Landmark status expected for Sunset

Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 12.51.21 AMSunset High School opened on Jefferson Boulevard in 1925 after nearly three years of construction. It was the second high schol built in Oak Cliff, and it was built to serve about 2,000 students.

Now the school, which has had several additions, is about 89 years old, and it is expected to become a historic landmark.

The Dallas Landmark Commission gave approval for historical designation for the school earlier this month, and the Dallas school board agreed to the designation last week. The proposal could go to City Plan Commission in April and to full City Council in May.Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 12.52.10 AM

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The Sunset Alumni Association began pushing for landmark status after disagreements over how the old Adamson High School should be treated. The Dallas school district had wanted to renovate the old Adamson, essentially keeping the building’s facade in place but replacing almost everything else. Eventually, Adamson alumni won landmark status for Adamson, and the school district had to build a new Adamson High School because a historic renovation would’ve been more expensive.

Sunset is the sixth-oldest high school building still standing in Dallas, and it would be the eighth to become a City of Dallas Historic Landmark. The others are Dallas High School (the old Crozier Tech downtown), Adamson,  Madison, North Dallas, Booker T. Washington, Woodrow Wilson and Lincoln.

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Preservation architect Marcel Quimby wrote the landmark designation nomination for Sunset, and landmark commission chair Katherine Seale told the Dallas Morning News it is the most thorough nomination she has seen. Indeed, the nomination form gives detailed information about the school’s architecture and building history. But it also reads like a dossier of Sunset High School history. Read the whole nomination below.

At the time Sunset was built, six-lane Jefferson narrowed at Marlborough to four lanes of unpaved road all the way to the rural areas of Cockrell Hill and Grand Prairie. To accommodate the school, Jefferson was paved and expanded to Cockrell Hill, and the streetcar line was extended.

The school was designed by DeWitt and Lemmon Architects, who also designed Woodrow Wilson High School, several projects at Southern Methodist University and the main sanctuary for Highland Park United Methodist Church.

Inside the school are two WPA-era murals by artist Granville Bruce. These murals are deteriorating, according to Quimby’s nomination, and would cost as much as $25,000 to restore.

Sunset High School Landmark Nomination Form 021414

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