There is a quiet majesty to the old Turtle Creek Pump Station that overlooks Oak Lawn and Harry Hines. Better known as the Sammons Center for the Arts, the building is not only an architectural gem of the city, it’s home to a dozen key arts groups and a bustling entertainment spot for jazz enthusiasts.
The building celebrated its century mark in 2009, but it’s anything but old in vision. With its continued jazz series and new cabaret performances (they are about the finalize both, according to assistant director Michael Cook), the Sammons is a player as a performance space.
But first and foremost, it is the home to so many arts groups that are intertwined with the LGBT community. The Turtle Creek Chorale and the Women’s Chorus of Dallas office out of the building with Shakespeare Dallas and New Texas Symphony as neighbors. The building is truly the center of the universe for Dallas arts.
The old pump station was taken over in 1981 and renovated into a performance venue and incubator of the arts. Seven years later, it reopened as the Sammons Center for the Arts, named after Charles Sammons, and has had a full house of tenants ever since.
The center’s fact sheet details, “It has been fully leased ever since and has a waiting list of arts organizations who would like to be part of the Center.”
But they gave their offerings a shot in the arm with the new cabaret season of shows. Last spring, they debuted four shows of minimalist proportions in their smaller Kurth Recital Hall on the fourth floor. Singers like Tatiana Mayfield and Aubree-Anna crooned while accompanied by a pianist. With refreshments and loads of intimacy, the season thrived enough to warrant a second one for fall.
“Once we sign the last performer for that season, then we’ll be ready to release more information,” Cook says. “But there will, for sure, be a second season.”
The fall season of Sammons Jazz opens with the Ed Smith Quartet and Brad Leali Quartets on Sept. 5 in the larger Meadows Hall. Sammons Jazz runs four shows through its season, finishing in December.
For a 103-year-old, the Sammons Center stands guard to both the culture of Dallas and to Oak Lawn which is apropos to the arts-loving denizens of the neighborhood. And likely it will for another 100.
For more information, visit SammonsArtsCenter.org.
— Rich Lopez
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 24, 2012.