By Deb R. Brimer
The L.O. Daniel neighborhood is every bit as noteworthy as its legendary namesake. Lark Owen Daniel may not be a household name today, but he left his footprint in North Oak Cliff and the downtown Dallas business world.
Daniel moved to the area from Waxahachie in 1890, according to Heritage Oak Cliff, and made his fortune as the founder of Daniel Millinery company downtown. As a business and civic leader, he was also a founder and officer of Mercantile National bank, which subsequently became MBank, Bank One Texas, and JPMorgan Chase Bank through a series of mergers and acquisitions. And he served as president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Wholesale Merchants Building Company, and Trade League.
In 1901 – the same year the City of Dallas annexed the town of Oak Cliff – Daniel purchased 27 acres of rolling countryside in the future neighborhood that now bears his name. Within the next four years, Daniel reached millionaire status and celebrated his success by building a luxurious 5,000-square-foot Colonial Revival mansion on the property.
The City of Dallas designated the L.O. Daniel homestead a historical landmark in 1984. Located across the street from Sunset High School, the restored wood frame mansion with two stories of wrap-around porches is the centerpiece of the neighborhood.
Though the small neighborhood is less than a half square mile in size, it is big in diversity, historic style, and front-porch culture.
Slightly more than 200 homes span from the early 1900s to the midcentury era. Despite a few duplexes dating back to the late 1930s, all houses are single family, and styles range from stone and brick Tudor cottages and brick and frame Craftsman bungalows, to one and two-story Prairie frame homes. A collection of post-World War II houses designed by iconic architect Charles Dilbeck along Montreal Avenue is an added neighborhood treasure because most of his homes in the local market are across the Trinity River in North Dallas and the Park Cities.
According to resident Angela Angel, who is active in the neighborhood association, neighbors represent a broad mix of age groups.
“I have been here for 13 years,” Angel said. “Among my closest neighbors, I am [still] the new kid on the block. I have seen in that time the homes being sold going to younger couples starting families. Our National Night Out cookout is swarming with kids and babies, which is nice to see.”
Since L.O. Daniel is primarily a residential neighborhood, residents typically shop and dine in the Bishop Arts District and other nearby areas, with a few exceptions.
“The only restaurant we have in the neighborhood is the Metro Diner, which is open 24 hours and serves breakfast and burgers,” Angel said. “It’s an Oak Cliff staple. We [also] walk to Nova on West Davis Street, The Kessler Theater, and Jed’s Grill on Jefferson Boulevard.”