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.

Granbury Town Square

Granbury: A Great Texas Small Town Getaway Destination

Over Labor Day weekend, my family and I decided to visit a small town on the outskirts of North Texas – Granbury. The idea came up to head out there as I continued on my journey to see all 254 counties that make up the Lone Star State. However, after seeing everything there is to do there, I concluded that it’s also a great weekend getaway destination that’s not too far from the Metroplex!

Located 38 miles to the southwest of Fort Worth and named after Confederate General Hiram Granbury, this town is home to a population of just under 8000. It is situated off the banks of Lake Granbury, which is part of the Brazos River. Driving there was a breeze – coming from North Dallas, we took Highway 20 and 377 which brought us right into town after about an hour and a half.

Upon arriving, we went straight to the Historic Granbury Town Square. As we pulled in, I was surprised to see how busy it was! In other small towns, the square is usually pretty dead, but this one was packed with people checking out the many quaint shops, bakeries, and other businesses.

Granbury Town Square
The Historic Granbury Town Square.

Many of these stores sold apparel, while others carried wall decorations and other knick-knack items.

Granbury Town Square Shop
Small family-owned stores like these made up the retail scene here.

One of the stores that we stepped into, Odd Relics Vintage Shoppe, had antiques of all sorts. Walking down its aisles, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

Granbury Odd Relics Vintage Shoppe
Antique fans, tin signs, and more – you never know you’ll find at an antique store.
Granbury Odd Relics Vintage Shoppe
The store had a second floor, filled with even more stuff.

Speaking of stepping back in time, not only do the buildings here look charming, most of them have some sort of historical value. I saw State Historical Markers posted everywhere I looked. That alone is something you rarely see in other small towns!

Granbury Town Square Historical Marker

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Historical markers are on many buildings here, like this hotel.

It wasn’t long until we came upon the Granbury Visitors Center, located steps away from the town square. Open and staffed seven days a week, you can get brochures, maps, and info about local events here. They even have free cookies!

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The Granbury Visitors Center.
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This is a good place to stop for more information about local attractions(or to cool down!).

The center of all these town squares is usually the courthouse, and Granbury was no exception, being the county seat of Hood County. There is a Parker, maybe Lampasas County flair to its architectural design, and was quite gorgeous. This building has been here for close to 130 years, having been built in 1890.

When we went, there were a number of booths set up right in front of the courthouse, where you could get everything from some Texas BBQ to homemade jewelry. A mechanical bull ride was even set up. This was all part of Shop, Stroll, & Savor, a one-day event that brought lots of people and vendors out here.

Granbury Shop, Stroll, & Savor

Granbury Shop, Stroll, & Savor

Just as it was starting to get unbearably hot, we headed off for our next and last stop after lunch, the Granbury City BeachIt’s definitely no Corpus Christi or Tampa, however if you want to find a peaceful place with sand and water located inland, this is it.

Granbury City Beach
The Granbury City Beach.

Unlike another similar beach in Little Elm, Granbury’s isn’t as crowded. The facilities looked to be well-maintained and welcoming for people of all ages. Food and drinks were being sold at a nearby pavilion, and a Hilton Garden Inn was located within walking distance should you want to stay a bit longer. I also saw a fair amount of jet ski and boating activity here, and it just seemed to be a nice place overall to enjoy the beauty of the Brazos.

Lake Granbury
Lake Granbury is a nice place to enjoy the water, whether by boat, jet ski, or just on the sand!

Although there are a few other things to do in town, such as touring Revolver Brewery and exploring the Hood County Jail Museum, we had to head back home since we planned this as a half day trip. It was nice experiencing the vibrant small-town charm present here, as well as crossing Hood off the list of counties I have yet to see. If you are looking for a relaxing place away from the big city with plenty to do, Granbury is a great choice!

Plano’s Forgotten Mall

The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex- one of the most mall-dense areas in the country. From upscale NorthPark to the nearly demolished Valley View, shopping centers can be seen everywhere here in town. In Plano, when a typical person thinks of a mall, places like Willow Bend, possibly Collin Creek come to mind. However, there is one spot that has long been forgotten, but stands close to a bustling highway intersection – Plano Market Square Mall. I decided to head there to explore it a few days ago.

Opened in the 70s, the mall served the middle-income families of the then-growing city. With three hallways, there was plenty of tenant space. It contained stores like T.J. Maxx, a rug shop, and various other retailers. A Garden Ridge served as its sole anchor store. I remember as a kid, my mother and I checked this place out. At that time(going back years in my long-term memory), there was a constant stream of foot traffic. Unfortunately, when new shopping centers sprouted in the area, such as the Allen Premium Outlets and Willow Bend, business started to steadily go down.

Plano Market Square Mall first came back into my memory as I was watching urban exploration videos on YouTube. I just so happened to come by a clip talking about this mall, and thought to myself that this place would be pretty cool to check out. Before going there, I did some research, and Google told me that an antique store was still open inside.

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One of the three entrances to Plano Market Square Mall.

Upon arriving on the property, I first circled the place by car. Except for the parking lot on the side housing the antique store, which had some cars, there wasn’t anyone else to be seen at any of the other two entrances.

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Where I parked my car and went in.

Inside, there were quite a few people shopping at the only store left, Plano Antique Mall. However, the rest of the mall was eerily quiet, and not a living soul was in sight.

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The wing housing Plano Antique Mall, the only store still open here.

Vandalism has been an issue here, and thus the portion of the mall beyond the antique store was closed off. Thanks to the nice folks at Plano Antique Mall, I was able to gain access to see this piece of local history.

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The mall is shaped in a T configuration, with the former At Home space in the middle.

Once in the closed area, I started checking out the stores in the main hallway, one by one. The first space I came upon was a closed aquarium store. Whoever rented this place didn’t really care for cleaning it up, as fish food was scattered in piles on the floor.

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Hmm…

There was also an abandoned 75% Off Books. One of the stores I used to frequent as a kid, it was the place where Mom purchased a lot of books for me. Although we didn’t shop at this location, the layout seemed more or less the same. Rows and rows of tables were set up, complete with throws on them, but the books(and customers) were gone. I could just imagine how vibrant it must have been back in the day, when business was bustling.

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The now vacant 75% Off Books.

Coming to the end of the main hallway, I saw this giant gummy ball machine. Like the empty stores around it, this thing just sat there collecting dust.

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As I walked down one of the side exit hallways, I came across a few standalone booths, with empty display cases. This one looked like it belonged to a cell phone shop.

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There were about two to three of these standalone shops here.

Remember phone cards? That sounds like something from the 2000s. I came across an old phone card dispensing machine, which didn’t appear to be working. Not sure how long this machine has been there. I guess if you didn’t want to use Skype, you could save 70% on calling anyone, in any city, in any state, in any country, in the world.

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The machine was plugged in, but pressing the buttons yielded no response at all.

The exit at the end was locked, which made sense, since they didn’t want anyone in this area.

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Standing at the end of one of the side hallways, looking towards the Garden Ridge space. Those lights are sure unique.

I then headed for the former spot of Garden Ridge, which was renamed to At Home prior to closing. It was located in the center of the mall, between the two side exit hallways. As I looked in this huge space, it was a sad reminder of better days.

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The sole anchor store of the mall.
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This space was occupied by Garden Ridge(later At Home) for many years, which sold home decor.

Heading towards the other hallway, I saw something pretty cool – a vintage photobooth machine! From the looks of it, the thing hadn’t been working for some time. The controls were all broken, and the privacy curtain long gone.

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This looked like something usually seen in Japan or Taiwan!

Many kids must have come up to it, pounding on the controls and pressing the buttons, for management put up a sign telling everyone that this was not a video game.

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Right behind the photobooth was an area formerly containing kiddie rides. All the machines have since been removed, leaving only the equipment mat sitting there.

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Walking back towards Plano Antique Mall, I explored the stores on the other side of the hallway. There was an Asian artifact shop, which was packed full of stuff, but the grille was pulled down and nobody was in sight. This kind of reminded me of some of the stores I saw when at Valley View.

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I saw vases, furniture, and other Oriental items in there, displayed nicely.

Not too far from it, was a gold and precious metals store. Except for a few display cases, there was nothing left in there.

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Just next to Plano Antique Mall was a former beauty school. It was completely gutted, with no equipment remaining inside at all.

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This looked like a pretty good space for a beauty school – a big space, located close to the highway, and plenty of potential clients living in the area.

From there, I started checking out Plano Antique Mall.

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As far as antique shops go, this was one neat and tidy place. Talking with Geralyn, one of the assistant managers, she told me that they have been open for over 23 years. There are around 150 vendors here, who bring in a steady stream of customers.

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This place was jam-packed full of stuff. I came across everything from an old laptop computer to pieces of furniture.

I love coming to antique shops, because you never know what you are going to find. From old radios to vintage aircraft models, every trip is a definite encounter with some cool stuff that the average millennial has never seen before.

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A Band-Aid tin container from the 60s. Too bad they don’t package them like this anymore.

Although this place seemed to have more antique craft and decorative items, there were also plentiful amounts of CDs and records for sale as well.

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I saw many records, movie posters, and other vintage media for sale.

Closing out my visit, I asked Geralyn about plans for redevelopment. She told me that nothing has been set in stone as of yet. I believe that this place has great potential; with some major renovations and new tenants, it can serve as a local hub for shopping, dining, and more.

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This place has definitely seen better days.

Regardless of what eventually happens, I hope Plano Antique Mall sticks around, so that people can continue to enjoy the artifacts of the past!