Ghost sign: Who was Roland Ellis?

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The old retail sign for Roland Ellis is built into the concrete in front of the door at 333 W. Jefferson, where Kookie Haven is now.

Jefferson Tower went up in 1928, and Roland Ellis, a mens clothing shop, moved there in 1935.

Namesake owner Roland Ellis had operated a clothing store with his brother-in-law at 415 N. Bishop starting in 1925. Ellis bought out his partner 10 years later, bought the former Langram Hat Store on Jefferson and refocused, specializing in mens clothing. In 1948, he leased the adjacent shop space and expanded, hiring popular Acapulco-born tailor Jessie Gonzalez to make in-store alterations.

The shop also had one or two stores in northern Dallas, but Oak Cliff was always the company’s base.

Ellis was born in Bell County and moved to Dallas in 1922. He and wife, Eunice, had two sons, Roland Jr. and Gene, who attended Sunset and South Oak Cliff high schools, respectively.

Roland Ellis was one of the few old-school department stores that stayed on Jefferson when others — Sears, J.C. Penney and Zales among them — moved to Red Bird Mall, which opened in 1974.

Ellis died in 1976, and the store closed after that.

Jim Lake Cos. bought the tower in 2012, renovating storefronts and adding residential lofts. The pic above was taken this week. Here’s how it looked before the renovation.

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