Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

LEAVELL, MARIE (ca. 1906–1952). Marie Leavell, fashion-store owner, was born around 1906 in Evansville, Indiana. She apparently moved to Dallas in 1920 with her family. She lived in New Jersey after her marriage, then returned to Texas in the late 1920s after her husband's company closed. During the Great Depression Leavell, who had never worked outside of her home, determined to survive the times by selling clothes from her living room in Dallas. At the end of the decade she invested $500 to open her own dress shop, and within a year she had made a net profit of $15,000. A few years later she moved her shop to the exclusive Highland Park area in Dallas. In 1949 she opened a second, larger store in a new Dallas shopping village on Lovers Lane; she eventually closed her Highland Park store. She aimed to provide direct competition to Dallas's best-known couture fashion store, Neiman-Marcus, by providing quality goods and specialized service. She succeeded largely through word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers. Leavell promoted her store more than herself; she was rarely photographed, but her name was known throughout the nation's merchandising circles as well as by her devoted customers, many of whom had the luxury of extravagant clothing budgets. Her abilities with her own store enabled her also to become part-owner of a large international fashion store, the Jane Engel Company. Marie Leavell suffocated after an accidental fall in her Dallas home on February 8, 1952. She was survived by one son and one sister. After a service at a local funeral home, her body was cremated. Leavell's son, John, inherited his mother's business. In the 1970s a Marie Leavell men's store opened, and the women's store added several specialty services. Into the 1990s the Marie Leavell store on Lovers Lane continued to be synonymous with exclusive clothing in Dallas and beyond.

Dallas Morning News, February 10, 11, 12, 1952, September 22, 1974. Dallas Times Herald, April 7, 1988.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "LEAVELL, MARIE," accessed February 23, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/flehg.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...