What We Do
Hall of State
The Hall of State, designed by Donald Barthelme, and originally known as the State of Texas building, was built in 1936 as the centerpiece of the Texas Centennial Exposition. This building honors heroes from the history of the nation and state of Texas. It is the eastern terminus of the great Esplanade and is renowned for its Art Deco styling and magnificent interior.
The DHS has called the Hall of State home since 1938.
At $1.2 million, it was the most expensive structure per square foot ever built in Texas at the time. The focal point of the building is the magnificent Great Hall (also known as the Hall of Six Flags) with Joseph Renier’s gold medallion, cathedral-like 46-foot sky-lighted ceilings, and mosaic tiles; Eugene Savage’s Byzantine-style murals; and George Davidson’s hand-stenciled ceiling. Additionally, there are four rooms in the two wings of the building; each with distinctive interiors that are dedicated to the economic, environmental and cultural differences of the geographic regions (North, South, East and West) of Texas. These rooms include magnificent murals, statues and carvings depicting various lives in Texas’ history by renowned artists such as Tom Lea, Olin Travis, Arthur Starr Niendorff, Eugene Savage and James Owen Mahoney, Jr.
The Hall of State, with its distinctive rooms and Great Hall, is available for special events, weddings, presentations and corporate events. The 394-seat Margaret and Al Hill Lecture Hall also is also available for presentations and productions.
Each year, the Dallas Historical Society (DHS) serves approximately 15,000 students, providing more than half with free or discounted educational programs. Teachers can choose from a variety of offerings available at either at the Hall of State or in the classroom, which gives students the opportunity to experience Dallas and Texas history though tours, performances, events, exhibitions and Society initiatives through the Access to History program. One popular program features historic characters, dressed in period-appropriate costumes, who recount their live experiences for the students.
All education programs are aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum standards which prepare students for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test.
Recording oral histories has become an integral part of the Society’s mission to preserve history. School students from various schools have been partners in this program since its inception in 2009. The Society provides students with the training necessary to collect and record the oral histories. Begun originally to gather stories of the State Fair and, more specifically, the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, the project has expanded to include a variety of Dallas and Texas topics. Researchers studying Deep Ellum and the blues, women’s history, civil rights, cemetery restoration and a wide variety of other subjects, now totaling more than 225 recordings, have found these oral histories invaluable.
DHS draws from its collection, exhibits, and a network of local historians to educate and present a wide variety of public programming. The Brown Bag Lunch Series allows the community free access to a wide range of historic topics such as The History of Fair Park, Texas Eats and Wild Women of the West. Other public programs include book signings, historic city tours, lectures, panel discussions, hands-on activities, classes, performances and workshops.
The DHS draws on its vast collection of Dallas and Texas historical artifacts to create unique exhibits at the Hall of State in Fair Park. Many items from the Society’s collection are displayed at the Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas. Companies and institutions in the city can display items from the collection in specially-designed cases as part of the Society’s Texas Treasures program.
Collection and Preservation
The collection of nearly 3 million items at the DHS spans the history of not only the greater Dallas area but the entire state of Texas. The collection covers extraordinary territory, from tales of immigrants who entered Texas before it became a Republic to the emergence of Dallas as a major commercial and cultural center. By teaching and connecting people to their past, DHS helps make history relevant. Each object in The Society’s collection is emblematic of real people of a definite time and place.
The collection of the DHS is accessible for research via phone, email requests or in person by appointment. Please email Kaitlyn Price in the collections department or call 214-421-4500 ext. 101.
Membership and Support
Membership in the DHS helps support the Society’s education programs, exhibits and collection.
A membership not only strengths the Society and help it accomplish its goals of preserving history and serving the communities, but also offers many benefits. Members receive various discounts, invitations to special exhibit previews and “member only” events, access to publications and much, much more.
Historic City Tours
Take a ride through history and join the Dallas Historical Society on a Historic City Tour. DHS staff and local historians guide visitors to learn little known facts and view familiar locations in a different way after enjoying these entertaining and educational tours.