Historic Purse Building Goes Up for Sale in Dallas’ West End

Freshly renovated and restored by current owner Tanya Ragan of Wildcat Management, the six-story 1905 Chicago Italianate-style building isn't just historic. It's a witness to history, located right across the street from Dealey Plaza and the former Texas School Book Depository, home of the Sixth Floor Museum.

When it opened in 1905 in downtown Dallas, what’s now known as the Purse Building struck people as tall. It only reached six stories—and it would be dwarfed in 1909 by Dallas’ first “skyscraper,” the 15-story Praetorian Building. But we’re talking 1905, when people must have taken off their hats, looked up at those stacked six stories, and reflected on the awe of human engineering.

Today, the building at 601 Elm Street may not be seen as scraping the sky. But it’s grabbing attention for another reason: It’s for sale.

Renovated and restored by Tanya Ragan of Wildcat Management

The Purse Building in Dallas’ West End. [2019 file photo: Wildcat Management]

The Purse Building has been newly renovated and “restored to its former glory” by current owner Tanya Ragan, the owner and president of Dallas-based Wildcat Management.

The six-story Chicago Italianate-style building features its original century-old pine wood floors, aged timber columns, and exposed brick walls, but it’s been updated with modern accents, fixtures, and aesthetics. Called a “grand dame of a building” by Wildcat, it offers 65,000 square feet of office or multifamily space, 360-degree views of downtown Dallas, and “cutting-edge features tailored to the modern-day go-getter.”

A floor-to-ceiling portrait of urbanist luminary Jane Jacobs is a standout attraction on the first floor.

Historic itself—and adjacent to history that changed the world

An interior of the Purse Building in Dallas’ West End, which has been put up for sale by Wildcat Management. [Photo: Wildcat Management]

The Purse Building is located right across the street from Dealey Plaza and the former Texas School Book Depository, a tourist destination featuring the Sixth Floor Museum that attracts nearly 7 million visitors each year. According to Wildcat, the building was commandeered by the FBI while it investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The building had been vacant for 30 years before its recent renovation, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A ‘pride project’

Wildcat Management’s Tanya Ragan took a personal interest in her renovation of the building.

“The Purse Building has been my pride project,” Ragan said in a statement. “What a phenomenal feeling that the legacy of Wildcat’s role in this extraordinary landmark will continue on as a vibrant part of the city I love.”

Wildcat is developing a $150M mixed-use project in Mansfield

The Purse Building sale is the second project for Ragan and Wildcat to make headlines recently. Just yesterday, Dallas Innovates wrote about Wildcat’s $150 million Castle Ranch mixed-use development in Mansfield, a suburb south of Arlington.

The development will feature multifamily units, townhomes, retail, and live/work spaces connected by walkable streets, sidewalks, and pedestrian paths.

“We will infuse our new project, Castle Ranch, in Mansfield, Texas, with the same energy and attention that we gave The Purse Building,” Ragan says.

The Purse Building’s 118-year background

The Purse Building, circa 1908. It’s now up for sale. [Photo: Greater Dallas Illustrated. Published in 1908 by the American Illustrating Company and reprinted in 1992 by the Friends of the Dallas Public Library Inc.]

When it was built in 1905, the building was the only one in Dallas with a cast iron facade. According to the Dallas Public Library, it was originally the home of the Parlin and Orendorff Implement Company, which sold agricultural implements. In 1928, Hall and Purse Co. became the main tenant. That company later changed its name to Purse & Company Wholesale Furniture, giving the building the name it’s been known by ever since.

Dallas County bought the building in 1978, and the building was vacated in 1994, according to the Dallas Public Library.

Wildcat Management says the building’s recent renovation “created a contagion of reactivation in the West End district.” It’s currently surrounded by restaurants, shops, business and government offices, new apartments, and mass transit and is at the center of what Wildcat calls “a peak renaissance in downtown Dallas.”

Marcus & Millichap’s Joe Santelli and Matthew Sheard are the brokers representing the Purse Building.

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