“Mothballing Toolkit for Vacant Dance Halls” is now available

Mothball front cover

When dance halls will be vacant or infrequently used for some period of time, we can take steps to keep them secure, stable, and weathertight while they are not being used. A guide to doing that — a process called “mothballing” — was produced over the past two years with help from owners of the following halls:

  • Appelt’s Hill Dance Hall (Hallettsville, Texas)
  • Freyburg Hall (Freyburg, Texas)
  • Grapetown Rifle Club (Grapetown, Texas)
  • Hye Hall (Hye, Texas)
  • Mixville Sunrise Hall (Austin County)
  • Peters Hacienda Schuetzen Verein Hall (Peters Community, Texas
  • Saints Peter and Paul Hall (Plum, Texas)
  • Sons of Herrmann Lodge No. 301 (Deanville, Texas)

Since this project began, some of these halls have undertaken renovations and have been or are on their way to being put back into frequent, productive use.

TDHP wants to thank the following funders, who made this guide possible: the Texas Preservation Trust Fund, The Summerlee Foundation, the Fondren Fund for Texas/National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Texas Historical Foundation, and TDHP co-founder Steph McDougal. The guide was produced by historic preservation architect Ann Benson McGlone.

You can find a link to the Mothballing Toolkit as a downloadable PDF on our Resources page.

Posted on November 12th, 2018

Tickets are still available for the 2018 Texas Dance Hall Tour!

TDHT 2018

Posted on October 1st, 2018

August 2018 Newsletter

Click here to download the newsletter as a PDF.

Posted on August 18th, 2018

Oral History Workshop for SPJST Halls

SPJST Oral History Workshop 9-29-2018-01

Oral histories are a great way to capture your members’ recollections of people and events that made your lodge what it is today! We hope you’ll join us for this workshop or future workshops.

TDHP and SPJST are working together to help lodges document their history and become eligible for the state historic tax credit program, which is open to all 501c nonprofit organizations, including fraternal lodge halls.

Buildings that are designated as Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks or listed on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for the Texas State Historic Tax Credit Program, which can return up to 25% of qualifying rehabilitation expenses to lodges that spend at least $5,000 on hall renovation projects.

Register button


Posted on August 16th, 2018

Preservation Fund grants for dance halls – now accepting applications

Texas Dance Hall Preservation is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our new Preservation Fund matching grant program. The application deadline is September 15, 2018. We have $12,000 to give away this fall. Grant recipients will be selected in late October and notified in early November.

Grants are available for repairs or building condition assessments and require a $1-to-$1 match. IRS rules require that halls must have current tax-exempt (501c) status in order to receive a grant. For more details about eligibility and how to apply, please download the application packet:

Preservation Fund Grant Application 2018

This program is made possible by Lone Star Beer’s Tabs and Caps for Texas campaign and gifts from individual donors.

For more information or if you have questions, send email to: admin@texasdancehall.org.


Posted on August 6th, 2018

Dance hall photo exhibit debuts at Boerne Library

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Texas Dance Hall Preservation presents a new photography exhibit, Two-Step Your Way Through Time in Historic Texas Dance Halls. Conceived as a “visual tour” of historic halls, the exhibit debuted on June 4 at the Patrick Heath Public Library, 415 North Main Street, Boerne, Texas. The Boerne Library system’s music-themed Summer Reading Program this year celebrates music and history in Central Texas communities.

The exhibit is free and open for viewing in the Library Gallery from June 4 through July 8 during regular library hours, Mondays–Thursdays, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.; and Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Can’t make it to Boerne? You can view all of the images in the exhibit and order your own copies here.

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Special thanks to sponsors Cynthia Inman of Ranch Connection LLC and Greg Sales of Duncan Springs Farms, whose generosity made this exhibit possible.

Photographers who provided images for the exhibit include Deborah Fleming, Gary E. McKee, Dave Norris Photography, and Wendy Schutt; Lee and Judi Temple, owners of Kendalia Halle,  contributed a photograph by Jennie Trower.

On July 18, starting at  the Library will host a brief reception in the gallery, followed by a talk by TDHP executive director Deb Fleming in the Community Room on historic dance halls and their importance to the communities in which they are located. The public is invited to both events.


Posted on June 10th, 2018

May 2018 Newsletter

Posted on May 30th, 2018

Remembering Steve Dean (1952–2018)

It is with heavy hearts that we remember and celebrate the life of Stephen Michael Dean (1952–2018), one of the co-founders of Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc. and a longtime champion of Texas music and dance halls.

Stephen Michael Dean_Sons of Hermann Hall_©Nicholas McWhirter
Photo courtesy of Nicholas McWhirter

“In 2005, a friend who knew Steve told me I must meet him, as she knew that — as a fifth-generation Texan — I had a strong interest and passion for Texas history, architecture, and music, and I loved a good road trip as well as small-town rural culture and people.  Steve was in the beginning stages of chasing down Texas dance halls, in hopes of doing a book one day.  Our first encounter led very quickly to a few road trips to look for halls. I was hooked from the start.  What started in 2005 as a mutual love of historic hall exploration and discovery soon led to co-ownership of a roots music venue on the outskirts of Austin, hundreds more dance hall and BBQ road trips clocking thousands of miles, library and archive research and interviews, and the beginnings of what is now Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc.

My most memorable dance hall trip with Steve was to Panna Maria, TX in October 2007 for their annual hall and church fundraiser.  That visit opened a door to my ancestral past, where I discovered that my great-great-grandparents were among the original settlers of Panna Maria, coming direct from Silesia (now Poland) in 1854.  My family had no knowledge of this before that dance hall visit, and I was able to take my 90-year-old father there before he passed away. This discovery was another major influence on my ongoing commitment and search for more halls and their stories.

Steve’s energy and sense of adventure and exploration led us down many a back road, never knowing what we might find, and many times we’d stumble upon a hall that neither of us knew anything about prior.  The excitement was palpable when this happened and only fired us up for more road trips to new parts of Texas.  We always had loads of fun mapping out the route, stopping for BBQ or a beer to chat with locals and ask ‘where did they dance’ or ‘where did their parents/grandparents dance back then.’  I never expected that our fated 2005 meeting would lead me down a totally different path in my life’s work, but it was the beginning of what brought me to where I am today and my continued commitment and passion for our historic dance halls and the communities they serve.  I have Steve to thank for that. ”

— Deborah Fleming, executive director/past board president, Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc.

“After I began researching Texas dance halls in 2007, for my master’s thesis in historic preservation, a friend from the Texas Historical Commission suggested that I should talk to this guy named Steve who kept calling him about dance halls. He made the introduction, and Steve and I met to talk about a project he was working on at that time — a book for UT Press with a friend from Kansas. Before long, we had also connected with Patrick Sparks. The first time the three of us met in person, sitting at a table outside Jo’s Coffee on South Congress Avenue in Austin, we hatched the idea for a new nonprofit organization, which became Texas Dance Hall Preservation. Although both Patrick and I later left the board (I came back in 2015), Steve was one of the threads that ran through TDHP from the start. He never had a shortage of ideas or passion for Texas music and the spaces where that music was born and nurtured. We are all poorer for his passing and will remember his great humor and indomitable spirit.”

— Steph McDougal, co-founder/current board president, Texas Dance Hall Preservation, Inc.

Posted on May 3rd, 2018

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