Dallas’ Longhorn Ballroom officially added to National Register of Historic Places

Musicians on stage

Asleep at the Wheel played two sets for the opening night at the Longhorn Ballroom. Photo: Jessica Waffles

Call it an early birthday present for a renowned local venue.

Ahead of its 74th year in existence this November, the Longhorn Ballroom has been officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The listing, which was made official on Feb. 1, is the culmination of efforts by current owner Edwin Cabaniss, who took over the Longhorn Ballroom, rescuing it  and reopening it about 18 months ago. Less than four years ago, Preservation Dallas listed the venue as one of “the most endangered historic places in Dallas.”

Cabaniss made the announcement during a Feb. 3 performance at the Longhorn Ballroom by the Bob Wills Texas Playboys, led by Jason Roberts. The Playboys’ namesake has a special tie to the music hall. It was originally called Bob Wills Ranch House.

“Preservation has always been one of the primary ethos of our company,” Cabaniss said in a press release.  “The goal was to not only highlight the venue’s historical contributions to the greater American musical canon, but to reestablish the Longhorn Ballroom as a cultural destination for present and future generations of artists and patrons.”

Architect Robert Meckfessel oversaw the renewal and restoration of the space, and described, in a statement, the inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places as the “highest affirmation” of the work done.

“As we worked with Edwin and the rest of the team, there were two primary goals — making sure that the Longhorn Ballroom would provide a modern, state-of-the-art performance experience and ensure that any modifications to achieve that maintained the historic integrity of its incredible music and cultural heritage,” Meckfessel said in a statement.

Steph McDougal, the co-founder of Texas Dance Hall Preservation, assisted in the preparation of the National Register of Historic Places nomination, and called the Longhorn Ballroom “one of Texas’ most iconic dance halls.”

“Of course, it’s famous for its association with Western swing legend Bob Wills and the notorious Sex Pistols tour in 1978,” McDougal said in a statement. “But, just as importantly, throughout its history, the Longhorn has presented a diverse range of musicians and artists in many genres, and it’s still doing that today. We could not be more pleased to have been involved in this project.”

Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on X (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.