Historic Downtown Elm Street Loft Within Blocks of Tons of Amenities

Elm StreetSometimes in the course of finding homes to feature through the week, we end up traveling down a bit of a wormhole when the abode’s history comes up. But our trip to the past for the history of this historic downtown Dallas loft was the unusual for a Tuesday Two Hundred.

We first found this unit in 509 Elm Street and fell in love with all the touches that make a loft condo charming — the exposed brick and beams, the concrete floors, the tons of light.

But when you know a building is likely historic, it almost behooves you to go look up what you can about that history — so we did just that.

Although the listing says it was built in 1930, other sourcing has its build date as 1901, 1906, and 1925.

Illustration from Dallas Chamber of Commerce magazine.
Source: Dallas, April 1925. (Courtesy Dallas Public Library archives)

The Facebook group Pioneers of Dallas County dates the abode at 1901, too.

View of Elm Street showing the Tenison offices. 
Source: Texas and the Southwest: Book of Facts, Dallas Chamber of Commerce, ca. 1914. (photo courtesy Dallas Public Library archives)

And that would make sense. According to this entry in the Dallas Public Library archives, the building was indeed built in 1901 for the Tenison Brothers Saddle Company, which was started in 1867 and had grown so much by 1901 that it needed a six-story building for the going concern.

Built of pink-pressed brick, it cost $30,000, or roughly $900,000 today (adjusted for inflation), to build.

“Tenison claimed it was the largest factory devoted to saddle and harness making in the country,” the library archive entry said.

By 1937, the building was home to electrical equipment manufacturer the Folsom Company, and in 1943 or so, Sidran of Dallas, a women’s clothing company, had moved in before heading to larger quarters.

Why Sidran needed to move to larger quarters introduced another wormhole, one that took a bit of a wild turn. You see, Sidran of Dallas, at some point, acquired first new partners, and then new ownership, who changed the name to Nardis (Sidran backward) of Dallas.

Employees of Tenison Saddle & Harness, ca. 1896.
Source: PA97-7/873, Jim Doster photograph collection (courtesy Dallas Public Library archives)

1918 billhead from the Tenison Brothers Saddlery Company, as found on eBay.

Nardis of Dallas owner Ben Gold and his wife became friends with Rose Marie when she was in town for a production of Bye, Bye Birdie, and somehow that likely led to Nardis of Dallas being the official costumer for the Dick Van Dyke Show, according to Paula Bosse’s excellent article in Flashback Dallas.

But there’s more. Bosse writes:

“Nardis of Dallas DOES have an interesting connection to that. In 1941 Abraham Zapruder, who had worked in the garment industry in New York, moved to Dallas and began working for Ben Gold as a Nardis pattern-cutter. His name even appears in a couple of classified ads in The Dallas Morning News.

While at Nardis — before he left to start his own clothing company — Zapruder worked with a woman named Jeanne LeGon (later Jeanne De Mohrenschildt) who, with her husband George (suspected by some of being a CIA operative), was friends with Lee Harvey Oswald in the early ’60s. Yep. That’s an interesting, head-spinning coincidence.”

Nowadays, the building is home to about 66 condos, including our Tuesday Two Hundred for this week, Unit 505.

Bright and airy, with industrial touches you expect when you hear the word loft, the one bedroom, one bath property has plenty of storage, laundry connections, and a generously sized bathroom.

It’s also within blocks of the Nasher, the Dallas Museum of Art, Klyde Warren Park, Main Street Garden Park, and Belo Gardens, as well as plenty of dining choices.

You’re also close to transit options, which means you could live car-free most of the time (heck, all of the time if you sign up for grocery delivery and work downtown or near a DART rail stop).

The Elm Street unit is priced at $200,000, and is listed by Alicia Schroeder with Dave Perry-Miller InTown. Want to see more? Click here.

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