New marker at Texas Theatre has historical error
DALLAS — The Texas Theatre was the largest suburban movie house of its kind in the state when it opened in 1931.
«Everyone supports history, and we want to make sure history is correct,» said Brian McKay of the Oak Cliff Foundation, which bought the building in 2001.
But history remembers this theater on Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff as the refuge Lee Harvey Oswald sought as he tried to dodge police.
Officers arrested him inside on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 for shooting Officer JD Tippit several blocks away.
But today outside the theater, a new Texas historical marker tells a different story.
The silver letters on the cast aluminum say Oswald was apprehended here for President Kennedy’s assassination. In reality, police didn’t file that charge against Oswald until nearly midnight on November 22.
«It is a small error, but a significant error, and we believe history should be recorded accurately,» McKay said.
The Texas Historical Commission does not check for accuracy on applications for markers, according to Bob Brinkman, the program’s coordinator. That’s up to the county historical commissions and the groups that apply for markers, he explained.
But in this case, Brinkman said, the state actually relied on information within the National Register of Historic Places to write this marker — not knowing that that information was incorrect.
As it turns out, the National Register has had the inaccurate story element in its file since the Oak Cliff Foundation applied for national historic status on the theater in 2002.
Brinkman said the state did not catch the historical mistake in its year-long process, either.
Farris Rookstool III, a JFK historian who wrote the historical marker for Officer Tippit’s shooting scene, first discovered this mistake when the Texas Theatre dedicated its new marker last month.
«To have that kind of mistake at the front door of one of Dallas’ most iconic landmarks is embarrassing,” Rookstool said. «Not only for the landmark, but also the Texas Historical Commission and the Oak Cliff Foundation.»
The Oak Cliff Foundation said it intends to fix the record at the National Register, and will spend $1,600 to cast a corrected marker in late January.