The Dallas Heritage Village in Dallas, Texas is an immersive history experience that hosts more than 50,000 people per year. About half of these are school children who come visit October–May. So when it came time to finally renovate the severely outdated restrooms, they had a specific set of needs to address.
After years of dealing with the messes and disasters of herds of school children—particularly fourth grade boys—DHV needed durability, clean-ability, and a vintage-yet-timeless look rolled into one.
Here’s how Daltile and DHV teamed up to reimagine the historic building’s restrooms above and beyond the initial expectation.
Achieving Durability that Stands Up to the Crowd
Melissa Prycer, president and executive director at DHV, and her staff are all about history education. But not just any education, an immersive one that allows children, and the young at heart, to engage with history and understand it on a level that just can’t be achieved in book learning.
“Educators teach this stuff out of a book but it doesn’t always make sense until the kids can see it. It’s all about making connections. That’s where museums play a crucial role—they get beyond what is taught in school. The classroom is not where people become history nerds” said Ms. Prycer.
That’s one reason DHV is so committed to the thousands of school children and families who come through every year. But curiosity and passion have their limits. Enter the hordes of rowdy school children, every one of which has to go to the bathroom.
DHV needed a durable solution for the restroom in the historic Fisher Road building that would stand up to all those kids and their antics. Daltile seized the opportunity to continue the discovery of history at the museum and knew that glazed ceramic and tough porcelain would ease the minds of the staff and stand up to the kids with grace.
How the Dallas Heritage Village Came to Be
Dallas Heritage Village opened in 1969 after volunteers worked for three years to obtain historic buildings to open up a museum on the land that was once the Old City Park in Dallas, Texas. They started out with the Millermore house, a cabin, and playhouse.
Over the next 20 years the museum grew as all sorts of Texas residents searched for structures that needed to be saved. Melissa Prycer said “Depending on when you visited, the landscape was different.”
1976 was a big year for DHV because it was selected as the official Bicentennial project for the city of Dallas. There was extra attention given to structures that desperately needed it and the community became more aware of the historic gem in a forgotten downtown neighborhood.
The last installation was the Sullivan house, which was moved in 1989 and opened to the public in 1993. Most of the focus is now on maintaining this treasure filled park and helping young and old reconnect with their past. Read more about the history and exciting future of DHV here.
DHV chose Rittenhouse Square™, a popular glazed ceramic tile, for the walls that is rated for commercial usage. It is also appropriate for exterior use, which reassured DHV staff that they were getting something that would stand up to their high demands.
For the floors, they chose Daltile’s Keystones™ ColorBody™ porcelain in a black and white hex mosaic blend. Another winner for durability, Keystones is rated for use just about everywhere (see application data) so it was a great bet for all the traffic expected at the Fisher Road restrooms.
Realizing Simple Clean-ability for a Messy Job
“Because we do see over 20,000 school kids a year and some of them are not supervised in the bathroom, we wanted to be able to literally hose down the bathroom after a long day of little boys running ragged through the bathroom” said Melissa Prycer
The DHV staff are not strangers to messes. But sometimes even the resident Mammoth Jack Donkeys don’t make as big a mess as the kids can. Clean-ability was a concern that dictated the surface choices.
Daltile suggested Rittenhouse Square™ in a semi-gloss finish, which would be very easy to clean—or hose down when necessary. They selected white purposefully so that dirt and grime would be easily identified and could be quickly cleaned up. An accent in black bullnose and cove base at the top and bottom of the white field tile harmonized the black and white floor without hiding too much of the dirt.
Likewise, a Keystones™ encrusted floor guaranteed that the room could stand up to a thorough, and regular, cleaning.
Getting a Vintage-Yet-Timeless Look
While clean-ability and durability were key components of the selections DHV made for the Fisher Road building, they also wanted to achieve a time-honored look. Ms. Prycer said “We wanted something that looked clean, fresh, and had a historical flavor to it. But we didn’t want it to look tied into a certain period or look dated—just generally vintage.”
What’s more appropriate than a hex mosaic on the floor, subway tile on the wall, and a black and white scheme? It’s as classic as it gets.
The Rittenhouse Square™ tile selected was beveled, taking the space out mid-century and adding an authentic flair that took it to that classic level.
When Daltile found out DHV wanted to go with a black and white color scheme and was looking at using the white hex mosaic and popping out some pieces to replace them with black pieces for a random black and white pattern, a light bulb turned on.
Daltile was about to launch a new blend that sounded exactly like what they were trying to accomplish. The product team was able to supply the project even though the product hadn’t officially launched yet. DHV loved the tile, it matched their vision perfectly, plus it would be easier to install and save labor costs.
All in all, the end result was the perfect balance of vintage and timeless. It is a look that remains true to the spirit of the Village and will always feel fresh.
Anyone can have a love affair with history! Ms. Prycer puts it this way “History is for everyone because it is the story of humanity and we are all humans.” Now, with the Fisher Road restrooms completed, discovering history will be a little more comfortable and convenient.