ONE OF THE MOST rewarding of business partnerships in the growth of Dallas was the real estate firm of Murphy & Bolanz, formed in 1884 by John P. Murphy and Charles Frederick Bolanz. If not the first in the city, this pioneer realty firm quickly became the largest in both personnel and volume of transactions. By the start of this century its influence had become pervasive in the development of business and industrial property as well as in the burgeoning of residential areas such as Mount Auburn, parts of Oak Lawn, East Dallas around Fair Park, and South Dallas as far as Forest Avenue and Holmes Street.
Murphy & Bolanz had an exceptionally able draftsman in its ranks, a native of Germany by the name of Theodore Schauseil, who in 1887 produced a fine map for the firm. This was adopted at that time by the mayor and city council as the official city map. In 1881 and later in 1911 other Murphy & Bolanz maps were likewise adopted by the city hall as official city maps.
The firm also received a charter from the state to open a private bank, one of the few ever operated in Dallas. “The firm never engaged in a general banking business,” explained W. C. ( Dub ) Miller, present head of the firm known today as Bolanz and W. C. (Dub)) Miller. “But it applied the functions of the bank to the needs and the service of its real estate clients, notably those concerned with large land dealings and property management.” The partnership began in extremely modest offices, a part of Downs’s Grocery on Main near Lamar. By 1885 it had grown to occupy its “magnificent new quarters,” a three story brick building on Main at the head of Martin. Then in 1909 it moved to its handsome new home on the northwest corner of Commerce and Field, today occupied by an insurance company. “A force of 20 people and half a dozen automobiles were employed by the firm by 1909 to properly carry on the business,” it was reported at that time.
Murphy was born in 1837 in St. Charles, Missouri. His parents were natives of Ireland. He moved to Dallas in July, 1873, and joined the real estate firm of W. F. Lyte & Company. Four years later he branched out under his own firm.
Bolanz was born in 1859 in Chatham, Virginia. His parents were natives of Germany, coming from the internationally famed spa of Baden-Baden. He reached Dallas in 1887 with only $100 in his pocket. Bolanz brought a letter of introduction from Virginia Congressman George C. Cabell of Danville to his brother, Gen. W. L. Cabell of Dallas. Bolanz served as deputy clerk under Alex Harwood, then W. M. C. Hill, before teaming up with Murphy in the real estate business. Both of the partners took a leading role in the civic life of Dallas. Murphy was twice elected a director of the State Fair and was an organizer of the Trinity River Navigation Company in the 1890s.
Bolanz was an organizer of the State Fair in 1886. He was secretary-treasurer of Thomas Field’s company which built the Oriental Hotel, and he persuaded Butler Brothers to locate and operate a large branch house in Dallas at Ervay and Young. He served on the Chamber of Commerce committee which persuaded Adolphus Busch in 1911 to buy the site of the old Dallas City Hall at Commerce and Akard for the erection of the Adolphus Hotel. This also led to constmetion by the Busch interests of the Kirby Building on the northwest corner of Main and Akard. Bolanz was a deacon in the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas and chairman of its building committee which planned and erected in 1910-13 the church’s present home on Harwood at Wood.
Courtesy Dallas Yesterday by Sam H. Acheson. Photo courtesy Fred Bolanz.