Since January, a team of top historians have been working hard on Dallas Heritage Village’s latest exhibit. Have I mentioned that these historians are still in middle school and high school? Over the past several years, the Junior Historians have completed several projects (http://dhvblog.org/2011/07/19/a-new-generation-of-curators/)that have developed their historical muscles, which made them all the more ready for the challenges of the Worth Hotel project. Unlike our other projects, they had a wealth of primary sources to work with–census records, newspaper articles, and oral histories. Some of those primary sources didn’t exactly match up perfectly, so there was much discussion as we tried to get closer to the truth. Emily explained that process (http://dh ..
Repair work on the rear of the Worth Hotel is almost complete. It has been a fascinating process, because we uncovered so much evidence about the history of the hotel. Like many buildings, most major changes, such as additions, were in the back. Each left evidence for our intrepid detective, or rather carpenter, and his curator sidekick to discover. The hotel that stands so peacefully in the museum today has had an exhaustingly complex life. The simple rectangle you see today started out as a smaller rectangle. Then it grew longer. Then it became the top of a T when a new wing was added. Then the back got a new porch. Then the back burned and they repaired it. Then it moved to the museum, but we only took the front part. This summer, we removed much of the siding to repair ..
(/images/postimages/hotel.gif)What does it take to repair a historic structure that is a bit worn? In the case of the Worth Hotel, it took a village, a charitable foundation, a social services organization, three generous corporations, a self-taught carpenter who used to fix trolley cars, and an unemployed history major. The Worth Hotel was never intended to be a beautiful structure. Traveling salesmen looking for a place to stay did not expect much in the way of aesthetics. For the past few years, this humble structure has looked alarmingly bad. Siding fell off, and we had to cover the hole with black plastic, which is incompatible with Victorian structures. Paint peeled and wasps lived happily in the walls. Visitors helpfully pointed out the problems, as if we might h ..