The Old Red Museum offers new historical discoveries in abundance – not only in our galleries, but also within the building itself. Original construction of the Old Red Courthouse took place in 1892, undergoing many transformations throughout the years, which ultimately led to the beautiful restoration of today. Authentic features and architectural elements have been uncovered to display a truly magnificent piece of Dallas County history.
Four decorative creatures perch atop the Old Red Museum. These terra cotta figures are acroteria in the shape of wyverns (from the Latin word for “serpent”). These wyverns have two legs, wings and a spiny back. Two of the figures were removed in 1967 and reconstructed as part of the restoration process of the 2000s. The remaining two are original.
The newly restored clock tower stands at 90 feet tall, which is almost half of the entire height of the Old Red Museum. The original clock tower was removed in 1919, and its restoration was completed in 2007. All four clock faces are lit from the inside, making Old Red one of the truly unique sights of the downtown Dallas nighttime skyline.
The Old Red Dallas County Courthouse originally contained six courtrooms. Today, the Hatton W. Sumners Restored Courtroom on the fourth floor of Old Red stands as a testament to the craftsmanship and detail of the 1892 courthouse. Fully restored, it contains an elaborate judge’s bench, jury box and gallery seating.
The Grand Staircase has been completely restored to its original 1892 appearance. Dallas County expanded rapidly throughout the early 19th century, and in 1920 the original staircase was removed in order to make room for additional offices. Today, genuine remnants of the staircase are restored with reconstructed sections to create Old Red’s most impressive physical feature.
More than one hundred vivid stained glass windows, or lunettes (French for “little moon”), originally hung in the upper windows of Old Red. From 1892 through 1967, these lunettes were the highlight of the Dallas County Courthouse. In 1967, during a major renovation of the building, the lunettes were removed. Two original lunettes were recovered during Old Red’s restoration, and lunettes in the Hatton W. Sumners Restored Courtroom have been replaced.
Help Fund our Lunette Project!
Your donations will allow us to replace the half-moon windows throughout Old Red with the beautiful stained glass lunettes that originally graced the building. Recreating and installing each lunette will cost between $2500 and $5000, depending upon the size and placement in the building.
If you are interested in sponsoring a lunette for the building, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The brightly glowing Pegasus gracing the Old Red Museum’s first floor was originally built for the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. The Pegasus at Old Red was most recently found at the Casa Linda Mobil Gas Station, east of downtown Dallas. When the shopping center was demolished, Pegasus was salvaged by the Old Red Museum. Today it greets visitors, leading them up the Grand Staircase to the second floor Museum galleries.
An original building feature, the vault was found behind a bookshelf during the restoration process. The restorers worked for weeks to uncover the original façade, cleaning the surface one square inch at a time. Much of the existing paint is original, with bright colors and intricate designs on all faces of the vault’s heavy steel door. Land deeds and other records were kept inside the vault, labeled as the property of the Dallas County Treasurer.
Easter Egg: The Inner Workings of Old Red’s Clock Tower
Not too many people get the chance to see how Old Red’s “Hands of Time” move. Here is a special look at the mechanism behind our stunning clock. Enjoy.