Thursday, May 28, 2015

Old Dallas library will become new downtown office digs

Venture Commercial and Centurion Development are hunting office tenants to fill the old Dallas Central Library on Commerce Street. (Venture)
Venture Commercial and Centurion Development are hunting office tenants to fill the old Dallas Central Library on Commerce Street. (Venture)
A downtown Dallas landmark building is hitting the market as a new address for business offices.
The 60-year-old former Dallas Central Library at Commerce and Harwood streets is owned by Centurion Development Group – the same company that is renovating the Statler-Hilton Hotel next door.
Centurion has hired Venture Commercial to hunt office tenants for the 4-story, 120,000-square-foot building.
“There is retail possibility on the ground floor of the library, but most likely it will be all office,” said Venture’s Scott Lake who is marketing the property.





It’s one of the last largely untouched buildings  designed by the noted Dallas architect George Dahl.
Built for $2.5 million, the library was “designed to house 800,000 volumes of books, with provisions for adding two more stories in the future.”
Many of Dallas’ buildings constructed in the 1940s and 1950s were built with structures to allow more floors on top.
The Commerce Street library replaced the old classical style Carnegie Library with a modern style building.
The project came with a fair share of controversy.
A 20-foot high sculpture that used to adorn the front of the library was done by artist Marshall Fredericks to depict a young boy standing in the hands of God and holding a book.
The story goes that the original version was missing something – the boy’s pants.
Needless to say a pair of aluminum blue jeans was quickly found for the 880-pound sculpture.
Inside the building a gilded metal sculptural mural designed by Italian artist Harry Bertoia was labeled “ a bunch of junk” by Dallas Mayor R.L. Thornton.
Dahl in a huff had the artwork removed from the library and took it home after cutting the city a check for the cost.
After months of bickering a private group came up with the money to pay for the mural and bring it back to the library.
It went to the new library on Young Street after it opened in 1982. But the blue jean boy sculpture was left behind at the old building and was moved in 1993 to the Marshall Fredericks Sculpture Museum in Michigan.
A 1953 article in The Dallas Morning News announces the new library building. (DMN archives)
A 1953 article in The Dallas Morning News announces the new library building. (DMN archives)
Steve Brown/Dallas Morning News