November 07, 2020
law students at grand staircase in law center

UNT Dallas College of Law celebrated the 105th anniversary of its new home, known for decades as Old City Hall. 

Erected in 1914, the majestic Municipal Building, situated on the corner of Main St. and South Harwood St., recently was resurrected after years of sitting dormant to become the UNT Dallas Law Center. In its previous incarnation, the building served as the staging point for President William Taft’s speech in 1917 to promote the League of Nations. In 1922, more than 2,000 people filled the building in opposition to the Ku Klux Klan. Arguably, the most historic circle of events occurred in November 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald was held in a fifth-floor jail cell on suspicion of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. Two days following his arrest, Oswald was fatally wounded by a single shot fired from local night club owner Jack Ruby.

The incident stunned millions of viewers who watched it happen live on national television.       

In 1978, Dallas moved all of the civic activities to its current City Hall location at 1500 Marilla Street. In 2003, the municipal building was partially abandoned after the Dallas Police Department relocated their headquarters to another site. With much needed repairs, a path to restoration began three years ago when a collaboration was orchestrated between the Texas Historical Commission, the Dallas Landmark Commission and the University of North Texas System. Over $70 million was allocated for renovations, which included five floors with classrooms and faculty offices. Two basement-level floors were redesigned with a large state-of-the-art courtroom, law commons and lounging areas for students. 

Born out of necessity, UNT Dallas College of Law was created with hopes of vastly improving the landscape of higher education in the area. As the only public law institution in the city of Dallas, it is committed to delivering exemplary training at an affordable cost. The college is mission\-driven to become the top-ranked law school in Texas, while providing exceptional value. Some of the brightest students in the state and beyond have also chosen UNT Dallas College of Law because of its remarkable learning environment and amazing location.

As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of this grand, old building and its rich history in downtown Dallas, we also welcome the new legacy emerging at the UNT Dallas Law Center.