It was a different world when C.H. Alexander and his family set their sights on an undeveloped plot of land on Ross Avenue.
Their stately mansion was built in 1904 for a cost of $125,000, which would be well over $3 million in today’s dollars.
Designed by Sanguinett & Staats of Fort Worth, the mansion featured seven fireplaces, oak and mahogany wood paneling throughout and a unique Tiffany-inspired stained-glass window depicting a grapevine motif. The front columns were crafted from marble in Italy and shipped to Dallas, but required a specially built carriage to carry them, complete with a team of 20 horses to pull each pillar.
Alexander was a self-made man, unknown to the Dallas business community before he pulled off one of the largest deals ever made with the city. He sold 27 miles of track and equipment to launch the Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Railway, which brought streetcars to the city at the turn of the century and earned him a $500,000 paycheck, according to Electrical World (vol. 31), a series about the history of electrical engineering.
It was somewhat ironic that he made his fortune in electrical transportation before the city had an established power company. When he built his mansion, a generator was included in the design to power the property.
In 1930 the Dallas Woman’s Forum took over the home as its headquarters and has been tending the mansion ever since. Currently, the forum is fundraising to bring in the $200,000 needed to properly fix the roof, which is littered with leaks that threaten the historic home’s stability. — Emily Charrier
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