Past and present: Ursuline’s gothic East Dallas past

Left: SMU library Archives; Right: Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Left: SMU library archives; Right: Photo by Danny Fulgencio

With its intricate peaks and filigree, the original Ursuline Academy looked like something out of Hogwarts and the land of Harry Potter. Construction began in 1882 and noted Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton was tapped to bring his ornate gothic style to the newly acquired land in Old East Dallas on St. Joseph at Live Oak. It took more than 15 years to complete the expansive design, which served as both a convent and school. In the 1940s, Ursuline made plans to relocate to Preston Hollow, and the land was put up for sale. Beard & Stone Electric Company paid $500,000 for it in 1949, and the demolition team was called in. According to a 1949 Dallas Morning News article, “A workman applied a crowbar to a high window casing of the old convent and remarked: ‘I sure hate to wreck this one. It’s like disposing of an old friend.’” Today, most of the land is filled by a parking lot.


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