The OCP Family: Adrienne Lichliter

Guest post by Peggy Helmick-Richardson, History Educator and our textile expert

Last April, Old City Park opened its doors to the arts in a whole new way. Three rooms in Brent Place were converted to studio spaces for local artists who found themselves displaced when the Continental Gin Building sold.  Today we offer the second of three articles on our resident artists.

As manager of marketing and programming of our neighbor and non-profit arts incubator The Cedars Union, Adrienne Lichliter aids their juried artists in best expressing their creations. As one of the tenants in Old City Park’s Brent Place studios, this printmaking and paper artist creates to express herself.

Growing up in the Lakewood neighborhood of Dallas, Adrienne and her husband Ben Hines now live in Deep Ellum.

Although she enjoyed art and art classes in school, Adrienne opted not to apply to Dallas’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts because she also wanted to be involved in school activities such as student council and track not offered at the magnet school. “Plus, I just didn’t think it was something I could make a living off of,” she admits.

Adrienne went on to SMU to earn her degree in art history with the intent of working for a museum or art gallery. “That somehow felt a little bit more realistic,” she recounts. “And I had ambitions of being a professor.” A few years later she opted to return to school and earned her MFA from Clemson and soon found herself becoming more involved with her own creations.

Her early art career included three years as an adjunct professor at Navarro College in Corsicana and the University of North Texas and then as manager of studio art education for the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

Then Adrienne suddenly found herself in a whirlwind of transitions.

Before the Continental Gin closed its doors, she was one of the artists subleasing studio space there. While there, she shared an area with Sarah Theobald-Hall, one of our other Brent Place artists. And if losing her studio space wasn’t bad enough, she also found herself out of work after The Crow Collection was donated to the University of Texas at Dallas.

Through a chance meeting of Sarah at a coffee shop, Adrienne learned about the studios at Old City Park. Seeing this space as an opportunity to focus on her own creations, last spring she moved into the third and last available room in Brent Place.

“I fell in love with Old City Park and having this park right in front of my space,” Adrienne notes. “It’s nice to take a break from what you are working on and take a walk. It is a really special setting.”

Brent Place also proved to be a perfect match for her artistic style. “I’ve always been into sort of old, worn, quiet moments in the world, …a reason this space suits me so well,” she explains. “Whether that is a scratched up piece of copper or cracks in the sidewalk, things that are naturally occurring without human hand.”

I’ve always been into sort of old, worn, quiet moments…

Defining her art as non-objective, she explains, “The aim is for things to look like they are sort of naturally occurring.”

“Where I have been moving lately with this is taking pieces of my work and iPhone photography and collaging them together,” she shares. This multi-process involves creating art, tearing that art into pieces, arranging them with other pieces, photographing these and then creating a lithograph from the resulting photo. “Through these steps, it seems like my hand gets further and further away from what I am doing, and it feels more natural and less contrived,” she continues.

“Funny thing about the work I am making now is I still call it non-objective despite that there are literal photographs in it,” she points out. “I’ve photographed it, digitally manipulated it, torn it up and printed it through ink lithography, so it’s really hard to see that it is anything at all. So it’s photo real and completely non-objective at the same time.”

This Dallas artist has also developed a unique style of wood lithography, a challenging art form on its own, that she occasionally teaches in workshops.

Some of the most significant influences on Adrienne’s artistic processes include the works of non-objective artists Cy Twombly and Richard Tuttle and mentorship from Sydney Cross, her graduate school advisor at Clemson.

To get a glimpse at some of Adrienne’s other works, got to

We have started a blog post series about the whole OCP family so you can get to know all the people that are a part of what we do here. See the last article here: The OCP Family: Sarah Theobald-Hall

Our Alamo Saloon: a Bit of Backstory

Guest post by History Educator, Kristi Nedderman

The building that we call the Alamo Saloon was originally built as a general store in 1904 in Snow Hill, Texas.

If you drove about an hour from Old City Park, where Old City Park is today, you would have found yourself in Collin County in the community of Snow Hill.  Snow Hill was located between Pilot Creek and Indian Creek near State Highway 78, north of Farmersville.

Collin County was established in 1846. Beginning in the 1850s, a community called Thompson sprang up, after the Alfred Thompson family that settled in the area. It began being called Snow Hill in the 1890s and was supposedly named by a group surveying the area while it was covered by a fresh layer of snow; however, no one actually knows the true origins of the “Snow Hill” name (the City of Dallas has a similar mystery about its name, but that is another story).

The Snow Hill Cemetery has been in confirmable use since 1855. In 1872, the Collin County School Board opened a school on the east side of the cemetery. The Thompson School House was abandoned in 1921, and a new one was built nearby. The new school remained in use until October 1948, and children then attended either the Blue Ridge or Farmersville schools. Neither school building exists today. The Snow Hill Baptist Church was constructed in 1900 on land adjacent to the cemetery. The church and the cemetery are still in use today.

In addition to the school, church, and cemetery, Snow Hill boasted ES Kemp Dry Goods &Groceries, which opened in 1890 and was owned by Everett S. Kemp. The railroad had been in Texas for eighteen years; however, no tracks ran near Snow Hill, and Kemp hauled his goods in wagons from either Greenville or McKinney. He sold hardware, farm machinery, pickles, candy, hoop cheese, and dry goods (including salt, sugar, flour, crackers, beans, coffee, and peas).

Kemp’s daughter, Lela Kemp, married David Benjamin (DB) McCall in 1901, and in 1904, with Kemp’s brother Street, McCall constructed a new building for the general store. McCall ultimately became the proprietor in this shop and changed the name to DB McCall General Merchandise. For a time, a man called Roy Belt operated his barber shop from the premises, charging 25¢ each for either a shave or a haircut. In 1925, McCall added a gasoline pump.

Snow Hill was never a large community; the 1940 census listed only 20 souls calling it home. In the 1950s, Snow Hill consisted of the church, the cemetery, and McCall’s Store. It had no school or post office; both children and mail traveled each day to either Farmersville or Blue Ridge. The store closed in 1958 after McCall’s death.

OCP obtained the building in 1977, and it was revived as McCall’s General Store. It currently serves as the Alamo Saloon, where cold root beer, lively music, and games are available weekly.







Ancestry. n.d. (accessed August 21, 2019).

Old City Park. Saloon building files, 2019.

Nedderman, Kristi. Snow Hill Cemetery photographs, January 4, 2020.

Old City Park. Teacher’s Guide to Old City Park. 1984.

Simon, Hal. Email correspondence with the author, March 30, 2020.

–. Email correspondence with the author, September 22, 2019.

Texas Almanac and State Industrial Guide, 1939-1940. Dallas: Dallas Morning News, 1940.

Thompson, Mike. Snow Hill Cemetery, Collin County Texas. March 3, 1919.

Our Response to COVID-19

Dear Friends, 

Living history has a very different meaning these days, doesn’t it?

As we all navigate these extraordinary times, I wanted to give you a glimpse into what’s happening here at Old City Park. We are committed to sustaining both our employees and our organization throughout this crisis. The staff you all know so well—Gene back at the Farmstead, Angie in the Section House, Bonnie with the donkeys, and so many more—will be paid their regularly scheduled hours through the end of March. We are currently putting together some work from home options for these staff members for April. After all, being at home is a perfect time to do history. When you visit next, expect us all to have to a lot more stories. 

The rest of the team is also working to move the past forward. Some are working from home, while others of us are still coming into the office. Since we work in historic houses across the campus, it’s very easy to practice social distancing at the workplace. Sarah and Lisa are planning programming for reopening—we’re just not putting any dates on the calendar. Elizabeth is doing research and getting our records in order. Sydney is still chatting with clients about future rentals—and offering a 20% discount through May 1. As the weather allows, Wolf is weeding gardens and tackling maintenance projects. The roof at Sullivan is still being replaced. Aidan is keeping things going on social media. And Preston and I are coming up with various strategies to sustain us financially through this period. All of us are using this time as an opportunity to strengthen this museum. Though we don’t yet know when we’ll be able to reopen, we are getting extremely excited about what we’re planning for those days.

When an organization is built around community—whether it’s a restaurant, gym, museum, or school—it’s incredibly challenging to suddenly have to rethink everything. As you consider the organizations that you want to still be here when this crisis passes, I hope Old City Park is on that list. Become a member. Send a virtual carrot to Waylon, Willie, and Nip. Make a donation equivalent to what you would have spent on tickets to Sunday Social or a spring visit. Or simply comment on our social media posts so that we can keep those conversations about history going.

We’ll see you on the other side.

Stay well, 

Melissa Prycer

President and Executive Director

The OCP Family: Sarah Theobald-Hall

Old City Park is more than just the staff, our circle is much wider than that.  We are starting a blog post series about the whole OCP family so you can get to know all the people that are a part of what we do here…


Guest post by Peggy Helmick-Richardson, History Host and our textile expert

Last April, Old City Park opened its doors to the arts in a whole new way. Three rooms in Brent Place were converted to studio spaces for local artists who found themselves displaced when the Continental Gin Building sold.  Today we offer the first of three articles on our resident artists.

Intrigued by a dead cedar waxwing lying by the holly bushes in her yard, Sarah Theobald-Hall snapped a photo of it. Today, she credits the striking image of that bird for being a primary influence on her current creative process.

Recalling a childhood of nurtured artistic expression, Sarah notes that this was especially significant after her family moved from New Jersey to the small town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, when she was 10. “My parents made it a point to find creative resources, so we were enrolled in music lessons, dance lessons, painting lessons, and we volunteered at the local performing arts center. We were also put in choirs, and I did musicals with the church growing up.”

After acquiring her bachelor’s degree from the University of Oklahoma, Sarah went on to earn both her masters and doctorate in English from the University of Tulsa. A primary reason for selecting the latter school was the opportunity to work with the semiannual journal Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. She later returned to the publication in 2003 to hold the prestigious position of managing editor for seven years.

Sarah also worked as the literary programs manager for the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and a grant writer for Domestic Violence Intervention Services in eastern Oklahoma. “There was always a writing and editing component to most of the work that I did,” she points out. “I could have these flexible sorts of jobs where I could help start something new or identify a problem in the community and brainstorm with people on how to solve it. It was really a great experience.”

In her spare time, Sarah took a variety of art classes and workshops. Many of her instructors were artists introduced to her through working with Tulsa’s Arts and Humanities Council. Although she explored an assortment of media, her primary interest then was in photography.

“I found myself always wanting to be around artists,” Sarah continues. “I had a really good friend who was a photographer, and she probably wondered why I was constantly either hiring her to do something or showing up at her studio…an old converted gas station with a little iron stove. It was charming, with all vintage furniture. I think I trace my own yearning for that kind of studio for myself back to that place.”

In 2010 Sarah moved to Dallas with her husband Larry and sons Joe and Adam. Although she continued to pursue a career utilizing her writing and editorial expertise in publication, with an emphasis on nonprofit organizations, her fascination with the arts continually tugged.

She began studying under impressionistic painter Marianne Gargour at her studio in the Continental Gin Building. First invited by her teacher to sublet some of her studio space, Sarah later came to occupy two other studios in the popular arts community facility.

It was here that the inspiring cedar waxwing photo proved pivotal for Sarah.  Although describing her initial attempt to translate the photo onto canvas as “an abysmal failure,” Sarah allowed the experience to draw her into exploring saturated colors and artistic energy. She studied the birds both in nature as well as in photos and played with vibrant colors on even larger canvas.  When the Continental Gin Building hosted its final Open Studios in November of 2018, Sarah’s stunning and popular paintings of cedar waxwings were on display.

Immediately following this final Open Studios, the artists housed there had to scout out new locales. Sarah not only recognized the similar ambiance Brent Place shared with her friend’s Tulsa studio, she was also attracted to Old City Park’s “pastoral setting in the middle of an urban landscape.” In addition, she laughingly confesses to a fascination with the sheep here. “I think their eyes are so different from anything I’ve experienced up close … and they will walk right up to you.”

Today, Sarah’s primary mediums are acrylic and oil, with occasional pencil, marker, and “whatever seems to suit the project.”  The two Dallas artists who have offered the greatest inspiration to Sarah are her teacher Marianne Gargour and Mary Vernon. Her artistic influences are Matisse (composition), Alice Neel (line), Alexander Hogue (color), and Maruyama Okyo (birds).


2019 Year in Review

At this time last year, Old City Park was facing some pretty big challenges. We didn’t know what would happen with our city funding. Our budget was up in the air. Key staff were departing, and it was unclear when we would be able to replace them. There was turmoil and uncertainty, to say the least.

And it’s not as if things instantly got better. We did receive a $70,000 cut in our city funding, after all sorts of political twists and turns. The weather has generally been terrible for just about every event, and Candlelight had its lowest attendance in years. We had more staff turnover. Our longtime curator, Evelyn Montgomery, discovered greener pastures and left in January. Also in January, Tuck, one of our beloved donkeys died. The Ambassador Hotel burned to the ground. And to top it all off, we spent most of last spring dealing with sewer line issues, complete with porta-pottys for months and a $40,000 price tag. Sometimes, we do feel that there must be a black cloud hanging over OCP.

But as I reflect on the past year, I think it’s also safe to say that this has been one of our best years yet. In February, we welcomed Joe McGill and friends to Texas. Joe is the mastermind behind the Slave Dwelling Project, a national effort to bring the story of slavery forward. We had some great partners, including the City of Irving and the Dallas Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Project. We offered multiple programs, and in spite of the miserable weather, people came and had difficult conversations about our complicated past. And people are still talking. We plan to bring Joe back next May. 

This project was also a chance for one of our new staff members, Lisa Lopez to shine. She joined us in mid-November, which meant she had to dive straight into Candlelight. She also managed the logistics of the Slave Dwelling Project and did a fabulous job. As Director of Visitor Experience, she also manages our frontline staff and our school tour program. Her job is very big, but we’ll be able to hire her some help very soon.

A few months ago, we were chosen to participate in the American Alliance of Museums Facing Change: Advancing Board Diversity learning cohort—a group of 50 museums nationwide. This program is working to address issues surrounding board diversity and inclusion. The Texas cohort includes some familiar names for you: the Perot Museum, the Witte Museum, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and more. We’re looking forward to truly getting started on this work later this fall.

For the past year, we’ve been working hard on a reinterpreting Millermore. And maybe reinterpreting isn’t the right word. Expanding might be better. For most of our history, we’ve focused on William Brown Miller and decorative arts. But as we began to dive into our files and primary sources, we realized there are many more stories to tell—and lots more people to talk about. We began this work last fall—and then right in the middle, our curator up and left. And then there was another opportunity for a staff member to shine. Elizabeth Qualia had joined our staff as part time curatorial assistant in Fall 2017. We promoted her to full time Curator of Collections and Interpretation—and then handed her this giant project. We have radically changed how we talk about Millermore—we start in the cabin and talk about slavery. We end in the sitting room with walls full of family trees of both the black and white Millers. In between, we tell the story of Barry Miller, local politician, and his daughter Evelyn, a writer. And so much more. Even more exciting for some–almost all of the barriers are down. The new tour format launched last week, and I invite you to join us soon for a very different conversation.

Other new faces at OCP include Wolf Landrum. He also joined us in Fall 2017 as  a handyman—

though we’ve known him for a very long time. He’s a longtime volunteer, and most importantly, his husband has been our St. Nicholas at Candlelight for a decade. When Evelyn left, we made him our full time Buildings and Grounds Conservator. It has been years since we’ve been able to dedicate an entire staff position to the care of our grounds. He has a lot of work to do, but I hope you can see some progress.

Aidan Wright joined us in February as Membership and Marketing Manager. He was also a familiar face—having worked as a history host a few years ago. He’s doing some great stuff on social media, and I hope you’re enjoying the “What the Artifact?” series!

But I want to talk a little bit more about Sydney Abdo, our brand new Rentals Manager. We have literally watched Sydney grow up at OCP. She was one of my summer camp kids, hanging out in my dearly departed Pages from the Past camp with Terri Brown’s daughter Isabel. She became a Junior Historian and worked on the Doctor’s Office exhibit. A few years ago, she joined our staff as History Host. When Stephanie made the decision to accept a full time position, she told Preston and I that we really needed to think about Sydney as her possible successor. And here she is.

That story encapsulates some of what makes this museum so special. Though we have plenty of visitors that we see once for a few hours, we also have many people that have made this museum an important part of their lives. People like Barbara Brockett, Queen of the Clothespin Doll, who recently passed her crown to Angie Gamez, longtime history host. Lynn Vogt, whose grandmother got this whole thing started and became a Life Trustee at last week’s Annual Meeting. Jorge Esteban, a brand new board member, who will be getting married at OCP next month.

There’s a lot to be proud of. A lot to be grateful for. Many, many people to thank. And though there are many things about this past year I would not like to repeat, I’m incredibly proud of all that the staff and board has accomplished. Even as we have waded through literal poop.

Blum House to Be Closed Indefinitely


We’ve all been very concerned about the ongoing deterioration of the Blum House. We’ve had many conversations as a staff, and we realized that Blum needed to close indefinitely, primarily out of concern for visitor safety. As this is a major operational decision, the Executive Board needed to be involved with the final decision. Upon our recommendation, the executive board voted last week to close Blum to the public indefinitely.


For those that haven’t been out to OCP recently, a few of the issues with Blum include rotting wood, mold and ongoing issues with fleas.  We hope that closing Blum will bring awareness to the deferred maintenance issues that plague not just our institution, but all city-owned facilities. There is a growing momentum to address these city-wide deferred maintenance issues, and we hope that that this very visible reminder will help with those larger efforts.


Blum has been a fundraising priority for years, but we have been unable to raise the funds to restore the building. Weare not giving up and are working to identify new avenues to finance the restoration work. With this indefinite closure, we have a far more compelling case for support. If you’d like to help in any way—by sharing this cause with others, introducing OCP to friends or making a financial contribution yourself, please be in touch with Preston or Melissa. Our most recent estimates put repairs in the $650,000 range—or about 65% of our annual operating budget.


In the coming weeks, we will be stabilizing the building, treating the fleas within, and removing some artifacts. It will remain closed until we can fully restore it. There is much work to do, but we know that with the support of people like you we can continue to preserve these wonderful buildings and move the past forward.


Melissa Prycer, President & Executive Director

Elizabeth Qualia, Curator of Collections and Interpretation

From the Curatorial Desk: A Farewell to “Alice”

UPDATE: The Dallas County Medical Examiners have taken Alice to do further research. In a few months, they’ll be able to tell us her age and ethnicity. When their research has concluded, they will also take care of her final resting place.

 By Elizabeth Qualia 

Curator of Collections and Interpretation

After 40 years of being in the spotlight, “Alice” the skeleton and only resident of the Doctor’s House has come off display.  Recently, the display of human remains has come under scrutiny in the museum field. No longer are human remains being considered as just another object, but as objects that were once a living people and therefore requiring specialized treatment. “Alice” was once alive. She once presumably had a family and people who cared for her. Because of this, we as a staff have reexamined our thoughts and feelings about keeping “Alice” on display and came to the decision that we are no longer comfortable leaving her up. 

“Alice” came to the Old City Park in 1977. From what I discovered in the collection files she was disassembled and in boxes when she arrived. It was two years later that she, having been articulated, was installed in the Doctor’s house. She has hung there ever since.

But what of her time before coming to Old City Park?  When we began to think about the removing her from the exhibit, the first thing I did as curator was to dig into our files to gather every bit of information we have on “Alice.” It wasn’t much. Here is what we know about her: Her skeleton was donated in 1977 and she went on display in 1979. The donor was the widow of a local doctor. It was this doctor who called the skeleton “Alice.” The local doctor purchased the skeleton around 1930 from another doctor. We believe “Alice” lived in Henrietta, Texas, and we think she was in her late teens or early 20’s.

Let us consider provenance. We know little about this other doctor; I’ll call him Dr. X. We know that Dr. X was from Henrietta, Texas. He practiced medicine in Dallas until he lost his license. We don’t know why. Since “Alice” was also from Henrietta it is a reasonable conclusion that Dr. X was the first owner. In that respect the provenance of “Alice” is clear: Dr. X to the donor’s husband to us. We don’t how Dr. X came to be in possession of the skeleton. 

What we don’t know about “Alice” is concerning. We don’t know how she died, her real name, or her ethnicity. No one on our staff is a forensic anthropologist, so our investigations of the bones are amateur at best.  We believe she was Caucasian and around 18 or 19 when she died. But we don’t have an accurate time period for her life. We can narrow it down to probably the end of the 19th century, but this is merely supposition and not hard fact. We do not know if she gave consent to become a medical specimen.  This last bit is crucial. If she never even gave consent for her body to be used as a medical specimen, she’d probably not be okay hanging in a museum exhibit. There is too much we don’t know to for us to feel comfortable with keeping her on display. 

For me, it comes down to human dignity. I asked myself: if this was the skeleton of my relative would I be comfortable with her remains displayed like this? No, I would not. Do I think that every museum should take down their displays of human remains? No. Every museum must examine their own collection for information to decide what they are comfortable with. For OCP, human remains are not crucial to our displays and our story. “Alice” can easily be replaced with a model and it won’t take anything away form the exhibit. We actually have more human remains than you’d think; certainly more than I was expecting to find. Along with “Alice” we will be removing a femur from the Doctor’s House and a partial skull from the Dentist’s office.    

So what happens now? I’ve created a safe storage space for “Alice” in our warehouse.  I’ve lined a box with foam, Tyvek, and archival tissue so that the bones will be supported while she is in storage. From there it gets fuzzier. Ultimately our goal is to de-accession “Alice”. This means to remove her from the collection. However, in order to do this we need to have a respectful way to divest ourselves of the skeleton. There are no clear guidelines to follow. Most remains removed from collections are done so because a family member or an ethnic group to which the remains belong request for the body to be returned. There is no one asking for “Alice” and since we don’t know her real name, we have no family to contact. 

Some next steps are: using her remains to research her past, returning her to Henrietta, Texas, and burial. Of course, none of those are mutually exclusive, but not all of them are necessarily practical at the moment because our resources are limited. I’d like to have someone come examine “Alice” to confirm things like ethnicity and age, and to answer questions like cause of death. I feel that those things might help us identify her and personally, I’d just like to know. Whatever the outcome will be, we will do our best to make sure “Alice” gets the respect she deserves.

 [Note: Through out this post I’ve been putting “Alice” in quotes because we don’t know if that is her original name, but I don’t like calling her “the skeleton” because it dehumanizes her. We need to remember she was once a living person.]

Mourning the Loss of the Ambassador Hotel

By now, many of you have seen the devastating news that our nearest neighbor, the Ambassador Hotel, burned to the ground last night. It cannot be salvaged. This building has been a part of our historic landscape for well over a century. It loomed over our grounds, giving visitors another reminder of what the Cedars neighborhood once looked like.

When the hotel was built in 1904, our properties were connected. For a period, it was known as the Park Hotel because of its adjacency. There are many, many stories of the people that lived or stayed at the hotel. One of my favorites was meeting someone at a public lecture whose grandmother lived at the Ambassador in the 1920s—and courted her future grandfather by walking through City Park. OCP’s very first director lived in an apartment at the Ambassador, and board members remember fixing up his rooms.

We were thrilled when Jim Lake Jr. bought the Ambassador in 2014. The Lake family also has a long connection to OCP, as his mother Barbara was part of our founding generation of volunteers. Jim loves historic buildings as much as we do, and we were eagerly awaiting this building’s next chapter. In fact, members of OCP got a tour of the Ambassador about two weeks ago—we were perhaps the last members of the “public” to be inside this iconic structure.

We are incredibly grateful to the Dallas Fire Department for proactively spraying the Farmstead and Blacksmith Shed down last night. With the quantity of cinders and ash covering the Farmstead this morning, we know Dallas could easily have lost more historic structures last night. The sheep and chickens that live at the Farmstead are also safe.

We are closed today, as access to our western side of the museum is very difficult. We will make a decision about tomorrow later. Smoke still lingers in the air. And soon, they’ll be bringing the walls down. The next time you visit OCP, we will definitely look a little different.

Today, we mourn with our neighbors the loss of this great building. It will take some time for us to get over this loss.

Melissa Prycer Executive Director and President
More on this loss: “There will be no salvage” Dallas News

Remembering Tuck


Tuck, age 22, ambassador and mascot of Old City Park, passed away peacefully on January 17, 2019. He was surrounded by his OCP family and brother, Nip.

Tuck was born in 1996 and arrived at Old City Park (then known as Old City Park) with his half-brother Nip in 2000 as part of an expanded living history program. Tuck quickly became an integral part of the OCP experience, pulling the carriage for visitors, cheerfully accepting nose scratches, posing for pictures, and gobbling any and all treats. He was well known for occasionally nibbling on fabric, particularly scarves, and letting Nip do most of the work in pulling the wagon.

In recent years, Tuck developed arthritis in his knees and retired from active duty in 2015. When Waylon and Willie arrived in 2016, Tuck helped train them for their public relations duties.

Tuck is survived by his brother Nip, nephews Willie and Waylon, his handler Bonnie Cooley, and all the staff, volunteers, and visitors that loved him over the years. In lieu of carrots, memorial donations can be made to OCP’s wagon restoration fund.

We have shared some of our favorite photos and memories of Tuck on our Facebook page, and we invite you to share yours as well. #tuckdhv

Zelda: The Curatorial Truck

Blog post by our Curator, Dr. Evelyn Montgomery.

Allow me to introduce a key member of the OCP curatorial department-Zelda, my Dodge Ram.  Some people think that being a curator must be a glamorous job-and it probably is if you work for the Guggenheim, but I work in a historical village. Among my qualifications, I have a doctorate, shelves full of books, and a talent for public speaking, but more importantly, I have a miter saw, painting experience, a hammer, and Zelda.

Zelda had every reason to expect the easy life of an urban truck when sold to someone living a mile from downtown Dallas. She was soon disabused of that notion. OCP is Dallas’ only downtown working farm, and every farm needs a farm truck. Zelda has hauled hay and countless 50-pound bags of feed for assorted farm animals. She has pulled an animal trailer with a reluctant donkey making a guest appearance at Plano Heritage Farmstead, and hauled six protesting sheep. At that point she began to question the course of her career and considered getting her real estate license.

But then there is the carpentry work. Who else could fetch plywood and 2 by 4s? Landscape timbers and concrete blocks? Something always needs to be fixed around here. And we have gardens! Did you know you can buy quality garden soil by the half-ton, which a giant bull dozer will drop into your cowering truck? For trimming a tall branch, a ladder is insecure. I prefer to stand safely on the roof of Zelda’s cab, the branches falling on her hood while my feet leave permanent indentions in her metal.

Surely working with the artifacts makes up for all this other work? Why yes, there is nothing more exciting than carrying a new pump organ back to the village. Learned the hard way to tie it securely because if it slides sideways so does the truck. Zelda and I were guests at the Dallas Women’s Club when we brought a painting to display at a meeting. I got lunch, Zelda got to be valet parked next to a Lexus. Sometimes we come home with historical treasures, and how many pick-ups can say they preserve history for future generations?

All members of our curatorial department-me, Zelda, our Collections Manager Susan and Tom the Curatorial Cat-have multi-faceted jobs at a museum where a dozen different things are always going on. I have grown gray in the museum’s employ, and Zelda has grown dented. Susan and Tom still look good. All of us would rather work here than the finest fancy museum with complete maintenance and repair staffs. I love this place enough to hit it with a hammer when needed, and Zelda is ready to keep on trucking. Ram tough!

Note to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, proud manufacturer of Zelda: we have sponsorship opportunities available. Call soon.


Know a good sheep looking for work?



A Post by Evelyn Montgomery:


“Our sheep enjoy spacious accommodations and wonderful view of the Dallas skyline.”

The flock at Old City Park needs a new member. The current ovine (Google it and use it daily until it feels natural) population consists of two chubby Southdowns, Winston and Starbuck, and one aged Rambouillet, MayBelle. They would love to welcome a new, younger sheep to share their home at the farmstead of a nationally accredited museum in the heart of the fashionable Cedars neighborhood. This is an offer no sheep could refuse.

The museum would not be able to pay for this new sheep, but would be happy to give you a letter acknowledging your donation to a registered non-profit, which the IRS would enjoy reading. Perhaps you are a breeder with a sheep that’s hard to sell? We don’t need perfection, just wool and the ability to demonstrate grazing for our visitors. Have you raised a nice sheep for Future Farmers of America or 4H, and would like to see your friend find a safe home and useful employment? We offer the following:

A fulfilling career-As museum educators, our sheep instruct 25,000 school children each year. They demonstrate sheep behavior, grow wool, perform charming vocalizations and eat grass in full view of the public. They are the first sheep most of these city kids have ever seen.

Become a celebrity-Each spring, your sheep will star in our annual Girl Scout Day, called Plow, Plant and Shear. Sheep are not expected to plow or plant, but to demonstrate the first step in wool processing.

Full medical benefits-It was not easy to find a large animal vet willing to treat patients in downtown Dallas, but Dr. Christine Kessler provides loving care to our donkeys and sheep. All of our animals live out their natural lifespan here. We have been known to harbor geriatric chickens, and MayBelle may well be the oldest living sheep in Dallas County.

Free housing-The flock enjoys their own barn and fenced pasture at the farmstead. Grass grows abundantly for most of the year, particularly on the compost pile, which the sheep enjoy climbing for exercise.

The ideal candidate for this position should be a heritage breed, available in Texas by 1900. Old City Park is an equal opportunity employer, but we must discriminate against rams for this position, preferring ewes or wethers. Since our farmstead specializes in demonstrating the production of wool rather than mutton, we prefer a breed known for its ability tor grow that traditional textile product rather than a meat breed. Cute is great, friendly is better, and ability to get along well with Winston, Starbuck and MayBelle is a must. If you have the perfect sheep for us, please contact Evelyn at

Following Frank Reaugh: A Preview

Guest Post by Michael Duty, OCP volunteer and art sale coordinator

In the early 1880s, cattlemen brothers Frank and Romie Houston invited a young artist from Terrell to join them on a cattle drive just south of the Wichita River near Wichita Falls (which at the time was hardly more than a water stop on the Fort Worth and Denver rail route). The round up proved to be a pivotal experience for budding artist, Frank Reaugh. He had only recently moved from Illinois with his parents to a cotton farm in the fertile bottom land just thirty miles from Dallas. While his parents worked the land, Reaugh set about honing his natural artistic skills by copying the paintings he found as illustrations in magazines and the pictures of animals that he found in the works of naturalists Louis Agassiz and John Burroughs. He had a talent for drawing, an interest in the natural world, and the ability to record the nuances of light, color, and shadow that he observed on the Texas prairie.

His time in the saddle with the Houston brothers introduced him to the two subjects that would dominate much of his long artistic career, the Texas longhorn and the Texas landscape. Even after he completed studies at the School of Fine Arts in St. Louis and the Academie Julien in Paris, he returned to those two subjects for the rest of his life and he mastered their depiction in oils and pastels like few other artists who came either before or after him.

He also came back to Texas and stayed there, moving to Dallas in 1890, where he quickly established himself as a leading figure on both the local and state art scene. Along with his father he built a studio in the backyard of the family’s home in Oak Cliff and christened it “The Iron Shed.” He later built a more elaborate studio called “El Sibil.” From those two Dallas vantage points, Reaugh produced over 7,000 paintings and drawings in a career that stretched over five decades.

During that time, Reaugh’s work was widely exhibited throughout the country at prestigious art shows and museums. He was also an influential teacher and helped guide the careers of several noted Dallas artists, including Reveau Bassett, Olin Travis, Alexandre Hogue, and Florence McClung. He led annual painting trips to the farthest reaches of West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. He helped establish the organization that eventually became the Dallas Museum of Art and was a champion of the Dallas art scene until his death in 1945.

Today, Reaugh’s works are preserved in several museum collections. The two major repositories of his works are the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum in Canyon and the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin, which houses perhaps his most famous and accomplished series of paintings—seven large pastels titled, “24 Hours with the Herd.” Although painted in the 1930s, the series had its genesis in those early round ups along the Wichita River in his very earliest days as an artist.

In recent years, Reaugh’s career has continued to receive critical attention through museum exhibitions and publications. His works are highly sought after by collectors and a few of his oils have fetched auction prices in the six figures. He also continues to influence new generations of artists who venture into the Texas countryside to paint.

Many of those artists will participate in a program at Old City Park designed to pay homage to Reaugh as an artist and teacher. “Following Frank Reaugh: A Celebration of Plein Air Painting,” and art exhibition and sale, will be held at OCP October 3-5. Entries are currently being accepted for the sale which will be restricted to plein air works. Any artist interested in participating can find the details by visiting The featured artist for the event will be Lindy Severns, an award winning artist from Fort Davis, who like Reaugh, specializes in pastels to capture the beauty of the Texas landscape. The weekend will feature a number of programs and activities in addition to the art sale.

Artists are invited to paint in the Park and you may see a few working behind their easels on your next visit to the museum. If you do, take a moment to visit with them and come back in October to see the finished works.