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.

To remain economically viable, it needed to keep pace with the rapidly changing business climate of Waco in the 1960s. For example, structures such as Lake Air Mall were being developed in West Waco and others around Valley Mills Drive. Consequently, the city’s landmark ALICO Building received major exterior updates. The lower street-level façade and the recently constructed Alico Center and parking garage were all given a mid-century inspired design element. In 1964, Waco’s then mayor, Roger Conger, compared the groundbreaking to these facilities and modifications to “the historic groundbreaking for the Amicable building more than fifty years ago [1909].”

The closing down of a section of Austin Avenue to create the Austin Avenue Pedestrian Mall in the late 1960s also put the tall building and facilities at the front and center of one of the city’s many Urban Renewal Projects. However, this pedestrian mall project was short-lived and the street opened to traffic again in the mid-1980s. Adjoining structures with matching Alico Center façades were eventually pulled down. As a result, the building and its parking garage now stand as a lone reminder to this time when mid-century inspired architectural styling met a much older and traditionally designed skyscraper.

 

This Meta Slider shows the Alico Building in about 1926 and a recently taken image. Waco’s famous Old Corner Drug Store once occupied a portion of the building’s ground floor. The original design of the front and side facades are evident as well as the original design of the first few upper floors. Older image taken by Fred Gildersleeve (Waco Amicable Life Insurance Company records), The Texas Collection, Baylor University; and a recent picture by GH.

 

This Meta Slider shows a circa 1960 image by Windy Drum, (Waco Amicable Life Insurance Company records), The Texas Collection, Baylor University; and a recent picture taken by GH.

 

The structure’s upper floors remain virtually unchanged with the exception of the large red ALICO signs on both sides. On another side below the flag and above top windows, the letters A L I C O are placed. Recent photo taken by GH.

 

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

Texas Over Time: McLendon Hardware and Higginbotham Hardware Company Building, Waco, Tx

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.

Higginbotham Hardware/McLendon Hardware Building, Waco, TXContinue Reading

Texas Over Time: “The Raleigh Building, Waco, TX”

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.

The Raleigh Building, Waco, TXContinue Reading

Texas Over Time: “The Roosevelt Tower, Waco, TX”

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.

Continue Reading

Texas over Time: Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, Waco, TX

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.

Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute, Waco, TX

*Dr Pepper, America’s oldest major soft drink brand, had its origins in Waco, Texas.

*The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute is housed in what was originally the Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company. It would later become the first facility to produce the soft drink.

*This structure, located on the corner of 5th and Mary Street, Waco, Texas, was built in 1906 and designed by architect Milton Scott. Its brick walls measure 18 inches in thickness and are supported by a solid timber foundation.


1951 and 2018 Photos by Fred Marlar and GH, The Texas Collection, Baylor University

*Throughout the 20th century the building’s location on Mary Street allowed Dr Pepper easy access to shipping on the route of the St. Louis Southwestern “Cotton Belt” Railroad.

*On May 11, 1953, the structure was damaged by a large tornado that destroyed a section of the city’s central business district and caused the deaths of 114 people. The side of the building still bears the repair work done to the massive brick walls.


May 1953 and 2018 Photos by Unknown (General Slide collection) and GH, The Texas Collection, Baylor University

*The building served as the Dr Pepper Bottling Company for many years. When operations ceased at that location they moved to west Waco. In the 1980s businessmen Wilton Lanning and W.W. Clements conceived the idea to make it a museum dedicated to the soft drink, its history, and the idea of the free enterprise system. The museum opened to the public on May 11, 1991, the 38th anniversary of the tornado.

*At the time of its opening, it was viewed as a catalyst to revive that part of the downtown area. Its continued growth and success have helped Waco to become one of the state’s top tourist destinations.

Works Cited:

Ellis, Harry E., Dr Pepper-King of Beverages. Dallas, TX: Dr Pepper Co. 1986. Print.

Text and Meta Sliders by GH

Texas over Time: Waco Mammoth National Monument, Waco, TX

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 GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

                                Waco Mammoth National Monument

*Two explorers, Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin, were searching for fossils along the Bosque River in the spring of 1978 when they accidentally discovered the large femur bone of a Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi).

*Barron and Bufkin took their discovery to Baylor University’s Strecker Museum, now the Mayborn Museum, where researchers identified the fossils and organized a search team.

*The Mammuthus columbi species lived over 65,000 years ago during the Ice Age and roamed anywhere from Southern Canada to Costa Rica.

*Between 1978 and 1990, the remains of 24 Columbian mammoths, a saber toothed cat, giant tortoise, Western camel and American alligator were all excavated.

*The group of fossils were categorized as a “nursery herd.”

*Jon Bongino, a Baylor graduate student in Geology first believed that all the animals found at the Waco Mammoth Site died in one single catastrophic event. After further investigation of the soil layers, it was determined that three events took place in a short period of time at the site.

*The animals’ involved were trapped in a steep-sided channel and drowned during a period of rapidly rising flood waters from the Bosque River.

*The excavation process was a tedious process, finished by utilizing trowels, brushes and bamboo scrapers.

*The Columbian mammoths weighed seven to eight tons, they were 12 to 14 feet tall and had tusks as long as 16 feet.

*On July 10, 2015, the site officially became the Waco Mammoth National Monument after the President signed an Executive Order to hand management over to the National Park Service.

See the still images in our Flickr set.

Works Cited:

Hetter, Katia. “Texas Mammoth Herd Site Is a New National Monument.” CNN. Cable News Network, 30 June. Web. 13 July 2016.

“History & Culture.” National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 13 July 2016.

Barrow, Jill, and Guy Gandy. Mammoths in Waco: Exploring the Mystery. Waco, TX: Mayborn Museum Complex, Baylor U, 2007. Print.

Text and GIF by Haley Rodriguez

Texas over Time: Texarkana, Texas

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 GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.

Texarkana, Texas

•At the junction of Interstate 30 and U.S. highways 59, 67, 71 and 82 lies the town of Texarkana, Texas.

•The name Texarkana is coined for its location on the Texas

•Arkansas border and proximity to Louisiana.

•There is no certainty where the exact name came from but there were a few theories told over time:

The name’s origin belongs to a steamboat that voyaged the Red River in the late 1800s.

That a man named Swindle in Red Land, Bossier Parish, Louisiana who manufactured a drink called “Texarkana Bitters”
inspired the town’s name.

Or that Col. Gus Knobel, an Iron Mountain surveyor, coined the name while building the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and
Southern Railroad.

•The site that Texarkana lies on is the same site the Caddo Indian village was located. The Great Southwest Trail passed by this village for hundreds of years to the Mississippi River country and back.

•The city’s history and beginning development thrived because of its position on the Texas Arkansas border.

•Plots of land were first sold on Dec. 8, 1873 by the builders of the Texas and Pacific Railroad. The first plot was bought by J.W. Davis.

•State line Avenue separates the north and southbound lanes of this arterial road with the Texas side to the west and Arkansas’ side to the east.

•Bowie County, Texas remains a dry county resulting in several liquor stores lining the Arkansas side of midtown State Line Avenue.

•The city is considered one entity but has two municipalities, including two mayors and two sets of councilmen and city officials.

•There are agreements for joint fire departments, respective state inspections and recreational programs.

•In an eerie light, Texarkana is home to the unsolved

Texarkana Moonlight Murders of spring 1946. The town was sent into a state of panic that summer because of the still unidentified “Phantom Slayer.” The Texas Rangers kept watch over the inhabitants of Texarkana until they quietly and slowly left as so did the Phantom.

Works Cited

Handbook of Texas Online, “Texarkana, TX,” accessed July 18, 2016,

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hdt02.

Newton, Michael. The Texarkana Moonlight Murders: The Unsolved Case of the 1946 Phantom Killer. Jefferson: McFarland &, 2013. Print.

See the still images in our Flickr set.

Text and GIF by Haley Rodriguez