Stationers, stone engravers and sign makers have been busy replacing longstanding names of buildings, parks and streets. So, one would think it would have become old hat to know that a previously named institution would be “formerly known as.” It appears from this Dallas Arts District page that someone must have skipped that lesson in grammar.
Regardless of the grammatical oops, one of North Texas’ favorite fundraising venues has gone through a name change with very little fanfare. Even its website hasn’t adjusted to the new moniker.
Before revealing the new name, consider the mansion’s backstory. Following the Civil War in which North Carolinian Alfred Horatio “A.H.” Belo served as a colonel in the Confederacy, he moved to Texas. There he worked his way up the ladder at the Galveston’s Daily News, which he eventually bought. In 1885 he opened a “News” branch with George Bannerman Dealey. It would become The Dallas Morning News. The following year, on June 30, A.H. married Nettie Ennis, the daughter of former Houston Mayor Cornelius Ennis, who had been an investor in the publications.
Just as Galveston was growing as the jewel of the southwest, the town was decimated by the deadly 1900 hurricane . Despite the tremendous loss of lives and property in Galveston, the Dallas paper prospered and Belo’s place within the community rose. It was during this time that A.H. and Nettie began replacing their home on Ross with the mansion designed by Herbert M Greene. It was completed in 1901, but less than a year later A.H. died at the age of 61 at the family summer home in Ashville, North Carolina. Nettie carried on living in the Dallas mansion with their children until her death in 1913. The Belos’ daughter, Helen Ponder Belo Morrison and her children continued to live in the mansion until 1922 when the Belo family moved to North Carolina.
Following the move to North Carolina the family leased the building from 1926 to 1976 to be used as the Loudermilk-Sparkman Funeral Home. Known for its Neoclassical architecture, it landed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1975 as the “Alfred Horatio Belo House.”
It was in 1977 that Helen sold the house to the Dallas Bar Association (DBA) to be used as its headquarters. Once again the mansion earned another place of honor becoming a registered Texas Historic Landmark in 1980.
Over time, the building was restored and a pavilion was added in 2003 that would be used as a venue for professional and social gatherings.
However, in light of the building’s “namesakes’ ties to the Confederacy,” the DBA voted unanimously in April 2021 to change the Belo Mansion’s name. The new name will be the “Arts District Mansion.”
According to DBA President Aaron Tobin, “This name embraces the Dallas Bar’s longstanding history in the district, while looking forward to many decades of our members and our friends in the community gathering, collaborating and celebrating in our home, which is in the heart of Dallas’ most vibrant neighborhood.”