Texas School Book Depository

Texas School Book Depository

Dallas County Administration Building in 2015, formerly the Texas School Book Depository
Location within Texas
Former names Southern Rock Island Plow Company
Texas School Book Depository
Alternative names Dallas County Administration Building
The Sixth Floor Museum
General information
Architectural style Romanesque Revival
Location West End Historic District
Town or city Dallas, Texas
Coordinates 32°46′47″N 96°48′30″W / 32.77972°N 96.80833°W / 32.77972; -96.80833Coordinates: 32°46′47″N 96°48′30″W / 32.77972°N 96.80833°W / 32.77972; -96.80833
Elevation 455 feet (139 m)
Construction started 1901 (1901)
Renovated 1981 (1981)
Cost $3,040,510
Owner Dallas County
Technical details
Structural system B-Reinforced Concrete Frame Piers
Floor count 8
Floor area 80,000 feet (24,000 m)[1]
Design and construction
Main contractor Rock Island Plow Company
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Texas historical marker for the Texas School Book Depository

The Texas School Book Depository, now known as the Dallas County Administration Building, is a seven-floor building facing Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, United States. The building is most notable for its connection to the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. An employee, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot and killed the president from a sixth floor window on the building's southeastern corner. The structure is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. It is located at 411 Elm Street on the northwest corner of Elm and North Houston Streets, at the western end of downtown Dallas.

Early history

The site of the building was originally owned by John Neely Bryan.[2] During the 1880s, Maxime Guillot operated a wagon shop on the property. In 1894, the Rock Island Plow Company bought the land, and four years later constructed a five story building for its Texas division, the Southern Rock Island Plow Company.[2] In 1901, the building was hit by lightning and nearly burned to the ground. It was rebuilt in 1902 in the Commercial Romanesque Revival style, and expanded to seven stories. In 1937 the property was acquired by the Carraway Byrd Corporation, and after the company defaulted on the loan, it was bought at public auction July 4, 1939 by D. Harold Byrd.[2][3]

Under Byrd's ownership the building remained empty until 1940, when it was leased by a grocery wholesaler, the John Sexton & Co. Sexton Foods used this location as the branch office for sales, manufacturing and distribution warehouse for the south and southwest United States. In November 1961, Sexton Foods moved to a modern distribution facility located at 650 Regal Row Dallas; by then the building was known locally as the Sexton Building. Refurbishment after Sexton's departure saw the addition on the first four floors of partitions, carpeting, air conditioning and a new passenger elevator.[3]

Assassination of John F. Kennedy

In 1963, the building was in use as a multi-floor warehouse for the storage of school textbooks and related materials and an order-fulfillment center by the Texas School Book Depository Company. Some time after the company moved in, it was found that the upper floors had sustained oil damage from items stored there by the previous tenant, a wholesaler grocer. To protect the company's books (stored in cardboard boxes) from oil seeping up from the floor, a process was begun to cover the floors with plywood.[3] Immediately prior to the Presidential visit, work had begun on the west side of the sixth floor, "leaving the whole scene in disarray, with stock shifted as far as the east wall, and stacks in between piled unusually high."[3]

On November 22, 1963, Lee Harvey Oswald, a 24-year-old former U.S. Marine who was working as a temporary employee at the building, fired the shots from the sixth floor that killed the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. While in police custody, Oswald was murdered by Jack Ruby before he could stand trial.

Second building

In addition to its building at Elm and Houston, the Texas School Book Depository Company maintained a second warehouse at 1917 Houston. Several blocks north of the main building, the short four-story structure was well removed from the parade route, half-hidden on an unpaved section of Houston. Oswald's supervisor, Roy Truly, told the Warren Commission that he had had the option to assign Oswald to either building on his first day at work. "I might have sent Oswald to work [there]... Oswald and another fellow reported for work on the same day [October 15] and I needed one of them for the depository building. I picked Oswald."[4] This second building was eventually destroyed to make way for the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.[4]

Later years

The Texas School Book Depository Company moved out in 1970 and the building was sold at auction to Aubrey Mayhew, a Nashville, Tennessee music producer and collector of Kennedy memorabilia, by the owner D. H. Byrd. In 1972, ownership reverted to Byrd, and the building was purchased in 1977 by the government of Dallas County. After renovating the lower five floors of the building for use as county government offices, the Dallas County Administration Building was dedicated on March 29, 1981.

On President's Day 1989, the sixth floor opened to the public (for an admission charge) as the Sixth Floor Museum of assassination-related exhibits. On President's Day 2002, the seventh-floor gallery opened.

On May 4, 2010, burglars attempted to steal a safe from the Sixth Floor Museum, but fled when "they were confronted by a security guard," leaving the unopened safe suspended from a winch on the back of a truck.[5]

See also


  1. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/jdt01
  2. 1 2 3 Texas State Historical Association (2012). "The Handbook of Texas Online: Texas School Book Depository". Tshaonline.org. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Jerry Organ (2000). "Murder Perch to Museum". Marquette University.
  4. 1 2 Bugliosi, Vincent (2007). Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 1455. ISBN 978-0-393-04525-3.
  5. Trahan, Jason (May 5, 2010). "Theft of safe at Sixth Floor Museum visitors center thwarted". The Dallas Morning News.

External links

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