Directly across Grand Avenue from the Old Mill, can be found Grand Place, formerly called the Women's Building. Constructed after World War II, it stands on the site of the Ford Motor Company exhibit building in use during the Texas Centennial Exposition.
The Ford Building was the largest private exhibitor building at the Exposition and was air-conditioned. It had an interior floor space of 55,000 square feet. One highlight of the exhibit was the very first car ever built by Henry Ford. In 1937 the Ford Building was repainted in bright colors and became the Pan-American Building for the Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition.
Around the turn of the century this site was part of an area at the State Fair called "Smokey Row". This was where food vending tents were set up by the ladies of various Dallas churches. Here, one could buy fried chicken, barbecue and so on. Because of the open grills used to cook with, its not hard to imagine how the place got its nickname.
During the 1950s and into the 1970s the Women's Building was home to the Fair's quilting, cooking, and canning competitions. These have since been moved to the Creative Arts Department housed in the Embarcadero Building on the north side of the Cotton Bowl.
Copyright © 1996-2014 by Steven Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.