You'd be surprised by what you can find when you renovate a decades-old building
This month, the first phase of the $200 million renovation of the Dallas County Records Building comes to a close. That phase has involved the demolition of some of the building's interior components – and that's where some of the historical artifacts of note have come to light.
Some of those artifacts – like the doors and water fountains marked 'Whites Only' – recall some of the county's less-than-flattering practices.
Others, like colorful portraits and decorative molding discovered inside the legendary (Jack) Ruby courtroom, recall the building's more colorful and glamorous, years. After all, this is the building in which Jack Ruby was found guilty of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald and where Clyde Barrow was jailed before he set off on his crime spree with Bonnie Parker.
The demolition has even revealed a mysterious staircase, its purpose uncertain, inside one of the building's interior walls.
Many of the items are being saved, with hopes that display space can be found for them either in the renovated building or another museum nearby. And much of the refuse generated during the first phase is finding new life in innovative ways. For example, the sledgehammers used on April 25 to ceremoniously launch the project's second phase were comprised entirely from debris caused by the first-phase demolition.
This summer, the renovation enters its second phase, which included the demolition and rebuilding of floor and ceiling slabs. No doubt, more intriguing artifacts of history will appear as the project moves toward its expected completion in mid-2020.
Dr. Elba Garcia
Dallas County Commissioner, District 4