Leonard Volk Talks Dallas Past and Present

The Dallas Historical Society is hosting an evening with Leonard Volk, Dallas architect, community leader, and photographer on April 16.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Hall of State in Fair Park.

Advance tickets at $10 for DHS members and $15 for non-members and can be purchased online by clicking here.

Volk, a third generation Dallasite, will be discussing his family’s exceptional history starting with their arrival to Dallas in 1887, his father’s legendary stores – Volk Brothers, which began in 1890; Volk Estates, which is the subdivision built by his grandfather and now is the location of some of the most expensive real estate in Dallas; his memories of growing up in Dallas and how it has changed; his illustrious career in architecture; and his community service career where he made a difference in the Dallas community.

Volk Department Store in Highland Park Village

Several of Volk’s photographs from Dallas past and present will be on display.

Volk also will be selling and signing his book, Everyday, a collection of his photographs, after the talk. 

Some interesting facts and highlights of the talk will include;

  • George Dahl, the outstanding Dallas architect, designed Volk’s main six-story building at 1806. It was built when air-conditioning was new. This was said to be the first department store in the nation that was fully air-conditioned. 
  • Volk’s was the first downtown retailer to open a suburban store, with a branch in Highland Park Village in 1935. The Highland Park store became a national record-setter for sales per square foot of store space and was enlarged twice in the ‘30s. The second suburban store at Live Oak and Skillman was built in 1949 before the next downtown retailer, Neiman Marcus, built a store at Preston Center in 1950.
  • Volk stores often had smile-maker features and events. For example, the Live Oak store had a glazed monkey cage, as did Wynnewood. In the main store, there was a fluoroscope, a popular magnet that attracted children to see bones in their feet all in shades of green. At the main entrance to Live Oak there was a pond with goldfish and water lilies.
  • Harold Volk organized a collaborative group of fifty outstanding shoe stores around the country that he named Shoes Associated. One of them was Nordstrom in Seattle. He persuaded the Nordstrom brothers to expand their shoe business by adding apparel, as had Volk’s in 1930. The Nordstroms did so and were so successful they began expanding their business nationally.  
  • In about 1926 or ’27 Leonard’s grandfather bought vacant land in University Park, and put Harold Volk in charge of the subdivision called Brookside, now better known as Volk Estates, bounded on the north by Lovers Lane, the east and south by Turtle Creek, and west by the creek beyond Vassar Drive. Leonard’s grandfather built the first house in Brookside on Turtle Creek Boulevard, and his father built the second, on Golf Drive, later renamed Baltimore Drive.


Bianca R. Montes

Bianca Montes is an award-winning journalist and former Managing Editor of Park Cities People. She currently serves as a Senior Editor with D Magazine's D CEO publication. You can reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @Bianca_TBD. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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