The Statler Hilton Hotel, Dallas 1956 – Part I: Building Materials & Furnishings


Preface:

I’ve wanted to write several of these history blog posts but I get caught up in my desire to be as thorough as possible. As a result, I don’t finish them. (I started this blog December 2018).  The flip side, I’m not sure readers want every bit of minutiae I can unearth from my research. It is a delicate balance.

When I gained online access to the Dallas Morning News archives, I spent hours dumpster diving, so to speak.  I was unearthing newspaper articles that had long been forgotten but are fascinating treasures.  I bagged all my treasures and stuffed them into my email as file attachments to be organized later.

What was I collecting that was so interesting?  The construction, furnishing and grand opening of The Statler Hotel in 1956.  When buried under all the newspaper archives, you can come very close to transporting yourself to that time, albeit only in your imagination. (I wasn’t even born then!)

This blog will highlight some of my favorite details about The Statler.  You’ll see newspaper advertisements, articles from 1956 and also current photos when the hotel reopened in 2017.  I typed headlines and excerpts from the newspaper for ease of reading.  All images are clickable for expanded view.

To keep the blog manageable and organized, I will publish multiple posts.   This post will focus on building materials and furnishings for the Statler Hotel. 


Hotel Details:

Pre-opening festivities for the press, celebrities and dignitaries:  Sunday, January 15, 1956

Opened to the public:  Thursday, January 19, 1956

Owner:  Conrad Hilton

Location:  Dallas, Texas

Cost:  $16 million

Number of employees:  1000+

Number of rooms:  1,001


Interesting Details Inside the Hotel

Westinghouse televisions in every room!


“If you’ve ever been a guest at a Hilton hotel, you know that quality of service is the keynote… including quality of entertainment.  That’s why the management of the Statler-Hilton, Dallas, selected Westinghouse Television and Radio.”

“Beautiful new 21” Westinghouse Television – custom-styled to match the décor of every room, with features that include easier, more comfortable Tip-Top-Front-Tuning… slanted screen and filter glass to reduce room-light reflections…fine wood grain finish, durable, alcohol and cigarette-resistant… special centralized radio reception for complete entertainment and closed-circuit use.” – Dallas Morning News, January 19, 1956, page 11.  NewsBank.

Commentary:  I love the description of these state-of-the-art televisions.  Fine wood grain finish and they are even cigarette-resistant.  Very impressive!  Once you stay in the hotel, you’ll want your own Westinghouse.  You’re in luck.  You too can have one for a down payment of $10.00!  See the advertisement below.

“The Eyes of Dallas Are Upon Clay Locke’s.  Your Headquarters for Westinghouse Television”.  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 10. NewsBank


Bathrooms:  Mosaic Ceramic Tile

“These colorful, luxurious bathrooms give warm welcome to Dallas visitors and maintain the Statler Hilton tradition of fine hospitality.

We are proud to have installed the tile in this outstanding hotel, one of the largest ceramic tile installations in the Country.  Southern Marble & Tile Co.” – Dallas Morning News, January 19, 1956, page 11.  NewsBank.

Commentary:  I like the advertisement because we have a glimpse of luxurious bathrooms for the time period.  I’m also reminded of the time I stayed at the aged Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs.  The bathrooms in that hotel look similar to the advertisement.  They were charming at best…

Bathrooms:  Dressing Table

“The importance of excellent styling is reflected throughout the beautiful Statler Hilton Hotel.  Note the ‘Guestledge’ Lavatory-Dressing Table which is another example of thoughtful planning… Specially designed by American Standard for maximum utility in any bath size.”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 17. NewsBank

Commentary:  This was my bathroom at The Statler Hotel when I stayed in December 2018.  Times have changed!  I must have stared at my bathroom for 5 minutes, admiring every aspect of its spaciousness and sparkling newness!  This is the bathroom I measure all bathrooms against.  Also, you might have noticed, the ‘guestledge’ in my bathroom has certainly been expanded. #BestBathroomEver


Vacuum Cleaners!

“In leading hotels from New York to Beverly Hills, from Hartford to Dallas, the Regina Electrikbroom does a faster, easier, more thorough job of cleaning thousands of hotel and motel rooms every single day.  The same is true in 2-room apartments, 6-room houses, or 15-room country homes….

And when all’s spic-and-span, the dirt cup empties like an ash tray, the Electrikbroom hangs on any hook.  Regina Electrikbroom available at Sanger’s in Dallas… Leonard’s in Fort Worth”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 17. NewsBank

 

Commentary: 
– Ash trays aren’t often referenced anymore!
– Sanger’s (Sanger-Harris) is no longer in business.
– I looked up the Regina Corporation and learned it started out as a music box company before converting to vacuums.  I found a very entertaining video on YouTube that goes over the history and shows one of these vacuums still in action.  If you have 4 minutes visit Vacuum Wars.


Door Locks

“Rugged, man-size protection for guest room doors..”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 16. NewsBank

Commentary:  I looked up Hidell Hardware Company and they are still in business.

Also, you might enjoy this more recent photo from 2018.  A contrast of old and new.  If I’m not mistaken, it was that old Statler hotel room key that started my interest in collecting hotel ephemera.  I think you’ll agree, the key makes the shot.

 


Mattresses!

Statler Hilton has a luxurious Beautyrest mattress on every bed….

In each of 1,001 rooms, guests will enjoy the unique sleeping comfort provided by the one and only Beautyrest.  They’ll sleep completely relaxed on independent coils that give body-fitting comfort from head to toe.”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 5. NewsBank

Commentary:  Simmons Beautyrest still exists today!  You might even be sleeping on one.

Also, here’s a more recent image from 2018 showcasing the very comfortable bed.  You’ll note the designers stayed true to the original decor.  I love it.


Window Coverings

“1,206 Windows have the comfort-control of Levolor an amazing new venetian blind that stays fresh looking…

Now you can have Venetian Blinds with the clean, fresh look of just-laundered linen.  Not fabric really, but serviceable aluminum.”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 2. NewsBank

Commentary:  When I stayed at the Statler I was entertained by the automatic curtains I could open and close with a press of a button. I don’t have a photo showing the curtains but take a look at the old windows!  If I had to guess, the windows also suggest where the original walls may have been located (between the two windows).  The rooms would have been smaller.


Office Furniture

Vance K. Miller Company supplied the office furniture for the Statler.  I looked up the address, they were located across from the hotel.  The building has been replaced by a park that I have visited several times.  Here is a Google Maps view.  You can see the Statler between the trees in the background.


Wall Covering

“The new Statler Hilton Hotel in Dallas, Texas has a fresh, exciting look that Texans (and visitors) will find stimulating.  We’re proud of the part ‘forever NEW looking’ Vicrtex plays in its décor, just as we are of the forever bright-and-right part it plays in so many hotels, stores and restaurants all over the world.  It’s virtually indestructible, wipes clean with a damp cloth—looks as ‘fresh as a Texas sky’ practically INDEFINITELY!”  – Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 15. NewsBank

Commentary:  I like this advertisement because who would have imagined that we could discover the wall covering brand that was used in the original Statler?  It seems such details would be lost along with all the other details I have shared so far.  And yet here they are.

I found a website with ephemera for Vicrtex.  https://www.historicnewengland.org/explore/collections-access/gusn/316904/

I also discovered the brand still exists.


Crab Orchard Ledge Stone

“We Are Proud to Have Furnished Crab Orchard Ledge Stone in the Lobby and Garden Walls.  Flagstone on the Floor of the Roof Garden and Supper Room

Home Servicing Company”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 4. NewsBank


Wall Partitions

“We’re Spatially Glad to Be Here!  …and to have helped with the special problems of inner space at the new Dallas-Hilton
– Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 16. NewsBank


 

External Building Materials

“When designers of world-famous buildings create a hotel of elegance and distinction, exterior beauty is a first consideration.  Even before Dallas’ magnificent Statler Hilton was on the drawing boards, hotel executives and architects planned for a dramatic, colorful exterior.. in step with the brilliant future of the Southwest it will serve.”

“They chose the ageless beauty of porcelain enamel by Texlite..as modern as tomorrow..as enduring as steel itself.  More than 6,000 porcelain enamel insulating panels..approximately 65,000 square feet were custom-styled by Texlite for the exterior…”   -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 10. NewsBank

————

“Sheathed in both flat and embossed Texlite porcelain enamel insulating panels, this 1,001-room hotel embodies design principles entirely new in multi-storied structures.  It is the world’s first sky-scraper to make full use of flat-slab cantilever construction which eliminates about half the columns and footings necessary in conventional designs.”

“As a result of Texlite’s years of research and development, the hotel wall is only 1 1/2 inches thick.  Texlite produced about 6,000 wall panels.  Each is composed of a porcelain enamel surface focused on 20-gage enameling iron and bonded or laminated to 1/8-inch thick asbestos cement board.  Behind this is 1-inch fibre glass insulation.  Then comes a vapor barrier, followed by another 1/8-inch thick sheet of asbestos cement board, which after priming and painting, becomes the interior wall of the hotel room.”

– “Thin-Wall Construction Innovation in Building.” Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 3. NewsBank

 

Commentary:  Asbestos!  I have read there were many buildings downtown that had asbestos.  Some were demolished before realizing the dangers while others, like the Statler, had asbestos abatement and removal during its recent renovation.  Whew!


Bricks

“Brick by Brick Henderson Adds to Big ‘D’

We extend our sincere congratulations to the owner, Mr. Conrad Hilton, the architect, Mr. William B. Tabler, and to the general contractor, Robert E. McKee, Inc., for planning, designing and building the beautiful new Statler Hilton Hotel. 

It took a great deal of vision, confidence and courage for the Statler Hilton people to bring us this massive and beautiful hotel.  We are sure they shall never be disappointed in the potential Texas holds for them and other enterprising individuals who are not afraid to invest their capital in Texas.”  -Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 6. NewsBank

“The light grey face brick on the new Statler Hilton is a special design for the hotel.

Made by Henderson Clay Products of Henderson, Texas, the new brick was given the name ‘Statler Grey.’

Shortly after the contract was let for the hotel, William Tabler, the hotel’s architect, was contacted by Henderson representatives.  Samples of the shades and textures made by the company were shown Tabler, but the standard colors were not what he wanted to use.

The Henderson representatives then came to Dallas to study a model of the hotel which showed the exact colors of the building.  A special type of brick was made by the company, and was selected over other companies submitting bids.”  -“Texas Firm Made Brick.” Dallas Morning News, Final Edition ed., 19 Jan. 1956, p. 2. NewsBank

 

Commentary:  Statler Grey for the win!  This is an excellent example of Dale Carnegie’s principle #6.  “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” – Dale Carnegie.  I’m thinking next time you want to earn someone’s business, name the product after them.  😉

 


To sum up the effect of these advertisements, it makes me think of all the commerce that resulted from the building of the Statler.  1,001 televisions, 1,001 mattresses, 1,001 plumbing fixtures, etc.  Plus all the building materials and all the contractors who had a hand in the construction.  I also like the excitement and sense of pride that shines through the articles and advertisements.  

 

I’ll have more photos showing old and new in future blog posts.

 

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