Return to: Texas Hall of State Intro
Texas Hall of State Exterior
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.
Along 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:
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.
"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.
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.
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Copyright © 1996-2012 by Steven Butler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.