Texas Over Time: The Hammond Laundry Cleaning Machinery and Supply Company of Waco, Texas

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: Rockets with Roots in McGregor, Texas

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: Waco’s Provident Building-Once the Biggest Office Building in Central Texas and Beyond

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” blog series that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: Waco’s Elite Café-the 1952 Renovation and Magnolia Table, Today

 

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Waco’s Elite Café-the 1952 Renovation and Magnolia Table, Today

In about 1920, Waco’s Elite Café began under the operation of brothers Vic, George, and Mike Colias. They were so successful at this original location at 608 Austin Avenue that they decided to open another in 1941, at Waco’s Traffic Circle. This second location proved profitable and led to more “expansion and modernization” making for some significant updates in the year 1952, when the Elite’s first major upgrades were made. To help publicize this, commercial photographer Fred Marlar was hired. The Texas Collection has his original 4×5-inch film negatives of this work and a look back to these pictures and a glimpse of present-day Magnolia Table may help highlight some of these early changes made to this very popular restaurant on Waco’s Traffic Circle.

 

In 1952, the Elite on the Circle received refreshed exterior paint, a new building wing, and a “new glassed in vestibule…so that patrons can wait for their cars out of the weather.” Additionally, The kitchen received major upgrades as well leading Vic Colias to claim: “nothing was spared to make it the finest of its kind in the Southwest.” This included: “ceramic tile wainscoting that adds color and facilitates cleaning. The floor was rebuilt to permit daily steam hosing and scrubbing. The kitchen is arranged so that each bit of food travels in the orderly progression from the time it arrives at the back door to until it is served at the diner.”

 

The newly remodeled kitchen as photographed by Fred Marlar in 1952. Fred Marlar collection #2980, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

To add emphases to the 1952 expansion and modernization of the Elite, the Colias brothers reminded the public of some of their first business “firsts” and some some now must-have needs for central Texas. This included “mechanical refrigeration for perishable foods,” which they introduced in 1921. Additionally, they claimed among the first “refrigerated air-conditioning in 1935,” in their Waco, Austin Avenue restaurant. Once these environmental comforts were firmly in place in the Colias brothers’ restaurants, more attention could be given to style and decor. In 1952, updates to the 11 year-old Elite on the Circle included new booths that were a “neutral shade of plastic which blends with the color scheme.” Further, a new wing was added to the building and was referred to as the “banquet room.” It was advertised as having “wall-to-wall carpeting in a subdued shade of green,” and “gleaming white tablecloths on the new tables that contrast with the rich grey tones of the walls.” This lead the Colias brother’s to state: “the appearance of this dining area exemplifies the name Elite.”

The “all-new and comfortable booths” as photographed by Fred Marlar in 1952. Fred Marlar collection #2980, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
The newly constructed “banquet room” as photographed by Fred Marlar in 1952. Fred Marlar collection #2980, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.
A look inside the Elite’s freezer as photographed by Fred Marlar in 1952. Fred Marlar collection #2980, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Check out this Flickr Set for more pictures of Waco’s Elite Café on the Traffic Circle

Works cited:

“Waco’s Restaurant Elite.” The Waco News-Tribune. May 23, 1952.

 

 

 

Texas Over Time: Baylor University’s Old Main and Burleson Hall

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By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Baylor University’s Main building (1887) and Burleson Hall (1888) were the first two structures built when the institution moved from Independence, TX. Along with Carroll Library (home of The Texas Collection) and Carroll Science Building, both completed in the early 1900’s, these four structures form the Rufus Burleson Quadrangle. This was what comprised the university at one time. Then the institution grew across Fifth Street and behind these structures and well beyond including across the Brazos River. The photographs shown here show some of the changes over time that these buildings have withstood. Although modified and updated, they still stand proudly to this day and are the centerpieces of Baylor University.Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: Paul Quinn College-Waco Campus

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator


Paul Quinn College-Former Waco Campus

The Rapaport Academy Public School and Doris Miller YMCA locations at 1020 Elm Avenue, Waco, TX., are housed on grounds and buildings that were once home to Paul Quinn College. This African American institution was originally started in Austin, TX., in 1872, as the Connectional High School and Institute for Negro Youth. When the school moved to Waco in 1877 on 8th and Mary Streets, it was known as Waco College and taught trades such as blacksmithing, carpentry, and tanning to newly freed slaves. It became Paul Quinn College in 1881 named after Bishop William Paul Quinn, the fourth Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was then relocated to Elm Avenue in east Waco on 20 acres of land that was once part of the Garrison Plantation. By 1979, the operating budget of the college was 2.5 million dollars and operated on funding by the A.M.E. Church, United Negro College Fund, federal funding, and private donations. In 1990, Paul Quinn College moved to Dallas, TX., where it is still in operation. The institution is the oldest liberal arts college for African Americans in the state of Texas. While the previously mentioned institutions house many of the former Quinn campus buildings, William Decker Johnson Hall (below) has remained vacant since the college’s move to Dallas.Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: Waco’s Alico Building-Architecture and a Changing City

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Waco’s Alico Building

The 22-story ALICO Building, also known as the American-Amicable Life Insurance Company Building, was completed in 1911, and designed by architects Roy E. Lane and Sanguinet & Staats. When completed, it was the tallest office building in the southwestern United States. Additionally, its location at 5th and Austin Avenue was once part of the city’s central business district and the building was a vital part of the city’s economy. It even survived a catastrophic and deadly F5 tornado in 1953.Continue Reading

Texas Over Time: Waco Shakespeare Club Monument: “Immortal Be His Name”

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of Meta Slider’s that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, street scenes, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Waco Shakespeare Club Monument, Waco, TX

Along University-Parks Drive near the entrance to Waco’s Cameron Park Zoo lies an easily overlooked memorial that pays tribute to William Shakespeare (1564-1616), perhaps one of the most well-known and acclaimed writers in the English language. How and why is it there? In 1916, on the three hundredth anniversary of his death, the Waco Shakespere Club had it constructed and designed by Paul G. Silber, Sr. According to the Waco Shakespeare Club record’s at The Texas Collection, Baylor University, the organization began in the late 1890s at the Waco home of Kate Harrison Friend and her mother, Arimenta Harrison Friend, “conducting a private school guaranteeing their pupils thoroughness for higher grades.” Here, Kate Friend “…organized a class in the study of Shakespere for the single young ladies of the elite of Waco. Here so much profit and enjoyment was experienced, that on request, a class for young matrons was formed.” Thus officially forming the club in 1899.

Kate Friend also had the distinction of being internationally known as a Shakespeare scholar and authored several works on the subject. In 1900, she won a Shakespeare Association of America competition receiving a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom, Shakespeare’s place of birth. Waco’s Shakespeare memorial still stands as a reminder of the Englishman and “Miss Kate,” founder and director of the Waco Shakespeare Club, editor of Artesia, and animal rights advocate who loved his literary works and helped leave this lasting tribute to the betterment of her community.

Below are photos of just after the site’s construction in 1916, by E.C. Blomeyer, from the E.C. Blomeyer photographic collection #3880, and in 2019, by GH:

 

The memorial reads: “Shakspere! [SIC] Daign to lend thy face this romantic nook to grace where untaught nature sports alone since thou and nature are but one…1899-1916.” One side reads: “Immortal Be His Name, Waco Shakespeare Club, 1899-1916.” Photo by GH, 2018.
Women of the Waco Shakespere Club pose near Cameron Park in the 1920s. Waco Shakespeare Club records #745, Box 5, Folder 2.

 

The Founder and director of the Waco Shakespeare Club, Kate Harrison Friend, circa 1900, Kate Harrison Friend papers #202, Box 2 Folder 9

 

Close-up of memorial inscription, 2018, photo by GH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred Gildersleeve and An Amazing Journey

Format Gallery

by Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

and John Wilson

Fred Gildersleeve, sister-Jessie Ellen Gildersleeve, mother-Sarah Pew Gildersleeve

The man who would become Waco’s most famous photographer, Fred A. Gildersleeve, was born near Boulder, Colorado, on June 30, 1880, to Captain Allen Jesse and Sarah Ellen Pew Gildersleeve. His father, Allen Jesse Gildersleeve was a Civil War veteran having served as a Union Army Captain in the Missouri Cavalry, 14, Regiment, Company D, and died in 1881 at the age of 46. After the father’s death the family moved to Kirksville, Missouri, near the mother’s family. There, young Fred attended the Model School (part of the Normal School) graduating at the age of 16. His photography career began at the age of eighteen when he was given a Kodak box camera by his mother. He photographed students at the school and sold them for twenty-five cents each. In 1903, Gildersleeve graduated from the Illinois College of Photography in Effingham, Illinois, and soon after, his career as a professional photographer began.

In 1905 Fred Gildersleeve came from Texarkana, Arkansas, to Waco to work in the photography business having had a brief photography career in that city. His sister, Jessie Ellen, arrived in Waco around the same time to work as a doctor of Osteopathy. Their mother, Sarah Gildersleeve later joined them and lived with her daughter. Fred married Florence Jennette Boyd on December 24, 1908, in Texarkana, Arkansas, who then joined him in Waco. They had no children.

Fred Gildersleeve became a pioneer in the field of industrial photography in Texas. Examples include his commercial photography from the air in the mid 1910s. He photographed oil fields in Mexia and took the first aerial photos known to exist of Baylor University. His ability to use magnesium powder to create “flashlight” to illuminate night-time photographs broke national records. His 1911 photo of Waco’s Prosperity Banquet set a record for being the largest flash photo ever at that time. The event seated 1200 people and ran the length of two city blocks. His skills at photo enlargement also set records. In 1913, he enlarged a panoramic photograph of Waco’s Texas Cotton Palace to 120 inches wide becoming the largest photo print made up to that time. He had a representative from Eastman Kodak in Rochester, New York, bring him the photo paper to do so. He also photographed the construction of the Amicable Life Insurance Company Building “Alico” in Waco. The structure, being 22 stories tall, held the title of being the tallest building in the Southwestern United States upon construction in 1911.Continue Reading

We Want That Picture! Fred Gildersleeve’s Record Breaking Texas Cotton Palace Print

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

In 1905 or 1906, Fred Gildersleeve came from Texarkana, Arkansas to Waco to work in the photography business. He later became a pioneer in the field of industrial photography in the state. One of his more famous pieces of work was his enlargement of the Texas Cotton Palace Main Building in Waco, Texas. Shown is a picture of the enlargement being processed. At the time, this photograph set a world record among photo prints at 120 inches wide. A representative from Eastman Kodak personally delivered the large roll of photo paper it required and supervised the enlargement process. The photo was exhibited for some time until it was sold for $50.00 to the building’s architect, Roy Ellsworth Lane. Gildersleeve later recalled that was “a good price in those days…as you remember, at that time 1913 the largest enlargement ever made. Eastman Kodak sent George McKay to supervise this. It was written up in Studio Light Magazine and also used this photo.”Continue Reading