20 DFW history hot spots that have nothing to do with JFKFrom an American history standpoint, Dallas will probably always be known primarily as the site of one of the darkest days in the country's history. But a whole lot of other interesting, non-tragic stuff has happened here in the Metroplex, as evidenced by the following 20 points of historical interest in DFW.
1. The Old Red Museum
There's no better place for soaking up Dallas history than in the Old Dallas County Courthouse, lovingly known as Old Red. The structure, built in 1892, now houses both a wide array of immersive learning tools like touchscreen computers you're encouraged to touch on your stroll through the history of the city, and breathtaking artifacts you're not-so-encouraged to touch.
here's no better place for soaking up Dallas history than in the Old Dallas County Courthouse, lovingly known as Old Red. The structure, built in 1892, now houses both a wide array of immersive learning tools like touchscreen computers you're encouraged to touch on your stroll through the history of the city, and breathtaking artifacts you're not-so-encouraged to touch.
In 1991, Trees in Deep Ellum hosted an up-and-coming act out of Seattle called Nirvana in a show that went so famously off the rails—with Cobain smashing a soundboard, among other equipment—it's a legit Dallas legend at this point.
3. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
At this expansive complex on the campus of Southern Methodist University, visitors can explore the life and presidency of George W. Bush, arguably the most famous of all former Texas Rangers owners.
4. Log Cabin Village
It stands to reason that there's no better way to live history than with a living history museum, and that's what you get at Log cabin Village in Ft. Worth, where Texas's Pioneer Era comes alive with historically accurate models of cabins, a smokehouse and a blacksmith shop, among other hands-on exhibits.
5. Thistle Hill Museum
Experience the sweet, sweet rewards of being a 19th century cattle baron without all the burrs in your saddle. One of the last surviving mansions of the so-called Cattle Baron Era, visitors can immerse themselves Cowtown history with tours of the nearly 11,000-foot Georgian Revival-style structure, which is on the Historic Registry and has been restored to its 1912 state.
6. Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House
Score points with the architecture buff in your life and take a stroll back in time at the Ball-Eddleman-McFarland House near Sundance Square in Ft. Worth. Built in 1899, the house is known as Ft. Worth's "premiere example of Queen Anne-style Victorian architecture."
7. John Neely Bryan's Cabin
See where Dallas all began, kind of, at this reconstructed model of the home and trading post of Dallas founder John Neely Bryan, which Bryan erected way back in 1841. You'll know it when you see it, as it's the only 19th Century-style log cabin in Downtown Dallas.
8. Stockyards Museum
For a more distinctly western brand of history than anything you'll find in Dallas (aside from that one log cabin maybe), learn how the livestock trade helped shape the City of Ft. Worth as we know it now at the Stockyards Museum, located in the historic Livestock Exchange Building.
9. DeGolyer House
Located on the grounds of the Dallas Arboretum, the house was built in 1940 by legendary oilman Everette Lee DeGolyer and his wife Nell, and many of the original garden features of the architecturally significant hacienda remain, including the Sunken Garden and the Octagonal Fountain.
10. Leonard's Department Store Museum. For maybe the purest slice of Americana we've found in the Metroplex, head to Fort Worth's Leonard Department Store, where from 10-4 Monday through Friday, you can see a beautifully preserved snapshot of life before shopping malls, when the Department Store was king. Oh, and if all that reflecting on simpler times whets your appetite, you can grab a burger and a beer at the adjoining M&O Station Grill.
11. Fielder House Museum
Constructed for Mr. and Mrs. James Park Fielder in 1914, the Fielder Museum now serves as a sort of historical center of Arlington, with such past exhibits as "Faces of Arlington: WWII," a look back at the city and her residents' role in the Second Great War.
12. The Mary Kay Museum
Located inside Mary Kay World Headquarters in Addison, fans of the direct-sale cosmetics giant can follow the history of Mary Kay Inc. from its beginning in 1963 to present day—no pink Cadillac required.
13. Milo Butterfinger's
Okay, this isn't like the craziest historical connection we've got, but Milo Butterfinger's, a fun neighborhood bar near Southern Methodist University, can be seen as the backdrop of a bar fight scene in the 1984 film "Born on the Fourth of July," as well as in multiple episodes of "Walker, Texas Ranger." If you're still on the fence about checking it out, remember: It is a bar.
14. The Belo House
Built for Dallas Morning News founder Alfred Horatio Belo in 1900, and the home of the Dallas Bar Association for the past 40-plus years, the locally famous structure was the home of the Loudermilk-Sparkman Funeral Home from 1926 to 1976. As such, it provided the backdrop in 1934 when infamous Dallas outlaw Clyde Barrow's bullet-riddled body was put on display in front of the building following his death at the hands of Texas Rangers.
15. Sons of Hermann Hall
The Hall itself has been around since 1910, and it's become known as a legendary live music venue in the years since 1980—as evidenced by the many photos on the walls—but once upon a time, it had another life as the headquarters of the Detroit PD in the classic 1987 film "RoboCop," which was filmed partly in Dallas and remains a tremendous source of civic pride (for me anyway).
16. Renaissance Tower
Renaissance Tower downtown has the distinction of being a former Tallest Building in Dallas (it held the title from when it was completed in 1974 to 1985), but we're mostly including it because the building's exterior served as the "home" of Ewing Oil for eight seasons of the show "Dallas."
17. Highland Park Village
A living and pretty damn luxurious piece of retail history, Highland Park Village was the first self-contained shopping center in the United States when it was completed in 1931.
18. Hotel Indigo
When Paris's grandfather Conrad Hilton opened the building that is now Hotel Indigo in 1925, the Hilton Hotel as it was known became the first hotel in the world with the Hilton name on it. They have opened a few more around the world since then.
19. The Star in Frisco
Hey, sports history is still history, and as far as pro football organizations go, the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of history. You can soak that history up at the team's new headquarters, The Star in Frisco, which houses the team's Super Bowl Memorabilia & Station as well as the Nike Star Walk, which documents the history of the Cowboys and a display of the team's uniforms from 1960 to present.
20. The Majestic Theatre
Most of Dallas's Theater Row is long gone, but The Majestic Theatre remains as the last vestige of another time in the city's history. The Majestic hosted acts such as Harry Houdini, Milton Berle and Mae West in the years after its completion in 1921, and, almost a century later, having served a movie theater for several decades in the interim, it is back to a premier live performance venue for the city.
Scott Crisp is a writer, comedian and native of Dallas, Texas. He has lived in the Metroplex for three decades and will probably never fully get over the closing of his favorite dive, Club Schmitz.