Dallas County Courthouse
Dallas, Texas
 
 
     
 
 
Frank Crowley Courts Building 
Completed -
1983
Architect -
Photos: Robert Deering 6/18/2016
 

COUNTY ORGANIZED: 1846

COUNTY NAMED FOR: Probably for George Mifflin Dallas, vice president of the United States under James K. Polk.

COUNTY SEATS: One - Dallas, Texas

COUNTY SEAT NAMED FOR: Same as county.

COURTHOUSES: Six - 1851, 1855, 1872, 1891, 1915, 1966, and 1983.

STANDING: Four -

  • 1891 Romanesque Revival building of red granite and sandstone.
  • 1915 Criminal Courts Renaissance Revival building is clad in granite, terra cotta, and brick.
  • 1966 Modern style Civil Courts building is made of steel and concrete.
  • 1983 Frank Crowley Courts Building 
 
 

1891 Courthouse
"Old Red"
 

1915 Courthouse
 
  
1966 Courthouse
 

The Frank Crowley Courts Building is used for crimnal law and is part of the Lew Sterrett Justice Center complex, which includes the Dallas County Sherriff's office and jail facilities.   

     

 

Dallas County Courthouse
Dallas, Texas

 
 George L. Allen Courts Building
Completed -
1966
Architect -
Photos: Robert Deering 2/1/2013

This building is currently used primarily for civil and family law.   It was also the county's main jail from 1966 - 1983 with room for 800 inmates at the top of the building. 

 

Dallas County Courthouse
Dallas, Texas

 
Criminal Courts Building
 Completed - 1915
Architect -
Photos: Robert Deering 2/1/2013

Completed in 1915, the old Dallas County Criminal Courts Building is located across the street from the old Dallas County (a.k.a. "Old Red") Courthouse.

While its first couple of floors were indeed devoted to courtrooms and administration offices of Dallas’ criminal courts system, it was -- by most accounts at the time of its inauguration -- primarily a county jail, connected to the 1891 Dallas County Courthouse via a tunnel system.

When originally completed, the building was the pride of the town: one of the country’s most modern -- and attractive -- jails designed to look like an office building.  
When the building was constructed, Dallas County still participated in hangings. Executions had been conducted outside on gallows, but they were moved inside the "Old Jail" and continued until the mid-1920's.

Famous characters that have spent time here include Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde); Raymond Hamilton (a member of the Barrow gang), and Harvey Bailey, once known as "the dean of American bank robbers."

The Criminal Courts Building / Jail earned its first measure of notoriety in 1925 when a lynch mob nearly took over; Gene Autry memorialized that moment in the early 1930's with "The Dallas County Jail Blues" tune. Nowadays, its biggest claim to fame has been the role it played after the JFK assassination: alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was going to be taken from the Dallas City Jail to this location on Sunday, November 24, 1963 when he was shot and killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Ironically enough, it was Jack Ruby who was ultimately incarcerated in this specific building and who was tried in one of the building's downstairs courtrooms in 1964.

The building has been largely abandoned since 1966: one courtroom was refurbished in the 1980's for use as a probate court, but the entire structure -- and most importantly, all the upper floor jail cells -- closed in the mid ’90s. The building is now in serious need of restoration, and as of 2014, 50 years after JFK's assassination, there are talks to revitalize it to its old glory.
 

 

Dallas County Courthouse
Dallas, Texas

 "Old Red"
Completed -
1891
Architect - Maximillian A. Orlopp, Jr.
Photos: Robert Deering 2/1/2013

The Dallas County Courthouse, built in 1891 of red sandstone rusticated marble accents, is a historic governmental building located at 100 South Houston Street in Dallas, Texas. Also known as the Old Red Courthouse, it is now the Old Red Museum, a local history museum. It was designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture by architect Max A. Orlopp, Jr.of the Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1966 it was replaced by a newer courthouse building nearby.

The original clock tower had to be removed in 1919 due to structural weakness, but it was restored in 2007 during a rennovation project.  

On December 12, 1976, it was added to the 
National Register of Historic Places. In 2005-2007 the building was renovated.
 

RENOVATION: Complete - Rededication May 15, 2007


         
       
         
             
         


1891 Courthouse
With Originaal Clock Tower

1891 Courthouse
Photo: TXDoT 1939
 
1891 Courthouse
Photo: Robert Deering 1973

1891 Courthouse
Photo: Robert Deering 1973