NATIONAL MODEL: ADAPTIVE RE-USE OF AN HISTORIC SPACE
The Historic Turtle Creek Pump Station, an old and architecturally significant Dallas Landmark, has become the home of the Sammons Center for the Arts thanks to efforts and foresight of the City of Dallas and Dallas arts supporters.
The Pump Station, which is the oldest public city building in Dallas, was completed in 1909 and was the sole source of water for the City of Dallas until 1930. The building was designed by the prominent Dallas architectural firm of C. A. Gill & Sons, who also designed many of the city’s imposing residences and the City’s third City Hall.
By 1930, the Pump Station became obsolete, but continued to house many other functions of the Dallas Water Utilities. In the early 1950s, portions of the South and West walls were destroyed to make way for the widening of Harry Hines Blvd. A new wall was constructed and the shape of the building was permanently altered to the unusual configuration visible today. In 1954, the Pump Station building was retired from active service and virtually abandoned.
On June 24, 1981, the Turtle Creek Pump Station was designated as an historic landmark by the Dallas City Council on the recommendation of the Historic Landmark Preservation Committee, the City Planning Commission and the Water Utilities Committee.
Proposals for the restoration and use of the building were invited by the City of Dallas. Seven were submitted, both for commercial and nonprofit use. Under the leadership of its President, Mrs. Jo Kurth Jagoda, the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra proposed joint occupancy and use by a coalition of nonprofit arts organizations. This was the proposal selected by the City Council, and the City leased the building at generous terms to this coalition. The Coalition, now known as Sammons Center for the Arts (formerly the Turtle Creek Center for the Arts), was formed to solicit funds for the reconstruction and restoration of the building. Led by Chairman Joe M. Dealey, Sr., and John M. Stemmons, the organization raised $2.5 million dollars over the next seven years to complete the renovation.
The construction began in 1986 and took two years to complete. The firm of ArchiTexas, headed by Mark Scruggs, was hired to design the interior and restore the exterior. The General Contractor for the project was the firm of Hill & Wilkinsen. The architects and contractors worked diligently to scrupulously observe Historic Landmark guidelines, and to preserve the original industrial character of the building. Open beam construction and exposed pipe and ductwork are featured throughout the building to remain consistent with its industrial origins. The original entry, which was on the South side of the building prior to the changes made in the 1950s, was reconstructed on the North side of the building featuring a beautiful lunette window crowning the facade. The result is a beautifully restored neoclassical building which has won several awards for innovative architectural renovation and its successful approach to adaptive reuse of a historically significant building.
The Sammons Center opened on March 1, 1988 to critical acclaim by artists and architects alike. The building is named in honor of the principal benefactors to the project, Mr. & Mrs. Charles A. Sammons. It features over 19,000 square feet of office, rehearsal,meeting and performance space. The Center is home to 12 nonprofit arts organizations, and is used for rehearsals, meetings, workshops, auditions and performances by over 50 additional cultural and community organizations. The Center is operated as a not-for-profit corporation organized under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. The organization strives to be self-supporting through rental income and fundraising efforts.
The Sammons Center is unique in scope and concept. There are no other facilities in the United States that are quite like it. It remains an outstanding example of a public/private partnership and community cooperation.