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A Tour of the Texas Hall of State

Return to: Texas Hall of State Intro

Texas Hall of State Exterior

Texas Hall of State, full length

Before entering this building the visitor should stand in front of it for a few moments to drink in its magnificence. Shaped like a gigantic inverted "T" (for Texas, of course), the building's exterior is made of native Texas limestone. It is a shrine to Texas history, its purpose to commemorate and honor the men and women who (to paraphrase Winston Churchill), with their blood, sweat, tears and toil, made the Lone Star state what it is today.

Hero NamesAlong the frieze along the top of the building are carved in large letters the names of fifty-nine prominent Texans of the past. With a few exceptions (Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, Francisco Vasquez De Coronado, and Alvar Nunez Cabeza De Vaca), only last names are found. Some of the names are somewhat obscure to modern-day Texans, others are immediately recognizable. There is also a little secret worked into the frieze: the first letter of the first eight names you see, as you face the building's front and read from left to right, spells out the last name of the architect who designed the Hall of State--Donald Barthleme (only the final "e" is missing.) Those Texans honored on the frieze are as follows:


  • William MENEFEE
  • Thomas J. CHAMBERS
  • Isaac VAN ZANDT
  • Thomas S. LUBBOCK


  • Edward BURLESON
  • Branch T. ARCHER
  • Thomas Jefferson RUSK
  • William Barret TRAVIS
  • James Stephen HOGG
  • Richard ELLIS
  • Mirabeau B. LAMAR
  • Ben MILAM
  • David G. BURNET
  • John Coffee "Jack" HAYS
  • Erastus "Deaf" SMITH
  • Albert Sidney JOHNSTON

    • James Butler BONHAM


  • J. Pinckney HENDERSON
  • Oran M. ROBERTS
  • Lorenzo de ZAVALA
  • James BOWIE
  • John REAGAN
  • Anson JONES
  • James FANNIN
  • Gail BORDEN
  • William H. WHARTON
  • Peter BELL
  • Jose NAVARRO
  • Elisha M. PEASE

    • David CROCKETT


    • Samuel WILLIAMS
    • Ben McCULLOCH
    • James W. ROBINSON
    • Matthew "Old Paint" CALDWELL


    • John HEMPHILL
    • George CHILDRESS
    • Thomas GREEN
    • Royal T. WHEELER
    • Benjamin C. FRANKLIN
    • Henry KARNES
    • Moseley BAKER
    • Walter LANE
    • Patrick JACK
    • Alonso Alvarez de PINEDA


    • Alonso de LEON
    • Hamilton P. BEE
    • William R. SCURRY
    • Memucan HUNT
    • Frank JOHNSON
    • Samuel CARSON
    • Sidney SHERMAN
    • Abner S. LIPSCOMB
    • George W. HOCKLEY
    • Henry W. BAYLOR
    • Robert M. WILLIAMSON

    (Further Note: In the case of some of these names, I have had to make an educated guess as to which particular individual the carved name honored. If you see an obvious error, please let me know by sending email to

    Portico Tejas

    The semi-circular paved area at the entrance to the building is called the "Portico Tejas." As visitors walk up its steps their eyes are usually drawn to the eleven-foot tall golden statue of the "Tejas Warrior" standing above the center doors, framed by 76-foot tall limestone pilasters. The statue, the work of Dallas artist Allie Victoria Tennant, is made of bronze covered with gold leaf. In recent years, it was taken down and re-gilded and is now protected from the park's pigeons by an almost invisible netting. Blue tiles on the wall behind the warrior represent the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet. The orange designs are meant to recall the Aztec Indians who were native to Mexico.

    Symbolic Seal of Texas

    "The Symbolic Seal of Texas," designed by Donald Barthleme and sculpted by Henry Lee Gibson, can be seen high above the warrior. It features a female figure known as the "Lady of Texas." In front of her is a shield with the design of a Texas flag upon it. In her left hand she holds aloft a fire representing the spirit of patriotism. Beside her is an owl (representing wisdom) perched on a key, symbolic of prosperity and progress. The leaves of a pecan, the Texas state tree, spread out behind the owl.

    Oil Door Cotton Door Cattle Door Pine Door Cow Door Horse Door

    The doors of the building, made of bronze, are also abundant with symbolism. Various designs representing the agriculture and industry of Texas can be seen upon them. These include a a circle of oil derricks surrounding a gusher, cotton bolls and wheat sheaves, a cowboy's lariat and horse's hoof, a saw-blade with a pine-cone in its center, cattle, and ponies.

    Bob Thornton statue

    A statue of Robert L. (R. L.) "Bob" Thornton, civic leader and former Mayor of Dallas, stands watch over the esplanade, on the terrace of the Hall of State. It was thanks to Thornton that the Texas Centennial Exposition was held in Dallas. A nearby freeway is named for him.

    At the foot of the Hall of State Terrace, are lamp-posts which continue the theme of Texas under Six Flags. Notice the little bronze figures of a pioneer, Spanish and Confederate soldiers, and so on.

    light columns
    Spain France Mexico Texas CSA USA
    Statue of Liberty

    A miniature Statue of Liberty, donated to Fair Park by the Boy Scouts of America in the early 1950s, stands just below the north end of the Hall of State terrace.

    Principal Information Sources:

    • The author's own training and experience as a volunteer tour guide at the Hall of State, 1985-1990.
    • A Gathering of Symbols: Texas History in the Hall of State (Dallas: Dallas Historical Society and the Junior League of Dallas, Inc., 1985).

    Copyright © 1996-2012 by Steven Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.