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After Years Of Abandonment, What The Statler Hilton Can Teach Us About Preservation

The Statler Hilton in Dallas.
Miguel Perez for KERA News
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The Statler Hilton.

A group of architecture buffs got a sneak peek at the Statler Hilton in downtown Dallas. The 1950s icon was the place where Tina Turner famously dumped her abusive husband Ike. Abandoned since 2001, it’s now being transformed into a hotel and apartment building.

Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was in town for Preservation Dallas’ annual awards ceremony, which was held at the Statler. It’s her first time back at the historic hotel since 2010, and she said a lot has changed.

“It was a little spooky, actually,” she said. “There were remnants of the hotel. It was like it had just been  abandoned, so it’s great to be back. It looks fantastic.”

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Credit Miguel Perez for KERA News.
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Stephanie Meeks is the president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Though the Statler sat empty in downtown for years before a developer took it on, Meeks says that’s not unusual for historic buildings marked for preservation.

“It really is a long game. Wins don't usually happen very quickly, and the Statler is a good example of that.”

In this conversation, you’ll hear:

  • How preservation affects affordability
  • Whether gentrification can be avoided when trying to preserve historic buildings
  • Why cities like Dallas have a checkered history with preservation
Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and KERANews.org. She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News has earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.