TEXAS OVER TIME: The Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building, 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Tx.


By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

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.


Located on 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas, is the old Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building. It was completed in 1916, and was headquarters for the Texas Telephone Company through 1927. The company was incorporated on September 24, 1914, and its president was J.B. Earle. It was an independent, Waco based entity that began after merging with five smaller telephone systems located across Central (Lorena, Mart, McGregor, Moody, Waco, and West), South, and East Texas. Some of the companies the T.T.C. merged with include the Brazos Valley Telegraph and Telephone Co., and the South Texas Telephone Company. The 1914 merger proved to be very successful, and resulted in the Texas Telephone Company serving 34 towns in Texas, spreading north to the Oklahoma border, and south to the Gulf. According to the Waco Chamber of Commerce News, January 1920, the Texas Telephone Company “has an investment of 5 million dollars ($64.9 million in 2020) in telephone properties in Waco and a number of other cities and towns in Central Texas, is managed by Waco men; and many of its stockholders and bondholders are citizens of Waco and Central Texas, and it occupies, as its general offices in Waco, one of the most modern telephone exchange buildings of the size in the country.”

The construction of Waco’s Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building at North 9th Street grew out of a 1916 merger when this company bought out the Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company of Waco. This consolidated Waco’s two telephone systems and more space was needed for them to operate. In regards to the recent construction of the building, the Waco Chamber of Commerce News, January 1920, reported: “The company at that time erected a very complete and modern telephone building, installing new equipment throughout, and practically rebuilding the entire plant [telephone system] in this city.” Further, by 1920, the Texas Telephone Company employed approximately 700 people, including those in Waco, and beyond. However, even with such a successful start, the local company would soon merge with an even bigger telephone entity. The Waco-based Texas Telephone Company was bought out on December 31, 1927, by Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. The North 9th Street building was then used by Bell until a larger one was constructed in 1948, and located next door on 824 Washington Avenue. Today, the old T.T.C. building and the Southwestern Bell building are both used by the McLennan County Archives for their operations and records storage.


The “Then in 1916” picture in the image sequence below shows: the Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, unknown, Waco Chamber of Commerce News, January 1920, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view in 2020 by GH.


The “Then in 1916” picture in the image sequence below shows: the Texas Telephone Company Exchange Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-758.2.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view in 2020 by GH.


The “Then in 1916” picture in the image sequence below shows: Moving into The Texas Telephone Company headquarters, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-497.2.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. Same view in 2020 by GH.


 

The Texas Telephone Company Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. This image was taken from the roof-top of the structure which had a rest area for employees. The Amicable (Alico) Building is seen in the distance. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-785.1.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

The Texas Telephone Company Building, located at 119 North 9th Street, Waco, Texas. This image was taken from the roof-top of the structure which had a rest area for employees. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-796.1.tif, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

From humble beginnings: The Texas Telephone Company merged with the Brazos Valley Telephone and Telegraph Company in the 1910s. Shown is one of their buildings in nearby Oglesby, Texas. This picture is dated August 8, 1917. Photographer, E.C. Blomeyer, E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, tx-phoarch-blomeyer_3886-wctsa-756.2.tif., The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

 

Works Sourced:

E.C. Blomeyer Photographic collection #3886, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

“Texas Telephone Co., Waco, Texas.” “Standard Corporation Service, Daily Revised” (May 1-December 31, 1914): 260. Accessed September 28, 2020.

“Waco Chamber of Commerce News.,” January 1920, Volume 1 Number 9, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

United States Department of the Interior National Park Service. National Register of Historic Places RegistrationWaco Downtown Historic District. Available at: https://www.thc.texas.gov/public/upload/preserve/survey/highway/Waco%20Downtown%20Historic%20District%20Waco.pdf

 

Texas Over Time: Miller Cotton Mills (L.L. Sams Building) at 100 Years, 1920-2020, Waco, Texas

 

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University. 

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: St. Francis on the Brazos Catholic Church, Waco, Texas

 

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

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: The Waco Suspension Bridge at 150 Years, 1870-2020, Waco, Texas.

 

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

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: The McLennan County Courthouse, 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

Format Image

 

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