Titche-Goettinger Building Elevator Rediscovered

Titche-Goettinger Building Elevator Rediscovered

May 16th, 2011

I’m doing some research on an Otis elevator installed in 1929 for the Titche-Goettinger department store in Dallas, Texas. The elevator features a manual control system and folding bench. During a 1950s renovation the interior of the cab was redecorated and the ceiling lowered with the addition of a fan (the original moulding can be seen above the later ceiling. The walls are currently a green vinyl. Originally there were 8 elevators; 4 were removed when escalators were added in the 1950s and only 2 remain in operation today (the building now houses apartments and a university). In the mid-90s elevator #1 was raised from the basement and welded into place but was never renovated due to lack of funds. It remained sealed and forgotten until now.

In celebration of the building’s history volunteers would like to clean it up to a “displayable” condition. We’re looking for any information about reproduction parts (a stool), cleaning suggestions and knowledge about the functionality of the different controls/switches. I’ve included some recent photos and a Dallas Morning News article from November 1930.

 The department store closed in the late 80s and was converted to loft apartments in 1997 (some history of the building: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titche-Goettinger_Building). The development team at the time raised the No. 1 elevator up from the basement and welded it into place to use as a phone booth, but funds ran out and they simply closed it up to keep it secure.

The building was listed to the National Register of Historic Places and is getting a plaque to celebrate the occasion. It will include hosting a community history day and open house in June to tour some of the old areas in the building (and hopefully some of the old store employees will attend). The old elevator was recently “rediscovered” by new staff and the residents (of which I am one) have volunteered to clean it up for the event. Initially it just needs a good scrubbing for the event, but we could use that opportunity to raise donations for a more thorough cosmetic restoration. I along with many other residents have never seen a manually controlled elevator like this, so it’s very interesting. Old articles report a team of 13 women who operated them up until the store’s closing.

It’s obvious the elevator has been modified over time. When a major store expansion occurred in the 1950s the interior of the elevator was “modernized”. There’s no telling if there is anything original left under the green vinyl panels, but the 1950s style is still interesting. There’s currently no power or lights inside the cab. The elevator penthouse still has all of the original machinery, and even contains a big board with all of the original tools in place. The 2 remaining elevators were completely modernized in 1997.

Need assistance in refurbishing elevator equipment. If you can assist please comment in space below.

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Comments

  • Tom
    May 16th, 2011
    at 8:09 am

    These are awesome photos Noah! I love this type of history and those like you who are trying to restore & preserve these elevators, even if they aren’t working!

    C.J. Anderson & Company are the only ones out there that do restoration services for older elevator equipment and they have the equipment to bring it back to how it looked when it was installed.

    http://www.cjanderson.com/images/view.aspx?productId=1386&index=1

    http://www.cjanderson.com/restoredclassiccoverplate.aspx

    http://www.cjanderson.com/cjaelevatoroperatorseat.aspx

    Elevator Cab Seats
    http://www.cjanderson.com/cjaelevatoroperatorseat.aspx

    The first thing you need to do is get a magnet and see if you’re dealing with cast iron that’s been plated or if it’s cast bronze/brass. If the magnet sticks then it’s a bit tougher to restore. If it doesn’t stick then it’s much easier.

  • Noah
    May 18th, 2011
    at 8:40 pm

    I gave it the magnet test and it won’t stick to the control box anywhere… does that mean it’s brass? What’s the best way to clean it up? I know some people prefer a little patina to give it character.

    Also, I took a closer look at the fan mounted on the ceiling. It has the same decorative scrollwork as the top of the car. Could this fan have been exposed from the beginning, only to be covered at a later time? We’re in Texas, and only the first and basement levels were air conditioned back in the day.

  • elevatorpreservation
    June 22nd, 2011
    at 9:56 am

    Good, the magnet test means that the castings can be refurbished and are cast brass or bronze and not Iron. It’s tough to clean it up without the proper acid wash and equipment. C.J. Anderson & Company http://www.cjanderson.com/restorationservices.aspx provides an excellent job at restoration services. It might be worth it to go this route. The job is tough to do in a garage or on site.

    Regarding the fan in the elevator car. The trim work might have been added in the 1950’s. I wonder if you can get any information from the fan; i.e. manufacturer or serial number that might assist in dating it. Typical elevators back in the day had vents in the top and bottom to help with ventilation. I’ve never seen a fan mounted in a car switch elevator like this.

    Good luck and thanks for sharing.

  • SarahMcP
    August 24th, 2011
    at 11:00 am

    Does anyone remember the ceiling fan that fell in Titche’s and killed a mother (and I think her infant or toddler child)? It happened in the 30s or early 40s; my mother must have told us the story a zillion times as she was yelling at us to “Get out from under that fan!” (the one in our sleeping porch at home).

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