Hall Gone

Legendary Dallas architect Herbert M. Greene built Proctor Hall 85 years ago. Today, a California health-care provider's having it torn down.

By the end of the day -- hell, by the time you read this, most likely -- the 85-year-old Proctor Hall on Haskell Avenue will be no more.

"It's being taken down as we speak," Preservation Hall's interim executive director Katherine Seale tells Unfair Park this morning. It was just one week ago that Seale discovered that California-based Skilled Healthcare Group had filed a permit to demolish the building to make way for a rehab facility. Despite her efforts -- and those of city councilperson Angela Hunt and others -- Skilled Healthcare is going ahead with its plans. It's the opposite of what Hunt asked for last week: for the California folks to come in and act like "good neighbors."

Seale says crews began showing up yesterday to tear down the former YWCA women's dormitory, which is what the building was for most of it 85 years. She got a call at 3 p.m. Wednesday from someone who told her demolition had begun. "It will probably be gone today," Seale says of the building designed by legendary Dallas architect Herbert M. Greene. "And that sucks."

Seale says two members of Preservation Dallas -- a board member and another longtime member -- actually offered to buy back the property from Skilled Healthcare; they also offered to try to find the company an adjacent piece of land on which they could build their rehab. Seale say those offers were spurned. The Dallas Central Appraisal District has the property valued at $459,280.

The building's being demolished because it has no protection from the wrecking ball; its previous owners, the Dallas Theological Seminary, didn't want it to have landmark status so they could sell it for the highest price to a developer who'd be able to do whatever they wanted with and to the property. It's called "demolition by negelect," a phrase preservationists use with little pleasure.

Last week Hunt said she would ask Preservation Dallas to assemble a list of other properties in immediate need of protection, which can be given only with the Landmark Commission's approval. Seale says she received an e-mail from the city only yesterday about assembling such an inventory.

"'They have assigned a staff person to come up with a list, with Preservation Dallas, that identifies the crown jewels still left undesignated in the city so they can flag those properties as demolition permits are filed," Seale says. She figures there are "at least 25 buildings" in need of protection from demolition or alteration, not to mention "all the old buildings in Deep Ellum." (More about that later today.) There is no time frame yet for the creation of a list.

But, Seale says, "I am sure we'll be inspired to set one after today." --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky