How an Abandoned School Became a Beacon of Hope for South Dallas


Dallas ISD approached REES with a vision to transform a shuttered school into a resource center for the students and parents of the surrounding South Dallas community. Frazier Elementary School was built in 1932 and named in honor of Julia Caldwell Frazier, the first African American woman to serve as a high school principal in Dallas. Closed in 2012 due to underpopulation, Dallas ISD saw potential in the vacant school to be an opportunity to continue Frazier’s legacy of encouraging education in South Dallas.

In partnership with the Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Outreach Center, the newly transformed Frazier House was envisioned “to create self-sustaining pathways out of poverty into education and into life service – developing the skills. The focus is to help train, educate, job placement for young people,” according to Dr. Zan Holmes, Jr. on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics. This resource center will be the first-of-its-kind to orchestrate a direct relationship between a community organization, Dallas Independent School District and the parents of the community.  

REES worked to redesign the two-story, 36,000-square-foot building to house spaces for a variety of services including career development, health screenings and training for parents. Our design sought to keep costs low by preserving some of the building’s original features. We also added new features including a truancy wing. New HVAC and electrical wiring were also needed due to the building being vacant for an extended period.

“We’ve never had anything like this in Dallas ISD. We are excited about the positive impact this will have on our students and their families.”

-Dr. Cynthia Wilson, Dallas ISD chief of staff.


Our design brought the historic building up-to-date with building codes and ADA accessibility. Removing walls and updating lighting in the vestibule help to promote daylighting and direct visitors to the open reception area. A suite for private counseling is located near the registration area to expedite the intake process. An on-site call center was included in the design to serve as a source of job placement for the community’s low-income families.

REES is honored to be a part of a project with such significance to our very own community.

Partners and Collaborators:

Dallas Independent School District (Frazier Social Services Center, Inc.)

Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Outreach

Mechanical & Plumbing Engineer: Basharkhah Engineering, Inc.

Structural Engineer: Ronald A. Roberts Associates, Inc.

Civil Engineer: Pacheco Koch Consulting Engineers, Inc.