Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 21, Number 1, Spring, 2009 Page: 3
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lb reams fulfilled and dreams unrealized. The history of Dallas, as with any city, is filled with both. In
this issue of Legacies we publish three articles based on papers presented at the recent 10th Annual
Legacies Dallas History Conference. All deal with dreams of various sorts. The first recalls downtown
department stores, a now largely vanished cornerstone of Dallas's retail economy, where so many con-
sumer dreams came true. The second recounts an unfulfilled dream to construct a downtown hotel
designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. And the third focuses on a hotel that did get built-the Fairmont-
and its fondly remembered Venetian Room, which, during its heyday, showcased a long list of entertain-
ment legends who created evenings of magic for their audiences.
In "Going Downtown To Shop,"Jackie McElhaney examines the histories of five department stores:
E. M. Kahn, Sanger Brothers, A. Harris, Titche-Goettinger, and Volk Brothers. These stores brought to
Dallas-area customers an unprecedented assortment of goods, all under one roof, including clothing,
accessories, furniture, household appliances, rugs, toys, and books.They offered seasonal displays, programs
for adults and children, food service, and free home delivery. One store would even custom make
draperies in a truck parked in the customer's driveway.
Going downtown by streetcar, bus, or automobile to shop at these department stores was a habit for
decades.Then, almost overnight (or so it seemed), the downtown stores closed, following their customers
to suburban shopping centers and malls. The grand, multi-storied "palaces of commerce" sat empty, if
they survived at all, until finally finding new lives as loft apartments, offices, or educational facilities.
As Dallas debates the construction of a convention hotel, it's interesting to recall a planned hotel that
never got built.The Rogers Lacy Hotel, as described by Charles Marshall in "Where Dallas Once Stood,"
would almost certainly have been a landmark, the first high-rise structure built from a design by famed
architect Frank Lloyd Wright. But Rogers Lacy apparently had second thoughts about Wright's design,
and then he died, so the project was abandoned.Today the site is a parking garage. And just a block away
sits the abandoned Statler-Hilton Hotel, constructed only a couple years later. One can only wonder if
Wright's posthumous renown would have encouraged better preservation of a neighboring hotel
designed by him.
Building the Fairmont Hotel is the story of another frustrated dream. Conceived as a luxury apart-
ment building, the structure stalled when financing problems arose, and work idled for three years. Finally
the Fairmont stepped in and finished construction, nearly eight years after work began. As Sam Childers
recounts in "The Place To Be," the hotel'sVenetian Room brought to life another sort of dream, or fan-
tasy, with its Italian murals and gondola buffet table. And the entertainers who performed there brought
with them more dreams, of Broadway, Hollywood, and romance.
While this is Charles Marshall's first article in Legacies, it's Sam Childers' fourth major one (plus sev-
eral profiles). And we are proud to publish Jackie McElhaney's ninth major article here. To read some of
their earlier work, plus that of other contributors during our first twenty years of publication, I encourage
you to visit the online digital archives at the University of North Texas Podrtal to Texas History. The
address is: http://texashistory.unt.edu/browse/collection/LHUNT. This will bring up all past issues, in
chronological order. But one can also research a specific topic by typing a keyword in the search box.
Speaking of dreams-when we launched Legacies twenty years ago, we never dreamed we would still
be publishing today. We owe large debts of gratitude to the institutional sponsors and generous under-
writers who have provided the essential financial support. And to the historians who keep researching
and writing about fascinating aspects of our region's history. And especially to the readers whose positive
response makes it all worthwhile.
-Michael I. Hazel
Sprinb 2009 LEGACIES 3
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Dallas Heritage Village. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 21, Number 1, Spring, 2009, periodical, 2009; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth66966/m1/5/: accessed February 19, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.