Tax Credit Program Highlight: Old Dallas Central Library

Dallas, Dallas



Listed in National Register as part of Downtown Dallas Historic District

Historic Use

Public Library

Current Use


Date Certified

February 12, 2018


Also certified for Federal Historic Tax Credits.

Project Contact

Commerce Statler, LLC; Merriman Anderson Architects


The Old Dallas Central Library was built in 1955 on the site of the previous library—the Carnegie Library, which was originally financed with $50,000 donated by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie. The conception for the new library came after argument erupted in the 1940s over which city (Dallas or Oklahoma City) had the nation’s worst public library. The library is an excellent example of midcentury modern architecture and was designed to complement the Statler Hilton Hotel which was being built simultaneously next door. Prolific architect George Dahl, one of the founders of the Texas Society of Architects and one of the most prominent architects in Dallas, designed the library. It notably features a glossy black marble entry and an interior similar to modern department stores of the era.

Rehabilitation Project

The building has remained vacant since the library left in 1982, suffering subsequent deterioration. It was purchased along with the neighboring Statler Hotel for private redevelopment in 2012, although the project took several years to complete. Important interior features remained, like built-in bookcases and a basement auditorium, although many basic finishes were missing. The open floor plans, which were important to preserve, made finding a new use a challenge. The Dallas Morning News was previously housed in a 1949 Dahl building, and the organization was looking to downsize into another building with similar architectural significance. The library happened to fit their size and space needs, exactly—with the open volume creating a collaborative and bustling news room. The presence of daily office workers is also helping to breathe new life into this once-dead section of downtown Dallas.

Photo Gallery

Click on any image to view the photo gallery.

  • The front of the library consists of white marble and black granite panels. The marble panels had become warped over time, due to a process called 'thermal hysteresis' related to freeze-thaw cycles. Some of the large, heavy panels, fell off the building during the course of the construction.