Business as usual or meet the lone gunman(UA-66627984-1)



The Texas School Book Depository, now known as the Dallas County Administration Building, is a seven-floor building facing Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, United States. Located 411 Elm Street on the Northwest corner of Elm and North Houston Streets, at the western end of down town Dallas.

In 1898, the Rock Island Plow Company constructed a five story building for its Texas division, the Southern Rock Island Plow Company. In 1901, the building was hit by lightning and nearly burned to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1903 in the Commercial Romanesque Revival style, and expanded to seven stories.

In 1937 the property was acquired by the Carraway Byrd Corporation, and after the company defaulted on the loan, it was bought at public auction July 4, 1939 by D. Harold Byrd. Byrd’s career included co-founding the Civil Air Patrol and funding his explorer cousin, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, who named an Antarctic mountain range after the Colonel. Under Byrd’s ownership the building remained empty until 1940, when it was leased by a grocery wholesaler, the John Sexton & Co.

Sexton Foods used this location as the branch office for sales, manufacturing and as a distribution warehouse.

After Sexton, renovations at the Depository included partitions, carpeting and air-conditioning for office suites up to the fourth, plus a new passenger elevator that went only as far as the fourth floor. The Texas School Book Depository, incorporated 1927, was a privately-owned company charged with fulfilling book orders from schools all over the Southwest. Stock was kept in the basement, first floor and fourth through seventh floors.

In 1963, the year the company consolidated most of its operation in the former Sexton Building, it employed 33 workers, including 19 warehouse men, of whom four remained at the old warehouse at 1917 N. Houston Street, a few blocks north. Most Depository workers used the parking lot of this smaller warehouse, and it was here that Lee Harvey Oswald and his “bulky package” arrived in a co-worker’s car on the morning of the assassination.

Sometime after the company moved in, it was found that the upper floors had sustained oil damage from items stored there by the previous tenant, a wholesaler grocer. To protect the company’s books (stored in cardboard boxes) from oil seeping up from the floor, a process was begun to cover the floors with plywood. Immediately prior to the Presidential visit, work had begun on the west side of the sixth floor.

During and just after the shooting the employees were either inside the building, in front of it, down Elm St or further away that day. But some who were very close to the event were not questioned under oath by the Warren Commission such as: Haddon Spurgeon Aiken; Gloria Calvery; Ochus Virgil Campbell, Jack Charles Cason, president of TSBD; Avery Davis; Betty Dragoo, Carl Edward Jones, Spaulden Earnest Jones, Herbert Lester Janker, Roy Edward Lewis, Sarah Stanton, Sandra Styles, Lloyd R. Viles, VidaLee Watley, and Otis N. Williams.



Acquaint yourself with the floors:

The floor plans below are thanks to Gary Murr who managed to get these from the National Archives. These were taken by the FBI in late 1963.