2012 Year in Review: Historic Preservation in Dallas
1. West End evolves into neighborhood
The West End Historic District, long an entertainment center in the heart of downtown, saw renewed interest from developers after several years of stagnation. Antioch Church purchased and made plans to renovate and occupy the long-vacant Awalt Furniture Building, while Fairfield Residential announced a large residential project on the site of the demolished Katy Depot. Work also began for the next phase of restoration at Dealey Plaza, which will host the JFK assassination 50th anniversary tribute in late 2013. A walk through the district reveals new businesses in new and renovated buildings as the area evolves into a mixed-use district.
2. 508 Park Avenue breaks ground
First Presbyterian Church’s plans to transform the historic Warner Brothers Film Exchange / 508 Park Avenue building became real with a ceremonial groundbreaking in November. Throughout the year plans were refined and community events kept the project fresh in the minds of supporters. Crowds gathered in April to watch the demolition of the Columbia Pictures building, site of a future outdoor amphitheater (which will incorporate some rescued elements from the building). A vacant lot at the other end of the block is planned to become a large community garden. The surviving 3-story Art Deco landmark will go through a detailed restoration and reopen as a multi-use facility and outreach of The Stewpot.
3. Urban Armadillos digs up history
In June a group of Dallas professionals gathered together to research and promote the hidden history of Downtown Dallas. Calling themselves the “Urban Armadillos,” the volunteers gathered pop culture and historical tidbits to create a walking trail of landmarks in the heart of the city… even in areas where today’s skyline does not resemble the past. As Dallas continues to draw more people to a revitalized downtown, the group’s efforts will reveal interesting stories to both locals and visitors alike.
4. Guests check in to a coffin factory at the NYLO Hotel
A 101-year old coffin factory in the Cedars neighborhood reopened in mid-August as a neighborhood boutique hotel. Developer Matthews Southwest opened the 76-room NYLO hotel after an exterior restoration and interior renovation of the red brick Dallas Coffin Company building. The eco-friendly renovation showcases the building’s industrial past with exposed ceilings, concrete floors and exposed brick. Vacant for several years, the new building adds another element in the trendy Southside on Lamar development; the creative conversion also offers a rooftop bar with excellent skyline views.
5. “Lost Dallas” highlights city structures gone but not forgotten
6. City’s first skyscraper comes down for hotel expansion
7. Restored post office celebrates a successful renovation
8. Titche-Goettinger cartouche removal raises concerns
The University of North Texas caused quite a stir when they announced plans to alter the facade of the 1955 Titche-Goettinger Building annex. The large windowless building — formerly part of the Titche-Goettinger Department Store — featured a limestone facade and large cartouche, symbol of the company. Despite its location in a historic district, the university received state-level support to modernize the building with rows of windows for new classrooms in the renovated building. It was claimed that the cartouche — the main decorative element of the facade clearly seen from Main Street Garden — would not be compatible with the changes. After concerns about its safe removal, the 55-piece mammoth cartouche was removed in November and hauled to the city’s boneyard for preservation.
9. Thomas Building and cotton history destroyed in seconds
10. Excitement builds for Statler Hilton renovation
The Statler Hilton renovation continued in 2012 and reached a high point when a dozen blue lights were switched on to illuminate the Mid-Century building; in October crowds gathered for the event celebrating a milestone in the building’s long renovation. The cool blue lights dramatically showcase the building’s cleaned glass and porcelain enamel facade to visitors at Main Street Garden. Inside, work continued on the hotel renovation: a Jack Lubin mural was discovered hidden behind a wall, and a mockup apartment was developed to show investors the potential for residential conversion.