Ain't Life Grand? It Is, At Least According to Preservation Texas.
Moments ago, from the steps of the Capitol Building in Austin, Preservation Texas released its fifth annual list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places -- and three area landmarks make the cut. The first is a familiar spot: the former Statler Hilton Hotel built in 1956 on Commerce Street, better known as the Grand Hotel -- which, as we pointed out not long ago, ain't grand at all in its current state. Funny thing: Only this week, the city's Landmark Commission decided to initiate proceedings that would get it designated as a Dallas landmark, meaning the out-of-country owners couldn't touch the place with permission. (The property was nominated by Preservation Dallas' exec director, Katherine Seale.)
Also making the cut: Livestone Lodge #152, built in 1903 in Grand Prairie. Says Preservation Texas in its media release, it "was constructed near the African American community known as 'The Line,' which was a row of homesteads owned by recently freed slaves." Like the Knights of Pythias Temple in Deep Ellum it was considered the meeting place for African-Americans, only now the historic building's owners don't have the money for the upkeep. Finally, also on the list is Fort Worth's 77-year-old Texas & Pacific Warehouse.
The complete release, out today to coincide with Preservation Day, is after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky
PRESERVATION TEXAS NAMES THREE SITES IN THE METROPLEX TO ITS FIFTH ANNUAL LIST OF TEXAS’ MOST ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES
Statler Hilton Hotel, Livestone Lodge #152 and Texas & Pacific Warehouse Included on 2008 List
AUSTIN, TEXAS…The Statler Hilton Hotel in Dallas, Livestone Lodge #152 in Grand Prairie, and the Texas & Pacific Warehouse in Fort Worth are among the 13 sites that Preservation Texas, Inc. has named to its fifth annual list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places.
Preservation Texas officials announced the selections on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on February 8, Preservation Day 2008.
The Statler Hilton Hotel, completed in 1956, is a significant example of modern design,” said Libby Buuck, president of Preservation Texas, Inc., a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The Texas & Pacific Warehouse, completed in 1931, is an impressive industrial building designed in the Zigzag Moderne style by architect Wyatt C. Henrick. Livestone Lodge represents the development of the African American community in the Metroplex area. Each structure in its own way captures the history of the area and is worth saving.”
Completed in 1956 at a cost of $16 million, the Statler Hilton Hotel was the first major hotel built in Dallas in nearly three decades and the largest convention facility built in the South. Located at 1914 Commerce Street, it stands 19 stories high and included 1,000 guest rooms and a ballroom that could accommodate 2,200 standing. The architect, William Tabler of New York, designed a Y-shaped building that employed a flat-slab structural system, the first full application of its kind. Tabler also designed a thin curtain wall and faced the building with glass and porcelain painted panels. The hotel’s sheer size, bold form and exuberate blue panels make it an icon of mid-century Modern design. Its innovative features, particularly its structural system and thin exterior walls, make it a significant contributor to the Modern movement in Dallas, and for the state of Texas.
Today the building sits vacant, underutilized and unappreciated. In 2003, the main building was temporarily saved from demolition, but the parking garage was lost. When an entire city block recently was cleared for construction on a new city park, it opened up views of the Statler, increasing its prominence. The remaining three sides of the park all contain historic complexes. The Statler Hilton Hotel is the only building facing the park that is vulnerable to demolition, and it sits on an increasingly attractive piece of real estate.
Built in 1903 on 1801 Beaumont Street in Grand Prairie, Livestone Lodge #152 was constructed near the African American community known as “The Line,” which was a row of homesteads owned by recently freed slaves. The Lodge building was used for other community activities for “The Line” residents in addition to its use for Lodge meetings. According to residents, the Lodge building was also used as a school house and church. In 1944, the Lodge building was relocated to its present location in the Dalworth community and continued to serve the same purposes as it did at is original site.
The Livestone Lodge #152 suffers from neglect and the lack of funds needed to preserve the building. The members of the Livestone Lodge are interested in learning more about the history of the building by conducting oral histories.
The Texas & Pacific Warehouse was constructed in 1931 as a part of a three building complex along Fort Worth’s Front Street, renamed Lancaster Avenue for Texas & Pacific Railway’s President, John Lancaster. In addition to the warehouse, the complex includes the Texas & Pacific Railway Terminal and the United States Post Office. The three buildings were designed by Forth Worth architect Wyatt C. Hendrick in the Zigzag Moderne style with blue tile and ornamental brickwork typical of the Art Deco period.
The Texas & Pacific Warehouse is endangered due to neglect and lack of maintenance. Currently the basement is filled with several feet of water. Previous owners had started renovations to the building and left the building open to damage from water. If the building is not maintained, the integrity of the reinforced concrete structure will eventually be compromised by the infiltration of water.
Buuck added that each individual site on the list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places is threatened by possible destruction, adverse development or neglect, and each has a compelling reason for being saved. “These sites represent the most eminent needs and highest probability for positive action,” she said.
Preservation Texas, Inc. is a statewide nonprofit organization that advocates for preserving the historic resources in Texas.
Preservation Texas named its first list of endangered historic sites in 2004. Several sites recognized by Preservation Texas have benefited from inclusion on the list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places through energized conservation efforts, commitments for restoration, and additional funding.
The 2008 list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places includes:
Texas Dance Halls
As Texas was settled, a dance hall was one of the first public buildings constructed in nearly every town and hamlet. Texas dance halls have served and continue to function as meeting spaces and the sites of social events. They contribute to the development of country-western and conjunto music. They preserve the cultural traditions of many ethnic groups who immigrated to Texas and settled here.
Today, as communities change and populations increase, dance halls are threatened by neglect, encroaching suburban development, and large-scale transportation projects. Population shifts from rural to urban areas, in particular by younger residents, leave behind a shrinking base of support for the halls at a local level. While many dance halls are open to the public for dancing and other events on a regular basis, many more have been dismantled, converted for use as antique shops or hay barns, or simply abandoned. The lack of public awareness is another threat to the preservation of dance halls. Many people do not realize that several hundred dance halls exist.
This statewide trend is represented by
• Bellville Turnverein, Bellville, Austin County
• Luckenbach Hall, south of Fredericksburg, Gillespie County
San Antonio Area
• Bandera Cabaret Dance Hall, Bandera
• Quihi Gun Club, Castroville
• Anhalt Verin Hall, Anhalt
• Schroeder Dance Hall, Yorktown
• DeAnda’s Dance Hall, 5201 Hopper Road
• Double Bayou Dance Hall, Anahuac, Liberty County
• Sons of Hermann Hall, Elm and Exposition
• Cotton Club, Fair Grounds
Dr. James Lee Dickey House
500 Burkett Street
Taylor, Williamson County
Dr. Dickey (1893-1959) was an advocate for health care and civil rights in Taylor and was recognized for his tireless efforts to improve the lives of African Americans there. He created a vaccination program to fight a typhoid fever outbreak that occurred in 1933 and established a prenatal and venereal disease clinic. Additionally, Dr. Dickey worked with others in Taylor to develop a community center and recreational facilities for young African Americans. In 1953, Dr. Dickey was honored as Taylor’s Citizen of the Year and as General Practitioner of Year by the Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association.
In 1997 Dr. Dickey’s house was dedicated as the future home of the Dickey Museum. In June 2007, the Blackshear/O.L. Price Ex-Student Association along with the Williamson County Historical Museum and the Williamson County Historical Commission unveiled a Texas Historical Marker at the site. It is estimated that the Dickey house needs $100,000 in structural and roof repairs.
Barker-Huebinger Rock House
FM 539, 5 miles north of Sutherland Springs, Wilson County
The Barker-Huebinger House was constructed in 1871 by Emory and Leah Barker on their 260-acre property. A red sandstone dwelling, an adjacent secondary building, and a hand-dug well are part of the original property located on FM 539, an early road that is currently being developed as a history trail. The rough-cut, sandstone walls of the main dwelling and adjacent building were laid in regular and irregular courses and the corners were detailed with quoins. The four-room main dwelling with an enclosed dogtrot hall and three fireplaces served as the Barker’s home until 1879. In 1916, the property was purchased by Rudolph Huebinger and has remained in the family’s ownership.
The buildings have been vacant for many years and have been subject to inappropriate repairs. The current owner is interested in restoring the buildings but the cost of the project is overwhelming.
Booker T. Washington School
Wellington, Collingsworth County
The school played a key role in the development of the African-American communities in Wellington and nearby towns. The Booker T. Washington School is believed to be the first brick school for African-American children in West Texas, and the two-room structure cost $5,000 to build. The first senior graduated from Booker T. Washington in 1951. Alumni held their first reunion in 1983 and attracted 300 ex-students to Wellington for a celebration that has grown into an annual event.
The restoration would provide a focal point for African-American residents and visitors, especially as the alumni association becomes stronger. Most importantly, it can be reborn as a living testament to the courage of African-American people in the Texas Panhandle who struggled against prejudice and ignorance to make better lives in spite of the obstacles placed in their paths. And for younger residents who have no experience with segregation and officially sanctioned oppression, it can provide a living history lesson and a warning to future generations.
The building itself is a ruin, with no roof, and failing walls. The roof structure has completely collapsed, threatening to pull in what remains of the walls. The City of Wellington has secured the site and has offered assistance in keeping it clean and keeping the grounds mowed. The City of Wellington and Historic Wellington Inc. have offered their help in preserving the site and are hopeful that the current owner will donate the property, but no agreements have yet been reached.
First Christian Church
508 Avenue C
Santa Anna, Coleman County
Constructed in 1901, the First Christian Church is the oldest church building in Santa Anna. Many of the exterior and interior detailing remain such as the clapboard siding, wainscoting, pews, and pulpit. The congregation still uses the church building every Sunday for Bible study, however, church services are held only once a month since the congregation has been without a pastor since 1995. The First Christian Church is a Register Texas Historic Landmark.
With an aging and diminishing congregation, the church building has not been maintained. The existing asphalt shingle roof was added in the 1960s and the building has not been painted since the late 1970s. The congregation and its supporters need professional guidance in maintaining and preserving the church for future generations and the community of Santa Anna.
CORPUS CHRISTI AREA
Port of El Copano
Near Bayside, Refugio County
El Copano was established in 1722 by the Spanish to service the missions and military garrisons at Refugio, Goliad, and San Antonio. Wharves, warehouse, and commercial establishments were built as seagoing vessels moved cargo and people. El Copano was the main port of entry for Irish immigrants during the 1820s and 1830s Empresario period. The port was also used during the Texas Revolution and the Civil War.
Bypassed by the railroad and hit by hurricanes, the port eventually declined. Most of the structures at El Copano were constructed of shellcrete masonry and there are two known cemeteries on the site. The 10-foot bluff on which the port was built is eroding into the bay and only a few structures survive. Additionally, no public roads lead to the site and this has added to obscurity of the site. The site is owned by an estate and the heirs have not been able to agree on the maintenance of the site.
The Caples Building
300 E. San Antonio
El Paso, El Paso County
Designed by Henry C. Trost for Richard Caples, a former mayor of El Paso, the 1909 commercial building was the first reinforced concrete structure in El Paso. The Caples Building originally was constructed as a five-story, U-shaped building, and in 1915-1916Trost was commissioned to design two additional stories. In the early 1910s, Francisco I. Madero used the top floors of the building as the headquarters for his provisional government and frequent occupants consisted of members of the “junto” such as Alberto Fuentes, Braulio Hernandez, and Francisco “Pancho” Villa. The Caples Building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the El Paso Historic Register
The building is in poor condition due to neglect. Most of the glass is missing from the windows and as a result, plywood covers many of the openings. The brick and decorative tile on the facades is loose and, in some sections, is missing. The building is in the center of the El Paso Downtown Redevelopment Plan and raising the building’s profile and educating residents about its historic significance will help in its preservation.
2000-2016 Strand Avenue
Galveston, Galveston County
The Hendley Building is the oldest remaining commercial building in Galveston. Constructed in 1860, the Greek Revival-style building is actually four, attached brick buildings located in the Strand National Historic Landmark District. The building was constructed to serve as offices for brothers William and Joseph Hendley, cotton and commission merchants. The building served as a Confederate watch tower during the Civil War.
The first floor of the building was last used by a produce distributor in 2000 and subsequently, has been vacant. The Galveston Historical Foundation hired an engineering firm to provide a structural assessment of the building and it was estimated that $170,000 was needed to stabilize the building and to prevent further water infiltration.
Citizens Savings Bank Building
111 Walnut Street
Jefferson, Marion County
The Citizens Savings Bank building was constructed in 1871 during the commercial boom of Jefferson. The property was sold in 1897 and is currently owned by a private individual. Representative of small towns in Texas, the former two-story commercial building has not been maintained and has been vacant for several years. Currently, the owner is seeking to sell the building for a large profit.
Mallet Ranch Headquarters Court
3917 Wrangler Road
Sundown, Hockley County
The Mallet Ranch, located approximately 45 miles southwest of Lubbock, was established by David DeVitt and John Scharbauer in 1895. DeVitt and Scharbauer purchased 53,000 acres on the Llano Estacado. Constructed between 1895 and 1948, the ranch headquarters still has five of the original headquarter structures. The ranch is located in the center of Slaughter Oil Field, the second largest oil field in Texas.
The buildings and headquarters court area represent the owners’ effort to establish and maintain a quality lifestyle on an isolated West Texas ranch. Today it is an intact example of an early twentieth century ranching enterprise. The buildings and the headquarters court have been neglected since the death of David DeVitt’s daughter Christine DeVitt in 1983. The Mallet Ranch/Llano Estacado Heritage Foundation has developed a plan of creating an outdoor education center that will allow visitors to experience the ranch in situ instead of relocating the ranch headquarters. However, due to neglect, the ranch structures are losing authenticity and integrity that cannot be replicated if deterioration continues.