Preservation Dallas Announces 2010 Most Endangered List

We were at the Women's Museum at Fair Park this morning as Katherine Seale announced Preservation Dallas' annual list of Dallas' Most Endangered Historic Resources. Several of the (unfortunately) usual suspects were on the list, including the Statler Hilton and 508 Park Avenue. 

But Preservation Dallas also grouped several buildings into categories that call out for policy changes. DISD-owned buildings like Adamson High School and Oak Cliff Christian Church were part of a group of structures that PD encouraged DISD to take new looks at, citing the positive example of the Arts Magnet as a school building that has been successfully renovated.  The list also draws attention to a group of mid-century library buildings that the City of Dallas has mothballed and not done a good job of monitoring.

The list also points out that the budgetary woes of the City of Dallas have gutted the preservation staff at City Hall.  PD worries that few proactive efforts can be undertaken, and that we'll end up with delayed landmark designations.

Here's the entire list:

HISTORIC Buildings owned by the Dallas Independent School District(D.I.S.D.)

Locations:  Various

Threat:  Whileit is clear that many DISD schools – new as well as historic – require updatingfor technology and to correct deficiencies due to lack of or impropermaintenance over the years, the solution is NOT to demolish these venerable andbeloved schools that are important landmarks to the city and its history. Distinctive, historic schools contribute to our sense of history, context, andcommunity.  A successful model exists of combining historic and neweducational facilities within DISD – the recently completed Booker T. WashingtonHigh School.  Such an approach of utilizing a historic school has beensuccessful in other cities making the schools the pride of the neighborhood.

Examples include: Adamson High School and Old Oak Cliff Christian Church in Oak Cliff; OranM. Roberts School in east Dallas; and Davy Crockett School in Old East Dallas


Crozier Tech/ Old Dallas High School

Location:  2214 Bryan Street

Threat:  Thisformer high school was built in 1907 and is the oldest remaining schoolbuilding in Dallas. Prominently located next to the DART station at Bryanand Pearl, thestructure has sat vacant since 1995.  Once vacant, the school alumniorganized, attending 44 public meetings in hopes of designating their school acity of Dallashistoric landmark.  During this process, a California investor purchased the buildingwith plans to knock it down for a parking lot.  But the alumni prevailed,and Crozier Tech was saved from the wrecking ball.  Now, it sits empty,boarded-up with no plans for redevelopment. 

We commend the City Attorneys Office in issuing citations, and encouragethe city to be more aggressive in its application of liens against the propertyfor the unlawful neglect the owner is performing.  The out-of-town ownerinvestor should sell the building so that it may once again be a viable,attractive building for downtown Dallas.


South Dallas Historic Districts

Locations:  WheatleyPlace, South Boulevard/Park Row, and Tenth Street neighborhoods

Threat:  Dallas’ South Dallas historic districts are not getting theprivate investment and public funds that they merit.  Too many empty lotspockmark these historic districts, and demolition has been seen as the onlytool to deal with abandoned houses.  There is a great opportunity forpublic entities to turn the situation around.  Councilmember Carolyn Davishas already demonstrated an interest in improving the quality of life for theresidents but a streamlined effort in coordinating city agencies, non-profitassistance and private interests is needed.  HUD funds could be used tosave these neighborhoods, programs could work on clearing property titles,empty lots could be put into the land bank and made available for compatiblenew construction, thus stimulating the tax base, revitalizing the entireneighborhood, and adding to our affordable housing stock. 


Statler Hilton

Location:  1914 Commerce Street

Threat:  Sincethe opening of Main Street Garden,there has been renewed interest in The Statler Hilton Hotel, located at 1914 Commerce Streetin the eastern end of downtown Dallas. Completed in 1956 at a cost of $16,000,000, the Statler was the first majorhotel built in Dallasin nearly three decades and the largest convention facility built in the South.The Statler played an important role establishing Dallas as a business center for theSouthwest.  It was the largest hotel in the Southwest, and helped attractconvention business to Dallasfor many years. 

Today, the building sits vacant.  A challenge in attractingdevelopers is lack of parking. Located on an increasingly attractive piece ofreal estate, the Statler Hilton faces increasing development pressure. City of Dallaslandmark protection, financial incentives, and national attention are needed toensure the successful redevelopment of this iconic block of Mid-Century Modernarchitecture.


Vacant DallasPublic Libraries

Locations:  Various,see below.

Threat:  Whilestaff cuts and reduced hours within the Dallas Public Library system are a sadreminder of the major reduction in public services, a number of the city’smid-century modern branch libraries are now being replaced with new librariesto accommodate shifts in demand for library services.

These mid-century branch libraries were built in response to Dallas’ new suburbangrowth, and are representative of a time that continues to define ourCity.  The branch libraries were designed by some of the best youngarchitecture firms in the city who would go on to become prominent firms. 

Once the new replacement libraries open, the existing buildings aremoth-balled, and the utilities are turned-off.  Deterioration sets in, andthe buildings become vulnerable to neglect, arson, and vandalism.  As partof the de-accession process, the City is encouraged to consider appropriate preservationrestrictions and to monitor the status of these buildings on a regularbasis. 

Vacant Libraries include:

Former Downtown Central Library (George Dahl, opened 1955)

1954 Commerce Street

(Now owned by a private investor).

Walnut Hill Branch Library (Fisher & Jarvis, and Associates Architects, opened 1961)

9495 Marsh Lane

Honor Award, Texas region/American Institute of Architects, 1963

Casa View Branch Library (William H. Hidell, opened 1964)

10355 Ferguson Road

Hampton-Illinois Branch Library (Harold A. Berry, opened 1964)

2210 West Illinois

Lancaster-Kiest Branch Library (Harper & Kemp, opened 1964)

3039 Lancaster Road


Deep Ellum

Locations:  Main, Elm,and Commerce Streets

Threat:  For athird year in a row, the Deep Ellum area is listed as endangered. Deep Ellum,the center for Texasblues and jazz in the 1920s and 30s, includes remnants of the largestcollection of one & two story storefronts from the 1920s, 30s, and 40sstill standing in the city. Multiple business closings, increased developmentpressure due to the new Dallas Area Rapid Transit rail station, and no cityhistoric overlay in place, has Deep Ellum ripe for demolition. Current zoningallows for larger buildings as tall as 15-stories to replace the 1 and 2-story buildingsthat characterize the area. Alterations not in keeping with the historiccharacter of properties also threaten to diminish the historic look of thearea. While historic district designations have been drafted, property ownershave declined designation.     

Deep Ellum retains itsearly-twentieth century commercial character once nearly universal in Americantowns but now all but vanished from the landscape.  A tone or"look" has been created by accumulation over many years of commerce,music, and history.  As Deep Ellum is potentially redeveloped for thefuture and an ever larger population, the existing character becomes an assetto preserve and enhance.



508 Park Avenue & 1900 Young Street Buildings, downtown Dallas

Threat:  508 Park Avenue and 1900 Young Street were the subject of anapplication for demolition last year.  The demolition certificates weredenied by the Landmark Commission, and upheld by the City PlanCommission. 

508 Park was built in 1929 as the Warner Brothers Film Exchange. It also served as lease space for Brunswick Record's regional distributioncenter.  With its Zig-Zag Modern detailing, the Art Deco edifice is one ofthe best examples of this type of architecture in the city.  Also, thebuilding has significance for its association with giants in the music industryincluding Art Satherley (inducted into the Country Music Hall of Music in1971), famous record producer Bob Wills (inducted into the Country Music Hallof Fame in 1968), legendary producer Don Law (inducted into the Country MusicHall of Music in 2001).  508 Park is perhaps best known for itsassociation with Mississippi Bluesman Robert Johnson (1911-1938), whoreportedly made his second and last recording there.

With the future development of the new convention center hotel andpotential plans for light rail transit in the area, and vacant space in near-byhistoric buildings, Preservation Dallas hopes that a new owner will seize theopportunity to take advantage of federal preservation tax credits and redevelopthese historic properties. 


Hickory Street Annex

Location: 501 Second Avenue

Threat:  Originallyknown as the Gulf Oil Company Distribution Facility, these six buildings fromthe 1920s served as a sales center and warehouse for the regional distributionof Gulf Oil products.  Gulf Oil was a major contributor to the economicdevelopment of Dallas, and the state of Texas.  

Today, the complex has been preserved, and the buildings have beenre-used for commercial office and event space.  It also lies within theplanned I-30 Highway expansion project.  According to the site-plan, themajority of the property will be demolished by the widening of the highway anda new on-ramp that slices through the main building.  City, state, andfederal agencies must work together to find a solution that will save theseicons of Dallas’industrial past. 



Elm Street Buildings in downtown

Locations:  2226 Elm Street, 2224 Elm Street, and 2222 Elm Street

Threat:  Thesesmall buildings are some of the last late nineteenth and earlytwentieth-century structures remaining in downtown, and they stand in the wayof the proposed widening of Cesar Chavez Boulevard, formerly CentralExpressway.  Preservation Dallassupports the plans to expand and beautify the new Cesar Chavez Boulevard, and we encouragethe City to explore options for moving the buildings out of harm’s way. 



City of DallasHistoric Preservation Program

Threat:  Allcity services are being cut to meet major gaps in the City’s budget. Programs like Historic Preservation, which are supported by the EnterpriseFund, were cut by 50% last year.  More cuts are to come, and with nohistoric preservation officer in place, the program lacks the much-needed supportto be pro-active.  As the economy improves, and renovations andconstruction increases, the staff will be stretched too thin, resulting indelayed landmark designations and protections of our historic buildings. 



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