Back in November, D CEO spoke with the project architect behind Gensler’s $14.4 million renovation of the Hall of State in Fair Park. The massive undertaking, which was paid for by the 2017 city bond, was long overdue. Over the years, the neglected jewel of Fair Park had been left to rot. Water leaks and humidity had damaged paint, murals, and many of the building’s signature architectural features. Project architect Felicia Santiago said the first step in the restoration process was to simply open the doors and windows and let the place dry out for a month.
Work on the Hall of State finished up last month, and now the refurbished building is getting some national shine in Metropolis — albeit from a familiar local name (Dallas Morning News architecture critic Mark Lamster authored the piece). The article highlights some of Dallas restoration heroes who were involved in the project, including Michael van Enter, and offers this news-to-me anecdote about the Hall of State architect’s cheeky wordplay on the façade:
Steel doors that lined the interior of the Great Hall of Texas, the ceremonial main room of the building, were also removed and thoroughly cleaned. The remade room, which culminates in a wall-size lone star in shining gold, is as magnificent as it must have been back in 1936.
So too is the facade, which shines bright again, illuminating a hidden message in code that runs along the building’s decorative frieze. It was put there by the building’s architect Donald Barthelme—father of several noted authors—who had taken over the project mid-design and felt he was not given proper credit. His solution, the names of Texas heroes placed on the frieze, would be ordered so that their first letters spelled out his name.
Alas, he ran out of heroes with names beginning with E, so the trick only gets you to BARTHELM.
That was one item the restoration team did not try to fix.
The piece also has plenty of pretty pictures of the freshened up Hall of State. Check it out.