Bishop Arts 7th St House12

Source: Google Maps, Jan 2016

The landscape of  the Bishop Arts District is changing quickly — tiny historic Craftsman homes by the dozens are being razed for apartment complexes, half-million dollar condos, and five-story mixed-use developments going up. One developer, once demonized by the community for their rudimentary design out of the gate, just won major Brownie points with the help of Rogers Jr. House Moving.

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The old soul Victorian at 4317 Worth St. is Kristen

The old soul Victorian at 4317 Worth St. is Kristen Martin’s third “flip” all of her own in Dallas.

When some people look at an old house in disrepair, all they see are its problems. But for one Dallas Realtor, old Dallas homes are all about possibility, instead.

Kristen Martin

Realtor Kristen Martin in front of the Victorian she renovated in Old East Dallas.

Kristen Martin says she’s a kindred soul with old houses, getting to know them, even naming them as she restores, repairs, and renovates them to a state even better than what they were originally.

She’s a Realtor with The Michael Group, and she’s passionate about real estate. But the properties that truly inspire her are the ones she’s buying and flipping.

A few weeks ago, we featured her old soul Victorian flip at 4317 Worth St. in our CandysDirt.com Dallas open house roundup. It is sensational! We had to know more about this woman who can make old houses sing again.

“I go in the houses and just feel them out—[the house on Worth Street] was a mess but I got it flowing well because I talked to the house and it talked back to me,” Martin said. “I have renovated three in the last year and before that, I had done three with other people.”

She wears rose-colored glasses, because all of her flips have been messes when she found them. The Worth Street house, which she purchased in April, was built in 1903 and was a little more than “rough around the edges.” The foundation, plumbing, electric, carpet, and parquet were all bad and needed replacement. The kitchen was a gut. It needed an HVAC. Cosmetically, it wasn’t much to look at, either, with an 80’s vibe going strong.

But Martin saw past all that.

“I had a feeling when I walked into it—the fireplaces and windows and wraparound porch—my jaw dropped,” she said. “I’m ahead of my time in that neighborhood because the area hasn’t made a whole revival. It’s coming back around but throughout the years, everybody has just looked at Swiss Avenue and Junius Heights [nearby].”

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Collinwood house

All photos courtesy of Plano Magazine. Photos by Jennifer Shertzer.

We recently told you about the precarious situation of the historic Collinwood House. It is the oldest structure still standing in the city of Plano, and it faced demolition to make way for a recreational pavilion in a new park being built by the city.

But after a community-based campaign to save this historically significant house, Plano City Council says it will leave the decision up to voters in the May 2017 bond election.

At last week’s council meeting, they ditched an earlier ultimatum that gave friends of the Collinwood House until Aug. 5 to raise $1.5 million for restoration of the house, and to present a viable preservation plan.

The estimated $3.5 million it will take to restore the Collinwood House will be placed in the future bond election. Council also asked the Plano Heritage Commission to continue their research into the historic significance of the structure, and council agreed to secure the house by building a fence and installing an alarm.

“We were pleased to hear that the council decided to follow the direction recommended by the Heritage Commission, which entailed securing the house, putting the restoration costs on a bond election in 2017, and allowing research into the site and structure to continue,” said Candace Fountoulakis, a board member for Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation. “Council members added to that with their statements about needing confirmation of the facts, staying focused on the Heritage Commission’s role, and refusing to agree to move the house if the bond election passed. We hope to inform Plano’s citizenry about the house so that they will know exactly how valuable the house truly is and what the costs of restoration will be, based on further research.”

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All photos courtesy of Plano Magazine.

All photos courtesy of Plano Magazine. Photos by Jennifer Shertzer.

The Collinwood House is the oldest structure still standing in the city of Plano, and it faces demolition to make way for a structure in a new park.

The 1860’s era house sits on city land being developed for a 124-acre park, which will include hike-and-bike trails, a dog park, and parking spaces. Plano officials are planning to tear down the Collinwood house to build a recreational pavilion.

The only thing that can save the historically significant house at 5400 Windhaven Dr. is if Plano City Council intervenes.

Collinwood House

Original hand hewn timbers and square nails peek out from under the brick skirting added in the 1940s; Concentric tree rings can be seen, accentuated by weathering at the ends of the two timbers.

“The Collinwood House is an extremely significant house due to the fact that it is the oldest house remaining in Plano dating back to the 1860s, still sits on its original site, and is an outstanding example of the rare Gothic Revival style of residential architecture,” said David Preziosi, executive director of Preservation Dallas. “The city of Plano has been progressive in other areas of historic preservation in the city and hope that can extend to saving the irreplaceable Collinwood House—they have a great treasure with the Collinwood House and they need to work to save such an important piece of Texas’ history from being lost.”

Candace Fountoulakis, a board member for Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, has been very involved in efforts to save this property. There have been multiple calls from the Plano City Council for RFPs, none of which have been accepted.

“The more we learn about it, the more we find out it’s a unique, rare, and special look into that era of Plano’s history and we don’t have anything like that left,” Fountoulakis said. “ It’s a huge learning experience, a picture of early frontier history and when you stand in there and look at it, it’s a visceral experience.”

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endangered places

Located in the city’s first residential historic district, the Aldredge House made the 2015 list for endangered places in Dallas. All photos: Preservation Dallas

We live in a city rich with historically significant homes and buildings. But all too often, they see the wrecking ball instead of preservation and protection.

With so many of our Dallas historic structures having uncertain futures, Preservation Dallas creates an annual Most Endangered Historic Paces List to call the public’s attention to sites that are too meaningful for us to lose.

“We stared the list in 2004 and ran it until 2010, skipping 2009—we then brought it back in 2015,” said David Preziosi, executive director at Preservation Dallas. “The purpose is to raise awareness about the threats many of our historic places are facing. The nominations are collected and a jury reviews them and selects the new list for 2016.”

Nominations are due soon for that 2016 list, which will likely feature some of the homes and buildings we know and love.

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Katherine Seale

Katherine Seale

Katherine Seale

One of Dallas’ great advocates for historic preservation is slated to speak at the fifth annual Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society (PCHPS) Distinguished Speaker Luncheon. Seale will be speaking on Historic Preservation in the Context of Change.

Seale is an architectural historian and preservationist in Dallas who served as executive director of Preservation Dallas from 2007 until 2011. Currently, she is Mayor Mike Rawlings’ appointee and chair of the Dallas Landmarks Commission.

She also serves as chairman to the Downtown Preservation Solutions Committee under the City Manager’s office. Comprised of downtown developers as well as representatives from preservation, planning, architecture, and landscape architecture, their charge is to use historic preservation efforts to influence and facilitate change in downtown to accomplish the larger goals of the city.

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The stately home at 4901 Live Oak was torn down by investors last year. It's just one of many that has faced that fate in Dallas.

The stately home at 4901 Live Oak was torn down by investors last year. It’s just one of many that has faced that fate in Dallas.

Preservationists in Dallas have had plenty of opportunities to get outraged in the past few years as building after building of historic significance have faced the wrecking ball and lost.

These treasures are gone forever, and this rash of destruction has inspired a reinvigorated, community-wide focus on preserving the older structures that make up part of Dallas’ vibrant and rich cultural heritage.

With that momentum, Preservation Dallas is partnering with several groups to offer a slate of free and ticketed public events, exhibits, talks, and tours for 43rd anniversary of National Preservation Month in May. The month-long observance is recognized nationwide, created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Their slogan for the month is This Place Matters, an idea that resonates with many Dallas residents.

“In the past we’ve recognized it, but haven’t done a full-blown month of activities and since I’ve been here, this is the first time we’re partnering with other organizations,” said David Preziosi, executive director of Preservation Dallas. “We wanted to highlight historic preservation in Dallas, why its important, and look at all the groups who are involved and so important.”

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The “Graffiti House” at 1007 Fort Worth Ave. won a Preservation Achievement Award last year. Photos: Alicia Quintans

Before-and-after photos of the “Graffiti House” at 1007 Fort Worth Ave., which won a Preservation Achievement Award last year. Photos: Alicia Quintans

When you drive or walk down Swiss Avenue in Dallas, it’s hard to believe that this area full of stately, handsome homes was dilapidated just 40 years ago. Cars were jacked up on properties and screens hung off windows, with the many mansions in total disrepair or abandoned.

This was just before the creation of the Swiss Avenue Historic District in 1973. It was the first of its kind and a trailblazing event that paved the way for future preservation projects around Dallas.

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