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Welcome Sign & Lookout Tower: 1929

Description: The WELCOME sign was donated to the city of Mineral Wells in 1922 by George Holmgren, President of the Texas Rotary Club, in appreciation for the hospitality extended the Rotary Club at its State Convention in Mineral Wells that year. The caption on the photograph reads: "Reputed to be the largest Non-commercial electric sign in U.S." East Mountain was a popular place for viewing the city, especially for photographers. The lookout tower atop West Mountain (above the WELCOME sign) was destroyed by a tornado in 1930. The Welcome Sign was built by Holmgren in his San Antonio Iron Works in 1922. He gave the sign to the people of Mineral Wells with the understanding that they would maintain the sign and the many light bulbs required to light it. The Mineral Wells Jaycees later replaced the light bulbs with lower-maintenance red neon lights. A Warrant Officer Club Company from Fort Wolters moved the sign from East Mountain in 1972 to the east side of Bald Mountain, where it remains today [2008], lighted with flood lights at its base. It is reported that this sign inspired D.W. Griffith, to promote possibly the most recognizable landmark in the United States, the HOLLYWOOD sign in California, following his visit to Mineral Wells in 1928. Griffith, Producer/Director of the early movie classic, "Birth of a Nation," also produced the "Keystone Kops" comedies. The house in the foreground (an example of Queen Anne architecture, spindle-work sub-type) was the home of druggist Dr. C.F. Yeager. Also in the picture, about half-way up the mountain, is the water tower supplying mineral water to the then new Baker Hotel. The object in the upper-left-hand corner of the picture invites speculation.
Date: 1929
Item Type: Photograph

[Mineral Wells' Municipal Airport]

Description: An aerial View of Mineral Wells Municipal Airport and Downing (named after Colonel Wayne Downing, who was killed in a stateside accident) Heliport is shown here. In 1946, the City of Mineral Wells obtained use of the airport, although the Department of Defense retained an "Emergency-use" provision until 1966--after which year it was not renewed. In April 1966, the Department of Defense leased 970 acres from the City of Mineral Wells to build a heliport ("To improve helicopter training", it was stated) that was due to be completed by September of that year. The Fort Wolters "Trumpet" reported the progress of the construction of the heliport in detail in its subsequent numbers.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[D. W. Griffith]

Description: D. W. Griffith is shown standing on the roof of the new Crazy Hotel, which opened in 1927; and replaced the First Crazy Hotel, which had burned in 1925. Mr. Griffith, who produced silent movies including the "Keystone Kops" comedies, and the classic film "Birth of a Nation", was a guest at the Crazy Hotel while visiting Mineral Wells in 1929. A commemorative postage stamp was issued in his honor on May 27, 1975. Local folklore has it that Mr. Griffith was impressed by the "WELCOME" sign on East Mountain (the world's largest non-commercial, electrically-lighted sign at the time). He developed the "HOLLYWOOD HILLS" addition with other partners when he returned to California, and he erected what is probably the most recognizable landmark in America: The HOLLYWOOD sign now graces Los Angeles. Both signs have survived similar difficult times in their histories. This picture appears on page 19 of A.F. Weaver's "TIME WAS in Mineral Wells", second edition, 1974.
Date: 1929
Item Type: Photograph

[Two Old-Time Stores]

Description: This picture appears to show two stores that stand cheek-by-jowl. A saddlery on the far left shares space with a furniture storethat also sold cofins. The sign over the stores combines their functions in a way that would--under other circumstances--seem comical. The building itself was located at the corner of SE 1st, and South Oak Streets. A note on the photograph states that it was south of the MARTIN BUILDING. It was once the McBrayer-Armstrong Grocery, then later the Nash Hardware store. The location of Lattner eventually became the Buy-Rite store [116 South Oak Avenue, at the corner of SE 1st Street, until some time in the early 1980's]. The road is unpaved, there is no evidence of lighting--except for the lamp mounted on a post at the front of the building. The horse-drawn hearse (without its horse or plumes) suggests that although it was in front of the stores, it was not at the time in use. The picture, therefore, dates from the end of the 19th century--or the earliest 20th century.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[Unloading Grain From Box Cars]

Description: This picture depicts men unloading grain from box cars at the Mineral Wells railroad yards into horse-drawn wagons. During the days if the Great Depression years of the 1930's, grain and cotton were the principal cash crops of farmers around Mineral Wells, and the WMW&NW (Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwest) Railroad was a prime shipper of the crops to market. This photograph is featured on page 92 of A.F. Weaver's "Time Was in Mineral Wells," second edition.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[The Thompson House, at 215 NE 2nd Street]

Description: Shown here is a photograph of the front of the Thompson House (later the "Cunningham House"), a two-story, Queen Anne-style home located at 215 NE 2nd Street in Mineral Wells, Texas, just north of the Baker Hotel. Architectural elements include decorative woodwork around the eaves in the gable ends and across the front porch, and cutaway bays on the left of the photograph. A cupola serves in place of the tower that is characteristic of Queen Anne styles.
Date: February 1974
Item Type: Photograph
Location Info:

Vichy Well Natatorium

Description: An off-season (Winter?) picture of the Vichy Well Natatorium, once located in the 600 block of North Oak Avenue, where North Oak Community Center now [2008] stands is illustrated here. The picture is dated the time around 1900. The Vichy well featured a swimming pool, which it labelled a "Natatorium." Later improvements, when the name was changed to The Standard Well, included a motion-picture theater and a pavilion for dancing. (Note the Dr. A.W. Thompson residence and the Mineral Wells Sanitarium on the right skyline.) A USO was built on this location In World War II for white servicemen at Camp Wolters. The USO building was turned over to the city at the end of the war, and became known as the North Oak Community Center. Preservation efforts are underway [in 2008] to restore the Community Center.
Date: 1900?
Item Type: Photograph

[A Tamale Vendor on Oak and Hubbard]

Description: Fred Estrada "The Mineral Wells Hot Tamale Man" sold "The Best Tamales Anywhere", at 75 cents a dozen, at the corner of Hubbard Street and Oak Avenue for many years. Automobiles, dating from the early-to-mid-twentieth century, and a U.S. Mailbox, may also be seen in the picture. The picture occurs on page 182 of "TIME WAS...", second edition.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[A String and Drum Band]

Description: This picture shows 18 people, 2 of whom appear to be adults. Visible are a snare drum, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, violins, lutes, bass viol and viola--and an anvil. The background appears to be painted. Further information about this band might have been presently [2012 ]lacking.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[The Una McLaughlin Home]

Description: The "Una McLaughlin" home is located on NW 23rd Street. This photograph was taken in July, 1975. Built in 1927 by J.C. Cunningham, an oil operator, the home was sold in 1931 to Judge E.B. Ritchie. It was purchased in 1973 by Una McLaughlin. It has since changed hands several times. It is presently [2014] vacant. The tile in the living room fireplace is the same as used in the Baker Hotel. The tile, stained glass in the breakfast room, and the light fixtures are in the Art Deco style. The architectural style of the house is Italian Renaissance. It shows signs of being remodeled.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[The Woodmen of the World Convention at the Chautauqua]

Description: The caption of this picture, shown on page 50 of "Time Was..." by A. F. Weaver, states: "Part of the Woodmen of the World convention men gathered in front of the Chautauqua [building] for this picture in 1911. Many thousand attended." Note the men perched in two of the trees to the right (and left) of the observer, and also those sitting on top of the sign at the left of the picture. The building itself was demolished, probably during the following year, 1912.
Date: 1911
Item Type: Photograph

[Women in a Truck]

Description: An unknown group of six women is shown posing on a truck. The type of truck is also not known. There are two photographs of this group of women with not a clue concerning who they might have been. The Bimini Bath House (and a horse-drawn wagon) are in the background. See also, the photograph "Five Women on Bridge."
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[W. W. Howard's Hardware Store]

Description: The Howard Hardware store was once located at 101 E. Hubbard Street. The hanging electric lights, the tea table to the left, the double row of "air-tight" stoves ranks down the center aisle all strongly suggest that the photograph was taken in the early twentieth century. The dimness of the photograph makes discerning further items on sale difficult. Persons identified in picture are: Helen Howard, Flora Howard, A. L. Howard and one unidentified person.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[The Arlington Hotel]

Description: The Arlington Hotel--the largest hotel in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas--with its famous thermal baths, is shown here. It is under the regulation of the United States Government. There is a beautiful "Cascade" swimming pool for guests. This picture is taken from a POST CARD titled "Plastichrome [Registered] by COLOUR PICTURES, INC. Boston, 10, Massachusetts U.S.A." The builder of the Baker Hotel spent time here, and he was so impressed with the hotel that he modeled the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells upon this one.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

[A Baseball Team]

Description: This picture shows a men's baseball team in Mineral Wells, but the identification of both the team and the men are unknown. Ike Zablosky (sometimes spelled Zabronski), a Russian immigrant, arrived in America in 1906. He entered the fur-trading business in Mineral Wells, and is credited with naming the Possum Kingdom area when a customer inquired about some premium pelts. Zablosky replied that he had none at the time, but "When my boys return from the possum kingdom, I'm sure they will have some." Zablosky operated a class C professional league baseball team (the Resorters)in Mineral Wells. He became owner of the first professional baseball team in Dallas, later in life. The Chicago White Sox are known to have held their Spring Training camp in Mineral Wells in 1911, and again during a three-year stretch of 1916, 1917, and 1918. It has not been established whether the players shown in this picture represent the Resorters or the White Sox teams. The man in the background, apparently in a World War I uniform, is shown holding an instrument (probably a bugle) whose function has not been determined.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

Jack Amlung

Description: The band in this photograph is identified as "Jack Amlung." It consists of nine players, including its leader. The instruments visible are: A sousaphone; two (?)pianos; a violin; an alto saxophone; a clarinet, a guitar, a bass viol; percussion.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

Pasadena Heights

Description: A July, 1906 plat of "Pasadena Heights, the Home Builders Addition to Mineral Wells, Texas"is illustrated here. Developers of the addition were D. M. Howard, (Co-owner of Mineral Wells' first big department store, Howard Brothers), B. R. Strong, and Frank Richards (manager of the Star Well and owner of an early mineral water crystal plant). Street names were changed in 1912. This area came to be facetiously called "Jackass Flats" by locals. The Brazos Mall is currently [2008] located at the bottom of the plat, Wal-Mart, to the east of the plat. Elmwood Cemetery is at the southwest edge of the plat.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Map

Cafe Royal

Description: The caption on the photograph identifies it as the Cafe Royal. This building that houses it, on the NW corner of NW 1st Avenue and 3rd Streets, was known as the W.E. Mayes Building. Upstairs rooms were rented under the name of the "Carlsbad Hotel" in recognition of the nearby Carlsbad Drinking Pavilion at the opposite (or NE) corner of the block: 700 NW 2nd Avenue. (The first edition of "Time Was in Mineral Wells", page 105, identifies it as the Wells Hotel.)
Date: 1900?
Item Type: Photograph

The Bimini

Description: The Bimini Mineral Baths, at 112 NW 4th Street, was built by Goodrum, Murphy and Croft, contractors in the early 1900's. The Bimini later became the Wagley Bathhouse. Dr. Wagley was an early pharmacist in Mineral Wells. The El Paso Morning Times in 1909 states that the re-building of the Bimini (the building here illustrated) will cost "...over $35,000." What the equivalent amount could be in modern-das dollars remains unknown. Please note the utter lack of automobiles, and the horse-drawn vehicle in front of the bath house. The meaning of the white-ink number "1861" remains to be determined.
Date: 1900?
Item Type: Photograph

[North Oak Avenue ]

Description: A street scene in Mineral Wells (looking north on Oak Avenue) approximately at the corner of North Oak Avenue and West Hubbard Street is shown here. Street car (running from 1907 to 1913) tracks are visible in the foreground, and the guy wires required to keep the power wire of the trolley in place festoon the sky. The Hexagon Hotel (opened in 1897)is visible towards the back of the picture. The Vichy (later the Beach, and then later still, the Standard) well is barely visible across from the Hexagon Hotel. The streets of Mineral Wells were not paved until 1914. Please observe the utter absence of automobiles.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph

Crazy Well, Mineral Wells, Texas

Description: This is a picture of the first Crazy Well drinking pavilion, the first such facility in the city. When a Mr. Wiggins dug the third well in town, it was frequented by a "crazy woman" who was eventually cured of her dementia. Because of the word-of-mouth publicity, people came from miles around to drink the health-giving water. A house was built around the well for the convenience of the customers. The highly successful business attracted competition, and one of the most popular health spas in the nation grew from these beginnings.
Date: 1885
Item Type: Photograph

Exchange Hotel

Description: [The] Exchange Hotel (also known as [The]Plateau in 1909, and later as the Hospital) was built on the site of the Cliff House, which was destroyed by fire. The house to the right was built in 1896 by Dr. A. W. Thompson as a wedding present for his second wife. The Mineral Wells Post Office was built on the vacant lot at the left of the hotel in 1912. The Hotel presents something of a conundrum. An annotation without date states that the Exchange Hotel was destroyed by fire and the Plateau Hotel was built in its place. A notation of 1902 states that the Plateau Hotel was the only brick hotel. A 1907 map shows the Hotel as being at 207 East Coke (Now NE 2nd Avenue) Street. In 1909, a St. Paul Sanitarium was listed at 118 NE 7th Street. .A map of 1912 shows the Plateau Hotel as still being in existence. The city directory of 1920 shows no building in the 200 block--except for the Post Office. A Mineral Wells City Directory of 1924 listed the former Exchange/Plateau building as the Mineral Wells Sanatorium. Dr. A.W. Thompson was still living in the house to the right at the time. In 1924, the Mineral Wells Sanitarium was listed as being at 211 NE 2nd Street, and a Hotel Wilson (with no room for a third building) at 211 NE 2nd Street. In 1928, the Mineral Wells Sanitarium was listed at 211 NE 2nd Street. By 1937, there was no listing in the City Directory. It is presumed that the Hotel/Hospital was finally demolished.
Date: 1900?
Item Type: Photograph

[Mesquite Street]

Description: A picture of Mesquite Street (in 2008: NE 1st Avenue) looking south is illustrated in this picture. The drug store in the picture is the C. F. Yeager Drugstore on the SE corner of Mesquite Street and NE 1st Street. A bank is also visible at the next corner up from the Yeager Drug which is the SE corner of Mesquite and Hubbard Streets. There are people in the middle of the Street, and several horse drawn vehicles, indicating a parade or demonstration of some sort. Since most of the crowd are ladies in period dress at about the turn of the twentieth century, it could be a demonstration for Womens' Suffrage or the Ladies Temperance League demonstrating in favor of prohibition--no signs or placards are apparent.
Date: unknown
Item Type: Photograph