Titche-Goettinger Building

Straying Off the Beaten Path in Downtown Dallas – Exploring the Titche-Goettinger Building

Exploring history first-hand and seeing places that are long forgotten is one of my favorite pastimes. This summer, I partnered up with Beth Schon from the lifestyle blog WiseMommies and set out to explore Downtown Dallas and the many notable buildings that make up the cityscape. One of the most notable places we checked out was the Titche-Goettinger building, located at the corner of Elm and St. Paul.  The former location of one of the most well-known department stores in Dallas, the name might sound completely foreign, or it just may bring back fond memories.

Titche-Goettinger Building

Founded in 1902 by Edward Titche and Max Goettinger, this department store sold everything from apparel to housewares to fine china. This building wasn’t their original location- it was actually their third!  The business started off on the corner of Elm and Murphy. In just two years time, they had outgrown their current location, and the store moved to their second location off Main Street. By 1928, Titche’s had outgrown that, so they moved into their flagship store. Eventually, Dillard’s took over the company in 1987. The building was not included in the sale and was closed not too long after. It sat abandoned until 1997, when developers renovated the inside and converted it into loft-style apartments.

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Titche-Goettinger Building
The lobby of the Titche-Goettinger building.

Arriving, we met up with Stephanie Tutt, the assistant manager of the leasing office who offered to show us around. The first place Stephanie showed us was one of the apartments on the second floor.

Titche-Goettinger Building

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One cool thing about here was that many historical aspects of the building have been preserved, even after the extensive renovation! In this particular unit, that cylinder-shaped thing is actually an old rolling door unit dating back to the days of the department store.

Titche-Goettinger Building

A vintage fire protection device of some kind hung from the wall. Maybe a fire pump?

Titche-Goettinger Building

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Architectural features, such as the support beams and an exposed brick wall, were all original to the building and part of the design.

Titche-Goettinger Building

Stephanie explained that there are over 50 unique floor plans, all different in some way due to the historical nature of the building. At a 98% occupancy rate, the residents seem to like it here!

Just outside the apartment was a door that said “Fitting Room.” It piqued my curiosity, and we went in to take a look.

It turned out that room was the community gym. Not sure if back in the day of Titche’s it served as a fitting room, but nevertheless it seemed to have been repurposed well. Much like the unit we just toured, there was a lot of exposed brick and beams, all original to the building.

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Back down on the first floor, Stephanie showed us probably one of the coolest things in the building: an antique Otis elevator that hadn’t be removed.

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In those days, there wasn’t air conditioning, so there was a fan to keep the air inside (somewhat) circulated.

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The listing of the many departments in the store was still on the wall.

Titche-Goettinger Building

On top of the elevator bank was the Titche-Goettinger crest. Just looking at it conveyed thoughts of a simpler time, when going to shop at a department store was an experience on its own.

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The crest was one of many artifacts that remained in the building and are on display. A plaque marking this place as a World War II blood donor center was in the leasing office.

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This was one of the original door handles, complete with the store’s initials.

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In the lobby were various floor plans of the original store. Not sure if these were originals, but they were done pretty well(from an amateur’s perspective), and depicted the different rooms and departments of this huge store.

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Something else Beth and I came across was one of the store account books. In a glass case close to the center of the lobby, it was cool to see what folks used to keep track of purchases and returns before the days of the computer.

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Some of the books used to keep track of store finances.

What did customers who used to visit this elegant department store have to say about it? Click here to read a testimonial over at Beth’s blog WiseMommies, as well as learn about the importance of knowing the past and understanding one’s history!

In conclusion, although I had heard about Titche’s in the past, I never knew it had such an expansive storefront until now. Almost all of these buildings in the downtown area have an interesting past, and it was cool to learn about the history behind this otherwise unassuming old structure.

NTTA Safety Operations Center Floor

Watching Over North Texas’ Tollways: The NTTA Safety Operations Center

If you live in or visit the DFW area, chances are high that you have either gone on or at least seen the signs for the many toll roads spanning the Metroplex. It’s a complex infrastructure network, spanning 980 miles in the region. From Frisco to Grand Prairie, the North Texas Tollway Authority(NTTA) can probably get you there should you desire to take a toll road versus the freeway. But what goes on beyond what most drivers see to keep traffic flowing and the roads safe? I found out recently, with a visit to the NTTA Safety Operations Center(SOC), located in Plano.

NTTA Safety Operations Center
About to go behind closed doors!

Opened in 2015, the SOC is the 24/7 central “control room” for the five tollways that make up the NTTA system. Showing me around the facility was their director of system and incident management, Eric Hemphill. After taking me onto the SOC floor, the first thing that caught my attention was the huge video wall, full of surveillance cameras.

NTTA Safety Operations Center Floor
The NTTA Safety Operations Center.

Eric explained that there are nearly 2000 cameras in the system, and that they cover about 70% of NTTA’s footprint..or should I say tire tracks?

NTTA Safety Operations Center Video Wall
This video wall displays an array of cameras showing road conditions.
NTTA Safety Operations Center Video Wall
A roadside assistance unit helps with an incident on the Sam Rayburn Tollway.

All these cameras provide the folks in the SOC with a real-time view of road conditions. They work hand in hand with sensors built in to the pavement that detect when something goes awry. One example is when a wrong-way driver enters the tollway. Once detected, a big red message will flash below the video screen, alerting SOC dispatchers to pull up that associated camera and notify law enforcement.

picture of NTAA tollroad control room with wrong-way driver detection
If you want to drive the wrong way, don’t do it on NTTA roads! The SOC is alerted immediately thru a network of sensors.

Speaking of dispatchers, they are the heart of the SOC. There were four on duty when I visited, although staffing varies based on conditions. Every dispatcher has a different job, from monitoring the alarms and cameras to fielding 9-1-1 calls.

NTTA Safety Operations Center Dispatchers

NTTA Safety Operations Center
Extra workstations allow for more staff to be called in as conditions warrant.
NTTA Safety Operations Center map
Maps allow dispatchers to get a global view of traffic conditions.

9-1-1? Isn’t that handled by the individual cities? It is, however, the SOC serves as a secondary 9-1-1 answering and dispatching center for calls that originate on the NTTA system. As Eric explained, say you have an accident. When you dial 9-1-1, your call first goes to the municipality in which you are located in. After verifying that fire/EMS assistance isn’t needed, you will be transferred here. A dedicated DPS dispatcher will then send state troopers your way.

What if your car suddenly breaks down? Thanks to all those cameras and some advanced technology, the SOC is notified when a camera detects a non-moving object(such as a stalled car). From there, a dispatcher will send a roadside assistance unit.

NTTA Safety Operations Center Roadside Assistance CAD Screen
This screen shows the dispatcher the location of all the roadside assistance units.

Roadside assistance units, provided free of charge, help with jump-starts, flat tires, and more. They will even provide you with a small amount of gas should you run out and be stranded. These folks stay busy – I heard a constant stream of phone calls and radio traffic. However, the winter season is when it gets real crazy. Of course, prevention is the best strategy, hence why the SOC has pavement temperature sensors all throughout the system.

NTTA Safety Operations Center Pavement Temperature Sensors
Probably can’t see it clearly, but Fort Worth is showing almost 129 degrees on the pavement. Now that’s hot!

With these sensors, dispatchers are able to know if the road is getting to a dangerously low temperature, and ensure sand trucks and other personnel are mitigating any risks. Another part of prevention is notification of important messages to drivers – that’s why there are overhead message boards at various points. These message boards are controlled right here at the SOC.

NTTA Safety Operations Center Overhead Message Board Controller
All the overhead message boards are controlled thru this program.

Having images of funny highway sign messages in my head, I asked Eric if the employees could change the text to whatever they like. His response – “They can, but only once, because they won’t be working here afterwards.” Accurate answer, I’m sure!

As we concluded the tour, I have to admit I was pretty impressed. Having lived in the North Texas area my whole life and taken the various tollways countless times, I had no idea there was this much technology(or cameras) in the background. The roadside assistance vehicles were something that I’ve seen before in the past, but the many other technologies in the SOC help keep drivers and first responders safe as they get to where they need to go!

NTTA Command Center Map
After taking the toll countless times, it was cool to see what goes on behind-the-scenes.

Thanks to the folks at the North Texas Tollway Authority for showing me around to make this post possible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hall of State

The Hall of State at Dallas’ Fair Park

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear of Fair Park? For most people, it would be corn dogs, car shows, and a whole day’s worth of fun at the State Fair of Texas. However, there is a place in this sprawling 277-acre complex not many people are privy to – the Hall of State. Much more than just a gorgeous building, the Hall of State is home to the Dallas Historical Society. Many relics are stored and exhibited in this building, which also doubles as a museum and research facility open to the public year-round. This summer, I got to visit, and went behind closed doors to get a glimpse of all that goes on here!

The Hall of State
The Hall of State.

Built in 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition, the Hall of State contains some impressive art deco architecture on the exterior. Made of limestone native to the state, it cost $1.2 million, an astronomical figure back in the days of the Great Depression. Today, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the federal government, deeming it worthy of preservation.

Deputy Director Alan Olson took me around the building. Alan explained that the Hall of State is made up of several different rooms, each themed after a different region of Texas. The East Texas room, open to the public, contains murals that depict the importance of timber to the region, and the walls give the impression of entering an East Texas forest.

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Forestry is paramount to the East Texas economy, and is the theme of the East Texas room.

In there, I viewed an exhibit about Dallas in the time of Martin Luther King Jr. Display panels presented the Civil Rights Era as it happened here in Texas. It was eye-opening learning about how life was like in D-Town for African-Americans back in the 60s. The descriptions provided were thorough, and allowed me to get further insight into this time period.

hall of state MLK exhibit
This exhibit puts the Dallas spin on MLK, something I haven’t seen in textbooks or really elsewhere.

One thing that caught my eye was this advertisement for the 1951 Texas State Fair. Although if you stand in the Midway or trek down the auto show hall today, you see people of all colors and nationalities, it wasn’t always this way. Up until 1961, there was only one day that people of color were able to access the entire fair.

State Fair of Texas advertisement

While on the issue of civil rights, I came across a very unique document on display in the front lobby- one of the original versions of General Order #3, which freed slaves in Texas. Read to the people of Galveston on June 19th, 1865, it was the start of Juneteenth, a holiday still celebrated today.

General Order #3
The military order that freed all the slaves in Texas.

This would be far from the only unique item I saw here, as I found out when Alan took me into the North Texas room. Currently used for storage, there were tons and tons of artifacts all with very significant historical value, ranging from Admiral Chester Nimitz’s uniform to antique rifles used in battle! These items are used on a rotational basis by the museum, depending on which exhibit is being shown to the public.

north texas room at hall of state in fair park
Boxes and boxes of nothing but historical artifacts sit here as they wait to be exhibited.
Chester Nimitz Uniform
Admiral Chester Nimitz’s uniform.
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Various rifles used in battles.

We then made our way towards the basement, but stopping by the Dealey Library(also known as the West Texas room) first. This reading room is where researchers can find and look at documents and books from the museum’s expansive collection – which was where we headed to next!

Dealey Library at Hall of State
The Dealey Library, aka the West Texas Room. Note the adobe walls and overall plainness of this room, representative of the West Texas region.

Downstairs, in a secure and humidity-controlled room, were rows and rows of rolling shelves filled with books, documents, files, and other treasures.

Here, various pieces of literature ranging from the first edition of the Dallas Morning News to old high school yearbooks can be found.

Dallas Morning News first edition
The first edition of the Dallas Morning News.
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Old Highland Park High School yearbooks dating back to the 60s.

Think you know the layout of Fair Park? This sketch here was of “the proposed fair grounds”. Dating back to 1886, it looks much different than what actually got approved and built! Sketches and maps like these represent a part of the Society’s collection here.

proposed layout for fair park

Having all these possessions doesn’t mean a whole lot if one can’t find what they need in an efficient manner. Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and staff, the museum works are organized and inventoried, so that there is no need to rummage around to find a particular item. Alan also said that many works have been digitized, for even greater accessibility.

proposed layout for fair park
Organization is paramount when you have so many items. These long rolling shelves allow for the maximum amount of storage space.

Just because something is modern does not mean the Dallas Historical Society doesn’t want it here! I saw multiple boxes of documents belonging to the Trinity River Project, a public works undertaking by the City of Dallas in the 2000s. History is always being made, and items that future generations will find valuable to understand the past are a prime candidate to being preserved.

trinity river project boxes at hall of state
Boxes of files belonging to the Trinity River Project.

Back upstairs, Alan showed me the part of the building most folks will at least spend a few minutes admiring – the Great Hall, located just past the front lobby.

Great Hall at hall of state
The Great Hall.

Arguably the most architecturally stunning area here, this four-story hall features impressive design characteristics, such as a gold-leafed medallion and a hand-stenciled ceiling! However, what I really found amazing were the two giant murals on both sides of this room. These murals depict the story of Texas and the development of the state’s economy.

mural at hall of state

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It is also in this room that you will find six flags hanging as part of the Great Hall’s grandeur, standing for the six nations in history that Texas belonged to.

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Wrapping things up, I greatly enjoyed my visit seeing the Hall of State and all that was inside. With no admission or parking fees, this is a cool place to experience both a neat building and some interesting exhibits. If you are in the area, I’d recommend stopping by Fair Park to see it for yourself!

City of Oak Cliff safe
This large safe, found in an unassuming corner of the building has to date back to at least the early 1900s. Amazingly, the museum still has the combination to the lock!

Thanks to the Dallas Historical Society for showing me around to make this post possible!