An old transportation hub that’s still Rolling along
When Alex Wilder went to work at Troy’s Alternators in 1974, a hamburger stand, a clothing shop and Big D Cycle shared the block, and the Vogue Theater was showing second-run movies for $1.
Troy’s, which Wilder bought from his father-in-law around 1977, opened in a small brick building at 1900 W. Jefferson in 1963. That makes it one of the oldest businesses in The Boundary. Once a thriving little commercial district and transportation hub centered on Jefferson and Marlborough, The Boundary persists as a home to modest local businesses in buildings that date to around 1900.
Preservationists believe The Boundary was named for its role in Oak Cliff transportation. The old streetcar ran down Jefferson and turned left at Marlborough, making that intersection the westernmost point on the city’s streetcar system. It’s also a couple of blocks from where the bygone Interurban rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth started.
Donald Allen, who owned a TV repair business in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, says an old-timer once told him she watched nearby Sunset High School being built in 1925.
“She told me there wasn’t even much of a road past Hampton,” Allen says.
The Vogue Theater, built in 1949 on the site of its predecessor, the Bison Theater, made The Boundary a center of activity. But it closed for good sometime in the late ’70s. A church bought the property in the ’90s and tore out the façade to make the building look more like a church in 2010.
“I had hopes for [the neighborhood] until the church so drastically altered the Vogue,” says our neighborhood’s city landmark commissioner, Michael Amonett.
Even without the old theater, The Boundary has plenty of potential.
Victor Ballas bought the old Allen’s TV Repair building, originally a 7-Eleven, in the 1800 block of West Jefferson in 2013 and has fixed it up into three storefronts. Two of them now are leased to beauty salons.
The building at 1924 W. Jefferson once housed a western-wear store, Bond’s, where there is now a karate studio, a piñata shop and a convenience store. On the corner, where there has been a beauty salon for decades, was Big D Cycle, the legendary Dallas motorcycle shop. That space originally housed The Boundary Pharmacy.
The Sala family, which owns Sala Printing Service, has owned its building at 121 N. Marlborough in The Boundary for decades. The building now houses an insurance agency, where for ages there was a dry cleaner, along with the printing service, which customizes trophies and other awards.
The aging buildings on the corners of Marlborough haven’t been updated in years, and they don’t enjoy any protection from demolition.
But they are part of the Rosemont Crest Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. That means property owners are eligible for federal and state tax credits, if their façade haven’t been altered too much.
Allen says the biggest changes in the neighborhood are traffic — he estimates the number of cars on Jefferson has quadrupled in recent years — and the infusion of new homeowners.
Young families have “invaded the neighborhood,” in a good way, he says.
Wilder, a Kimball High School graduate who turns 60 in September, says he plans to keep Troy’s Alternators open another five or 10 years. Years ago, the shop had four or five workers and cars lined up for service. Now Wilder rebuilds and sells starters and alternators, mostly to shade-tree mechanics and a few other longtime customers who haven’t retired yet. He works by himself, but the building is paid for, and he knows that’s an advantage.
“It used to be you couldn’t give a house away over here, and now it’s gone crazy,” he says of the real estate market. “It’s odd to see. We saw this neighborhood when it was good, and we saw it when it wasn’t so good. Now it’s coming back around again.”