Following his death at age 74, he’ll be remembered for his work redeveloping many of Dallas’ landmark buildings.
Jerry Merriman wasn’t a builder, but his impact on Dallas’ downtown skyline surpasses that of most developers.
As founder and former CEO of Merriman Anderson Architects, he had a hand in the redevelopment and preservation of more than a dozen of downtown’s landmark properties.
Merriman, 74, died last week after a battle with cancer.
The architectural firm Merriman founded has overseen the restoration of some of the city’s best-known landmarks, including the Statler Hotel, Lone Star Gas Building, Old Dallas High School, Tower Petroleum Building and the First National Bank Tower (now known as The National).
“It’s a chance to preserve things for another generation,” said Merriman, when he retired in 2020 after almost 50 years in the architecture business.
Merriman was born in 1948 in South Dakota and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in architecture. He came to Texas in 1971 and wound up working for the Dallas firm headed by renowned architect George Dahl.
He and his wife, Deby, went out on their own in 1987.
“We started from scratch,” Merriman once recalled. “I would sit there waiting for the phone to ring, and Deby would be typing letters to send out saying I wish you would hire us.
“Overhead was pretty low — it was just the two of us.”
The company began by designing motels and restaurants before growing into bigger projects downtown. His firm gained a reputation for repurposing historic properties.
“Jerry understood the DNA of Dallas. Through the built form and through his work, he told a story of the city’s past, present and future,” said Kourtny Garrett, former president of Downtown Dallas Inc. who worked with Merriman on multiple downtown projects. “His efforts to preserve history, while moving forward with vision and a belief in what Dallas can and will be, is unparalleled.
“And Jerry’s contributions are felt far beyond his projects into civic leadership and mentorship, as he passionately supported so many of us growing our careers to follow his, careers that leave a place far better than we found it, for the good of the community and the city we love. "
When Merriman left the firm three years ago, it had 100 employees working in Dallas, Austin and Charlotte, N.C., and was registered to do business in 32 states.
“Relationships and enjoying the people you work with was very special to Jerry,” said Milton Anderson, president of Merriman Anderson Architects. “Jerry loved both the business of, and the design and construction side of architecture and was a master at weaving them together.”
“Jerry was very involved with the community and stayed tuned into our local leadership at the city and the building owners that shared the vision.”
Along with historic redevelopments, Merriman’s company designed new buildings including parts of the Grandscape project in The Colony, Bell Helicopter’s headquarters and the new East Quarter tower at 300 S. Pearl St. in downtown Dallas.
Merriman served on the boards of Downtown Dallas Inc., Preservation Dallas and the OU College of Architecture’s Board of Visitors.
He is survived by his wife, children Craig Merriman and Paige Vincent and five grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned June 7 at Highland Park United Methodist Church.