Thursday, August 29, 2013

El Rancho-Tel

"Texas' Finest Motor Court"
U.S. 77 North   -   6131 Harry Hines Blvd.
Phone D4-4818, Dallas Texas

Not just your average motor court, this 16-unit motel built in 1942 was designed by Dallas architect Charles Dilbeck, known for his Art Moderne and Early Texas Modern styles in Dallas neighborhoods. At the time of its opening the motel was "three miles north of Dallas" and must've made for a pretty pastoral setting for the weary traveler. The exterior used brick salvaged from the wrecking of the Worth Hotel (I don't think this was related the Worth Hotel located in Carrollton. There was a Worth Hotel in Fort Worth at one time.) The interior was furnished in a western motif, and the property was enclosed by an old time rail fence and decorated with cattle brands and old wagon wheels. 

Harry Hines wasn't so pastoral in the 1960s and in 1970 a group of doctors purchased the site and several adjoining tracts in order to build a 120,000 square foot medical office building. The site today is part of the Southwestern Medical Center.

To get an idea of what may have been lost here's a 1930's home in Dallas designed by Dilbeck,  listed for sale in February 2013 for $1,600,000 and this article talks a bit more about Dilbeck's work.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mayfair Hotel

or "Hotel Mayfair", depending on the year. Ross at St. Paul

The Mayfair Hotel opened in March 1927. It was a ten-story building with 132 and 18 apartments. Tucker & McQueen were the contractors, owners and builders, and Jack Tucker managed the joint. It was built of reinforced concrete, and the front was a red-patterned brick with stone trim. Too bad you can't see details of the front facade. The sky garden depicted on this old postcard looks interesting though.

The hotel was a quiet family-type place, the kind of place a woman traveling to Dallas alone in the "olden times" could be safe in. Many apartments had full kitchen facilities and some guests lived there full time. In the beginning the place got a lot of show business folks who would sing and perform for the rest of the guests in the lobby. Real friendly and homey.

As more larger hotels popped up, and as motels proliferated, people just wanted a room for the night and business fell off. The owner decided to imitate fancy hotels he'd seen in Las Vegas, and he changed the kitchens in the efficiency apartments into dressing rooms. It helped for awhile, but by the late 1960s the hotel was only about 40% occupied. The Mayfair was slated to close in April 1970, with all of its furnishings to be sold.

An undated video on YouTube shows the demolition of the old hotel.

Notice St. Paul at Ross has changed to Ross at St. Paul. Which street are You more familiar with?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Green Elephant Bar & Grill

love life - dig yourself - experience

"The Elephant" was located somewhere on Yale Blvd, back before they changed the name so out-of towners could find the George Bush Library at SMU. Its lifespan coincided somewhat with that of the "Friends" TV show, from 1990 to Dec 2004. It was named after a logo on the side of a trailer and catered primarily to the partying collegiate crowd. It lost its lease for the Yale site, and apparently found no suitable location to continue.

From an article in the Dallas Observer by Eric Celeste: Like most college bars, The Elephant, as it was know, made its reputation on cheap-drink happy hours--$1 screwdrivers on Thursdays were particularly fun--and late-night drunk fests. But the pub had other characteristics that endeared it to patrons long after they graduated. The food was always great--one of its former chefs, a binker, opened a fine-dining restaurant on Knox Street. The vibe was trippy; the decor was hippy. It had a '60s theme, including a "Pita, Paul & Mary" on the menu.

The Observer mentioned a few folks they felt would be particularly missed: Brad, Peter, Shannon, JoAnn, Adam, Bones, Cason, Fish, Misty, Stephanie K1 and K2, and the Hot Fat Girl. Salud!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Olympia Laundry and Dry Cleaning Co.

Corner Hill and East Side

Olympia Towel Supply Company was incorporated in 1921 by George Elson, a 26-year Greek immigrant, and his partners R.A. Drake, and Albert Walker. Elson seems to have flirted with the retail laundry business during the 1930s, but by 1949 returned to towel supply. After he died in 1950 his son, Charles Elson ran the business.

In 1960 the Laundry was still going strong as Olympia Laundry and Towel Supply Company. They supplied clean linens for many of the finer restaurants in Dallas, averaging 14,000 table cloths and 40,000 large dinner napkins per week. The last year I found a listing for Olympia was 1968.

There's an old brick building at the corner of Hill Ave. and East Side with a front door set diagonally to the corner, which looks as if it could have housed a laundry at one time.

George Elson, founder of Olympia Laundry