All Along the Avenue: Prime Meridian of the South Side

Stretching five miles from Vickery Boulevard to Loop 820, Hemphill Street runs north to south through the South Side as straight as the prime meridian. It’s the longest thoroughfare of the South Side. Seen along it:

Window of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (1912) at Broadway.


At 1302-1304 Hemphill, this little building housed neighborhood grocery stores early in its career.


William Burts La Cava was a prominent entrepreneur of the near South Side. He lived next door at 1300 Hemphill and built the La Cava Building (see below) there. He had operated grocery stores at the intersection of Hemphill and Magnolia since 1907. Beginning in 1920 he also owned a dry cleaners around the corner at 709 West Magnolia Avenue.

1304-hemphill-1920-pigglyIn 1920 1304 Hemphill became Piggly Wiggly store no. 3.

1304-hemphill-1940-safeway2By 1940 1304 Hemphill Street was a Safeway market. (By 1945 the building at 704 West Magnolia Avenue that today houses the Paris Coffee Shop would be Safeway store no. 335.)

Next door on the corner of Hemphill and West Magnolia is the aforementioned La Cava Building (1927), designed by architect James Black Davies. It housed a drugstore for decades. Davies also designed the South Side Masonic Lodge Building (1925) on Magnolia Avenue and the Western Union Building (1931) on Main Street downtown.

mac school 10-2-21 stJohn Laneri of Fort Worth Macaroni Company (later “O.B. [Our Best] Macaroni Company”) founded this school in 1921. The building now houses Cassata High School.

evans hemphill 1423Psychic advisor and palm reader Abagail B. receives clients in a house at 1423 Hemphill Street that is owned by the Evans Roma (Gypsy) clan.

chimney hemphillA chimney.

building justin bootAt Daggett Avenue, on the block between Hemphill and Jennings streets where Fort Worth High School stood until it burned in 1910, is the huge Justin Boot Company building.

building justin reimers 12-19-15But that building began life in 1911 as the Exline-Reimers printing plant. Clip is from the December 19, 1915 Star-Telegram.

mural paris coffeeMural, circa 2011, on the wall of the venerable Paris Coffee Shop at Magnolia Avenue.

entry columns chase 1906The entrance to Chase Court.

clarke house 2015Former home of school board member George C. Clarke, for whom the nearby school is named.

faces hemphill wide

faces hemphill 2The automotive world has Manny, Moe, and Jack. The entertainment world has Larry, Curly, and Moe. Hemphill Street has these guys.

theater berrytheaters berry white

The Berry Theater originally was the White Theater.

The Sisters of St. Mary of Namur (founded in Belgium in 1819) built their Academy of Our Lady of Victory (1910, Sanguinet and Staats) at Shaw Street as a boarding school. Their St. Ignatius Academy (1889, J. J. Kane) downtown became a day school. OLV offered girls a Christian education and had dorm facilities for 150 students. It later offered classes through junior college. It is now a residential complex for Fort Worth’s creative community.

san miguelAcross the street from OLV is a former gas station (Hemp-Shaw Service Station in 1929) that now is an office of Transportes San Miguel, a bus service to Mexico.

In 1925 this new sanctuary (Sanguinet and Staats) greatly enlarged Hemphill Presbyterian Church (1911) at Allen Street.

Reeves-Walker house (1908) at Lilac Street. The house would later be Ray Crowder Funeral Home.

reeves 1908The house was built by banker William Reeves at a cost of $40,000 ($1 million today).

At the south end of Hemphill the Quartermaster Depot was built in 1942 as a distribution center for the military during World War II. Spurs of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas and the Santa Fe railroads were extended to the depot. The depot covered a square mile from James Avenue to the Katy track. It was the nation’s third-largest military supply center.

A house (1925) at the corner of Broadus Street. I’ve always suspected that Captain Swabbie lives there.

bricks thelinFinally, this industrial bricked street near the South Loop today is named “Thelin,” but it once was part of the prime meridian of the South Side.

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5 Responses to All Along the Avenue: Prime Meridian of the South Side

  1. Colleen says:

    I have always loved Hemphill. It’s a beautiful avenue and I wonder about so many of the buildings.

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