Dallas City Council Looks to Take a Time Out on Demolitions After Traumatic Teardowns in September

This is what the 1600 block of Main Street in downtown Dallas looked like in 1909. Part of this block was razed by Headington Companies to expand their hotel. (Photo: FlashbackDallas)

This is what the 1600 block of Main Street in downtown Dallas looked like in 1909. Part of this block was razed by Headington Companies to expand their hotel. (Photo: FlashbackDallas)

I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the surprise demolition of a block’s worth of historic downtown buildings while the Cowboys played. The razing of 1611 Main and a few other beautiful old buildings on the block to make room for Headington Companies’ Joule Hotel expansion scarred many preservationists and at least one architecture critic. Pearls were clutched, and people stood aghast at the horror of it all.

And yet, there is still no solid plan to stop the wrecking balls that could take down a downtown with little to no protection. That’s part of what City Hall wants to address tomorrow.

The briefing, which starts at 9 a.m. for the uninitiated, will cover what basically amounts to an inventory of unprotected “historic” structures in downtown, a list amassed by city staff with help from Preservation Dallas. Then, the city outlined which areas inside downtown Dallas are designated by the National Historic Register and the Texas Historical Commission. These historic designations, which sound nice, are nothing more than a plaque and a pat on the back. They don’t protect a structure from demolition. According to FlashbackDallas, the city compiled a list back in 1981 (1611 Main was 96 years old at the time) of historic structures in Dallas that would benefit from preservation. Nothing much came of that, now did it.

However, that could change, depending on what action the council takes to protect further destruction of our historic downtown building stock.

In a weird plot twist, while city staff is against a blanket moratorium on demolition, the ever-contentious councilmember Vonciel Jones Hill wants to ban it altogether, according to this masterful story by Robert Wilonsky.

“Stop tearing them down, period, and then designate which ones we really think never need to be torn down,” said Jones. “That bleeds over into economic development, but I think those things can be worked out within a short time before somebody goes out there and wrecks, for example, the Statler, just pulling one of them out of the air.”

Read more about the angles Dallas could take to preserve downtown’s history in the briefing below.

Preservation Status Downtown Downtown Briefing

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