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A Tour of the Texas Hall of State

Return to: Texas Hall of State Intro

North Texas and South Texas Rooms

The North Texas Room is one of four regional rooms found in the Hall of State. All are decorated with murals and other items symbolic of the areas each represents.

The mural above the North Texas Room entrance is an actual fresco; it was painted directly on wet plaster applied to the wall rather than on canvas - not an easy task. The artist was native-Dallasite Arthur Starr Niendorff who had worked in Mexico with the famous muralist Diego Rivera. The mural depicts a character called "Old Man Texas" (originated by Dallas Morning News editorial cartoonist John Knott) with his arms wrapped around the cities of Ft. Worth and Dallas, as they appeared in 1936, and a "typical" North Texas family of the 1930s. Behind Old Man Texas are symbols of the area's agriculture: a barn and silo; a windmill; and a giant bale of cotton. White, billowy clouds float in the sky above and bolts of lightning shoot across the picture from either side toward the center. Also seen are sheaves of wheat and ears of corn, streamlined train engines, machinery, and out of a bank vault spills gold coins that look more like biscuits to some people than money. Culture is represented by books stacked in the lower right-hand corner.

Mural in the North Texas Room
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On the walls of the room are large framed photographs of Texas scenes circa 1936. Some of these are also found in the East Texas room.

On the rear wall of the South Texas Room there is a colorful mural painted by James Owen Mahoney, Jr. Like the other murals it is full of symbolism. In the center of the mural is a female figure representing South Texas. She is a lovely young barefoot girl wearing a white cotton dress and broad-brimmed hat. She wears flowers in her hair and holds a fan in her right hand. Behind her kneels a beautiful white horse. Large white birds fly overhead.

Mural in the South Texas Room
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To the girl's right (viewer's left) is a mermaid holding a net, an anchor and a fish representing the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico. Another mermaid holds a conch shell and coyly looks away. Behind her can be seen a paddlewheel boat. To the girl's left is a young farmer holding a pig. By his side is a basket of fruit representing the bounty of the land. The background scenery is lush - full of palm trees, flowers, and broad-leafed plants. A banner at the bottom of the mural reads: "Witness the land and sea enriching with prodigal hand the tranquil South."

Figures between the windows of the South Texas Room are worth noting. Among them are a farmer, a field-worker, a girl in a swimsuit, and a dock-worker. Also worthy of note are two wood carvings by Lynn Ford which represent "Romance" and "History."

Both the North and South Texas rooms are presently used for temporary exhibits.

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.