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Texas | Architecure | Skyscrapers

THE MAGNOLIA BUILDING c.1921

Dallas, Texas

Alfred C. Bossom, Architect
(b. 1882 d. 1965)

by John Troesser

Pegasus On Dallas' Magnolia Building
Pegasus' Lair
Photo courtesy C. DeWaun Simmons

The Magnolia Building (or at least Pegasus on top) has become the icon of the city - despite recent glitzy competitors. A reporter once described the Magnolia as "a great peg driven into the ground holding Dallas in its place."

The Magnolia Petroleum Company logo, the red, winged horse was hoisted into place in June of 1934 - midway through the Great Depression. Pegasus was first white - the way it appeared on early company signs. The sign revolved 1.3 times per minute and contains 1,162 feet of glass tubing. It was said to be visible to pilots from Hillsboro and some claimed to have seen it from Waco.


Pegasus atop Magnolia Building
A closeup of the Magnolia Building at night
TE Postcard Archives

Magnolia Building at night
The Magnolia Building at night (hand-tinted)
TE Postcard Archives

The 29-story building became the tallest in Dallas when it was completed in 1922. It towered over the 16-story Adolphus hotel across the street and was the 16th tallest in the U.S. (the 4th tallest if NYC buildings weren't included).


Hilton Hotel Dallas
Dallas Magnolia Building  before Pegasus
Left - The Hilton Hotel Dallas
Right - The Magnolia Building before Pegasus arrived in 1934
TE Postcard Archives

Buildings in the 20s were greatly influenced by NYC architecture. In New York, a city ordinance demanded setbacks to provide natural light. The English-born architect Alfred Bossom was a NYC architect.

The Dallas Hilton Hotel built in the early 1920s bears a strong resemblance to the Magnolia Building since both display what is called a flying segmental arch. The arch on the Magnolia building spans the 17th floor. A mural in the Texas Hall of State shows "Father Texas" embracing the Magnolia Building (and others).


Magnolia Building old post card images
The Magnolia Building
TE Postcard Archives

When it first opened, The Magnolia Building had 7 elevators, 500 offices and 1,700 telephones. The cost was an estimated $4 million - roughly the cost of the Art Deco Louisiana Capitol in Baton Rouge. It sits on four acres of real estate and 2 three-story wings insured no other buildings would come within 20 feet.


Feb., 2003
John Troesser

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