The “Other” Main Streets: From Pep Boys to Doughboys (Part 4)

Today, while everyone else is downtown on the final day of Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, we conclude our tour of the “other” Main streets with a second look at North Main Street (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Ellis Pecan Company building (1924).

ellis 2 windows

In 1924 Fort Worth’s Ku Klux Klan Klavern 101, one of the largest KKK lodges in the state, built a lodge hall on North Main. The auditorium seated four thousand. On October 18 escape artist Harry Houdini took the stage to ask the question “Can the dead speak to the living?” Three weeks later, on November 6, the hall was destroyed by a fire of suspicious origin. The hall was quickly rebuilt, but in 1931, as Klan membership dwindled, the KKK sold the building to the Leonard brothers to use as a warehouse. Later the building housed a boxing arena. In 1946 it was bought by the Ellis Pecan Company. These clips are from the Dallas Morning News and Lewiston, Maine, Daily Sun of November 7, 1924.

calvarioCalvario Funeral Chapel originally was a Shannon facility. Samuel David Shannon, with George Gause, had begun North Side Undertaking Company in 1906.

roseland theater 1914Rose Marine Theater began as Roseland Theater in 1914. Clips are from 1914.

building percy 1909

percy 3-7-9On March 7, 1909 the Star-Telegram announced S. T. Percy’s plan to build at 1424 North Main.

corner mccarthy 1McCarthy Building (1927).

look up googins 1911Googins Building (1911).

building vinnedgeThe Vinnedge Building (1927, Clarkson).

exchange PR wideWhen the city began using telephone exchanges in 1910, the 1909 Cobden Building housed the new Prospect exchange.

Not all the art on Main Street is downtown at the Main St. Fort Worth Arts Festival, y’know. Vaquero de Fort Worth by artists David Newton and Tomas Bustos stands in the traffic triangle on North Main Street at Central Avenue.

And then there’s this painting that graces the front of a pool hall near North Side Drive. This painting always catches my eye. I wish it wouldn’t.

ghost sign dr pepperGhost sign on the New Isis Theater (1935).

isis 1915The New Isis replaced the original Isis Theater when the latter burned. Clip is from 1915.

lodge masonic stockyardsThe building (1910) at 2408 North Main housed Stockyards Masonic Lodge 1244.

Farther north, at Meacham Field (1925), the hangar of American Airways (1933) has been renovated. In 1934 American Airways became American Airlines.

Finally, Fort Worth’s Main Street ends at the Saginaw city limit along Industrial Boulevard. At that intersection looms the Burrus grain mill and elevator. At that mill in 1931 the Light Crust Doughboys were hired by Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel, whose Burrus Mill and Elevator Company sponsored the band. Out of the Doughboys band came Western swing pioneers Bob Wills and Milton Brown.

The Doughboys recorded in a studio at the mill. At first O’Daniel even required that members of the band work at “day jobs” at the mill. Wills drove a truck; Brown was a salesman.

That’s the end of our tour of the eleven miles of the “other” Main streets from Pep Boys to Doughboys, from Manny, Moe, and Jack to Bob, Milton, and Herman (Arnspiger). Oh, by the way, Fort Worth’s Main Street is also U.S. Route 287, which stretches 1,800 miles from Port Arthur up through Crockett, Corsicana, Fort Worth, Saginaw, Wichita Falls, Dumas, and Denver to Choteau, Montana. Y’all go on up there if you want. Me, after eleven miles I’m plumb tuckered. I’m gonna sit here by the tracks and rest, maybe hum a few bars of “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy.”

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