Three Hidden Gems of Dallas

Even locals may not know one of these...

Lee Harvey Oswald’s Cell
Interested in the Kennedy assassination? Of course, you’ll want to visit the Sixth Floor Museum, walk the grassy knoll, talk to the conspiracy theorist who has set up shop on the sidewalk and see the Kennedy Memorial just up the street. That’s where most people will say they have seen it all. But, they haven’t. Across the downtown district from these historic sites sits another important one that has recently been preserved. The old Dallas Municipal Building is now the home to the University of North Texas College of Law. In acquiring the building, the university also took on the task of preserving the jail cell where Lee Harvey Oswald spent his last two days on Earth. Also preserved is the interrogation room where many of Oswald’s rights were likely violated. The building sits at 106 South Harwood, between Main and Commerce streets. Remember that the primary function of the building is as a law college. So, access to this gem is limited. Call ahead or check with the front desk when you arrive to see if you can see the cell.

The Kalita Humphreys Campus of the Dallas Theater Center
Opened in 1959. this gem is the only freestanding theater that Frank Lloyd Wright designed. The Dallas Theater Center, Uptown Players. and other theater companies have been delighting audiences in this space ever since. The theater nestles in a limestone ridge above Dallas’ Turtle Creek. Wright was always sensitive to a building’s surroundings and so, designed a roofline for the entrance which mimicked the limestone layers against the wooded landscape. Many of Wright’s signature designs are evident in the theater including the lack of 90-degree angles and, what he called the compress/release of a narrow, low-ceilinged entrance into the expanse of the theater’s auditorium. Renovations are in the planning stages now, while the theater remains an operating facility. The plans include taking the exterior back to its 1959 point of significance and restoring other elements of the 1983 renovation that strayed from Wright’s vision. The building is a part of a city park and so it is accessible at almost any time. To catch a glimpse of the interior, call the box office to see if you can get in.

The Texas Hall of State and Fair Park
Just east of the downtown district is home to Fair Park, a unique collection of art deco buildings and sculptures. The African American Museum, the Texas Discovery Gardens, and the Children’s Aquarium call Fair Park home as do the Music Hall at Fair Park and the city-owned WRR-FM radio station. Fair Park is open year-round. not just for the three weeks of the Texas State Fair for which it was built in 1936.The real gem here is the Texas Hall of State. The museum holds artifacts that span Texas’ history as it grew. became a Republic, entered and succeeded from the union, and ultimately returned to the United States. The newest acquisition is the U.S. Army order that enforced the release of the slaves upon General Gordon Granger’s arrival in Galveston. Arriving two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, this was the document that brought freedom to the slave in Texas on June 19, 1865. Long celebrated in Texas, the Juneteenth holiday that commemorates this document is now a national holiday. The Texas Hall of State and other museums at Fair Park hold regular hours. Check before visiting.

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