a number of parcels owned by members of the Cockrell family, an important group of early settlers in Dallas. Kentuckian Alexander Cockrell and his wife Sarah moved to 640 acres of land along Mountain Creek in Dallas County. In 1853, they bought out Dallas founder John Neely Bryan’s holdings for $7,000,

including those adjacent to the Trinity River. Following this acquisition, Cockrell formed the Dallas Bridge and Causeway Company to construct the first bridge across the Trinity using cedar cut at a sawmill south of Commerce Street. The toll bridge opened in 1855 and was soon followed by a ford and ferry at the same site. This allowed the public access to the sawmill, which attracted builders and investors to the area and spurred Dallas’s first economic boom. Though most of this activity occurred to the east and south, several small


residences had sprung up along the western edge of Beeman’s property by 1900. Soon after, this agricultural and industrial land was purchased by the Central Texas Realty Company and divided into 182 lots. Sold as “West We Go,” typical plats measured 25 by 122 feet and sold for prices ranging from $117.50 to $326.20 starting in 1907. West Main Street was originally named Golden Gate Avenue, though it was often referred to by residents as West We Go.


Golden Gate Avenue Landowners, c. 1920 Lot 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72

Owner Maggie Hunter Maggie Hunter Aaron Howard Addie Green Tom Molett Allen Jones John Middleton John Middleton Lucien Stein

Year 1908 1908 1911 1910 1909 1907 1907 1907 1911

Price $326.20 * $135.00 $135.00 $127.00 $129.00 $282.35 * $120.00

85

Ella Calloway

1907

$117.50

87 88

Charles Harbert 1912 Charles Harbert 1912

-

107

Ellen Hicks

1907

$146.50


Lot 4 5

Owner Perry Hollins Perry Hollins

Year 1907 1907

Price $180.00 *

8 9

W. M. Hames W. M. Hames

1908 1908

-

12

Lucien Stein

1911

$120.00

171 172

Harry Dennis 1908 Maggie Gaines 1908

$194.80 $260.30

179

Lucien Stein

$310.00

1915

*purchased with preceding lot

top and left 1920 - Pages 312-313 of the A. Overton Survey, Murphy & Bolanz Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library


right 1928 - Aerial view of the Trinity River basin before levee construction; West Main Street can be seen in the upper center, just south of the T & P rail line. Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library

Shaping the Trinity Well known for its tendency to flood, the Trinity River reached the highest levels in its documented history in the Great Flood of 1908. The Trinity River crested on May 26 at a depth of 52.6 feet and a width of one and a half miles. Five people drowned and 4,000 fled their homes; property damage was estimated at $2.5 million. The city was without electricity, telegraph, telephone, or rail service for three days. The entirety of West Dallas flooded, including West Main Street. Floodwaters reached as high as the T & P bridge, which remained closed until June 4th.

In response to this catastrophe and other conditions that limited the growth of the city, the Dallas Park Board hired landscape architect George E. Kessler in 1909 to devise a plan outlining priorities for the city’s development. Chief among these was the creation of levees that would straighten and shift the course of the Trinity River to the west and provide protection from flooding. After revisions to the Kessler Plan, the Ulrickson Committee produced a more detailed plan for the project’s implementation in 1927. The Trinity Farm Construction Company completed the construction of


the levees in 1931, drastically changing the city’s relationship to the river and allowing for significant growth, including the full development of West Main Street.


top 1908 - View of the Great Flood looking west from downtown Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division right 1928 - Costs and extents of the Trinity River Flood Control Project, including a series of underpasses for the T & P railroad Image courtesy of the City of Dallas


left 1933 - The completed levees ultimately claim 7,317 acres of land on the west side of the river and 3,333 acres on the east, drastically altering the form of the city Image courtesy of the Dallas Municipal Archives


6

CE

1

Auto repair shop

2

Auto repair shop

3

Filling station

4

Poultry farm

5

Dallas Power & Light Company oil depot

6

Texas & Pacific pumping station

7

Filling station

PITTMAN

HARRISON

LOWD

EN

HARR

ISON

EAST PEARL

RUSK/RUSH

CHESNUT

MAIN STREET

CALIPH PLACE

7

WRIGHT AVENUE

THOMAS

CHESNUT

DALLAS COURT

TELLA

N PLA

QUEE

PEARL


5

& TEXAS

D

ILROA

IC RA

PACIF

WODERED

WEST

1 3

MAY

HENRY

UE

EN

2

AV

Y]

MPAN

AY CO

RAILW

TALLIAFERRO AVENUE

S ON

AS [DALL

MM

E ST

TE AV

EN GA

GOLD

EET)

IN STR

ST MA

(WE ENUE

BEATRICE

LAMAR

HENRY

MAY

STELLA

HARDING

BECKLEY AVENUE

4

EET

E STR

MERC

COM

Map compiled from aerial images and Sanborn Fire Insurance maps

1922


right 1945 - This hand-colored map was created by the City of Dallas Public Works department to catalogue the location of primarily African American (red) and Mexican American (blue) neighborhoods. Created by the City of Dallas Public Works Department

African American Communities in Dallas The Texas Centennial that was held in Fair Park in 1936 was a watershed event for African Americans. After it they launched a campaign to win the citizenship rights denied by the state’s segregation laws and racist tradition. Segregated housing confined African Americans to a few overcrowded areas. Despite their second-class status, African Americans built viable and progressive communities. Almost immediately after the Civil War, they established churches, schools, and housing to serve their own needs.

The 1930 and 1940 census shows that many African American people lived in the one-road community of West Main. For our people, any means of shelter was welcomed during this period of Jim Crow and racial segregation. As told to me by Mr. Choice, African American soldiers returning from World War II started building homes and purchasing other property located on West Main. Mr. T. Floyd, Mr. Johnnie Kirby, Mr. William H. Hutchison and Mr. T. Nealy were a few of those men. Several were employed by Dallas Railway Company, which enabled them to live apart from the poverty that


most African Americans never escaped. Family households varied in number. Many parents had between three to fourteen children living in the home, some of whom never attended school. Every family shared what they had. The older women were the caretakers when our parents worked.


top 1940 - Census records for West Main Image courtesy of the US National Archives


top 1940 - Census records for West Main Image courtesy of the US National Archives


right Image courtesy of Jessie Hunt

Mrs. Jessie Hunt Mrs. Jessie Hunt was born in Elm Thicket near Love Field Airport in 1938. Named after her father, Jessie McGree, Mrs. Hunt came to West Main Street as a baby. The McGree family was one of the largest on the street with 13 children and were involved in the establishment of Lone Star Baptist Church. She remembers being scared when she was baptised in Mrs. Missie’s hole in the Trinity floodway, wearing a white sheet. The McGrees had a vegetable garden, and Mr. McGree kept pigs to butcher and share with others on West Main, curing meats in a smokehouse. As an employee of Borden Dairy, he was able to bring home ice cream for the neighborhood, and the family churned

butter and canned peaches. Women of the neighborhood got together at the McGree’s house to make quilts for different families. Keeping homes in good repair also brought the community together; Mr. Houston, a carpenter, helped fix the McGree’s house, and Bob White was the local electrician. Her family’s house at 208 West Main is one of the last ones standing in the neighborhood today, and Mrs. Hunt intends to stay as long as she can. Though she has left the street in the past, she always came back to care for her family. “This is home to me. And everybody that comes here, they tell me ‘you’re gonna have to move out.’ And I don’t want to do that.”


top c. 1940s - The McGree family at dinner Image courtesy of Jessie Hunt


right Image courtesy of Betty Darden

Mr. Jamie Choice Born in 1913 in Henderson, Texas, Mr. Jamie Choice lived on West Main Street for almost 70 years before passing away in 2012. Known for his pristine Cadillac and skills as a barber, Mr. Choice was a pillar of the West Main community, sharing what he and his family had to help those in need. After hearing about property for sale on West Main Street from his wife’s cousin, he bought a plot of land in 1943 and began building a home for himself and his wife. At that time, the only city service available on the street was lighting, so they initially made do with an oil cookstove, a wood heater, and an outhouse. Always fortunate to have good jobs, Mr. Choice began his career in Dallas working at a fence company. Eventually he became an elevator operator at Nieman Marcus, a job which took

considerable skill to make sure that the elevator stopped in line with each floor. He then took a position at the Dallas Railway Company maintenance shop at Elm Street and Peak Street, working seven days a week on streetcars and later buses as the system transitioned. He was hired only when the company got grants from the government to employ black workers. When he started in 1946, he earned 38 cents an hour. Reflecting on the changes in the neighborhood over the years, Mr. Choice missed the sense of community on West Main Street that was forged during segregation as families built social networks to support each other. “Before integration, it seemed that everyone was happier than they are now. Prosperity is good in one sense, but it brings about a division in people...I found that in my life, material things don’t always bring joy.”


right 1952 - Front page headline announcing the long-awaited annexation of West Dallas Image courtesy of the Dallas Morning News

Joining the City Falling between the jurisdiction of the city and the county, residents of West Main Street had only limited access to basic municipal services. It was a place where “Negros� lived without electricity, running water, or indoor toilet facilities. Wood burning stoves cooked our meals, warmed our homes, and refrigeration was done only by solid ice blocks that were purchased from the old icehouse located on Beckley. The building still remains there to this day. West Main Street has never had a paved road or sidewalks. Lacking a

proper drainage system, the properties always flood during heavy rains. A 1948 survey revealed that West Dallas lacked public sewers, parks, street lighting, and building codes. Because there was no code in place, there was not a legal minimum standard for housing requirements. Only 3.6% of homes had flush toilets and 5.8% had bathing facilities with running water and drainage. Eighty-five percent of homes lacked running water, but 89.3% had electricity. Despite these challenges, 73.5% of residents owned their homes or


were making regular payments towards ownership. West Dallas was finally annexed into the City of Dallas in 1952, a move that had been delayed many times because of the area’s small tax base in comparison to the cost of extending city services. Despite this victory, West Dallas residents had to fight to bring improvements to their neighborhoods. Mrs. Helen C. Emory, who with her husband owned Emory Grocery and Market on Sylvan Avenue, worked tirelessly to convince the city to install storm drainage pipes,

repave streets, and build sidewalks in the Muncie neighborhood. Her daughter, Gloria Jeanne Brown, continued this effort to advocate for the neighborhood and local schools like Fred Douglass Elementary.


“The Street” and “The Neighborhood” Apart from the church, grocery store, cafes, and small businesses operated out of homes, West Main Street was largely residential. Connections to other neighborhoods and commercial corridors were important for school, employment, and entertainment. Perhaps most significant was the relationship between West Main, “The Street,” and Muncie, “The Neighborhood.” Located just north of the T & P tracks and west of Sylvan Avenue, the Neighborhood became a second home for many West Main residents. From the beauty shop on the corner to Fred Douglass School, the people and institutions were an important part of the daily life of West Main residents.

right Mrs. Gloria Jeanne Brown, daughter of Helen Emory and an advocate for the Muncie community far right 2013 - The Muncie neighborhood has retained many of its singlefamily homes, but important institutions like Fred Douglass School are no longer there.

DULUTH STREET Fred Douglass School Mrs. Canard’s store

BAYONNE STREET

Helen C. Emory Park

MUNCIE (“THE NEIGHBORHOOD”)

MUNCIE AVENUE Beauty Shop

M


WEST MAIN (”THE STREET”)

Mrs. Emory’s store

ERCE

SYLVAN AVENUE

MM W. CO

E

NU

OR

TH

E AV

Pappy’s Showland

W RT

FO

COOMBS CREEK RETENTION BASIN

STREE

T


right 2013 - The former location of the junkyard at Pittman and West Main. The lush greenery that supported gardening and livestock throughout the neighborhood still contributes to the character of the neighborhood today.

Entrepreneurial Spirit If it weren’t for the stores in our community like Mrs. Laura’s, Mr. Fisher’s, Mrs. Helen Emory’s, and Mrs. Canard’s store on Muncie Avenue, our people would not have made it. The store owners kept a book of IOUs to allow our parents to buy on credit. Mr. Choice became the community barber. He also cut the men and boys hair on credit, or for free if you weren’t able to pay. Mrs. Leola Floyd opened the first beauty shop on West Main, but after she moved to Oak Cliff, Mrs. Cleo Chalmers and Mrs. “Dimple” Edwards’s

Beauty Shop on the corner of Sylvan and Muncie was where all the girls and women went for several decades to follow. Mr. Floyd opened a Washateria on West Main around 1965. Prior to 1965, most people washed by hand in washtubs, sinks, and bathtubs. Taking up money to help families bury their loved ones was a necessity. The only ambulance and funeral home to come down West Main at first was Black and Clark.


Apples, mulberries, plums, peaches, pears, pomegranates, pecans, and figs grew in the back ditch and in folk’s front and back yards. Large trees lined the properties but were cut down to make room for houses. Many people raised and consumed poultry, goats, and pigs and some had cows for milking. Others planted their own gardens. Peddlers of every flavor, vegetables, fruit, ice cream, soda, bread, milk, and fish trucks were a staple to the community.


right 2013 - Semo’s Restaurant was located in this building at the corner of West Commerce Street and Fort Worth Avenue; a tiled pattern on the sidewalk still retains the Semo’s name.

Making a Living Segregation affected the type of work African Americans were able to acquire in Dallas. The “Junk Yard” had a constant flow of railcars running day and night off-loading wrecked cars, and the Iron and Steel Company off-loading steel and other materials. The Junk Yard offered employment to many men on West Main and passersby like the “hobos” who came through from the railroad. Junk cars were piled as high as three-story buildings. The children and even some of the adults would fish for soda water bottles to sell to Mr. Fisher for two cents for small bottles and five cents for the

large ones. Sometimes we would find money and other valuables, too. The Iron and Steel Company also employed many men. Mrs. Laura White was one of the few black women to work at Semo’s Restaurant. When we did eat there we were served in the back at the counter and it was take out only for many years. We soon moved to the counters and finally to the dining area. Mrs. Lillian Hutchison and Mrs. Betty (Anthony) Darden completed LVN Nurse Training School and were known as the


local nurses in our church, West Main, and the neighborhood. Mr. Choice and Mr. Kirby worked for the Dallas Railway Company and both men retired from there as janitors. Most of the African American women who worked were maids in white residential areas. There were other means of earning cash. We sold old rags and clothes to the Rag House. Mrs. Etta Hicks worked there for many years and would buy clothing and provide clothes for the hundreds of children who lived on West Main and the neighborhood. She would sell a huge

bag of clothes for just five dollars or give it to you on credit. Residents also found work cleaning bricks at five cents a brick, or catching trucks to go pick cotton and other produce all day for pennies on the dollar.


right 1962 - Continental Bowling Lanes in West Dallas, a popular spot for entertainment. Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library bottom 1947 - Coconut Grove Club Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library

Local Entertainment We had many café’s on West Main, including Rambo and SK and those run by Mrs. Sister and Mrs. Bellinger. These small establishments operated out of houses, providing music and entertainment to people from both within and outside the neighborhood. Mrs. Bellinger ran a cafe at 330 West Main, eventually giving the property to Lone Star Baptist Church. Today, it is used as a fellowship hall.

post office is today.

Pappy’s Showland on West Commerce brought big-name acts to the neighborhood. Open from 1946 to 1958, the club featured singing, dancing, and wrestling, as well as dedicated nights for African Americans. In addition to Pappy’s, the Lincoln Inn Dance Hall owned by Mr. Adel, the Ice House, the Donut House, several filling stations, Continental Bowling Lanes, the Coconut Grove Club, The lake on the levee offered our families the Boat Show, and the Big Slide all fresh fish often, as did the Coombs Creek provided food and entertainment for Retention Basin where the West Dallas West Main residents.


top 1942 - The Majestic and Melba Theatres on Elm Street were also popular destinations for entertainment. Image courtesy of the Farm Security Administration

above 1958 - Friendly Ladies Social and Charity Club’s 5th Annual Spring Dance at Pappy’s Showland Night Club Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library


top 1952 - Pappy’s Showland at 500 West Commerce Street Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library


4

5 IN W. MA

CITY

3

S LIMIT

7

HASL

AN PIT TM

BURR AVENUE

CHESNUT

TOPEKA

ET T

W. MAIN

9

W. COMMERCE STREET

1

Ice house

2 3 4 5

RT

FO

OR

E AV

W

10

HASLETT

PITTMAN

CEDAR HILL AVENUE

E

NU

TH

BURR

POLLARD

S. THOMAS

11

8

12

Mrs. Laura’s store

Mr. Choice’s house/barber shop

13

Mrs. Floyd’s beauty shop

Junk yard

14

Mr. Floyd’s washateria

Lonestar Baptist Church

15

Iron & Steel Company

Mrs. Bellinger’s cafe

16

Rambo’s cafe

6

Mr. SK’s cafe

17

Mrs. Sister’s cafe

7

Lumberyard

18

Shamrock gas station

8

Pappy’s Showland

9

Mr. Fisher’s grocery store

10

Motor Lodge

11

Semo’s Restaurant

POWELL


17

13 2

E)

] PANY WALES

M AY CO RAILW

HENRY

AS [DALL

TALLIAFERRO

U AVEN

REPUBLIC

GATE

1

E NU VE YA

IN W. MA

EN (GOLD

E KL

16 14

C BE N.

15 12

CITY

S LIMIT

EET

E STR

MERC

M W. CO

WINK

BEATRICE

LANGFORD

HARDWICK

MAY

SULPHUR

HARBIN

N. BECKLEY AVENUE

SULPH

UR

MAY

18

Map compiled from aerial images and Sanborn Fire Insurance maps

1950


right Fred Douglass School, viewed from Bayonne Street Image courtesy of the Dallas Independent School District

Fred Douglass School Fred Douglass School was the “lynch pin� that held the children together. No stone went unturned. If you were not taught manners at home, you learned them in school. We had to learn. Our teachers invested their hearts into the students. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, we were taught science, art, and music. Dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, West Dallas Colored School No. 3 was renamed in 1902 in honor of the abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass. The

school initially consisted of a single small building located at the corner of what was then Lindsley and Pine (today Duluth at Winnetka); by 1949, Fred Douglass had expanded into a network of interconnected buildings and covered pathways spanning across two blocks. The school functioned as a social hub for the neighborhood, hosting numerous events such as annual May Day festivities, local scout troop activities, and Texas Public School Week. Following integration in the 1960s, the population of the school changed as


some students were bused to Sidney Lanier while white and Hispanic students began to attend Fred Douglass. Amidst a whirlwind of change surrounding desegregation in 1975, it was determined Fred Douglass would be closed and replaced by a newer facility, Lorenzo De Zavala. At the time of its closure, Fred Douglass and its neighbor, Benito Juarez, were the only remaining frame schoolhouses in the district.


top 1961 - Outdoor bathroom sinks, Fred Douglass School Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library

above 1952 - Students riding in the Fred Douglass car at the Texas State Fair Negro Achievement Day Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library


top 1950 - Fred Douglass students participating in the WFAA Quizdown Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library

above 1950 - Boy Scouts 40th anniversary flag raising ceremony, Fred Douglass School Image courtesy of the Dallas Public Library


top 1977 - Fred Douglass Class of 1977, one of the last to attend the school Image courtesy of the Dallas Mexican American Historical League


right 2013 - Lone Star Baptist Church today

Lone Star Baptist Church Mrs. Bertha Anthony became the original founder of the Lone Star Baptist Church when she started holding church meetings in her home in early 1939. As the fellowship grew, she and her husband were able to convince the landowner to sell the property at 323 West Main Street to build a church for our community. Services were held in a tent at first, which was replaced by a wood frame building. By June 14, 1939, the original church was constructed and the first pastor to preside there was Reverend Huff. The story behind this union started when Mrs. Anthony and her daughter Betty Anthony walked from West Main across

Sylvan to Chihuahua Street in West Dallas and asked Reverend Huff if he was willing to be the preacher and he agreed. On July 1, 1946 the church was rebuilt and the first marker is still embedded on the exterior of the current church building. Mrs. Missie’s Hole on the levee was the place you were taken for baptism. After the new building was erected in 1963, all baptisms were performed in the pool inside the church.


top c. 1960s - Interior of Lone Star Baptist Church Image courtesy of Jessie Hunt


The church people and the preachers kept an eye out for all the people, offering financial donations for those in need. As members of the church moved away, the congregation began to shrink and the late Reverend A. C. Johnson considered closing the church in the mid-1990s. However, the church remains open today and received its most recent renovation in March 2013.

top Reverend and members of the Lone Star choir Image courtesy of Betty Darden left Mrs. Bertha Anthony, one of the founders of Lone Star Baptist Church Image courtesy of Betty Darden


right Image courtesy of Betty Darden

Mrs. Betty Darden Mrs. Betty Darden was born on West Main Street. Her family, the Anthonys, had previously been renting a house on Easley Street in South Dallas and decided that their money would be better spent on a new home. They purchased a lot on West Main and began building. The family had previously attended Mount Horum Baptist Church in Oak Cliff, but found the distance to be a problem once they moved. This inspired Mrs. Bertha Anthony to start a Sunday School in their living room in 1939, which led to the creation of the Lone Star Baptist Church.

back a line full of fish longer than he was tall with each trip between the levees. This spirit of sharing helped build a strong community on West Main. “We were a family. We helped one another. We loved everybody on the street. If one killed a hog, the other one had it. That’s just the way it worked.”

Education was very important to the Anthonys. Mrs. Darden attended Fred Douglass, then Booker T. Washington and Lincoln High Schools, where she was a member of the track and basketball teams. Though she moved away from West Main in the late 1940s, she came back every Sunday to visit her family and Mr. Anthony kept the family and the sing in the church choir until her mother rest of the street well-fed by keeping chickens and guineas in the backyard. He passed away in 1975. also fished in the Trinity River, bringing


right 2011 - Large parcels of vacant land make up much of West Main Street today.

Uncertain Future Many people began to move away from West Main Street when the fight for Civil Rights was blooming. Oak Cliff was considered “the place to live,” and West Main residents were drawn to the newer homes and more populous community. By the 1980s, half of West Main’s elderly residents had passed and the property owners, who had previously maintained residential dwellings, began tearing down many of the houses. No further improvements to the homes or street were made. During this time, Mr. Leffall ran a hole-

in-the-wall café night and day that drew much of the traffic on West Main. And while light industrial businesses had always existed around West Main, their presence began to grow as residents moved away and sold their homes. The Taxi Cab Company opened a repair and storage garage where Dal-Hart Trucking Company once was, and several auto repair shops opened. West Main’s isolation also attracted undesirable activities that had a negative impact on those who remained. Trash companies dumped trash in open


containers at the corner of West Main and Pittman Streets. AT&T and Sprint ran cable under our properties without permission, not informing the residents of their actions until years later.


Now we face the biggest challenge, and that is the new economic development that will forever change the West Main community.

opened to the public on March 29, 2012.

West Dallas’s newfound position in the spotlight brought speculation and uncertainty about the future of In 1998, the Trinity Parkway Corridor the neighborhood. As interest in the Major Transportation Investment Study area has grown with the success of called for the extension of Woodall new developments along Singleton Rodgers Freeway over the Trinity River to Boulevard, real estate developers have Singleton Boulevard, a measure intended begun to purchase vacant land on West to relieve traffic from I-35E and I-30 and Main. provide an alternate route west during Today only 15 estates of the original the reconstruction of the I-30 bridge. families remain a part of the West Main Construction began on the Margaret community and are in the possession Hunt Hill Bridge in 2007, and the bridge of their children, including the Leffall,


Hutchison, Sanders, Hicks, Scott, Lewis, Young, Nealy, Houston, Rambo, White, McGree, Choice, Greer, and Howard families, as well as the Lone Star Baptist Church.

top 2012 - Opening ceremonies for the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge featured the Parade of Giants, representing important figures from West Dallas’s past. Image courtesy of the Trinity Trust left 2012 - The newly completed Maragaret Hunt Hill Bridge connecting downtown with Singleton Boulevard. Image courtesy of the Trinity Trust


OAD RAILR CIFIC N PA UNIO

4

REET AN ST PITTM

BEAVER STREET

YUMA COURT

6

HASLETT STREET

YUMA STREET

TOPEKA AVENUE

EVANSTON AVENUE

5

1

Contractor’s Iron and Steel Company

2

Mr. Choice’s house

3

Mrs. Jessie Hunt’s house

4

Lonestar Baptist Church

5

Hutchison family house

6

Gloco filling station

7

Dallas West Mobile Home/RV Park

8

Mission Motor Lodge

FOY DRIVE

WILEMON DRIVE

7

FAMOUS DRIVE

8

WESTWARD STREET

TH OR W RT O F

EASTUS DRIVE

POLLARD STREET

UE EN AV

PITTMAN STREET

W. COMMERCE STREET

YORKTOWN STREET


E NU VE YA LE CK BE N.

2

T STREE

1 3

BEATRICE STREET WINK STREET

N. BECKLEY AVENUE

POWELL STREET

MAY STREET

SULPHUR STREET

HARBIN STREET

HARDWICK STREET

T TREE RCE S MME W. CO

LANGFORD STREET

IN W. MA

Map compiled from aerial images and data from the Environmental Systems Research Institute

2013


115 - 119 - Irene Bacon

124 - Jamie Choice

133 - Topletz Investments

202 - Elzo Daniels

223 - 235 - Matt Hartman, Laura White, Tony Rogers

241 - Pablo Morales & Guadalupe Carrillo


129 - Etta Lee Thomas

131 - Dora Rios

208 - Mrs. Jessie Hunt, McGree family

219 - Pablo Reyna

247 - Kenneth Sherman Electric

210 - 256 - Contractors Iron & Steel


249 - HMK Ltd., Louise Strange

251 - HMK Ltd.

263 - Nealy family

266 - Sharon Young

322 - Joe Scott

323 - Lone Star Baptist Church


253 - Rambo family

258 - Houston family

300 - Scott Haws

319 - Lewis family

325 - Lone Star Baptist Church

330 - Lone Star Baptist Church


330 - Lone Star Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, formerly Mrs. Bellinger’s cafe

331 - Lone Star Baptist Church

338 - J. W. Cunningham

339 - 353 - Matt Hartman

419 - HMK Ltd.

507 - Hutchison family


336 - Sanders family

337 - John Kelly

415 - HMK Ltd.

417 - HMK Ltd.

509 - Leffall family


References & Resources Books Payne, Darwin. Dallas, an Illustrated History. Woodland Hills, CA: Windson Publications,1982. Print. Government Documents City of Dallas CityDesign Studio. West Dallas Dream / Sueño de West Dallas. Dallas, TX: City of Dallas, 2009. City of Dallas CityDesign Studio. West Dallas Urban Structures and Guidelines. Dallas, TX: City of Dallas, 2011. City of Dallas Department of Planning and Urban Development. West Dallas Comprehensive Land Use Study. Dallas, TX: City of Dallas, 1999. Kessler, George. A City Plan for Dallas. Report of the Park Board, Dallas, TX, 1911. Rosenstein, Joseph. Report of West Dallas Survey. Dallas, TX: Council of Social Agencies of Dallas, 1948. United States Department of Commerce. Census Bureau. Census of the United States. Dallas, TX Population and Housing Characteristics, 1910-1990. Interviews Brown, Gloria. Personal interview. 6 January 2012. Choice, Jamie. Personal interview. 12 December 2011. Darden, Betty. Personal interview. 20 March 2013. Hunt, Jessie. Personal interview. 6 March 2013. Hutchison, Paula. Personal interview. 16 November 2011. Manuscript Collections Murphy & Bolanz Block and Addition Books, Dallas Public Library, Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division. Maps and Images Aerial Image of Dallas. 1930. Photograph. Fairchild Survey, Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University. Dallas, Texas. Map. Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1867-1970 – Texas. Proquest Information and Learning, 2001. Environmental Systems Research Institute. ArcGIS. Version 10. Redlands, CA: 2012. Environmental Systems Research Institute. Community Analyst. Redlands, CA: 2012. Marion Butts: Lens on Dallas Image Collection. Dallas Public Library, Texas/Dallas History and Archives Division. Miscellaneous Furlong, John N., Greg Ajemian, and Tommie McPherson. “History of the Dallas Floodway.” ASCE Texas Section Meeting. Westin City Center, Dallas, TX: 26 September 2003. Web. The Dallas Morning News, 1904 - 2013. Accessed through the Dallas Public Library.


Thank you to the following; without your participation, Neighborhood Stories: West Main would not have been possible: Thank you to the West Main neighborhood Gloria Brown Jamie Choice Betty Darden (Anthony) Jessie Hunt (McGree) Paula Hutchison John Kelly Dallas Independent School District Dallas Municipal Archives Dallas Public Library, Texas/Dallas History & Archives Division Lone Star Baptist Church

Neighborhood Stories: West Main is one in a series of projects celebrating Dallas’s diverse neighborhoods. It has been an honor and a privilege to prepare this work. We look forward to hearing your story. To find out more, please call 214.252.2900 or visit our website at bcworkshop.org.


©2013


Neighborhood Stories: West Main