Celebrating Texas dance halls since 2007.

Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc., was founded in 2007. It is incorporated in the State of Texas and recognized as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by the Internal Revenue Service.

Gregory Smith, the Texas Historical Commission’s state coordinator for the National Register of Historic Places, had been contacted by three separate individuals about their interest in historic dance halls and Texas music history, and so he suggested that they should get together. When Steve Dean, Steph McDougal, and Patrick Sparks met for the first time on South Congress Avenue in Austin, they hatched a plan to start a nonprofit organization that would preserve dance halls and the authentic culture and music that was found in them.

For the first eight years, the organization focused on awareness-building and media outreach, including recognition of historic dance halls by Preservation Texas’ Most Endangered Places list in 2008. TDHP also put on dances and educational events.

In 2015, a change in leadership ushered in a new era for TDHP. Deb Fleming, a longtime volunteer, was elected president of the board of directors, which she promptly enlarged to include more professionals with experience in law, public relations, real estate, architecture, and historic preservation. Deb’s hard work, experience in the music business, and years of traveling the backroads of Texas with Steve Dean, in search of dance halls — as well as documenting halls and interacting with their owners — helped to position TDHP for the success it enjoys today.

Deb brought Steph McDougal back onto the board in 2015, and Steph became the board president in 2017, when Deb was hired as TDHP’s executive director (our first paid staff). Working together, Deb and Steph continued TDHP’s transformation and growth, launching new ongoing programs to directly serve dance halls.

Our mission has continued to evolve, and in 2019, TDHP updated our mission statement to reflect an outward focus on not only dance halls, but also the communities in which they are located, underscoring the important role that these historic halls continue to play in the life of rural and urban areas.

Our original logo, 2007–2017

Our current logo

Throughout its existence, TDHP board members and staff have consulted with numerous dance halls to help their owners make informed decisions about the best treatment for these historic buildings. In addition, some of our past accomplishments include:

  • Updated our logo and branding with generous in-kind contributions by Austin creative agency GDS&M
  • Partnered with Asleep at the Wheel on the second Texas Dance Hall Tour, this time based in San Antonio (Fall 2018)
  • Developed a traveling photo exhibit to continue building awareness of Texas dance halls
  • Assisted Pilot Moon Films, creators of the Dance Hall Tapes project, with logistics and outreach to dance halls
  • Worked with owners of the former Log Cabin Dance Hall and the Texas Historical Commission to ensure that the building was identified as a historic resource during surveys for a water pipeline project
  • Partnered with Asleep at the Wheel on two multi-day Texas Dance Hall Tours, showcasing historic halls in the Texas Hill Country (Spring 2017) and Austin County (Fall 2017) to approximately 250 enthusiastic dancers from around the United States and other countries
  • Launched a quarterly newsletter (published on our website and with ISSUU)
  • With funding from the Texas Preservation Trust Fund, Texas Historical Foundation, The Summerlee Foundation, and National Trust for Historic Preservation, developed a toolkit of resources to help weatherize, secure and stabilize vacant or underused dance halls, protecting them from damage and deterioration until a new owner/use can be found or until the hall can be returned to more regular and frequent use
  • Worked with the Texas Music Office and the Texas Historical Commission to assist with the development of the Texas Music History Trail heritage tourism project
  • Established a formal partnership with SPJST to document and help lodge halls access the new Texas state tax credits for historic rehabilitation. This is the first part of our effort to document all Texas dance halls and list them on the National Register, when possible, which allows owners to access the tax credit program
  • Updated the TDHP bylaws to create a succession plan for Board presidents, ensuring continuity in leadership, and established a conflict of interest policy for the Board
  • Held a dance/fundraiser with Asleep at the Wheel and the Ennis Czech Boys at Round Up Pavilion Hall (La Grange)
  • This event incorporated a Fayette County Dance Halls Youth Art Contest and Display to engage young people and build public awareness.
  • Hosted the second Festival of Texas Fiddling with Texas Folklife at La Bahia Turn Verein Hall (Round Top)
  • Created a Preservation Fund grant program to make small seed grants for critical repairs or to kick off larger fundraising efforts
  • Hosted a Polka Symposium at Sengelmann Hall (Schulenburg)
  • Put on the Festival of Texas Fiddling with Texas Folklife at Twin Sisters Dance Hall (Blanco)
  • Held a dance/fundraiser with Asleep at the Wheel at Anhalt Hall – Germania Farmer Verein (Spring Branch)
  • Put on a “Historic Window Workshop” at Twin Sisters Dance Hall (Blanco)
  • Held a dance/fundraiser with Asleep at the Wheel at Anhalt Hall – Germania Farmer Verein (Spring Branch)
  • Hosted the Dance Across Texas concert series at six different halls
  • Held a Dance Hall Symposium at the Round Top Festival Institute
  • Received a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to create a Preservation Toolkit; this was ultimately used to conduct a building condition assessment at Nada Hall (Garwood)
  • Texas dance halls named to the Preservation Texas “Most Endangered Properties” list
  • Established the original TDHP logo and website
  • Held our first dance and fundraiser at SPJST Lodge No. 1 (Fayetteville)

Support Texas Dance Hall Preservation

Your kind and generous help makes it possible for us to work directly with dance hall owners to provide technical assistance, workshops, grants for building repairs, and other resources. Please become a TDHP Member and make a donation today.

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