Other Views of Denison

Other Views from 1891

Where is Denison?

Above: Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler (1842–1922). Denison, Grayson County, Texas 1891, 1891. Lithograph, 20.9 x 33.5 in. Published by T. M. Fowler and James B. Moyer. Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth.

Denison in 1891

Thaddeus Fowler perhaps began his second tour of Texas with his picture of Denison, a growing city with a population approaching 11,000 by 1891. On January 11, The Sunday Gazetteer reported that the artist had been in the city for several weeks making pencil sketches for the new bird’s-eye view, which would be much larger than previous views of the city. “It is believed to include every residence within the city limits, covering a territory of over three miles square” and including every public school building, all the churches, and every residence. Even buildings in the “process of erection” would be included, the editor reported.[1] It was the ninth largest Texas city and the largest that Fowler depicted.

Shown from the northwest looking to the southeast—more or less the opposite point of view from Wellge’s 1886 depiction—Denison appears in Fowler’s view to be a prosperous city, with public schools, churches, elegant houses, and businesses. There are new buildings in the downtown area, constructed since Wellge’s 1886 visit, and Fowler emphasized some of them with handsome drawings in the bottom margin of the print. This perspective allowed him to show some of the grander, two-story homes in the foreground. The developing African-American community is placed in the left foreground, north of the trolley tracks. Fowler identified at least three African-American churches (J, K, and L on map) in this area. The African-American school (2) is shown on the east side of town, beyond the railroad tracks in the upper left-center portion of the picture.

Fowler does not emphasize the railroads as Wellge had, although he does show them all, including the Denton and West Virginia Railroad tucked into the bottom right-hand corner. He might have altered the topography a bit to get it in. He clearly did compress the topography to be able to include the Denison cotton mill and canning factory located on the southern edge of the city and shown in the upper right-hand corner of the print, suggesting that the city had grown as a milling and business center. Another obvious new addition is the Austin Street Bridge over the railroad in the upper center of the image.

“This is certainly the largest, and we believe from a careful inspection of the work, the most perfect view of Denison that has ever been produced,” the editor of The Sunday Gazetteer concluded. “Every person who owns a home in Denison should have at least one copy, and our real estate and business men would find it profitable, as an advertisement, to purchase many copies for circulating abroad.”[2]