Debbie Mauldin Cottrell

ROBERTS, ALICE BRYAN (ca. 1870–1952). Alice Bryan Roberts, patron of the arts and musician, was born around 1870 in Talvotton County, Georgia. She was the daughter of Henry Monroe and Alice (O'Neill) Bryan. When Alice was four, her family moved in a covered wagon to Dallas, where her father became a teacher and principal. She developed an early appreciation of music from her mother, who was a piano teacher and player. After completing high school in Dallas, Alice studied at the Cincinnati College of Music. She returned to Dallas and taught music at St. Mary's College and Ursuline Academy. In 1891 she married Jules D. Roberts, a Dallas businessman and civic leader.

As she continued teaching and lecturing on music, Mrs. Roberts was determined to improve the level of music appreciation in Dallas. With a desire to expose the growing frontier city to some of the world's finest artists, she established and became president of the St. Cecilia Choral Society in 1895. The society, the first such music organization in the state, struggled successfully to bring cultural performances to North Texas, long before the area was considered a regular touring stop for such events. The expense of attracting famous singers, dancers, and musicians was considerable.

After the society ceased to operate, Alice Roberts continued as an individual benefactor to sponsor cultural events. She arranged performances in Dallas of the Ballet Russe, Lillian Nordica, Walter Damrosch, Teresa Carreño, Harold Bauer, Anna Pavlova, Nellie Melba, and other famous groups and individuals, and thereby established a tradition of musical and artistic culture in the city that endured well beyond her death. While pursuing these endeavors, Mrs. Roberts also performed as a church soloist and directed choirs at numerous local churches.

She was preceded in death by her husband. She died in Dallas on March 5, 1952, and was survived by a daughter, a son, and several grandchildren. Her requiem Mass was offered at the Church of the Holy Cross. Alice Roberts was buried in Grove Hill Memorial Park, Dallas..


Sam Hanna Acheson, Dallas Yesterday, ed. Lee Milazzo (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1977). Dallas Daily Times Herald, March 6, 1952. John William Rogers, The Lusty Texans of Dallas (New York: Dutton, 1951; enlarged ed. 1960; expanded ed., Dallas: Cokesbury Book Store, 1965).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Debbie Mauldin Cottrell, "ROBERTS, ALICE BRYAN," accessed May 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 12, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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