Thursday, June 1, 2017

Who Was Harry Hines? - The Forgotten Harry Hines Memorial


   I took an informal poll yesterday and asked people what was the first thing that came to mind when I mention "Harry Hines"

   Seediness,  notorious, industrial were a few of the otherwise unpleasant descriptions I received about the infamous Dallas boulevard. Fair?  Perhaps.

   Did you know that Harry Hines Boulevard ends in uptown just a block from Klyde Warren Deck Park? Did you ever stop and wonder who was Harry Hines?  Obviously, someone thought he did something noteworthy enough to name a thoroughfare after him, albeit a notorious one.

   I have to admit, I never really thought much about it until I stumbled across this small park near downtown. I use the term stumble, because when I went back with my iPone, I wandered around for 20 minutes trying to find it again.

  The park is at the corner of Harry Hines Boulevard and Ashland, is less than a half acres and has a small monument in the middle. Thousand of cars pass by everyday in this midtown maze of streets but few realize the answer to "Who Was Harry Hines?" sits under a large shade tree.










   The memorial gives us not only insight into who he was, but the high esteem he was given by city leaders. It is also a cautionary tale, be careful where you place your name. The plaque reads:

       "Harry Hines, in whose honor Harry Hines Boulevard was named, served six years as Chairman of the Texas Highway Commission 1935 -1945

      His foresight envisioned the need for a new route north and northwest out of Dallas and carried to culmination what can appropriately be considered Dallas' first step toward a divided expressway system, which will prove a lasting tribute to his vision for our city and state.

   This memorial placed by friends who held him in high esteem and affection

   1886 - 1956






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Monday, April 17, 2017

Fort Worth Finds A Waterfall


   Update:  After years of delay, the Trailhead officially opened on April 22, 2017.  You are free to explore again. 



One might wonder how this waterfall could lay undiscovered for so many years, right in the middle of Fort Worth.

   The waterfall was actually part of Carswell Air Force Base until 1998. When the Base closed, the facility was divided between the new Naval Reserve Base and the city of Westworth Village. Most of the land that went to Westworth Village has been used for housing and shopping (such as new Walmart and Lowe's on Alta Mere). About one tenth of the public parcel, coincidentally the part with the waterfall. was left in its natural state.

    Even after the land became public, few people knew of the falls, mainly due to the fact that access to it was very difficult. Basically, you had to trespass on private land, or walk thru Farmer's Branch Creek to find it. One person who did find it was George Shannon, former president of the Tarrant Regional Water District. Shannon was aware of the waterfall for years and wanted to open access to the public. The Water District spent over $250,000 extending the Trinity Trail to the waterfall. Before that the TRWD spent almost ten years on an erosion control project to preserve the falls.

 

TO FIND THE WATERFALL:
     The easiest way to access the waterfall is from Pumphrey Drive off 183 (Pumphrey Drive is more commonly know as the road to the Carswell Front Gate). Turn on to Pumphrey off White Settlement Road or Alta Mere and head toward the Carswell Front Gate. The trailhead parking lot is on the right.

     At the far edge of the lot, you will see a new footbridge and the beginning of the trail. It is about a ten minute walk to the waterfall. You'll actually approach the waterfall from the top, so you pass it before you actually see it.

 Google Map to Trailhead



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Monday, February 13, 2017

Back From The Brink: The Longhorn Ballroom Is Coming Back

   Built by Bob Wills, once operated by Jack Ruby, the Longhorn Ballroom just south of downtown Dallas has had a storied past. The list of entertainers who have graced their stage run the gamut from Willie Nelson, Ray Charles to the Sex Pistols. 

   The Ballroom has sat mostly empty over the past 10 years, except for the occasional quinceaneras and weddings. Recently the property was bought by businessman Jay LaFrance, who wants to reopen the Longhorn as a music venue in the Summer of 2017. 

   I recently stopped by and got to chat with Western Artist Stylle Read who is updating the giant longhorn and the murals. I snapped a few photos for you to enjoy, including those of the long forgotten Texas Walk of Fame. 

The Western Artist  Stylle Read has been tasked to bring the giant longhorn and the murals up to date. 


Inside the walls on the east side of the compound sits the actual Ballroom


Some of the outside murals that Read will be updating







Behind this fence at the Longhorn Ballroom is a long forgotten 'Walk of Fame'.  A number of performers have been memorialized with stars and a footprint / handprint in cement.  Unfortunately time has not been kind to the display.


In the back of the property behind this white fence, stands the Longhorn's long forgotten Texas Walk of Fame


Of all these stars that indicate a footprint, only two metal stars are still barely readable

The Rusty Wier Star on the Longhorn's Walk of Fame, one of only two that is barely readable

The Johnny Paycheck Star is one of two where the name came be read. 


An up close look at some of the deteriorating stars on the Walk


In the back of the Longhorn property, sits the top frame of the original sign


What the sign once looked like. 


At covered wagon atop the south face wall


Found on the Southwest side of the property 




Address of the Longhorn Ballroom:  216 Corinth Street Road, Dallas, TX 75207





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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Civil Rights Monument Built to Shadow over Fort Worth's KKK Hall





   Above, the Obelisk and final resting place of William McDonald, a prominent African American banker, civic and political leader in Fort Worth for the first part of the 20th Century.  


   Legend has it, that upon his passing, he wanted his monument to be seen from the front steps of Fort Worth's Ku Klux  Klan headquarters. A lasting memory for lifelong advisories. 

  Is the story true? 

  We know a few things are true. First of all, it was reported in a Fort Worth paper at the time of his passing, that McDonald had already chosen his gravesite before his death. 



  Secondly, the old Ku Klux Klan hall still sits on 1013 N. Main Street between downtown and the Stockyards. It has been decades since it was used for a Klan hall. Most remember it as headquarters for the Ellis Pecan Company. Today it's sits abandoned. 

The old Klan Hall on 1013 N. Main Street in Fort Worth. 

   If you stand on the front steps of the old hall, and look to the west, you can see the hill on which the Old Trinity Cemetery sits.  A number of trees have filled in the horizon since McDonald's death in 1950, but it is apparent that at one time, you could see the obelisk as your exited the hall. 

  To find the obelisk and the cemetery,  Use the address 502 Grand Avenue in Fort Worth  and look across the street. 


The Old Trinity Cemetery in Fort Worth 



The historic marker at McDonald's grave



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Friday, October 7, 2016

Missing Art of the Metroplex - What Happened to the Hands of God?


UPDATE:  On October 6th, 2017, the Dallas Morning News announced it was moving it's headquarters to the former Dallas Library which had been vacant since 1982. The building is part of the Statler Hotel redevelopment project across from the Main Street Gardens.
   I thought this would be an appropriate time to remember the 'Hands of God' statue that once graced the Library. The brackets of the statue are still visible on the building. But what happened to the sculpture?  Our story from 2011.

What happened to this man's statue that once adorned the outside of the Dallas Public Library? 

   Downtown Dallas recently received a bit of excellent news. The 1950's era Statler Hotel, which sits vacant across from the new Main Street Garden, was recently purchased for renovation. The building, which was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Most Endangered List, will now be renovated, adding another completed piece to the Downtown puzzle.

  Part of the sale included the neighboring abandoned building, the mid century modern structure which was once  the site of the Dallas Public Library. The library, designed by noted Dallas architect George Dahl was left vacant after the library moved to its current site across from City Hall in 1982.

The old library on the left, the Statler Hotel to the right


  When the original library was built in 1956 on the corner of Commerce and Harwood, noted artist Marshall Fredericks was commissioned to supply a sculpture to capture the essence of the new facility. His idea, a boy supported by the hands of God, holding a book and reaching upwards.



   However, the library board was taken aback when the original drawings of the artwork featured a boy in all his pureness. (In other words, naked) The board requested changes, and the boy was redone, shirtless but with pants. (some may say that this was creepy in a new and different way).

   Frederick's massive aluminum sculpture (seen above) adorned the library's outer wall until it closed in 1983. When the facility was moved, the library's director declined to take the Hands to the new library, still embarrassed over the city ordered modifications, feeling that it was a poor compromise of Fredericks original vision.

   The building was sold and the new owners took possession of the artwork. Sadly, the owner defualted on the mortgage and passed ownership of the building and sculpture back to the bank. Then in late 1993, the bank failed. The sculpture and the old library then passed to the FDIC.

   If you walk by the building today, which is located on the southeast side of Main Street Gardens, you can see the giant brackets that once held the Hands of God. A ghostly outline appears where the statue once hung. What happened to the sculpture?


The brackets and the faded outline on the outside of the old library.

   In 1993, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation offered the Hands back to the city for a mere $20,000. The city declined the offer, stating that it didn't have the funds to move and maintain the sculpture after the purchase.

   Meanwhile, the sculptur, Marshall Fredericks, in his 80's and with his health failing, fearing that the building would be be torn down and the Hands lost forever, asked his namesake museum to purchase the piece. Today, Youth in the Hands of God can be found at the Marshall Fredericks Museum in Saginaw, Michigan along with a variety of other Fredericks pieces. The Hands, seen below, sits safely outside the main gallery.

The sculpture in it's new home in Saginaw , Michigan






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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ruins of the Metroplex: Signs of our Past

   I love when I find an old building that still sports a remnant of it's past, in the form of signage. Especially the classic white letters painted on a black background over brick or metal. 

   Here is a collection of signs of our past, some left by their new owners, others just left to the ravages of time. 


Located at Northwest highway in Dallas near Plano Road. This sign spans the entrance of the old parking lot. Penny Whistle Park was an indoor amusement park that featured rides for very young children 


I spotted this on an renovated building next to Gilley's  in Dallas' Cedars neighborhood.  The Chase Bag Company is long gone but it's sign was left by the current owners. 



Found on Jefferson Ave in Oak Cliff, the recently closed Oak Cliff Hardware, whose sign was reused from a previous furniture store. 





From the Cedars neighborhood just south of downtown. This renovated property kept the Piggly Wiggly and Hotel Sign for their project. 



The Atlas Metal Works in West Dallas at the corner of Sylvan and Singleton. This building is still in use, but the natural decay of their signage often leads motorists to think it's an abandoned property .

In downtown Dallas, between the Convention Center and Union Station, this office building still advertises for it's original tenant

This rooftop bar on Denton not only overlooks the Courthouse Square, it also overlooks the old Evers Hardware sign on the building next door

Spotted on Main Street in Deep Ellum, Carson Warehouse can still be read on the ever fading signage.






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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Update: The Katy Trail Extension


NOTE: The original post is followed by a further update



   Dallas has one of the most extensive bike and jogging trail systems in the U.S. One of the most exciting developments in recent years have been plans to extend the popular Katy Trail to White Rock Lake.


   The plan is to build a bridge over Mockingbird Lane and then have the trail mostly follow the Dart line from Mockingbird Station to White Rock Station on the north side of the lake.
Rendering of the Katy trail Bridge over Mockingbird Ave.

      There has only been a small bit of work done at Mockingbird Lane. It will be the last piece of the trails extention to be completed.  Most people, including myself, would probably be surprised how much work has already been done.

      I noticed a few days ago that a portion of the trail that follows Northwest Highway towards the White Rock Dart Station had already been finished and striped.

This final portion of the Katy Trail Extension runs parallel to Northwest Highway.  It follows the path of an old alley which some homes still use to access their garages.  I wonder how this is going to work.
   I decided to walk the new portion of the trail and follow to where it disappeared from view of Northwest Highway motorist. I discovered that a significant portion of the extension is already finished.

The Katy extension headed north toward Northwest Highway
Standing in the same spot, looking south


   What's interesting is that the trail will follow the Dart Green line from Mockingbird Station until it reaches the as of now undeveloped Union Pacific Trail. A tall ramp will be built to bring the trail down to the rail line. It appears that for now the trail will go north to Northwest Highway, then east to the Dart Station. From there, you take another trail south to the lake. 
   

Pylons being built for a ramp that will lower the trail to the Union Pacific Trail, which is owned by DART

Sadly,  I'm not the only person to discover this portion of the Katy Trail Extension. A tagger has already ruined a portion of the trial. 


   Unlike the original portion of the Katy Trail, this section of the Extension is very secluded. Even though the trail bisects two neighborhoods, it's set considerably lower and gives you a feeling of being out in the country.   
    We are still a few years away from the Extension being completed. The bridge over Mockingbird will be the final piece. In the meantime, joggers and cyclist will still have a considerable amount of trails to discover.


UPDATE:   July  2014

   More sections have been completed, but you'd really have to search to find them.  The bridge that connects the trail from the Dart Line to the Union Pacific Trail toward Northwest Highway has been completed, although it is not open yet.



FACING EAST AT RIDGEWOOD REC CENTER

An unfinished path of the Katy Trail Extension just north of Mockingbird at Fisher Ave and Ridgewood Park.  This is a view facing east.  The trail parallels the Dart line and will turn north toward Northwest Highway via the old Union Pacific Rail Line

A couple of views of the bridge that lowers the trail from street level to the old rail line



FACING WEST AT  RIDGEWOOD REC CENTER

Facing west at Fisher Avenue, the trail travels behind the Ridgewood Rec Center.  A trailhead parking lot is being used as a  construction site

The trail passes buy a new splash park


Headed west, the trail near the Dart Line headed toward Mockingbird Station

    
UPDATE October 2015

    The Bridges over Abrams and Skillman are finally being installed after sitting near Flagpole Hill and Northwest Highway for the past two years.
   The bridge over Skillman now spans that roadway, but as of this post, it is not ready to be crossed.  The trail on the west side of the bridge has yet to be finished.

The first of two bridges, spanning over Skillman

The bridge has been installed but is not ready to cross. 


   The bridge over Abrams has yet to be installed, but the bridge mounts on with side are almost completed. 




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