Ford Building Beyond Restoration

By: jwilder

Ford built it. The city demolished it.

"The city has always regretted the decision to raze the Ford Building."

The Ford building was built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park in Dallas. Even though the event only lasted a few months, the impact is still felt to this day.

Prior to the Texas Centennial Exposition, Ford was on a roll in building large impressive exhibit structures in order to get the word out about the Ford brand. With two successful appearances at major expositions in Chicago and San Diego they were ready to bring their message to Texas.

The announcement that Ford would build a major exhibit at the fair made big news in Dallas. Especially since it was reported that Ford would spend $2,250,000 on the project!

This was a true fast track job - full throttle from start to finish. The construction on the building started on March 6, 1936. There were three eight hour shifts per day, seven days a week. Failure would be disastrous. On June 6, just three months away, the doors would open and millions of potential Ford customers would be captivated by the educational exhibits and grand architectural design.

Ford met the deadline. The investment paid off. It was estimated that over three million people made their way through the exhibit during the six month run of the fair, more than twice that of the GM exhibit.

The Ford building was an amazing structure for its time. It was described as "one of the most stunning modern structures in Texas." It was also one of the first air conditioned buildings in World's Fair history!

Unfortunately, it wasn't long before things went south. The next big event at Fair Park in 1937 was the "Greater Texas and Pan-American Exposition." Ford declined to participate and the Ford building was repurposed for the new exposition.

After serving two major expositions, time ran out for the Ford building. In preparation for the 1938 Texas state fair, the building was stripped of its interior ornamentation and torn down along with several temporary structures. 

Torn down by mistake? Don't know. Short sighted? Most certainly. Apparently there were no plans to build anything to immediately take its place. In fact, it would be twenty years before another building occupied the site where the Ford building once stood.

The end. Or is it?

According to a June 2012 article on the Ford building just might return. It is a very interesting story about how a Dallas architect with a passion for preservation is exerting his influence to see it happen. 

We wish him luck!

See the resources below for further reading.

The full story

James Wilder

James Wilder is the owner, writer, photographer, designer, and developer for MOTOR Texas.


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