October 21-23, 2008: A Trip to San Antonio
September 28, 2008: A Visit to the State Fair of Texas
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Page Index
Arts District Tour

Introduction
At the Trammel Crow Building
Arts District Model
Our Tour Begins
Belo Mansion/Guadalupe Cathedral
Myerson Symphony Center
Lunch and One Arts Plaza

October 4, 2008
A Tour of the
Dallas Arts District


 

Introduction

 

On the first Saturday of every month, the Dallas Arts District conducts free guided tours of the Arts District- an area two blocks by five blocks adjacent to Woodall Rogers Expressway on the northwest edge of downtown Dallas. Fred and I are very familiar with the district; we have been to three of its major elements numerous times. These current elements are the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Myerson Symphony Hall. If you have worked your way through the last few years of this photograph album, you are already familiar with all three of these.

But Dallas is undergoing a renaissance in the arts, at least partially thanks to a number of wealthy patrons of one cultural aspect or another, and partially thanks to corporate sponsorship. For years, the city and the Arts District have talked about updating or replacing other arts venues in the area, such as the Performing Arts Center and the Children's Theatre. There is also a magnet school for the performing arts within the district and it, too, had updates planned. But until developers could also commit to building downtown living and other services adjacent to or actually in the Arts District, it wasn't thought that there would be enough constant traffic to justify the expense of the new venues.

But now, these plans are moving forward. There is already a great deal of new downtown living just across Woodall Rogers; Museum Tower (a 42-story condo building) is planned for the current parking lot next to the Nasher; One Arts Plaza, a mixed-use development, is already completed at the northeastern end of the District.

So Barbara, Steve, Mario, Lynne, Fred and I have come down here this morning to get the up-to-date progress report on what is under construction and what is planned. We also, Barbara tells us, will get some of the inside stories and little-known background on other buildings within the Arts District boundaries.

We have met at the Trammel Crow Center, a high-rise business building just across from the Nasher, which also houses the Trammel Crow Museum of Asian Art. It is here that we will meet our tour guide and the rest of the limited number of people that will be with us on the tour.

Before we get started, I might give you an overview of the Arts District- what currently exists, what is under construction and what is planned. To give you this snapshot, I have taken an aerial view of the Arts District from Google Maps, surrounded it with inset pictures of buildings under construction or being renovated (and showed you where these are in relation to each other) and also labelled the aerial view with the two other venues that already exist. All the insets (except for the Myerson) are buildings currently under construction (the aerial view must be fairly recent, as ground was broken for the new Opera Hall just last year). One of our stops on the tour was a scale model (housed in the Arts District Offices in the Trammel Crow Building). If you click on any of the insets, you will see a full size view of the scale model of that building. Later on on this page, I will have more pictures of these models and a movie of what the District will look like when it is completed in 2011.

Here is that graphic:


 

With that overview in mind, now we can take a look at some of the pictures and movies that Fred and I took today as we were taking our guided tour around the Arts District.


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At the Trammel Crow Building


Steve and Mario came over to my house early on Saturday morning, and Barbara met us at my house as well. Since Barbara has parking privileges at the Dallas Museum of Art, she drove us down and we parked there, walking the short distance to the Trammel Crow Building. Lynne had not arrived when we got there, so we spent some time wandering around the plaza at the base of the building. The photo at left is Fred, Barbara, Steve and Mario with the Dallas Museum of Art and some of downtown Dallas in the background.

Before the tour started, we spent some time chatting at the Trammel Crow Building. Trammel Crow was, of course, the Dallas-based developer who concentrated on commercial spaces. The tower that bears his name is a typical office tower here, although there is an excellent restaurant on the second floor and very nice plaza areas in front (on Ross Avenue) and here on the back (on Flora Street). We were to meet in the entrance lobby for the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and this is where Lynne joined us. The building plaza is an interesting place. On this level, there is a fountain and Confucian statue; the fountain is fed by water coming down from the upper part of the plaza. There are stairs behind the fountain that lead to this upper plaza (and the entrance to the office tower proper).

On the upper plaza, there is a sheltered area for the stairs and the enclosed walkway that leads from one side of the museum to the other (the museum being on both levels on both sides of the staircases). There is also the trough carrying the water that is recirculated from the fountain at street level down to the fountain again.

While we were waiting for Lynne to arrive, and then while we were waiting for the tour to start, we had plenty of time to explore both levels of the plaza, and we took a number of pictures of the statuary, flowers and water features all around the plaza. There are thumbnails below for some of the pictures we took while we were waiting for the tour to begin; just click on them to view the full-size pictures:


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The New Arts District: An Overview Model

Before out actual tour of the Arts District began, our tour guide led us up to the second floor of the Trammel Crow Building where the planning organization for the Arts District has some offices. These are used for display and information about all the new construction going on. Developers and contractors can meet here, but the public can also get access on weekdays to look at the models of the various new venues that are being constructed. Our tour group met with a representative of the Arts District who showed us the various models of the venues and talked about each one, answering questions as she went. It was very informative, and the models were pretty amazing. Below are the thumbnail images that you can click on to see some pictures of the models of the various venues:


While we were here in the offices of the Arts District and around all these models, I took a couple of movies that turned out to be interesting. In one of the movies, I made a lame effort to mimic the opening of the 1980's television show "Dallas," zooming over the model while humming a bad rendition of the "Dallas" theme. You can have a look at that movie using the movie player at left.

 

In another movie, our guide here in the model area was explaining some of the fine points of the new Winspear Opera House, and you can get some more close-up views of the outside of the model as well as the cutaway of the inside of the building under construction if you watch that movie with the player at left.

 

The new Wyly Theatre is to be an amazing structure architecturally; it will be supported by columns on only one side of the cube, with a diagonal support brace (working much like the main cables on a suspension bridge) beam going down two of the other three sides of the building. One side, the side behind the performance stages, will have no supports, allowing views from the seats all the way to the outside of the building. As the guide was explaining a bit about the building (not all of which I quite understood), I filmed a good movie of the entire structure, including what the inside will look like, and you can watch that movie with the player at left.

 

My last film was a playful one, as I walked ahead of Barbara and Lynne as we took the escalators down from the Arts District offices back to the lobby. You can see the restaurant I mentioned earlier in this inside look at the Trammel Crow Center when you use the player at left.

 

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Our Tour Begins


As I said, we acquired a tour guide before we went up to see the models, and when we were done our group assembled on the sidewalk out at the entrance to the Asian Collection for an introductory talk by our tour guide. I can't possibly remember all the neat details he supplied throughout the tour about some of the old buildings and some of the new ones, but I can say that his narrative was rarely anything less than interesting.

Just before we left the Trammell Crow Building, I stopped at the Flora Street entrance to make a movie panning up the side of the building past the Asian Art Collection, and you can watch that movie with the player below:

The Trammell Crow Building

 

The first part of our walk took us southwest towards the Dallas Museum of Art, and then southeast along the side of the Trammel Crow Tower, and then finally northeast along Ross Avenue to the corner of the site on which the Trammel Crow Tower sits. I've marked this first part of our route on the aerial view.

At the end point of this first part of the walk, having just passed the Trammel Crow Building main entrance, we stopped at the corner of Ross and Olive for a bit of lecture. While here, Fred got a nice shot of the bell tower of the Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe up ahead of us.

During this first part of our walk, we took quite a few pictures of our surroundings, not all of which were really noteworthy. Below are clickable thumbnail images for the ones that we think are worth sharing; have a look at as many of them as you wish:



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The Belo Mansion and Guadalupe Cathedral


The second part of our walking tour took us further northeast along Ross Avenue. In the next block northeast of the Trammell Crow Building, we passed the old Belo Mansion. The neo-classical Belo Mansion was built in the late 1800s by Colonel Alfred Horatio Belo, who founded the Dallas Morning News. Patterned after the family home in Salem, NC, it was built by Daniel Morgan, who also built the Dallas County Courthouse ("Old Red"). Belo's son, Alfred Jr., was married to Helen Ponder in the home, which soon became a city showplace as the family was active in civic and cultural affairs. Colonel Belo died in 1901 and Alfred in 1906, but Mrs. A. H. Belo, Sr. lived in the mansion with her daughter-in-law Mrs. Belo Sr.'s death in 1913. In 1922, Helen Ponder Belo was forced to leave Dallas with her two daughters due to ill health, marking the end of the occupancy of the mansion by the Belo family.

In 1926, the building became a funeral home and operated for fifty years. Extensive remodeling occurred in 1926, and again in 1936, when an addition was built onto the rear of the home as well as a chapel on the eastern portion of the property. One of the most infamous events held during that time was the 1934 funeral of Clyde Barrow, of the Bonnie and Clyde gang. In 1977, the Colonel's granddaughter, Helen Belo Morrison, agreed to sell the property to the Dallas Bar Association. She had been born in the house in 1902 and felt the Bar's plan to restore the home as the Dallas Legal Education Center was in accordance with family principles and feelings. The Dallas Bar Association connected and the chapel with an expansive, glass-roofed atrium. In 2003, a beautiful addition was opened- the Pavilion (shown in this picture at the right side of the house)- in which numerous public and private functions are held.

Our next stop, just a block further northeast, was Guadalupe Cathedral. The original cathedral was dedicated on October 26, 1902, by the second bishop of the Diocese of Dallas. The cathedral is the Mother Church of the Diocese of Dallas and the parish church for more than 17,000 families. It also serves as the historic cornerstone for the Dallas Arts District, and was the original home of both the Arts District Chorale and the Children’s Chorus of Greater Dallas.

Recent years have seen continuing efforts to restore and renew this Victorian Gothic jewel, including the renovation of the sanctuary, the installation of the first finished floor in the Cathedral’s history and the completion of the spectacular 224’ bell tower which houses the 49-bell Lynn and James Moroney, Jr. Carillon. The cathedral is now well into its second century in this, its original location.

If you will click on the image thumbnails below, you can see some more of the pictures that we took of the inside and outside of this historic Dallas church:


I made one movie inside the Cathedral Guadalupe, and if you like, you can watch that movie with this player.

 


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Tour Conclusion


From Guadalupe Cathedral, we walked down the street adjacent to it which brought us to the front of the Myerson Symphony Center- a venue that Fred and I come to eight or nine times a year. (I must say that we have certainly enjoyed our season tickets to the Symphony for the last ten years or so, and were very appreciative that Ron Drew played a role in getting us into the Symphony to begin with, when his status as the Public Affairs Director for GTE got us an "in" with the Symphony).

As far as the performance venues go, this is the only one of them to have been completed- and it has been finished and active for fifteen years now. Perhaps in the future when the other new venues that are under construction are nearing completion, the tour will go further than it does now, but touring construction sites isn't very interesting; we learned all we needed to in the Arts District office.

Right across Flora Street from the Myerson, at the back of the Cathedral, there is a small plaza with a very nice mural, and something we rarely have a chance to see in the daylight. Actually, I must admit that I don't think that I had ever noticed it before we took this tour.

Our group stopped here while the guide talked a bit about the history of the Myerson, and recapped the new venues that were under construction. Then, we all walked down Flora, behind the Belo mansion (now the Bar Association) and back to our starting point.

We took a number of pictures of the Myerson, since we were here in the daytime for a change, of the mural plaza and of downtown Dallas during this last segment of our tour. You can look at these pictures if you will click on the thumbnail images below:



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Lunch and a Visit to One Arts Plaza


When we were done with the tour, we reclaimed Barbara's car from the DMA parking garage, and drove across Woodall Rogers Expressway to the Potbelly Sandwich Shop on McKinney. There, we all had some lunch. (There are two thumbnail images below; click on them to see pictures of us at lunch there.)

After that, we drove back over to the Arts District and parked where we usually do when going to the Symphony, and then walked along Ross Avenue over to One Arts Plaza- the new mixed-use building at the north end of the Arts District. This building is already open and many of the residences are already sold and occupied. Out front, there is an interesting fountain with what look like logs made of concrete interspersed with vertical fountains.

Actually, the whole area out front of the complex was inviting, and some of the small shops that occupy two wings on either side of the entry drive are already open. Here are Lynne and Steve in front of One Arts Plaza. Inside the lobby, there were sculptures and also a huge video screen mounted over the elevator lobby. On the screen was projected a time-delayed video of people coming in and going out of the front entry- jazzed up a bit to make it more artistic. The result was that you could come into the building and have an opportunity to notice the screen and look at it before the video of your own entry appeared. Pretty neat.

The last thing we did was to walk across the street to the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. This is a magnet school, created as a magnet some years ago, but now being renovated and expanded as part of the Arts District complex. It is Dallas' answer to the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City- the school profiled in the TV Series "Fame." If you remember the intro to that TV Show, then you'll understand the significance of the picture below:

That was it for our tour today, and we headed home in Barbara's car.


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October 21-23, 2008: A Trip to San Antonio
September 28, 2008: A Visit to the State Fair of Texas
Return to Index for 2008