D Magazine: Go Inside Dallas’ Most Exclusive Museum, Housed at Perot’s Headquarters
by MATT GOODMAN
We’re told that Ross Perot Sr. is on a call, but suddenly there he is, bounding out of his office with the shrunken ceiling, shaking all of our hands as we stand in some sort of room that doubles as a museum entrance and secretary’s office.
“It’s sure nice of you to come by, thank you!” he says, introducing himself by his full name to all seven of us. Perot is 86 now, and he still makes his way to the office around 8 a.m. and does rounds, bathing in all the sunlight that pours into the new Perot headquarters. And despite these shiny Turtle Creek digs—a three-story marvel of glass and natural light that houses all of the Perot Co.’s business excursions, from real estate to energy to investments and acquisitions—the elder Perot wanted his office the same as it was in Plano. Exactly. Which meant the ceilings had to be dropped.
“It’s identical to what he had,” says his son and Hillwood CEO, H. Ross Perot Jr.
After walking into his office from the connecting room where his longtime secretary holds court, we’re asked not to take photos here. But it’s almost overflowing with ephemera from Perot’s life and the lives of his family members and friends. There is a portrait of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stewart, which you can see more readily on the $1 bill. He keeps a wallet-sized photo of his dear friend Margaret McDermott under glass on his desk: “World War II war correspondent, can you believe that?” There’s a framed check for $1,000 that was used to start Electronic Data Systems, which he sold for a couple billion to General Motors in the mid-eighties. “That was a nice investment,” Perot jokes. There is a hat that he gave to his father. He tells us the first Bible ever printed in the U.S. is “somewhere out there.”
“Somewhere out there” is in the expansive museum that lies just beyond Perot’s private office. It is as much a history of the family as it is a history of how he navigated through American culture, leaving his mark on the military and on politics, education and criminal justice. And it is equally reflective of the influence that history has had on him. The presence of the Magna Carta—a copy, mind you—is a reminder of the last remaining edition from the 13thCentury, which he bought out of the fear that the British government would sell it to someone unwilling to preserve it. (He sold it for $13 million in 2007, and it is now displayed in the National Archives.)
There is an impressive flag from the U.S.S. Constitution hanging prominently across from the double door entrance, within view of the brass sculptures of all the Perot children. There are military busts, smaller versions of the iconic memorials found in D.C. There is even a small area dedicated to the elder Perot’s presence on Saturday Night Live; press a button, and watch Dana Carvey skits for a few minutes.
Anyway—it’s not open to the public, and security is a beast (ID’s get handed over to a stern looking guard, but they stop short of asking for your social.) So here’s the next best thing: a few high-res photos (where we could; Ross Sr.’s office was off-limits) with context verbatim from the father and son Perot.