In 1956, Dallas gained what was hailed as the finest hotel of modern times: the Statler-Hilton, located downtown at 1914 Commerce Street. The building boasted amenities unheard of at the time, including elevator music, custom 21” Westinghouse television sets, as well as conference rooms and ballrooms on the lower levels. The hotel had one-thousand rooms and twenty stories.
The hotel was inspired by Conrad Hilton and constructed by William Tabler, and it was the nation’s first glass-and-metal building. The grand structure brought celebrities from around the world to Dallas, soon making it the south’s “convention city.” This news story from the KXAS-NBC-5 News Collection gives an overview of the opening of the Statler-Hilton.
Dallas was able to grow on many levels due to the establishment of this new downtown landmark. Comedian George Gobel headlined an opening event for the hotel, which raised a large sum of money for the Southwestern Medical Foundation. The hotel became home to the city’s first heliport soon after its opening debut, making Dallas the fifth city in the country to offer taxi service via helicopter. You can read more about the heliport in this news story from the KXAS-NBC 5 Collection. In the years following the hotel’s opening, celebrities, politicians, and military men came to stay, entertain, and raise funds for charity in Dallas.
The Statler-Hilton was later renamed the Dallas Grand Hotel, and it has been vacant since 2001. Today, it is under renovation. Next year, it is expected to reopen with a total of 219 luxury residences and 161 hotel rooms. The Old Dallas Central Library is also part of the renovation project, which will be named the Statler Hotel and Residences. A “black box” music venue is planned for the hotel’s lower level. Additional amenities included in the renovation are four restaurants, a lounge, boutique shopping, and plenty of office and meeting space.
The fate of the Statler-Hilton hotel in Dallas hung in the air for over a decade before the renovation project began. With promises to restore the hotel and surrounding areas of downtown Dallas to its earlier era of luxury and wealth, the Statler Hotel and Residences may be one of the most important projects in Dallas in recent years. More information about the hotel, and the many events hosted there, can be found in the KXAS-NBC 5 News Collection, which offers news scripts, clips, and log books from 1956 onward.
-by Alexandra Traxinger Schütz