Texas over Time: Camp MacArthur

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.

• Named after Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, the camp was opened July 18th, 1917, to train men demobilized from service on the Mexican border at the end of World War I. It was in service for less than three years when it was abandoned on May 15, 1919.
• As well as a demobilization facility, Camp MacArthur served as an officer’s training school and an infantry replacement training camp.
• Located in northwest Waco, local businessmen helped to create a 10,700-acre complex from cotton fields and blackland farms.
• The estimated cost was five million dollars and included a base hospital, administration offices, tent housing for troops, and other military personnel buildings.
• The first commander was Major General James Parker who formed the 32nd U.S. Infantry Division later known as “Les Terribles” for their “successful, tenacious attacks” on enemy troops in Langres, France.
• The camp’s capacity could occupy over 45,000 troops but never exceeded 28,000 troops at a time.
• After the establishment of Camp MacArthur, the large influx of soldiers helped stimulate Waco’s economy until the Great Depression. The military presence also heavily influenced Waco’s Cotton Palace Exposition with an exhibit of a “bullet-ridden German biplane.”

Works Cited
• Kelley, Dayton. “Camp MacArthur.” The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas. Waco, TX: Texian, 1972. 47. Print.
• Amanda Sawyer, “Camp MacArthur,” Waco History, accessed July 6, 2016, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/48.
• Stanton, John. “Camp MacArthur.” FortWiki. MediaWiki, 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 July 2016.
• Handbook of Texas Online, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, “Camp MacArthur,” accessed July 07, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qcc27.

See the still images in our Flickr set.

1966: The Year Waco’s ALICO Building Meets Mid-Century Modern

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

Amicable (ALICO) Building, Waco, TX., c. 1926
This Fred Gildersleeve image shows the Amicable Building in about 1926. Waco’s famous Old Corner Drug Store occupied a wing of the street level at the time. This same part of the building is still attached, as can be noticed in the modern image of the structure below. The original design of the front and side facades are evident, as well as the original design of the first few upper floors. General photo files: Waco–Business–Amicable Life Insurance Building (Exterior).

Between 1958 and 1978, Waco underwent major changes through the federally funded Urban Renewal Agency of Waco. Areas impacted included numerous city blocks between LaSalle Avenue and Waco Drive. The project greatly affected the city’s people, businesses, schools, and buildings.

Between 1964 and 1966, the city’s landmark ALICO (American Life Insurance Company) Building received major updates as well. The largest and most significant addition to the structure was the ALICO Inn and its convention facilities. The 22-story ALICO Building, originally known as the Amicable Building, was completed in 1911, and designed by architects Roy E. Lane and Sanguinet & Staats. When built, it was the tallest office building in the southwestern United States. Its location was once in the city’s central business district, and it was a vital part of the city’s economy. To remain that way, it needed to keep pace with the rapidly changing business climate of Waco in the 1950s and ’60s.

The ALICO Center Building, ALICO Inn, Waco, TX, 1966 (6)
This view from 5th Street shows the changes in architecture to the original ALICO office building and adjoining conference center and hotel. Most of the façade still remains, but seeing the 1966 structure helps give an idea of the architects’ original intent with the building’s design. General photo files: Waco–Urban Renewal–Business–Alico Center.

With the closing of the Roosevelt Hotel and its conversion into a retirement facility, more downtown hotels were needed, and the Waco Chamber of Commerce was receptive to ideas like the creation of the ALICO Center. The city wanted to attract conventions and shoppers to the downtown area. The center’s proposal was initiated by 29-year-old architect Jay Frank Powell, owner of Down-Tel Corp., a company specializing in building motels in downtown areas. According to the September 20, 1964, Waco Tribune-Herald, the Waco Chamber, when presented with the ALICO Center plan: “pounced on Powell like a piece of beef dangled before a starving lion.”

The ALICO Center Building, ALICO Inn, Waco, TX, 1966 (8)
A passing image of the ALICO Inn and Conference Center soon after construction in about 1966. The view from Austin Avenue was far different from what had been there before the addition. General photo files: Waco–Urban Renewal–Business–Alico Center.

When completed in 1966, the ALICO Center Inn contained 115 rooms for overnight guests, a second-floor meeting room that would seat 250 in a banquet or 1,000 to 1,200 people auditorium-style. It was described as a “downtown motor hotel with convention facilities, a motor bank and a five-story parking garage.” The ALICO Center was designed to match its changing surroundings, including part of Austin Avenue’s closure to make it into a pedestrian mall, another part of the Waco Urban Renewal Agency’s planning. [Check out our blog post on that subject.]

At the 1964 ALICO Center groundbreaking ceremony, the president of the Amicable Life Insurance Company, Franklin Smith, stated, “it will be not only a step toward completion of ALICO Center, but mark the beginning of a new atmosphere and a new enthusiasm in downtown Waco.” Additionally, Waco’s then mayor, Roger Conger, compared the event “to the historic groundbreaking for the Amicable Building more than 50 years ago.”

The ALICO Center Building, Hilton Inn, Waco, TX, Sep. 1971 (2)
The lower façade of the main ALICO Building fits in well with the recently dedicated Austin Avenue Pedestrian Mall, as seen here in 1971. In order to attract more shoppers who would park and walk, vehicular traffic was not allowed on certain parts of Austin Avenue. General photo files: Waco–Urban Renewal–Business–Alico Center.

The end result, completed in 1966, changed the design of the original 1911 ALICO Building, with the new hotel, convention center, parking garage, and motor bank, joined directly to it. As a result, the ALICO Center’s additions took up nearly the entire 400 block of Austin Avenue—stretching much of the complex back to Washington Avenue. Overall, it was impressive and imposing—different in every aspect of what that side of the 400 block of Austin Avenue looked like before. The entire redesign of the 1966 ALICO Center seemed well balanced in appearance—and represented the mid-century modern architectural style frequently seen during the period.

However, the ALICO Center as it appeared in 1966 is no longer. The hotel and convention center were demolished in about 1998, and the space is now used as a parking lot. The main vintage 1911 building and parking garage complex remain, and retain most of the later modifications. This includes much of the 1966 addition’s facade at street level, wrapping around Austin Avenue, the parking garage along 5th Street, and back to the Washington Avenue side of the complex.

The ALICO Building, 425 Austin Avenue, Waco, TX, 2015 (3)
What’s noticeable in this 2015 image of the ALICO Building is the lack of the hotel and convention center. The structure once joining the main building took up a large portion of the 400 block of Austin Avenue and extended back to Washington. The 5-story parking garage and section built for the motor bank are still present. The hotel and convention complex was demolished in about 1998 and is now a parking lot. Photo taken by Texas Collection staff.

In spring 2016, it will be fifty years since the ALICO Center opened for operations. The main building is now 104 years old. The structure has, and remains successful and its exterior is a mixture of old and “new.” Most importantly, it continues to be Waco’s most prominent downtown landmark.

Occupiers of the Inn and Conference Center at 411 Austin Avenue, according to Waco Polk City Directories include:

*ALICO Inn: 1966-1970
*Hilton Inn: 1970-1971
*Waco Plaza Motel: 1972-1978
*Brazos Inn: 1979-1982
*Rodeway Inn: 1983-1984
*Brazos Inn: 1985-1991
*Brittney Hotel: 1992-1994
*Vacant: 1995-1997
*Mark Domangue and Associates Security Brokers: 1998
*Building demolished around this time period-disappears from the records: 1999

See more images of the different looks of the ALICO building over time in our Flickr set.


Created with flickr slideshow.

 

Sources

“Architect Will Reach Goal In Building of ALICO Center,” The Waco Tribune-Herald (Waco, TX.), Sep. 20, 1964.

“New Era Seen as Work Begins on Huge Motel,” The Waco News-Tribune (Waco, TX.), Dec. 8, 1964.

“ALICO Keeps Pace with Time,” The Baylor Lariat (Waco, TX.), Feb 26, 1966.

“Charles Hunton-Hilton Inn Manager,” The Waco Citizen (Waco, TX.), Nov. 20, 1969.

“Conventions at Brazos,” The Waco Citizen (Waco, TX.), Mar. 10, 1981.

“Rodeway Now Brazos Inn,” The Waco Citizen (Waco, TX.), Feb. 19, 1985.

Texas over Time: ALICO building, Waco

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. 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.

ALICO construction GIFConstruction photos by Gildersleeve, 1911; modern photo (photographer unknown), 1984

  • The ALICO, now a Waco landmark, was started in 1910 and completed in 1911, by the architecture firm Sanguinet and Staats, with the help of famous architect Roy Ellsworth Lane.
  • The parcel of land that the building currently sits on at the intersection of 5th and Austin Ave was home to several things before the ALICO came along. The first recorded use of the land was a small pond that served as a buffalo watering hole and fishing spot. Around the time of the Civil War, the pond had dried up, and a blacksmith shop was built by W.E. Oakes. The site was eventually home to a bank, which was present until being torn down to build the ALICO.
  • At 22 stories, the building was so large that people as far away as McGregor could see its construction with binoculars. It even made it into a Ripley’s Believe it or Not comic in the 1930s. At the time of its construction, it was the first skyscraper in Texas, making it the tallest building in Texas. It held this title until the construction of the Magnolia in Dallas in 1922.

Austin Avenue--before and after ALICOAustin Avenue, before (early 1900s) and after (1910s) the ALICO

  • The ALICO was originally the home of and contracted by the Amicable Life Insurance Company, as well as being the home of several prominent lawyers, organizations, and various other businesses such as the Corner Drug Store (creators of Dr Pepper).
  • The building weighs approximately 40 million pounds and required 2,004 freight cars worth of material to construct. The ALICO survived a direct hit by the 1953 tornado due to the wind resistant designs of Roy Lane, even though the RT Dennis building across the street was completely demolished.

Sources:

“The New Amicable Life Building.” Waco Tribune Herald 12 Sep. 1954. Print.

Ryan, Terri Jo, and Randy Fiedler. “The Story of the ALICO Building: 100 Years, 22 Stories and 1 Towering Ego.” Waco Tribune-Herald 28 Apr. 2011. Web. 21 Aug. 2014.

See all of these images (plus a couple bonus ones you won’t want to miss!) on Flickr. GIFs and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant

Texas over Time: Waco Hall Construction

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. 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 Hall construction

  • In 1922, Carroll Chapel and Library had a fire that gutted the building. The library was rebuilt, but without the chapel, so Baylor held its chapel services in other facilities. As the student body grew, it became increasingly difficult to find an adequate space.
  • Due to such building limitations and financial challenges, by 1928 Baylor was considering a move to Dallas—the city had offered $1.5 million in funds and land. In an effort to keep Baylor in Waco, the citizens of Waco pledged $1 million, conditional on the Texas Baptists also pledging $1 million.
  • The first $350,000 was to be raised quickly for the construction of a chapel. Just three weeks later Waco had raised $400,000.
  • Baylor officials broke ground for Waco Hall on June 25, 1929. Work commenced quickly and on May 27, 1930, at commencement, Waco Hall was officially dedicated and named in honor of the city that made the building possible.
  • The building looks a little different now—Roxy Grove Hall (the west wing) was added to the building in 1955, and the east wing was completed in 1965.

Sources

Fred Gildersleeve album, Waco Hall construction. Featured photos dated October 23, November 21, December 5, and December 26, 1929.

“Waco Hall Narrative” by David Eckenrode. Buildings–Waco Hall, Baylor University Subject File.

 

Documenting the “Monster from the Skies”: Photographs Telling the Story of the 1953 Waco Tornado

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

"Monster From The Skies," Waco Tornado, May 1953
“It was so wide and the rain so heavy, it was impossible for anyone in the city to see the funnel approaching.” The cover of this publication demonstrates how T.E. Caldwell of Thornton, Texas, remembers how this storm on May 11, 1953 looked.

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the May 11, 1953, tornado that hit Waco, Texas, causing the deaths of 114 people. To honor those who lost their lives on this tragic day, and the great loss of a large part of Waco’s central business district, we have put on our Flickr page some unseen or seldom seen photographs of the affected areas of Waco, before and after this storm.

This group of images includes digitized 35mm, 4×5 and 8×10 photograph negatives, Kodachrome slides, stereo-slides, and printed photos, and features images captured by Waco photographers such as Hiram Blaine Sherrill, Randall W. Todd, Fred Marlar, and the Army Air Force Photography Division. We also included “before” photos, giving us a sense of what these stricken parts of Waco were like before the catastrophic storm.

Before and After: The Devastation of the 1953 Waco Tornado
The top image, taken by Fred Marlar in about 1951, contrasts with the image below taken by Jimmie Willis of the same vicinity after the 1953 tornado.

Fred Gildersleeve, a well-known Waco photographer, also documented the storm’s wreckage. In a 1977 oral history interview, Waco historian Roger Conger remarked of Gildersleeve that “…Waco was most fortunate in having him here because he rode the crest of Waco’s remarkable development during the first twenty-five or thirty years of this century.” But sadly, just a few years prior to his death in 1958, he also saw the destruction of part of the city he had made a living photographing. He likely lost friends in the tragedy. However, like his earlier work, his documentation of the aftermath of the 1953 Waco Tornado helps to record an important part of the city’s history.

Before and After the Tornado, South Side of Waco, Texas, City Square, 1953 Waco Tornado
Before (1950) and after (1953) the tornado, south side of Waco, Texas, city square, by Fred Gildersleeve

Another photographer whose work is being brought to light is Dr. Hannibal “Joe” Jaworski. He resided in the nearby Roosevelt Hotel (400 Austin Avenue) and had a medical practice on the third floor of the Amicable (ALICO) Building, on the corner of 5th and Austin. In the aftermath of the storm, he led medical care of the wounded at Waco’s Hillcrest Hospital. Jaworski previously served as a colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corp, and so his experience earned during WWII made his contribution vital in helping those injured in this catastrophic natural disaster.

First Responders to the 1953 Waco Tornado (2)
The collapse of the Padgitt’s and RT Dennis buildings onto 5th Street, by Hannibal “Joe” Jaworski

When going to some of these hard-hit areas now, all that remains are some empty lots and historical markers. However, there is nothing like a photograph taken during this time or just before to help us realize why this event was sometimes referred to as the “Monster from the Skies.”

Check out more before and after images of the 1953 Waco tornado in our Flickr slideshow. Click the arrow to make the slideshow start, and click the crosshairs in the bottom right corner to make the slideshow full-screen.

Discover more about the 1953 Waco tornado…

Research Ready: February 2013

Paul Quinn College art class, circa 1916
Paul Quinn College art class, circa 1916. This photo taken by Waco photographer Fred Gildersleeve documents a historically black college formerly housed in Waco. The school was coed, but this class appears to be all men.

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for February:

  • [Waco] Evangelia Settlement Records, 1912-1975: Evangelia Settlement was the first day care program for underprivileged children in Waco. The organization’s records consist of correspondence, legal, financial, and literary manuscripts generated by the  settlement or written about the settlement, along with scrapbooks that contain newspaper clippings and photographs.
  • Gildersleeve-Du Congé Collection, 1910-1918: Former Waco Mayor, Roger Conger, received the extensive collection of Waco photographer Fred A. Gildersleeve
    some time after his death. The subject matter of the photo negatives contained in this collection were either requested by Oscar DuCongé, Waco’s first African-American mayor, or selected by Conger to present as a gift.
  • Francis Gevrier Guittard papers, 1811-1960: This collection contains the personal papers of Dr. Francis Gevrier Guittard, a prominent history professor who served Baylor University for much of the early twentieth century.
Francis Guittard's diploma documenting his PhD from Stanford University, 1931
Francis Guittard’s passion for history and teaching was evidenced by his personal, lifelong devotion to learning. On April 3, 1931, at the age of 64, Guittard received this Ph.D. diploma from Leland Stanford Junior University. His dissertation, also found here at The Texas Collection, examined Theodore Roosevelt’s commitment to conservation.

Research Ready: October 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for October:

Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work
Mary and Oscar Du Congé at work. Their papers document their work, family, and social life in Waco, Texas.
Bolt Family Homestead and Legion Valley massacre scrapbook photo, 1985
Dr. Johnie Reeves at a vista overlooking the Colorado River and the Comanches’ route after the Legion Valley massacre of 1868. Legion Valley is on the other side of the Cedar Mountains in the distance.
  • William Carley Family Collection, 1834-1936, undated: Documenting the Carley family from 1836-1936, this collection includes records about William Carley’s experiences moving to Texas in 1836, his service in the United States-Mexican War, and other events in the life of the family.
  • Oscar “Doc” Norbert and Mary “Kitty” Jacques Du Congé Papers, 1908-1987: This archives consists of manuscripts pertaining to the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Du Congé. Oscar  was the first African-American Mayor of Waco, and his wife, Mary, was a schoolteacher and secretary who was a leader in the community, a socialite, and a volunteer member of many Catholic religious organizations.
  • Wilhelm Esch Collection, 1870-1943: This collection contains certificates of  appointment and of honorable discharge for German-American soldier Wilhelm Esch, photographs and books concerning military life in World War I, items related to the Order of the Elks and miscellaneous WWII items including ration books.
  • Guyler (Lydia Ann English) [Mrs. William] Papers, 1860:  A correspondence between
    Mrs. Lydia A. Guyler (Mrs. William) from General Sam Houston, in response to Mrs. Guyler’s request for Houston to name her daughter.
  • Adolf Hitler Papers, 1938-1943: Our Hitler Papers contain two documents signed by the Chancellor of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler.
  • Benjamin Judson Johnson Papers, 1942-1960: These papers include correspondence, legal documents, literary productions, and artifacts relating to Benjamin’s experience in the U.S. Naval Air Force during World War II.
  • Jones Family Papers, 1857-1867, 1920, undated: The Jones family records consist of correspondence, legal, and financial documents, including fourteen Civil War letters from family members in the 10th Texas Infantry.
  • Luper Family Papers, 1909-1990: The Luper Family Papers are comprised of correspondence, literary productions, and other materials pertaining to a Baptist missionary family and their experiences during the mid-1900s in Portugal, Brazil, and central Texas. (This finding aid is updated with additional materials that came to The Texas Collection after we initially announced the finding aid in June 2012.)
  • Harry Hall Womack, Jr. Papers, 1940-1948: Womack’s papers consist of correspondence and literary productions relating to his experiences in the 1940s. These include medical school, a tour as a doctor in the Army during World War II, and the beginnings of his marriage and family.

Research Ready: August 2012

Each month, we post a processing update to notify our readers about the latest collections that have finding aids online and are primed for research. Here’s the scoop for August:

"Big Auto Race at Cotton Palace Track, 1916"
Pictured is a “Big auto race at Cotton Palace track, 1916”–one of the many attractions held at the Texas Cotton Palace exhibitions in Waco, TX. The Texas Cotton Palace Records cover the life of the exhibition, from 1910 to 1931, and include correspondence, minutes, programs, and many fascinating photographs.
    • Cego German Evangelical Church Records: These records contain the minutes of Cego German Evangelical Church (located in Falls County, Texas), produced by secretary A.A. Miller during the Great Depression.
    • Matthew Ellenberger Papers: The Matthew Ellenberger Papers contain Ellenberger’s research notes and correspondence as well as literary publications concerning Texas Revolutionary Albert C. Horton and American Revolution figures Thomas Walker and Jack Jouett.

      B. H. Carroll on Evangelism--an address at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1906
      A leader among Texas Baptists, B. H. Carroll contributed many years to Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, among other denominational efforts.
    • Texas Cotton Palace Records: This collection contains correspondence, legal and financial documents, literary productions, photographs, and an artifact pertaining to the Texas Cotton Palace and its festivities in Waco, Texas.
  • Benajah Harvey Carroll Papers: The Benajah Harvey “B.H.” Carroll Papers consist of correspondence, financial records, and literary productions regarding the various positions Carroll held throughout his life, including pastor of First Baptist Church in Waco, professor and chairman of the board of trustees of Baylor University, secretary of the Texas Baptist Education Commission, and founder and president of Baylor Theological Seminary/Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Geyser City, Waco: Reading a Photograph of the Crystal Palace Pool

Crystal Palace Pool, 1910s, Franklin Avenue, Waco, Texas
The imposing structures in the background of the Gildersleeve photo are the R.T. Dennis Furniture Co. (left) and the Tom Padgitt Co. (right). Both of these buildings were destroyed in the 1953 tornado that struck the heart of Waco. The portion of the Dennis building was located on Austin Avenue and is now a parking lot. The buildings were so large they were practically back-to-back when they stood.

An old photo allows us to take a dip into the past…and in no image is that comparison more apt than these views of Waco’s Crystal Palace pool! Such an image almost allows you to see, hear, and feel the environment that people experienced many decades ago. By taking one photo (above, by Fred Gildersleeve, circa 1910s) and breaking it down into pieces, we can “read” so much about the former landscape of downtown Waco, Texas, and the city’s history…including one of Waco’s most cherished but now mostly vanished natural resources: artesian well water.

Crystal Palace pool fountain
This fountain was the source of the warm artesian water that flowed into the pool. Due to this natural spring and its widespread use, Waco was known as “Geyser City.”
Crystal Palace pool, streetview
The second deck entrance is directly from South 5th Street at ground level. Notice the cars visible here and how much below street level the pool was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crystal Palace pool had its source of water from one of the city’s many natural artesian wells. A pipe can be seen where this natural resource freely flowed (above, left). Maybe a little too freely, as the people of Waco would learn.

The first artesian well in Waco was drilled by J.D. Bell in 1886. Bell later established the Bell Water Company and in 1904 it was sold to the city of Waco. Many more wells were drilled and consequently, Waco became known as “Geyser City.” This name was well deserved as it was recorded in 1890 that one of this city’s wells was 1,800 feet deep and had an output of 1.5 million gallons of water per day!

This natural resource supplied business needs such as the water supply for the Amicable (Alico) Building. Additionally, it supplied the nearby Artesian Bottling Co. that later became the Dr Pepper Bottling Co. The Natatorium Hotel boasted Waco’s first indoor pool being supplied by this same artesian water. These warm natural waters were even purported to have medicinal effects when consumed or used for bathing.

But in the 1920s the artesian wells below downtown Waco began to run dry and could no longer sustain a constant supply for water-based establishments such as the Crystal Palace pool. Factors for their demise included more demand from changes in population, the arrival of Camp MacArthur in 1918, and the constant strain from various businesses.

Waco ISD building, Franklin Avenue
The pool was located where the Waco Independent School District administration now stands at 501 Franklin Avenue. If you were to walk down the street today in the area of the Crystal Palace pool’s former location, you also would see the South 5th Street side of the City of Waco Water Office at 425 Franklin.
Pedestrian walkway connecting Waco ISD building to the Waco water office, Franklin Avenue
Present day: Seen above is the current pedestrian walkway from the WISD Administration building that many decades ago had it existed would have transported one to the Tom Padgitt Co. building. The City of Waco Water Office at 425 Franklin now stands in its place.

Gildersleeve took his picture with a large format view camera that used 8×10 film to capture the image. The digital version seen here was scanned from Gildersleeve’s original 8×10 inch cellulose nitrate negative now held in The Texas Collection. (We’ve digitized many of our Gildersleeve prints if you’re interested in seeing more views of Waco in the first half of the 1900s. We now are working on processing the many negatives we also house.)

Crystal Palace pool diving girl
Why is this young girl about to dive into the pool wearing shoes and socks? We are guessing that Gildersleeve had her pose for the image. (And we love her bathing cap!)

The remarkable detail of the photo is due to the size of the negative that Gildersleeve’s large format camera used; a high-resolution digital scan makes it even more amazing! Indeed, even today’s digital cameras would be hard-pressed to match the kind of detail seen in this nearly 100 year-old image. The artesian waters dissipated, but we still have wonderful photos like this one to preserve Waco’s history as the Geyser City.

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator