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D in the Heart of Texas             

Jerry T. Dealey

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The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza (Part 1)

Early History of Texas
The Europeans and American Settlers
John Neely Bryan – And Other Early Founders
Some Wheeling-Dealing to Grow a City
George Bannerman Dealey
The Dallas Morning News is Born
The Great 1908 Flood
G. B. Promotes Other Early Dallas Growth
The "City of Hate"
Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza
The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza
The Elder G. B. Dealey
The Dallas "Citizens Council"
The ‘Right Wing’ Direction of Dallas - "City of Hate" Revisited
A ‘Turn-Around’ for the Dallas Morning News
The Pre-November ‘Hate’ Incidents
Dallas’ Law Enforcement
November 1963, Why Dallas?
Dealey Plaza Changes To-Date

Dealey Plaza itself was built from the railroad tracks and area occupied by the 11 properties located in the two block area west of Houston St. and east of the now non-existing Broadway St. But the other buildings around Dealey Plaza have a varied history of their own. The entire area was designated the Dealey Plaza Historic District in an official act in 1993, and many of these buildings are very familiar to Assassination historians, and other visitors to the site.

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Dealey Plaza in late 1960's. The descriptive text rotates from the Railroad Yards and Grassy Knoll in the lower left.

Going clockwise from the north side of Dealey Plaza starts with the railroad yards, railroad switching tower, parking lot and Grassy Knoll area. Many of the tracks in this area had originally curved to go east and west along what is now Pacific Ave., one block north of Elm St. Pacific Ave. was the right-of-way through Dallas, which was granted to the Texas and Pacific Railroad when they came into the area in the early 1870’s. These tracks were removed in 1923, after a Supreme Court battle. Many of these tracks were owned by the T&PR and the Missouri, Kansas and Texas (MKT) Railroad, as was the parking lot behind the picket fence, which was used by Depository and railroad employees. The Union Terminal Company, which owned Union Terminal located one block south of Dealey Plaza, owned the “Lee Bowers” Switching Tower, located among these tracks. Union Terminal was built in 1916, and consolidated 9 different railroad depots located throughout the city prior to that time, and this tower was occupied by a switching-man, who controlled the tracks. Of course, Lee Bowers was on duty during the assassination, and saw “some sort of disturbance” behind the picket fence in the parking lot overlooking Dealey Plaza.

The current Texas School Book Depository is, of course, the most famous building around Dealey Plaza. The original building was 5 stories, and was built in 1898. It was similar to the looks of the lower 5 stories on the building today, but a fire in 1901 gutted the building. The Rock Island Plow Company of Illinois rebuilt the building and added the 6th and 7th floor that year (1901). This is why the 6th and 7th floors have a different look to them. It’s main entrance and facade was on the south side, facing Elm St. ‘extended’ (the old non-curving Elm St.). The northern side contained a shipping dock, which faced the rails curving onto Pacific Ave. The “Southern Rock Island Plow Co.” was a successor company to the original, and they placed a sign on the upper edges, where the “O”s in the name were ventilation louvers, which can still be seen today. They owned the building until 1937.

David Harold Byrd of Dallas, purchased the TSBD in 1939, and he leased it to a number of tenants during the following years.

By 1963, the building was leased to the Texas School Book Depository Company, a private brokerage firm that warehoused and supplied textbooks to Texas schools. Office space was leased to various textbook companies’ representatives in the building as well.

The TSBD has undergone many changes since 1963. In 1970, the depository moved out of the building, and D. H. Byrd sold the building to Aubrey Mayhew, who intended to turn it into a commercial Assassination related attraction. In 1972, Mayhew defaulted on his payments and the property reverted back to Byrd shortly after a Mayhew employee started a fire that damaged part of the interior. To save a piece of history, Mayhew removed what he thought was the actual sixth floor window frame that Oswald supposedly shot from, replacing it with another identical window from the north wall of the sixth floor. However, Byrd’s descendants also claimed to have the original window, possibly removing it before Mayhew’s purchase of the property in 1970. (The separate window in the Sixth Floor Exhibit today is the Byrd one, which they feel is the authentic one.)

The building continued to decline until Byrd sold it in 1977. It was also considered for demolition, but the city refused to issue a demolition permit. In late 1977, Dallas County used an election bond to buy the building from Byrd. Between 1978 and 1988, the county renovated the bottom 5 floors and used them for county offices. The Hertz sign structure was removed from the roof in 1978, to reduce the damage the wind working on the large sign caused. It continued being stored on the 7th floor, and was replaced on the roof during the shooting of the movie “JFK”.

The Sixth Floor Exhibit (Museum) was decided upon in 1988-89 by Dallas County, in conjunction with the non-profit Dallas County Historical Foundation. It occupies the sixth floor today, and operates and controls an ever-increasing portion of the building as County offices have been moved out.

IE150-1.GIF - 6031 BytesD in the Heart of Texas - Table of Contents
03LEFT.JPG - 1910 Bytes Building the ‘Subway’, Triple Underpass, Dealey Plaza (Part 3)
03RIGHT.JPG - 1880 Bytes The Other Buildings Around Dealey Plaza (Part 2)

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Last edited June 3, 2003