Cedar Hill Celebrates Grand Opening of Traphene B. Hickman Library and History Museum April 27

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Cedar Hill library ribbon cutting
Photo courtesy Cathy Burkey

It’s been a long time coming, but Cedar Hill’s new Library, History Museum, and Signature Park celebrated their grand opening April 27 to reveal stunning architectural and amazing amenities. The community turned out in large numbers for the Saturday grand opening and ribbon cutting celebrations for both the library and museum. Everyone seemed to find something unique to enjoy and exclaim over, with the most frequently heard comments “worth the wait,” “wow,” and “can’t wait to bring my friends.”

CH library welcomes visitors
Photo by Chris Waits

Located within easy walking distance from the City Government Complex, and surrounded by a three and a half acre Signature Park covered with native trees and plants that showcases the area’s chalky topography, Cedar Hill’s new library in a park is positioned to become a favorite destination for the Best Southwest community. (They graciously accept library cards from other Texas libraries, too). No need to worry about long waits at the new library, since Library Services Director Aranda Bell says the staff has doubled, from 14 to 28 employees. The new library is four times larger than the Wylie Library that preceded it.

Library Director with volunteer T-shirts
Library Services Director Aranda Bell photo by Chris Waits

Project Manager/Deputy City Manager Tour

A few days before the opening, Deputy City Manager and Project Manager Melissa Valadez-Cummings led photographer Chris Waits and I on an extensive tour of the Traphene P. Hickman Library. Her enthusiasm for the state-of-the-art library is contagious, and no wonder; Ms. Valadez-Cummings has spent 21 years helping to guide the enormous project to completion.

CH library patio
Photo by Chris Waits

“When we first started planning for the new library in 2003, it was budgeted for $2M, and that figure kept increasing to eventually reach $20M by the time it was completed,” she said. “We kept the community involved through every step along the way, holding a number of Town Hall meetings to inform them of our progress and get their input.”

She praised the construction contractor Balfour Beatty for helping to bring the project to completion within the city’s budget and on time– in spite of the many labor and supply challenges caused by the pandemic.

For those who wondered why the new library was named for someone other than Zula B. Wylie, whose pioneer family donated the land for the library named for her, Valadez-Cummings gave us a great explanation for the name change. The story is a perfect example of the great cooperative spirit shared by Cedar Hill leaders and the community at large.

Project Manager/Deputy City Manager leads tour
Melissa Valadez-Cummings photo by Chris Waits

Traphene Parramore Hickman Legacy

The beloved Cedar Hill Library Director (1959-1979) passed away in 2022, not long after the July groundbreaking for the new library. From 1976 to 1996 she served as director of the Dallas County Library System, while raising a family and staying involved in her church and community. After retiring she excelled as a master storyteller and member of Tejas Storytelling Association. She served as Public Library Consultant, President of the Cedar Hill Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Cedar Hill Library Board and on the Board of Trustees of Cedar Hill Museum, and was also named the Outstanding Citizen of Cedar Hill.

Cedar Hill library
Photo by Chris Waits

After moving to Cedar Hill with her family at age 13, Traphene grew close to the Zula B. Wylie family and their daughter her age. Years later, after she became a librarian, Mrs. Hickman encouraged the Wylie family to donate the land for the Zula B. Wylie Library that finally opened in 1987. “It’s important for people to teach their children to love books,” Traphene said.

Zula B. Wylie Library

CH library welcomes kids
Photo by Chris Waits

“The Zula B. Wylie Library featured a sound garden named for Traphene B. Hickman,” Valadez-Cummings said, “and after Traphene’s death, Sarah Wylie Moor and other Wylie family members urged the Cedar Hill council, Mayor, and library board members to consider reversing the names for the new library. They were so persuasive the council agreed to their request. That’s why the new library is named for Traphene P. Hickman while the sound garden is named for Zula B. Wylie.”

CH library visitors
Photo by Chris Waits

A tour of the new library makes it easy to understand that the Traphene Hickman Library is much more than “just a library.” It’s expected to become a hub for diverse needs of businesses, entrepreneurs, children, teens, and others in the community. Among its many amenities, the library offers a creative arts learning studio for podcast recordings, remote work areas, and a number of conference spaces in a variety of sizes.

Cedar Hill Museum of History

CH museum opens
CH Museum Board President Karen Aruda photo by Chris Waits

The Cedar Hill Museum of History has also expanded in the new library, and is a must see destination for students and history lovers. It’s located near the main entrance of the library, and features fascinating displays and information about the region’s history that dates way, way back to an era when Cedar Hill was covered by the ocean. In the 1920s local tenant farmer T. J. Tidwell discovered an almost complete Plesiosaur skeleton while digging for sulphur. The pre-historic reptile is a long-necked creature with fins for swimming, and looks like drawings of the Loch Ness Monster.

Mayor and Museum Board cut ribbon for History Museum
Cedar Hill Museum of History ribbon cutting photo by Chris Waits

Cedar Hill Library Amenities

The library also features a first floor café with coffee service available from Cedar Hill’s White Rhino Coffee Shop. The library offers event venue spaces for weddings, office parties, or other affairs. A large rooftop deck offers outdoor seating with spectacular views of the surrounding park. The Signature Park features multiple trails, performance areas, and Wi-Fi throughout.

CH Signature Park
Photo by Chris Waits

The Traphene Hickman Library is located at 415 Pioneer Park in Cedar Hill. For more information, please visit cedarhilltx.com or call the library at 972-291-7323. Better still, make plans to take everyone in the family and explore the community’s new library, museum, and park for great, free entertainment!

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Jo Ann Holt
Jo Ann Holt is an award-winning journalist with 40+ years of experience as a writer and editor. She loves live performances, from country music concerts to Broadway musicals to community theatre productions. Holt also enjoys art and cultural festivals, and good food and wine. She’s toured Amsterdam, London, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and various cities in Mexico but looks forward to visiting even more countries. She has traveled by boat, plane, and train, but especially likes taking long road trips across the U.S. with her husband, retired history professor Durhl Caussey. They enjoy meeting friendly people, learning about different cultures, and visiting historic sites wherever they go.

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