Against DISD's Wishes, Adamson High About to Get One Step Closer to Landmark Status

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Countless times, Dallas Independent School District spokesman Jon Dahlander has said: The district has no plans to raze W.H. Adamson High School, due for an expansion sooner than later. But the district also doesn't want the historic Oak Cliff school designated as a city landmark -- which, after tonight's meeting of the Landmark Commission's Designation Committee, will take one step closer to becoming a reality.

It's about to get interesting: At its meeting tonight, the committee will finalize its designation report (which outlines what makes it so historic in the first place) and lock down the preservation criteria, which outlines what changes the district can and can't make to the exterior of the school. At which point the Designation Committee will pass along the packet to the Dallas City Council, which DISD wants to stop designation proceedings pronto.

Council has 180 days to make up its mind. If it says designation proceedings can move forward, then that'll mean DISD can't do anything to the building for two years (which is how long it takes for a building to become a landmark), including file for a demolition permit. But if council sides with DISD, then that's that: "The initiation would expire," says Preservation Dallas Executive Director Katherine Seale, "and it would have to be re-initiated by another applicant."

Preservation Dallas included Adamson on its most-endangered list at the end of June, and Seale says that, sure, the district has said it won't touch the building, but there's been no written doc guaranteeing its safety. Not that it would matter: "The Landmark Commission is the applicant," Seale says. "That step has been taken, and initiation now has to run its course. Regardless of what happens, this will go in front of the council."

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