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:

Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church at 400 Hemphill.

The building, designed by Conrad Hoeffler, was completed in 1912.


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 at 1300 Hemphill at 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 at 1400 Hemphill 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. According to Tarrant Appraisal District, that property is owned by the late Joe Evans of the Evans Roma (Gypsy) clan. The bungalow, trimmed in cast stone, was built about 1925 for George Bound, who owned an electric fan company.

chimney hemphillA chimney of the Carnes Court Apartments (1918). Alva R. Carnes was a traveling salesman. The twin buildings were later part of the Edna Gladney complex. Today the buildings house The Bastion catering company.

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.

Before texting and sexting came billing and cooing. In 1908, when south Hemphill Street was still sparsely settled and Chase Court was newly developed, Chase Court’s wall along Hemphill was a favorite trysting place.

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 dormer dwellers. (Last time I looked, these guys were AWOL.)

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 at 3301 Hemphill is an office of Transportes San Miguel, a bus service to Mexico.

That building (1929) once housed Hemp-Shaw Service Station, so-named because of its location at Hemphill and Shaw streets. Shaw Street is named for the family who operated a large dairy in the area. OLV was built on Shaw land.

In 1901 the Fort Worth Register published a profile of the dairy industry in Fort Worth, proclaiming that among more than thirty dairies in Fort Worth, Ideal Dairy of the five Shaw brothers was one of the largest in the nation.

clarke house 2015

At 2800 Hemphill is the former home of school board president George C. Clarke, for whom the nearby elementary school (1914) on Shaw Street is named. Clarke also developed real estate, including Hemphill Heights and Hubbard Heights additions and, with the Shaw brothers in 1907, Shaw Heights and Shaw-Clarke additions.

In 1925 this new sanctuary (Sanguinet and Staats) greatly enlarged Hemphill Presbyterian Church (1911) at 1701 Hemphill at Allen Street.

Reeves-Walker house (1908) at 2200 Hemphill 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 Lowden Street, the entry columns of the Jennings-May-St. Louis neighborhood.

The 4200 block of Hemphill crosses Anthony Street. Under Anthony Street today runs the storm drain tunnel that replaced the creek that once fed Katy Lake.

At the east end of Anthony Street a storm drain channel feeds runoff into a tunnel that passes under La Gran Plaza to an outlet on the east side of the South Freeway and thence to Sycamore Creek.

At the south end of Hemphill the Quartermaster Depot was built in 1942 as a distribution center for the military during World War II.

The project was announced in 1941 a few months before Pearl Harbor.

And just a few months after Pearl Harbor, the War Department authorized enlargement of the depot, which was still under construction. The depot opened in May 1942. In addition to its military population, the depot employed more than two thousand civilians. Late in the war the depot housed German and Italian POWs. After the war the depot was used to receive the remains of U.S. soldiers killed overseas.

The depot covered a square mile from James Avenue to the Katy track. It was the nation’s third-largest military supply center.

These 1947 aerial photos show part of the depot, mostly east of Hemphill. (Photos from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

Spurs of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas and the Santa Fe railroads were extended to the depot. Fort Worth was chosen as the site of the depot in part because it was a railroad and meatpacking center. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

A house (1925) at 4405 Hemphill. 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 the south end of Hemphill Street, 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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