The Tyler Historic Preservation Board designated Smith County’s Crescent Laundry Building as a Tyler Historic Landmark.
The building, at 312 E. Ferguson, houses Smith County’s Facility Services Department. The masonry building was constructed in 1927, for a laundry/dry cleaner business.
The former Crescent Laundry Company started in 1923 on East Erwin Street by Walter P. Jones. In 1927, he moved the business into a newly constructed business at 312 E. Ferguson St. Jones’ son, Walter P. Jones Jr., took over the business in the 1960s, until his death in 2001. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
The business was the first and largest dry cleaning company in Smith County, and served residential and industrial customers from 1923 until 2000.
“The Historic Preservation Board was honored to recognize the Crescent Laundry building with a Local Landmark designation,” Tyler’s Historic Preservation Officer Amber Rojas said. “The Crescent Laundry building housed one of the most successful, locally owned business in Tyler’s commercial history. While most of the county suffered during the Great Depression, Tyler’s economy was bolstered by the discovery of oil in the area. With this newfound economic wealth, businesses like Crescent Laundry were able to not only survive, but thrive in hard economic times.”
Smith County purchased the Crescent Laundry site, including several buildings, as part of a master plan to create a downtown campus for county employees and services in 2008.
The Crescent Laundry site on East Ferguson Street is now home to Constable Precinct 1 Bobby Garmon’s Office, the Facility Services Office and the Animal Shelter. The buildings were paid for and renovated as part of the county’s Pay-As-You-Go process.
“We were happy to be able to renovate such a beautiful building and use it for county services while maintaining its historical significance,” Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton said. “We appreciate the recognition the Crescent Laundry building is getting today from the Tyler Historic Preservation Board.”
The Crescent Laundry Building at 312 E. Ferguson, was renovated to keep its historic charm, while the outside of the building was left with its original features.
“The building itself is the only known example of the exotic Moorish Revivalism style of architecture anywhere in the city,” Ms. Rojas said. “The unique design of Crescent Laundry’s domed roof, and the crescent moon design are evocative of architecture one would see in Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean. The building’s unique design continues to be a defining part of Downtown Tyler, and one of Tyler’s most distinctive structures.”
Walter P. Jones Jr. has said that his dad designed the Crescent Laundry Company’s logo, the locally well-known mosaic on the front of the building that features a golden crescent moon and stars inlayed among blue tiles. According to information provided by the Smith County Historical Society, Jones Jr. talked about the building’s features in 2000.
“People think it was a Masonic lodge or a temple or something like that when we moved into it,” Jones Jr. said. “It was built just like that for a dry-cleaning plant and that’s what it’s been used for.” Jones Jr. recalled his father telling him that the building cost $5,000 to construct.
The face of the building is adorned with the unique crescent moon, and the door is framed with similar tiles. The moon is surrounded by an arch design, and similar arches are above the unique Byzantine-style windows. The building also has a unique domed roof.
The original architect for the building was Roy T. Nunamaker, of Tyler, and the building company was Campbell & White.
The City of Tyler submitted the application, recommending to the Historical Preservation Board that the Crescent building be designated as a Tyler Historic Landmark.
“The Historic Preservation Board consist of 12 community volunteers who believe in the board mission to strengthen the local economy, stabilize and improve property values in and around historic areas, foster civic beauty, and promote the appreciation of Tyler’s historic buildings and resources for the education and welfare of the Tyler citizens,” Ms. Rojas said. “The Local Landmark designation process is a voluntary program for properties over 50 years, no major exterior renovations and are in good repair … Properties can be approved based on architecture, events that happened at the property or who former resided there.”
According to the application, “The Crescent Laundry building and its associated business was a major part of the economic growth of Tyler, especially during the oil boom of the early 1930s, and during the Second World War, when the business took on the laundry of Camp Fannin, where hundreds of thousands of infantry replacements were trained for the war effort.”
“The Crescent Laundry building has stood the test of time while many of its neighboring historic buildings have been torn down and replaced over the past 90 years,” the application states.