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

Today we continue our tour of North Main Street (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

Ellis Pecan Company building (1924).

In 1924 Fort Worth’s Ku Klux Klan Klavern 101, one of the largest KKK lodges in the state, built a lodge hall on this site 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.

Rose Theater (1918).

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.

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 old New Isis Theater.

At Meacham Field (1925) the hangar of American Airways (1933) has been renovated. In 1934 American Airways became American Airlines.

Fort Worth’s Main Street ends at the Saginaw city limit along Industrial Boulevard. At that intersection looms the Burris Mill grain 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. 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 on the curb and rest, maybe hum a few bars of “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy.”

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