The original building was constructed in 1910 by C.D. Hill, and served as Fair Park first coliseum building. It was used for livestock auctions by day and musical theater performances by night. In 1936 this building was renovated and used as an administrative building for the Texas Centennial Expectations. The building was then used to complement the Art Deco facilities and they even added new art deco facade on the south face of the building.
“The Spirit of the Centennial” is a 15-foot-tall statue that depicts a young woman rising from a cactus. This symbol refers to the Texas Centennial Exposition.
During the 1950's the busiling was used as a workshop and storage for the Music Hall and it was there that the father of John Wolfe, our long time stage builder had his theatrical workshop and where John learned his woodworking skills. John recalls "hiding out" in some of the upstairs nooks & crannies behind the front wall.
By the early 1990s, the building was in total disrepair and unsafe.
However, it wasn’t until the founder, Cathy Bonner, came to Dallas in 1996 where friends at Fair Park introduced her to the building. The women coming out of the cactus at the front was all it took to know that this would be the home of the Women’s Museum. The mission of the Women's Museum was to inspire, educate, and stimulate their audience through the exploration of the successes, experiences, contributions and potential of women. However, sadly the museum was forced to close in October 2011 due to lack of funds.
However, the building, with it's long and varied history, survived in its restored state and is an integral part of the Fair Park landscape and the North Texas Irish Festival. It is now home to the Irish Culinary Experience, a showcase of culinary arts featuring some of the top Dallas chefs and a number of top local producers and retailers of fine food products.
Also in the Women's Museum is the Durty Nelly's bar, named after that famous bar in Bunratty Ireland. Durty Nelly’s is one of Ireland’s landmark pubs nestlied in the shadow of the magnificent Bunratty Castle and the adjoining Folk Park, it is often the first stopping off point for generations of visitors to Ireland arriving at nearby Shannon Airport.
In our Durty Nelly's we will be selling the usual Guinnes and Smithwicks fare, along with a number of premium brews and a Texas Hill Country Mead.
The Women's Museum Auditorium is also the location of our In The Tradition stage. A wonderful quiet setting loved by many of our solo performers such as harpists or traditional Celtic folk singers.
The Culinary Stage is located in the main hall of the museum and features cooking demonstrations from a number of local chefs. On Friday night this stage also hosts the very popular Irish Whiskey tasting.
Culinary activities in the Women's Museum include the popular Tom Thumb chef's stage, featuring local Dallas chef's and their Irish creations, as well as food product vendors with samples of such delights as honey, chocolate and roasted nuts.