There are historic neighborhoods in Dallas. Then there is Munger Place.
Wealthy cotton gin manufacturer Robert S. Munger and his brother, Collett, used all the developmental strategies when planning their 300-acre namesake neighborhood Munger Place. They implemented deed restrictions to attract the most elite homebuyers. They offered all the bells and whistles in infrastructure, such as paved streets, sidewalks, and shade trees as well as gas mains, sewers, and electric street lights.
From the location, location, location standpoint, Munger Place was situated in Old East Dallas – just minutes from downtown. While the brothers covered all the bases of developing a modern upscale neighborhood, they did so with one big difference: circa 1905.
Early 20th Century Innovation
Branded “The City Man’s Home,” Munger Place was the first deed-restricted neighborhood in Texas. In addition to home costs of at least $2,000, houses were required to be two stories and were prohibited from facing a side street.
The Mungers were also ahead of their time by touting the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown Dallas since the mode of transportation in those days was horse-drawn carriages.
The Ups and Downs (and Ups) of Munger Place
Like most things in life, what goes up comes down. Though Munger Place had attracted some of the most affluent residents in Dallas, The Great Depression that began in 1929 took a dramatic economic toll on the neighborhood. Although some homeowners vacated their stately homes, others hunkered down and reconfigured their houses into apartments in order to create a revenue stream.
During the post-World War II housing shortage, even more homeowners cashed in on the multi-family housing demand. By the late 1960s, far too many homes in the deteriorating neighborhood had either been razed, condemned, or were on their last legs.
Munger Place got a lifeline in the mid-1970s when a batch of artisans and urban pioneers rescued the neighborhood from destruction. Despite the condition of the homes, the new breed of residents saw the historic architecture, soaring ceilings, and natural light flowing in leaded glass windows along with endless possibilities for restoration and new beginnings.
Part of Munger Place is in the Munger Place Historic District while the other part is in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today Munger Place is among the hottest historic neighborhoods in Dallas. Its more than 250 homes represent the largest concentration of Prairie-style homes in the U.S.