On Sunday, January 10th I sat across from three resting bulldozers. Between us are scattered piles of logs that once composed the GC & SF railroad trestle. For 125 years this trestle successfully spanned the Trinity river. As I draw, I am connecting to what was, what is now, and what will be no longer. The freshly splintered wood perfumes the air with creosote and cypress sap. Then the wind turns, and the pungent diesel fumes fill my nose and sting my eyes.
2204 S Riverfront Blvd. Dallas TX.
Built in 1841 to protect the first settlers of Tarrant County, the Fort was strategically located down river from what was once the largest Caddo village in Texas. In 1842 Sam Houston made the journey from Austin to Bird’s Fort to hold a peace council and sign a Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Unfortunately, fearing a trap the Native American chefs did not attend. In 1887, the land was developed as the Callaway Lake Hunting and Fishing Club. By 1969 the renamed Arlington Sportsman’s Club bulldozed the remains of the Bird’s Fort and installed a swimming pool. The abandoned club is now owned by a real estate development firm.
Meadow Hawk Drive, Arlington TX.
Built upon cement pillars, Highway 310 towers above the old growth hardwood forest south of downtown Dallas. From the highway a cascade of plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, shoes, tires, car bumpers, lockboxes, fireproof safes, and ATM machines rain down. Beneath this rubbish was once a farmstead, beneath the farmstead was once a village, beneath the village was for one season a family sitting by a fire cooking fish and mussels. The remains of that long ago meal, the charcoal, bits of brittle bone and blanched shells form an unmistakable midden in the strata of the Trinity riverbank.
Great Trinity Forest, Dallas, TX.
Winfrey Point is a plot of land with a deep history. Sited on the east shore of White Rock Lake this acreage began as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp from 1939 - 1942. The Us Army used it as a training camp from 1942 - 1943. A tall fence was then constructed and the barracks were converted into a German POW camp 1943 - 1945. After the war the Southern Methodist University used it briefly for student housing 1946 - 1947. In 1957 after a group of students blew up one of the barracks the remaining buildings were removed. It's now a baseball field over.
Winfrey Point 950 E. Lawther dr. Dallas TX.
Civilian Conservation Corps camp at White Rock Lake, 1939 - 1942. Us Army camp 1942 - 1943. German POW camp 1943 - 1945. SMU student housing 1946 - 1947. After students blew up one of the barracks in 1957 the remaining buildings were removed. It's now a baseball field.
Winfrey Point 950 E. Lawther dr. Dallas TX.
On March 3, 1910 a mob broke into the courtroom, grabbed Allen Brooks, a 65 year old African American and threw him out of the second floor window. The angry crowd waiting below beat and kicked him senseless. Then someone yelled "Take him to the arch." After dragging him to the corner of Main street and Akard Mr. Brooks' body was hung from a light post. No one was arrested or convicted for the lynching.
Old Red Courthouse, Dallas TX.
The three story Elk's Arch was built in 1908 for the National Convention for the Fraternal Order of the Elks held in Dallas. So in 1910 when someone yelled "Take him to the arch" the mob knew to drug Allen Brooks' limp body to the intersection of Main and Akard. There, Mr. Brooks was stripped naked and hung from a light post where his body was inflected with more brutalities. The event was capture by photographers who later sold the images as souvenir lynching postcards. No one was arrested or convicted for the lynching and murder of Allen Brooks. The Elk's Arch was moved to the State Fair grounds in 1911. By the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition the Arch was gone.
While drawing the JFK Memorial I thought back to when I was about 6 or 7. Walking up to this massive white stone block for the first time I was excited to see the grand sculpture that must be inside. The emptiness was such an extreme let down that I clearly recall the feeling. It remained on my most disliked public sculpture list 20+ years later when I had to report for jury duty... More later.
I have seen the famous historic photograph of Jack Ruby shooting Harvey Oswald by the Dallas Times Herald news photographer Robert H. Jackson a hundred times. I have driven down Commerce Street thousands of times but until February 2021 I have never connected this garage door with the event captured in the photograph. Now, this door shines like a dark beacon reminding me how hate and intolerance can turn to tragedy.
2009 Commerce St. Dallas TX.
Opening on June 14, 1892 as the high school for all African American kids living in the Dallas, the Colored High School No. 1 quickly became the pride of Freedman’s Town. This pride was reflected in the names of local establishments: The High School Theater, High School Café, High School Tailor Shop, High School Shine Parlor, and High School Cold Drink Stand. The school building was demolished in 1973 when the City of Dallas widened Central Expressway.
2015 N Hall St. Dallas TX.
The High School Theater established in 1920 was built across the street from the Colored High School No. 1. The ubiquitous name makes it very difficult to find any background information on this theater’s history. The building was demolished by the City of Dallas to make room for the expansion of Central Expressway.
3211 Cochran St. Dallas TX.
When the Grand Central Theater opened its doors in 1919 it was advertised as “The First Negro Moving Picture Show in Dallas”. Owner John Harris teamed up with early African American film producer Oscar Micheax to produce numerous “Colored” films. The building was torn down when the City of Dallas widened Central Expressway.
405 – 407 N Central Expressway, Dallas TX.
Built across the Trinity river next to Miller’s Ferry, the Houston & Texas Central railroad bridge has been a historically important asset to shipping goods in and out of Dallas. The clay river bottom still holds the splinted wood pillars from the older bridge. The wood pillars were supplanted by massive, solid brick piers. During the latest bridge improvements, the piers where too difficult to remove so the new concrete extensions were simply added to the top. This is one of the few places in Dallas where the city’s long history is laid out like a picture book.
6500 S. Central Expressway, Dallas TX.
Little Egypt was a Freedmen's town located in East Dallas not far from White Rock Lake. Freed slaves Jeff and Hanna Hill founded the 35 acre town in 1865. By 1960 the estimated population was 23 families consisting of about 200 people. Despite the development of the surrounding neighborhoods, Little Egypt still had dirt streets, with most homes not having indoor plumbing, gas and even some without electricity. In November 1961 the Shopping Center Syndicate offered to buy Little Egypt. Fearing the city of Dallas would condemn the properties, the community patriarch William Hill and Little Egypt Baptists Church Trustee Sarah Robinson encouraged the residents to take the buyout.
The shopping Center Syndicate paid each land owner a minimum of $6500 plus moving expenses. On May 15, 1962 moving trucks showed up and everyone was moved to their new homes. Demolition began the next day...
The Austin Bridge Company Service Equipment was contracted with the United States to manufacture magnesium bombs. Employing 1200 people, 85% women working in three shifts a day, seven days a week they manufactured 29,524,975 bombs. The factory blew up between shift changes on Dec 15,1943. A pilot flying over Houston 250 miles away reported seeing the flash. The building was quickly rebuilt and back in production until Aug. 14, 1944 when Japan sued for peace.
Henry Barrow brought his wife and two sons to Dallas in hopes of finding work. They moved into a shantytown under the Continental Street Viaduct. Henry and the boys made money collecting scrap metal. Things changed for the better when Henry’s wagon was hit by a car killing his mule and destroying the wagon. The money he received in settlement was enough to build the Star Service Gas Station on Singleton Ave.
Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge, Dallas, TX.
Location of United Mirror and Glass Company where Clyde Barrow worked from 1926-1928 before he meet Bonnie Parker and starting the Barrow Gang. Interestingly Bonnie was working as a waitress a few blocks away during this time. They didn't meet until late 1929. Today the lot is populated by the Traveling Man sculpture and some chrome chicks by Brad Oldham and Brandon Oldenburg.
2606 Swiss Ave. Dallas TX.
Hargrave's Cafe 3308 Swiss Ave, Dallas, TX. Bonnie Parker worked here as a waitress before she meet Clyde Barrow. Jan. 1928-1929. They didn't meet here even though Clyde was working just seven blocks away. When they did meet they become the notorious Bonnie and Clyde.
3308 Swiss Circle, Dallas, TX.
The Star Service Gas Station was the childhood home of Clyde Barrow of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde. His father, Henry built this gas station from money collected after his mule and wagon were run over by a car. This part of Oak Cliff was locally known as the Devil's Backdoor due to the high percentage of transient thugs for hire living in this often flooded neighborhood. Did Clyde feel any emotional connection with this family home and all those other gas stations that his Barrow Gang held up?
1221 Singleton Blvd. Dallas TX.
The Lillie McBride "Shootout House"
Local law enforcement was staking out this house waiting to snag a small time thief when Clyde Barrow of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde Barrow Gang walked up to the porch. Guns were pulled and shoots were fired. Deputy Malcolm Davis was killed. Clyde made his escape when Lillie ran out the door yelling "Don't shoot my babies!"
3111 Winnetka Ave. Dallas, TX.
Reverchon Park, Dallas, TX. Forgotten stone retaining wall built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Named after Julien Reverchon who was a botanist and a member of the La Reunion settlement. The park has seen some sad days when it was over run by drug dealers, but it's hillside stone pathways, bridges and picnics tables make it a master piece of the CCC skills.
Bluitt Sanitarium was built, owned and operated by former slave Dr. Benjamin R. Bluitt. Opening in 1904 several professionals served the growing medical needs of the growing African American community. It closed sometime around 1914.
2034 Commerce st. Dallas TX
Somewhere along Prairie Creek is the hideout cave of Belle Starr.The cave had wood support beams and ceiling making it big enough to comfortably hide several people and their horse for a few days. There was also a fresh spring pool created by a stone dam. The cave collapsed a long time ago, but there are reports that the dam is still visible. On my day of searching I think I was close but the creek banks are covered in dense privet and poison ivy so I sat and drew these boulders with their exposed fossil shells and thought about riding a horse down this beautiful creek to a hidden cave.
Crawford Memorial Park, Pleasant Grove, TX.
Juanita Craft Civil Rights House. Among Juanita Craft's long lists of battles and achievements she also helped organize over 200 NAACP chapters in Texas, and she was instrumental in organizing the 1955 picket of the Negro Achievement day at the State Fair of Texas, which at that time still had segregated venues and rides.
I am just now learning about her, and feel stupid that I was so unaware for this dynamic person and her legacy of fighting for equality, justice and love. Truly a great person and a hero.
2618 Warren Ave. Dallas TX.
The Pea Patch Prison, 1929 -1935, was a workhouse prison for non-violent offenders. Workers paid off fines at $1.00 a day. They cleared and laid gravel for the original Lawther Drive.
Upon closing in 1935 a local judge said "The passing of the farm will bring a tear to the eyes of ex-dope addicts, who were cured of the habit by hard work and a proper diet.
Behind the White Rock Pump Station, Dallas TX.
The black plastic wrapped Confederate memorial looks like a bad Christo sculpture knock off. Commissioned by the Daughters of the confederacy in 1896. It was the oldest public sculpture in Dallas. It was moved to this location in front of the Dallas Convention Center when the I30 highway was widened in 1957. Gov. Mike Rawlings organized a city task force to look into its removal in 2016. The task force voted 11- 4 to dismantle the monument. I drew this picture on May 13, 2020. In June I heard it was finally removed. I'll have to drop by and do a follow up drawing.
Pioneer Park Cemetery, 1201 Marilla st. Dallas, TX.