Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More Epic Texana

The Hall of State, Dallas.

This building was the centerpiece of the 1936 Texas Centennial exhibition. When it was built, it was the most expensive building in the state, for the then princely sum of $1.2 million. It is built mostly out of local Texas limestone. The architect Donald Barthelme designed this little masterpiece of Art Deco. He taught architecture at Rice University in Houston for decades. It's possible that my Uncle Ray studied with him.

Here's the front of the building.

The main entrance with a bronze statue of the "Tejas Warrior." The blue mosaic is supposed to suggest the state flower, the bluebonnet.

Here is the Great Hall of the building.

One of the murals in the Great Hall.

Yes, it does look very Nuremberg Zeppelin Field. It also looks very Hollywood, even stagier than anything Speer or Troost designed.

This building used to scare and fascinate me when I was a kid. It sits today in a badly neglected historic landmark, Fair Park, site of the Centennial Exhibition, and site of the annual State Fair. Most of Dallas' museums and concert halls were once located here. The art museum, the symphony, and the opera moved out 20 years ago to a new "cultural district" just north of downtown. The neighborhood was once the city's unofficial Jewish quarter (the old Tifereth Israel Synagogue still stands a few blocks away). For the last 50 years, it's been a rough neighborhood of mostly poor people. The local glitterati and culture vultures did not like traveling through there to get to the symphony, so the new culture district was built, and Fair Park was steadily abandoned.

The Hall is still well maintained and thoroughly restored about 20 years ago.


Katy said...

This is an honest question of curiosity... as a life long Houstonian I have always heard others talk about Dallas in a not so friendly way and refer to the snobbery of the place.

I haven't spent much time there most like it better than Houston (but most people in Houston like their hometown better). I would love to hear your take on the town's personality as you knew it.


Counterlight said...


I'm not sure that I'm the right person to ask. I haven't lived there in 30 years (though that perhaps is an answer in itself).

My memories of the place are not all that great, but then, it has changed so much and so drastically since I lived there.

If I was to move back to Texas, it would probably be to Austin or to San Antonio.