“It would be like building railroad tracks across the Gettysburg National Battlefield,” says Conover Hunt, pointing from a sixth-floor window of the old Texas School Book Depository to the center of a parking lot behind the building. Hunt is the project director of an exhibit being built by the Dallas County Historical Foundation based on the John F. Kennedy assassination. She’s upset because DART wants the subway tunnel that will run beneath the West End Historic District to come out of the ground in the center of that old parking lot. What’s the Kennedy connection? Many assassination buffs have long believed that Lee Harvey Oswald had an accomplice who fired from the famous grassy knoll at the edge of that parking lot, about seventy feet from where the rail line would come to the surface.
Hunt and the historical foundation-along with the National Park Service, which may designate the area a National Historic Site-would like to protect the site as if the second gunman theory were true. (A 1978 House Select Committee on the assassination supports the conclusion.) “Event preservation is not just preserving bricks and mortar,” Hunt says. But the DART board wouldn’t consider another location until they realized that disturbing a historic area could jeopardize their receiving federal funds. They voted in May to study the situation.
The historical foundation plans to complete the exhibit before November’s twenty-fifth anniversary of the assassination, but they are still worried about the DART portal. “Federal transportation projects historically haven’t honored historic sites,” Hunt says.