Swiss Avenue Historic District ‘Blazed a Trail’ for Future Dallas Preservation Efforts

One of the many houses in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Photo: Swiss Avenue Historic District

One of the many architecturally significant houses in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Photo: Swiss Avenue Historic District

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the preservation climate in Dallas was almost nonexistent. Historic buildings were routinely razed on a whim and the city lost quite a few prominent structures, like the Commonwealth National Bank in 1969, the Melba Theater around 1971, the Southland Hotel in 1971, and the Hotel Jefferson in 1975.

The Swiss Avenue area, now one of Dallas’ most treasured neighborhoods, was almost destroyed by high-rise development and disinvestment. But in 1973, homeowners banded together to protect the area and through historic district status and many years of investment by property owners, created the first historic district in Dallas, and what is now the “crown jewel of East Dallas.”

The Swiss Avenue Historic District is truly a success story and one that blazed a trail for other future historic districts in Dallas to follow,” said David Preziosi, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas. “It stands as the finest example of an early 20th-century planned neighborhood with an eclectic mix of houses representing virtually every popular residential design style of the day.”

Those efforts, along with 12 projects, organizations, and individuals, were recently honored at Preservation Dallas’ 16th annual Preservation Achievement Awards. The awards recognize the most outstanding developments in historic preservation and individuals or groups who are committed to preserving Dallas’ history. They help continue the organization’s efforts to educate and advocate for the preservation and revitalization of the city’s significant historic buildings and places.

1007 Fort Worth Exterior before1007 Ft Worth interior before

The before and afters of the "graffiti house." Photos: Alicia Quintans

Before-and-after photos of the “Graffiti House” at 1007 Fort Worth Ave. Photos: Alicia Quintans

In addition to honoring the Swiss Avenue Historic District, Preservation Dallas also gave Achievement Awards to the following preservation projects:

  • Dallas Farmers Market Shed
  • Davy Crockett Elementary School
  • Kiest Park Pergola
  • 5215 Milam St.
  • 6915 Lakewood Blvd.
  • 1007 Fort Worth Ave. (the “Graffiti House,” pictured above)
  • 5526 Tremont St. (pictured below)

5526 Tremont exterior before5526 Tremont interior before5526 Tremont exterior after

5526 Tremont interior after

Before and after photos of the house at 5526 Tremont St. Photos: Tam Pham

This year, the Dorothy Savage Award, the highest award Preservation Dallas presents to an individual or group, was presented to the group who founded the Historic Preservation League, which later became Preservation Dallas. They are Anne Courtin, E.L. Dunn, Lyn Dunsavage, Harryette Ehrhardt, Joe Goyne, Larry Offutt, and Virginia Savage McAlester.

The highest honor for restoration, the Gail Thoma Patterson Award, went to the Park and Recreation Department of the City of Dallas for the restoration of the Kiest Park Pergola. The original pergola was installed in 1934 and was lost sometime in the 1960s. The Park and Recreation Department reconstructed the pergola as closely as possible to the original and replicated the missing elements while appropriately preserving and protecting the remaining original stone paving.

The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League received the Stewardship Award for their leadership and dedication to protecting the historic resources of Oak Cliff for more than 40 years though educational outreach, advocacy efforts, grant programs, and their annual home tour.

The Spirit of Preservation Award was given to Rebuilding Together Greater Dallas for their work in the past year-and-a-half in the Tenth Street Historic District. They have worked on improving numerous houses which has helped to improve lives of the homeowners, brought back pride of ownership for many, and made the Tenth Street neighborhood a better place to live.

Davis-Hawn Lumber and Architectural Millworks received the Craftsman Award for their tremendous commitment to helping preservation architects, contractors, and the general public maintain their historic architectural detailing in order to keep the beauty of our historic places intact. They are experts in recreating historic millwork, matching existing historic profile, and creating new materials.