A very dear friend of ours published a book last week called Lost Dallas. In this book, Mark Doty reviews the buildings Dallas has lost over the years, providing excellent insight into the art, architecture, and history. We sat down with him to discuss this book (and squeal about him becoming an overnight sensation!). Here’s what he has to say…
We love vintage- this you know. However, we want to know why they’re called “historical” buildings, not “vintage” buildings. Thoughts?
The term ‘historic’ is the accepted term for buildings over a certain age. However, ‘vintage’ is quite lovely and applicable.
What motivated you to write this book?
I was cleaning out some files in my office, I found one full of images and information on demolished buildings. This turned into a lecture at Preservation Dallas on ‘Lost Dallas’ which in turn led to contact from Arcadia Publishing on the interest in writing a book on the subject.
You’ve been the historic preservation officer for the City of Dallas for years – why a book now?
I have worked for the City six years, the HPO for almost two. Quite simply, I was asked to do it.
What’s the one question no one has asked you about your book that you’d wish someone would?
Why didn’t people do more to save some of these buildings?
What’s your favorite still-existing building in Dallas?
Oh, that is a tough one….there are some many. The Statler Hilton, the old City Hall, Union Station, the streetscape of Bishop Arts, the list is endless. There are favorites for many different parts of town and for different reasons.
What’s your favorite building in Dallas that you wish was never torn down?
The Sanger Library branch in South Dallas. It was a great building, had a fantastic street presence and could have become an asset to the neighborhood, but is now an overgrown vacant lot.
Explain your title, other than the obvious?
‘Lost Dallas’ is pretty explanatory, but I think it goes beyond just the buildings. It speaks to the people, places and events that have all led to the creation of the mysterious and baffling place we call home.
Was it your life dream to be all about architecture and preservation? What caused you to dedicate your life to historical preservation?
I’ve always been interested in old buildings. My hometown of Abilene, Texas embarked on a plan for downtown that sparked a nationally recognized revitalization project that breathed new life into many historic, important buildings.
What was the best part / your favorite part of the process of writing this book?
The best part was just learning more about the very interesting city I have chosen to call home.
Is there anything in your book that you think will surprise Dallas?
That there were some incredible buildings here at one time, but also I hope people will look around them and see what is still standing. Which is quite a bit.
Is there one building’s story that has really stuck with you, or you think is absurd or interesting?
Several buildings that were determined historic or on the verge of salvation (the Kress Building, the Volk Brothers Building) were demolished in the dead of night once the building owners caught wind of possible designation. They simply didn’t want it, so they ruined the buildings.
When can we expect another book? We’d like to suggest “the best headstones in Dallas” or “forgotten cemeteries” or “favorite graffiti” as potential subjects.
I do have some ideas floating around in my head, but none I can share at this time. But there will be more, I promise.
Most importantly – where can our readers purchase their books?
Online at Arcadia Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, several retailers around Dallas, Preservation Dallas, Dallas Center for Architecture or at City Hall, 5BN.
To help ensure that more buildings don’t fall into the same category of those featured on the book, get involved with Preservation Dallas! They are an organization dedicated to (you guessed it!) preserving Dallas. “Preservation Dallas is dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of the city’s historic buildings, neighborhoods and places.” They offer in-town outings, which is a great way to interactively learn about Dallas, as well as other activities, events, seminars, and, yes, even a Young Professionals group that has great events and happy hours.