Among some history buffs, a slight tremor of worry cropped up a couple of weeks ago when zoning change signs appeared at the corner of Preston and Northwest Highway — where the “little white house”, long the symbol of the work of the late Ebby Halliday, has sat for 93 years.
In a town where sometimes history sees the business end of a backhoe before it can be preserved, many preservation-minded folks rightfully worry when those city signs crop up.
In this case, however, those fears are unfounded, officials with Ebby Halliday Companies and the Ebby Halliday Foundation said.
“The Ebby Halliday Foundation has filed an application with the city of Dallas seeking recognition of the Little White House and Ebby’s residence as a historical location and allowing for her home to be utilized to carry out the charitable will of The Ebby Halliday Foundation,” said Steve Smith, director of public relations and marketing operations with Ebby Halliday. “As part of this process, rezoning notification signs have been placed on the properties.”
“The Ebby Halliday Foundation is proactively moving forward to protect and further the legacy of the late Ebby Halliday, this includes preserving the Little White House and Ebby’s Preston Road residence,” he added.
The signs are part of the City of Dallas’ rezoning process.
We wrote about the Ebby Halliday Foundation last year, not long after the Ebby Halliday Companies were purchased by Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices of America. The foundation carries on the philanthropic work the late Halliday supported during her lifetime, and is a 501(c)(3) organization independent of her namesake company.
“Ebby’s philanthropic impact will continue to be felt across our region for a very long time,” Smith said. It supports charitable and educational activities that serve women and children in need in the greater North Texas region.
Halliday, who died in 2015 at age 104, saw her philanthropic efforts honored all over North Texas, from the Juliette Fowler Communities’ The Ebby House, to the Ebby Halliday Library at Happy Hill Farm in Granbury to a brand new school in Southeast Dallas, Ebby Halliday Elementary.
“Each of us who had the good fortune of knowing Ebby was touched by the grace, fortitude and compassion with which she lived her life,” said Mary Frances Burleson, former president and chief executive officer of the Ebby Halliday Companies and a founding member of the board of directors of the Ebby Halliday Foundation, told us when the foundation was announced. “Ebby had a very simple saying that she lived by, ‘Do something for someone every day.’ That small bit of wisdom served Ebby very, very well and has had a tremendous impact on many individuals and organizations in North Texas.”
The Little White House at the corner of Northwest Highway and Preston Road has been perched there since 1926 — although at that time, it was (much like its later owner who would become indelibly linked to the building) outstanding it its field — literally.
The land that would later become a bustling intersection was surrounded by fields.
But by 1939, 800 people called the area home, and incorporated as the town of Preston Hollow, and that little white house was briefly the town hall.
Halliday snapped up the house in 1964, spending almost $150,000 for it when you total the purchase price and cost for repairs and remodeling. It became her signature office. And while now the Ebby Halliday Realtors’ headquarters are near the Galleria, the Little White House remains the enduring symbol of a legacy that continues to this day.