A vintage Dallas streetcar has found a temporary new home: The trolley, once tucked inside the Spaghetti Warehouse in Dallas' West End, will find a safe and secure berth at Orr Reed Architectural Co., a salvage store located a few miles south of downtown Dallas, which will provide temporary quarters while the vehicle gets renovated in preparation for its final home.
The trolley was one of the original streetcars that ran through East Dallas nearly a century ago. It surged to fame in 2019 when Spaghetti Warehouse closed after 47 years, and the company held a giant auction of its extensive collection of memorabilia.
The streetcar attracted an anonymous buyer, but that buyer bailed once they encountered the difficulties of removing the trolley from the location.
The trolley was then bequeathed to the Junius Heights Historic District, a neighborhood association representing more than 800 homes in Old East Dallas, east of Munger Place, south of Swiss Avenue and southwest of Lakewood.
The organization wanted to save the trolley because of its role in the original streetcar program that was key to the establishment of Junius Heights and East Dallas, says a spokesperson who serves on the Junius Heights' trolley committee, and who also has a personal connection.
"The streetcar lines were built by the developer who was selling lots in East Dallas," she says. "Workers could take it to their offices downtown. It operated until the 1950s. My grandfather was a delivery driver for a paper company in Richardson that would deliver paper to offices in downtown Dallas. He could park his truck outside downtown and get on a subway that took him underground into the bottom of the office buildings in Dallas."
It's one of the few streetcars from that era that still exists.
"It was of particular interest to our neighborhood since it has 'Junius Heights' in that little strip across the front where it shows the next stop," she says.
The trolley has no wheels or motor parts, so it won't be mobile. The organization's goal is to make it an interactive museum attraction.
"We hope that it can continue the purpose it served inside Spaghetti Warehouse where people can experience sitting inside a street car — but back in our neighborhood," she says. "We still need to determine the best location where it can be secure and have protection from the elements, but the objective is to preserve it and save it from the scrapyard."
When they were seeking a place where it could stay during renovations, up stepped Hannah Hargrove, owner of Orr Reed, which is dedicated to finding new homes for items of value such as reclaimed hardwood, antique lumber, doors, and wrought iron fences.
"I actually wanted to buy it — it's a piece of our city's history," Hargrove says. "But when I read the fine print on the auction, I knew there was no way I could get it out. It was heartbreaking. Then during the pandemic, I was approached by the Junius Heights Historic District. who had raised enough funds to move it."
"We determined that we could probably make the room and that our gates were big enough to accommodate its entry," she says.
The trolley is currently being disassembled in anticipation of the journey, which they're hoping will take place this fall.
Hargrove and her team spent much of August reconfiguring their warehouse to make space. (They've also been hosting sales to make space, check out the vintage sky-blue Frigidaire wall oven.)
"It's going into a corner where we usually store larger furniture items and really nice windows — nothing that was easy to move," Hargrove says.
"But we wanted to make sure that this piece of city history was preserved," she says. "We care about these things. Do I need the space, of course I do — but this is a piece of our history we cannot get back."