Swiss Avenue – The Eymann House
Swiss Avenue was first planned in 1907, and was the first deed-restricted community in Texas. It was also the first in Dallas to require utilities to be sent to the back of the house, so the view of the homes wouldn’t be marred by an ugly utility pole.
Deed restrictions included that the minimum cost to build would be at least $10,000 (at a time when the average family spent less than $700 a year) and that the owner must build the home to live in, not for resale.
As was common nationwide at the time, there were also deed restrictions that the homes be owned by whites only. In 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that racial restrictions were unenforceable, but it was not outlawed until 1968 in the Fair Housing Act. There have been some attempts at the state level, notably by California, to get these restrictions struck from the deeds, but there has been little momentum behind it.
There was a trolley that serviced the neighborhood to downtown. A rail spur ran through an alley, for the convenience of those residents who had a private rail car. I think the equivalent today would be a helicopter landing site, like Ross Perot Jr. has on his ranch in the Southlake area.
The area was designated a historical district in the 1970’s, and has a very active neighborhood board. One home is used for events, but the rest remain private homes. A friend was married there some years back, but it looks like there’s been a neighborhood brawl over that issue that has thankfully been resolved.
Some notable early residents included R. C. Stubbs, a concrete contractor with a patent on bonding new concrete to old, and Dr. John Bourland, an obstetrician who invented an incubator for preemie babies. Many prominent lawyers, pastors, and executives (especially the for Magnolia Oil Company and Neiman Marcus store) lived there.
These are more or less what I was envisioning when I described the Eymann house. The home sit back and up from the street (a minimum of 70 feet back) and a grand boulevard of trees separate the two sides of the street.
Ice Man – Ice houses and 7-11
The idea to make Gerald Eymann an ice mogul came from looking around at what would be an unusual way to make money now, that was fairly common place back in the time. I landed on ice manufacturing, which was a necessary part of keeping food edible at the time. (Here’s an exterior picture of an ice plant in Dallas.)
If you’re interested in learning more about iceboxes, and how the ice industry evolved and some great details of the daily ice man, this was a great resource. It does have more of a focus on natural ice harvesting, but I like learning about exotic stuff like that too 😉
Ice houses started turning into the modern convenience store in the late 1920’s, although I’ve found several conflicting accounts of the same events. The general idea, though, is that the Southland Corporation was the first company to make a concerted effort to do this, starting in 1927, and by the early 1930’s it was the focus of the company, with the stores called Tote’em.
This is an in-depth look at the business structure of the Southland Corporation, and how it evolved, as well as some background on other ice manufacturers.
This has some great pictures of the early Tote’em stores that turned into 7-11, and some family background about the man that led Southland Corporation into the future. Another thing I found interesting, was that by 1936 these Tote’em stores were the number one seller of dairy products in the Dallas area. Considering that milk was still delivered at the time, that surprised me.
And, finally, here is a fantastic picture of an ice delivery man I found on Pinterest. He looks completely modern to me, but it was taken in the early teens, if I remember correctly. I’ll have to see if I can find the original to credit it properly. Look at the cigarettes tucked into the hat band!