Texas School Book Depository

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Texas School Book Depository
Dallas County Admin Building.jpg
Dallas County Administration Building in 2015, formerly the Texas Depository
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Texas School Book Depository
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Texas School Book Depository
Former namesSouthern Rock Island Plow Company
Texas School Book Depository
Alternative namesDallas County Administration Building
The Sixth Floor Museum
General information
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
Address411 Elm St.
Dallas, Texas
CountryUnited States
Coordinates 32°46′47″N96°48′30″W / 32.77972°N 96.80833°W / 32.77972; -96.80833 Coordinates: 32°46′47″N96°48′30″W / 32.77972°N 96.80833°W / 32.77972; -96.80833
Elevation455 feet (139 m)
Construction started1901;121 years ago (1901)
Renovated1981;41 years ago (1981)
Owner Dallas County
Technical details
Structural systemB-Reinforced Concrete Frame Piers
Floor count8
Floor area80,000 feet (24,000 m) [1]
Design and construction
Main contractorRock Island Plow Company
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Texas School Book Depository
Dallas Landmark Historic District
Contributing Property
Part of
RTHL No. 6895
DLMKHD No. H/2 (West End HD)
Significant dates
Designated NHLDCPApril 19, 1993
Designated CPNovember 14, 1978
Designated RTHL1981
Designated DLMKHDOctober 6, 1975 [3]
Texas historical marker for the Texas School Book Depository Texas historical marker for the Texas School Book Depository.jpg
Texas historical marker for the Texas School Book Depository

The Texas School Book Depository, now known as the Dallas County Administration Building, is a seven-floor building facing Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. The building was Lee Harvey Oswald's vantage point during the assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The Warren Commission concluded that Oswald, an employee at the depository, shot and mortally wounded President Kennedy from a sixth floor window on the building's southeastern corner; Kennedy died at Parkland Memorial Hospital.


The building, located at 411 Elm Street on the northwest corner of Elm and North Houston Streets in downtown Dallas, is a Texas Historic Landmark.

Early history

The site of the building was originally owned by John Neely Bryan. [1] During the 1880s, Maxime Guillot operated a wagon shop on the property. In 1894, the Rock Island Plow Company bought the land, and four years later constructed a five-story building for its Texas division, the Southern Rock Island Plow Company. [1] In 1901, the building was hit by lightning and nearly burned to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1902 in the Commercial Romanesque Revival style and expanded to seven stories. In 1937, the Carraway Byrd Corporation purchased the property, but they defaulted on the loan. It was sold at public auction July 4, 1939 and purchased by D. Harold Byrd. [1] [4]

Under Byrd's ownership, the building remained empty until 1940, when it was leased by grocery wholesaler John Sexton & Co. Sexton Foods used this location as the branch office for sales, manufacturing, and distribution for the south and southwest United States. In November 1961, Sexton Foods moved to a modern distribution facility located at 650 Regal Row Dallas; by then, the building was known locally as the Sexton Building. The building was refurbished, and partitions, carpeting, air conditioning, and a new passenger elevator were added on the first four floors. [4]

Assassination of John F. Kennedy

In 1963, the building was in use as a multi-floor warehouse storing school textbooks and other related materials and an order-fulfillment center by the privately owned Texas School Book Depository Company, which had moved from the first floor of the adjacent Dal-Tex Building. [5] The company found that the upper floors had sustained oil damage from items stored there by the previous tenant, so they began to cover the floors with plywood to protect their books (stored in cardboard boxes) from the oil. [4] Work had begun on the west side of the sixth floor just before President Kennedy's motorcade, "leaving the whole scene in disarray, with stock shifted as far as the east wall, and stacks in between piled unusually high." [4] Lee Harvey Oswald was working as a temporary employee at the building, and fired three shots from a sixth floor window at the presidential motorcade on November 22, 1963.

Second building

The Texas School Book Depository Company maintained a second warehouse at 1917 Houston, several blocks north of the main building. The short four-story structure was well removed from the parade route, half-hidden on an unpaved section of Houston. Oswald's supervisor Roy Truly told the Warren Commission that he had the option to assign Oswald to either building on his first day at work. "Oswald and another fellow reported for work on the same day [October 15] and I needed one of them for the depository building. I picked Oswald." [6] This second building was eventually destroyed to make way for the Woodall Rodgers Freeway. [6]

Later years

During his two terms as mayor of Dallas, Wes Wise guided Dallas out from under the cloud of the assassination and at the same time saved the Texas School Book Depository from imminent destruction, preserving it for further research into the president's murder. [7]

The Texas School Book Depository Company moved out in 1970 and the building was sold at auction to Aubrey Mayhew, a Nashville, Tennessee music producer and collector of Kennedy memorabilia, by the owner D. H. Byrd. In 1972, ownership reverted to Bard, and the building was purchased in 1977 by the government of Dallas County. After renovating the lower five floors of the building for use as county government offices, the Dallas County Administration Building was dedicated on March 29, 1981. [8]

On President's Day 1989, the sixth floor opened to the public (for an admission charge) as the Sixth Floor Museum of assassination-related exhibits. On President's Day 2002, the seventh-floor gallery opened. [9] [10] The gallery opened on February 18, 2002 with the exhibit: "The Pulitzer Prize Photographs: Capture the Moment". [11] A $2.5 million renovation turned the storage area on the seventh floor into a new gallery space for the museum. Other exhibits that have hung in the space include works of Andy Warhol. [12] [13]

On May 4, 2010, burglars attempted to steal a safe from the Sixth Floor Museum, but fled when "they were confronted by a security guard," leaving the unopened safe suspended from a winch on the back of a truck. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Texas State Historical Association (2012). "The Handbook of Texas Online: Texas School Book Depository". Tshaonline.org. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  2. 1 2 "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
  3. Staff (August 4, 2016). "West End Historic District" (PDF). Department of Urban Planning, City of Dallas. p. 3. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Jerry Organ (2000). "Murder Perch to Museum". Marquette University.
  5. Co, R. L. Polk & (1961). "Dallas City Directory, 1961". The Portal to Texas History. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  6. 1 2 Bugliosi, Vincent (2007). Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York: W.W. Norton. p.  1455. ISBN   978-0-393-04525-3.
  7. Douglass, James W. JFK and the Unspeakable. Why he died and why it matters . Maryknoll, NY, Orbis Books, 2008, p. 295-298. ISBN   978-1-57075-755-6
  8. Fagin, Stephen (2013). Assassination and commemoration : JFK, Dallas, and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. p. 74. ISBN   9780806143583.
  9. Young, Jan (2006). Seventy-Seven Museum Gems. Lulu.com. p. 57. ISBN   136544399X. OCLC   980689344.
  10. "History of 411 Elm The Texas School Book Depository and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza" (PDF). JFK.org. August 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  11. "Sixth Floor Museum plans exhibit for 7th floor expansion". Dallas Business Journal. February 13, 2002. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  12. Kinzer, Stephen (March 3, 2003). "Mixing Tragedy With Art In Dallas; Book Depository Site Now Includes Gallery". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  13. Flick, David (November 2010). "47 years after JFK assassination, Sixth Floor Museum adapts to new era". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  14. Trahan, Jason (May 5, 2010). "Theft of safe at Sixth Floor Museum visitors center thwarted". The Dallas Morning News.