11 Most Endangered Historic Places

The Statler Hilton Hotel

Year Listed: 2008
Location: Dallas, Texas
Threat: Development

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Photo: Preservation Dallas © Steve Clicque

Significance

When the Statler Hilton opened in downtown Dallas, it was hailed as the most modern hotel in the country. Its sheer size, bold form, and innovative architectural features soon made it an icon of mid-century design.

Completed in 1956 at a cost of $16 million, the Statler Hilton was the first major hotel built in Dallas in nearly three decades and the largest convention facility in the South. The hotel, with 1,000 guest rooms and a ballroom fit for 2,200 people, boasted unheard-of luxuries, such as elevator music, a rooftop swimming pool, and custom 21" Westinghouse TVs in every room. Designed by New York architect William Tabler, it was the first glass-and-metal hotel in the nation. Its innovative features made it a significant contributor to the Modern movement in Dallas and the State of Texas.

Spared from demolition in 2003, the Statler Hilton is located across the street from the future site of the city park Main Street Gardens, and adjacent to several large-scale developments. As part of a major revitalization effort for downtown Dallas, construction on the park began in early 2008 when an entire city block was cleared, including the parking garage for the hotel.

The property is no longer owned by the Hilton Hotels Corporation. Many other hotel operators have explored the possibility of renovating the hotel, but with no adjacent parking, low ceiling heights, and environmental costs, the vacant building remained a challenge.

The Statler Hilton is emblematic of a number of mid-century buildings in large urban areas that are now languishing. Unlike a colonial governor's home or storied battlefield, structures of relatively recent vintage have not engendered similar levels of appreciation. In an effort to protect the Statler Hilton, preservation activists worked to secure its inclusion in the designation of a potential historic district. In addition, Preservation Dallas drafted a nomination to identify the Statler Hilton as a local landmark. Providing financial incentives such as Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credits to potential buyers was also explored.