In 1887, two doors west of the State National Bank at 300 W. Main, was an elegant building that had been built in 1884, where Denisonians in this young Texas town could purchase their groceries, produce and feed.

In 1887, two doors west of the State National Bank at 300 W. Main, was an elegant building that had been built in 1884, where Denisonians in this young Texas town could purchase their groceries, produce and feed.


W.H. Parham was operating Parham and Douglas establishment with Alexander L. Douglass, who was born in Lacy, Ark. and grew up on his stepfather’s farm in Fannin County. Evidently Douglass didn’t like farm labor much and decided to take a different career path in Denison.


The Denison City Directory listed Alexander as living in Kingston, Texas, a few miles northwest of Greenville. He married Julia Slack in Hunt County on 1888, and they had two children, Lois D. Douglass, who died in 1954, and William C. Douglass, who died in 1926. The children grew up in Denison. Julia Douglass died in childbirth, and the third child, an infant named Gladys, lived only two months.


Soon after they were married, Alexander and Julia moved to Denison, and he was operating his own grocery and feed store at 600 South Armstrong. The family lived at 1000 W. Shepherd.


After Julia’s death, Alexander changed professions and became a "dry goods man," according to the 1900 Census. About this time he joined Samuel Porter Clark in forming Clark & Douglass, "merchant tailors, men’s furnishers, hats," at 229 W. Main. About this same time, he moved from Shepherd Street to 1000 W. Chestnut. As a "merchant tailor," he was "a tailor who kept and sold material for the garments he made." The building at 229 W. Main was part of the First National Bank or Ford Building, which had been built in the fall of 1891 when the two-story, brick building at the corner of Main Street and Rusk Avenue was replaced with a three-story, stone and brick building.


That year the Denison City Director listed J.M. Ford as president of the First National Bank; William G. Meginnis as vice president and Charles W. Pyle as cashier. Directors were Ford, Meginnis, W.B. Munson, Paul Waples, Sam Hanna, Sam Star, W.P. Rice, J.B. McDougall and E.H. Lingo.


Meanwhile, another bank had been organized and called The National Bank of Denison, a title that confused many patrons at the time. Plans also were announced for still another bank to move into the Leeper & Boldrick Building that later was known as the Security Building.


Either the location in The National Bank of Denison didn’t work out well or Alexander had a better offer, but the 1905 City Directory lists him and the partnership of Clark and Loving as merchant tailors at the same address, 221 W. Main.


As work progressed on The National Bank of Denison progress was apparently slow for the people’s liking. A news story said, "Western people are not, as a rule, familiar with the unavoidable delay incident to the perfection of high art in design and architecture, and a period of six months required in finishing and furnishing was considered a very long time." When it was finished it was claimed to be not unmixed with refinement and elegance highly polished marble pillar, 14 feet high.


It was said that anyone opening the door viewed a scene presented of a model, modern banking house, entirely worthy a city the size of St. Louis or Kansas City yet not one whit too good for Denison.


1891 seemed to be the year for modern buildings to go up in downtown Denison with the Leeper Building also being completed and rising to a towering five stories at the northeast corner of Main and Burnett. It became Texas’ first skyscraper, later to become known as the Security Building because of the Security National Bank that operated on the ground floor for a short time.


In 1905, the turret and top floor were removed as "dangerously too high," leaving "Old Stone face" above the main entrance as the building’s chief ornament. While banks occupied the ground floor corner space, professionals had offices on the upper floors.


The tallest building in North Texas was built by John B. Leeper and J.T. Boldrick who hired a French architect named Pierre Lelardoux to design the structure. The building drew gawkers from as far away as Dallas.


In 1905, Alexander remarried Nora Babcock, and he continued to work in Denison. Clark moved to Dallas and Alexander continued to operate a clothing business with his brother, Walter E. Douglass, as his partner at 211 W. Main. Alexander died in 1945 in Dallas, where he had moved after leaving Denison.


Donna Hunt is former editor of The Denison Herald. She lives in Denison and can be contacted at d.hunt_903@yahoo.com.