Dallas entrepreneur Charles H. Alexander built the 12,500 sq. ft. mansion in 1904 at 4607 Ross Avenue, Dallas, Texas.
Alexander was the owner of the Dallas Ice Factory which produced 150 pounds of ice daily. He also headed the Dallas Consolidated Electric Railway System, which electrified Dallas’ transportation system at the turn of the 20th century. Under his direction, Dallas evolved from buggies to streetcars, a feat that earned him a half-million dollars. While a notably successful businesses man, he was also notorious as he was acquitted of two murders — one of which was a former business partner.
It took Alexander two years to build the home. As he was getting his family settled in their new house, unbeknownst to him, a group of women was simultaneously organizing to form The Dallas Woman’s Forum. It was the first departmental women’s organization in the state of Texas, and it began even before women could vote. While the organization was growing, the mansion passed hands to only four owners and ultimately purchased by The Dallas Woman’s Forum in 1930.
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There were three owners of the property prior to the Dallas Women’s Forum purchasing the property. Charles H. Alexander 1904 -1911, A.L. Clark 1912-1916 and Wiley Blair 1917-1930.
Charles H. Alexander and wife Elizabeth Leonora Reagin were married in 1887 and moved to Dallas in 1888. They purchased the lot at the northeast corner of Ross and Annex from S. L. Munger on February 17, 1903 for $3,500. The house was completed in late 1904. Prior to moving to Ross Avenue Charles H. Alexander lived at South Boulevard and Ervay Streets. Alexander moved into the house in early 1905. In l9l2 the Alexanders moved to 4021Swiss Avenue.
The 1902 City Directory showed Alexander’s occupation to be that of a capitalist. Alexander once controlled the Dallas streetcar system. Early in his career in streetcars and the railroad he took over a mule streetcar system and electrified it. He headed the Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Railroad in 1898. In 1903 Alexander was the president of the Velasco, Brazos and Northern Railway. In 1910 Charles Alexander was president of the Guaranty Company, the Colorado River Company and the Texas Loan and Trust. He also built a dam at Marble Falls and had come up with the concept to build dams on the Colorado River to furnish electricity to the textile industry. Later he was involved in the textile industry. Alexander died in 1927.
Elizabeth Alexander was the president of the Kindergarten Association of the Dallas. She was active in many Dallas clubs and aided in the organization of the early efforts toward care of needy children. Mrs. Alexander dies in 1949 at the age of 82. After her husband’s death in 1921 she retired from public activities and made her home with son, Charles H. Alexander Jr. at 3402 Dartmouth.
The Alexanders had six children, three lived to adult age; two sons Charles Alexander Jr. and Jay Alexander and daughter Mrs. Walter W. McAlister (Lenora Alexander). Charles Alexander Jr. studied textiles with the plan to join his father in that industry. Instead he entered into finance, loans and real estate. Jay Alexander was a consulting engineer. Lenora married Walter W. McAllister. McAllister owned radio station KMAC in San Antonio.
Alfred L. Clark lived in the house from 1912 to 1916. Clark was a prominent lumberman. He came to Texas from Missouri as a child and came to Tyler in 1904. Clark was the president of the Southern Pine Association and president of the A.L. Clark Lumber Company. He also several other lumber companies and plants in several other states. In 1928 he declared bankruptcy and retired from active business because of poor health. Alfred L Clark Died in 1938. He had a son, James Clark.
The last owner was Wiley Blair from 1917 until the house became the Dallas Woman’s Forum House in 1930. Blair was the United States fuel administrator for the State of Texas During World War I and the president of the Southwestern National Bank from 1922-1924. He was born in Louden, Tennessee and came to Weatherford, Texas when he was 12 years old. His career centered on the wholesale grocery business which brought him to Dallas in 1911. He established and became president of the Blair and Hughes Company in 1909. In 1918 he was elected president of the North Texas Wholesale Grocer’s Association. His knowledge of industry got him the appointment of Fuel Administrator. The rank of Texas being an oil producing state made this an important national service. In July 1918 Blair called for Mondays and Tuesdays to be Lightless Nights to save energy during World War I. In that same year he declined accepting the position of Police and Fire Commissioner of Dallas. In 1920 Blair was elected as a director of the State Fair where he served as director for football of the Dallas State Fair. In 1922, he sold his grocery business and became head of Southwestern National Bank which later became Republic National Bank. Blair was involved in many civic activities in Dallas. He died in 1940 at the age of 75.
Mrs. Josephine Foster Blair died in 1932 at the age of 66. Mrs. Blair was a prominent clubwoman and was well known for her involvement with the Standard Club.
They had 5 children Mrs. Herbert M. Hughes (Miss Josephine Blair), Mrs. Joseph R. Pelich (Miss Kathleen Blair), Wiley Blair Jr., Edwin Foster Blair and James Grant Blair.
In August 1929, the Alexander House was received by the Guardian Building Company as part payment in the purchase of the Burt Building downtown, a venture involving Wiley Blair and A.C. Atkins. It was reported that the Blair residence will be converted into a funeral home in the next 60 days.
In April 1930 the Dallas Woman’s Forum traded to the Guardian Building Company their former clubhouse at 3214-16 Live Oak and the property at 806 South Akard for $40,000 and gave $10,000 in cash and the remainder in $5,000 notes to be paid annually for total of $65,000.
The above research was compiled by Jim Anderson. The document was presented to the Dallas Woman’s Forum History Committee by Mark Doty at the City of Dallas in 2012.