A historic building has been shut down due to its deteriorating state. It's the Blum House, located at Dallas Heritage Village across from downtown Dallas, whose board voted on September 12 to close the building out of concern for visitor safety.
Located in Old City Park, Dallas Heritage Village (DHV) is a museum with a collection of historic buildings and furnishings from 1840-1910. They host school tours, meetings, and other civic events.
"That particular building is considered fairly significant, and it's memorable because it's lilac and it's fancy," says Melissa Prycer, director at DHV.
In recent years, it has served as an interpretation of how a kosher Jewish family might have lived in Dallas nearly a century ago. "In the Cedars neighborhood, there were five synagogues within walking distance, and it was a story that we felt needed to be told," Prycer says.
Its roof began leaking after all the rain in June, which caused damage to the interior. The structure also needs foundation work and major work on the windows. Issues include rotting wood mold, and fleas. Repairs are estimated to cost around $650,000.
All of the properties at the Village are owned by the city of Dallas. The city allocates some funds to the museum annually for expenses like HVAC repair, plumbing repair, and porch and ramp maintenance.
Last year, the organization received $102,000 from the city, a third of which was spent on maintenance.
Navigating through City Hall is complicated on its own, but DHV has double trouble because it's forced to deal with two departments.
"We are the only group that has a management agreement that is technically with the Parks Department and yet we get our funding with the Office of Cultural Affairs," she says. "You might remember that the OCA budget was the last city department to get its pre-recession funding level back."
Over the last several years, DHV has spent more than $700,000 on various restoration projects, which they get from individual donors, foundations, and grants.
In fact, the organization just announced two major new gifts.
One is $165,000 from Charlotte Test, and will provide funding for an "Early Childhood Educator" position that will be shared between Vogel Alcove and Dallas Heritage Village. Prycer says this position will strengthen their ongoing partnership, continue current early childhood programming and develop new programming at DHV.
The other is $500,000 from the Joe M. and Doris R. Dealey Foundation, to be used over five years to support DHV's heritage animal program. They currently have three donkeys, chickens, and three sheep. It will enable them to hire an additional animal care assistant, maintain animal facilities, and add more animals. They'll also restore the barn behind Millermore with an exhibition space for some of their carriages.
Prycer says they hope the closure of the Blum House brings awareness to the deferred maintenance situation that's a problem not just for their institution, but for all city-owned facilities.
"The city is responsible for the upkeep of our buildings," she says. "There's all this excitement when you save a building, but once that building has been saved, you need to continue to maintain it."