Why do you love your neighborhood?
That’s the question my lovely editor Joanna England asked me recently. It got me to thinking about what draws us to our ‘hoods and what keeps us there. It’s an especially important question when you have chosen to live in a conservation or historic district. So, I thought it would be interesting not only to answer Joanna’s question but to reach out to a few of the Realtor resources I continually rely on, that also live in these neighborhoods.
There are some obvious reasons why we choose these areas, of course. Moving into a conservation or historic district means your investment is protected. No one can build a McMansion next door, and no one can paint their house seafoam green (someone tried that in our neighborhood and yes, they had to repaint).
You are also preserving the history of the neighborhood as well as the home. Where else will you find telephone nooks, mail slots, and coal chutes? Homes were built close together, with front porches and front entries. That means you get to know your neighbors. Just look at the Peak’s Addition and their popular Dallas Porch Fest. These folks know how to party, and you bet the neighbor’s all know each other. The result of all this neighborliness is safety. I can tell you none of my neighbor’s leave town without telling about four others, so we can all keep watch on their home.
Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s Elizabeth Mast lives on Swiss Avenue, perhaps one of the most well-known of our historic districts. Mast also owns the popular Talulah & Hess retail shop that is my vision of heaven. You will find whatever you need for every single event in your life here. I kid you not. Mast is my go-to resource for anything and everything involved in this historic neighborhood. I don’t’ think she’d ever be happy anywhere else.
“I am so grateful to be a part of our vibrant East Dallas neighborhoods. Living in a historic district offers a beautiful range of architectural diversity. More importantly, the people and families that live here create a true sense of community. I feel like this supportive spirit fosters those feelings of childhood when things moved slowly, and it was a simpler time. Our East Dallas neighborhoods have also been going through gentrification. With that, we see many new specialized types of services and small businesses invest in East Dallas, which has certainly increased the walkability of our neighborhoods. Combining the diversity of the architecture, people, culture, and businesses only adds incredible texture to daily life for everyone. I think you could say I’m in love with my neighborhood!”
“What do I love about my neighborhood? The same thing I sensed when I first saw it in 1977. Admittedly, I saw evidence of urban blight. At that time, the cars parking in front yards, the “ornamental iron” installed over some windows, and the pervasive amount of deferred maintenance were all sadly commonplace. Driving into this special place, however, provided me a visceral feeling that is not easy to explain. We, like many others in the late 70’s and early 80’s thank goodness, could see perfection in the imperfections of this aged architecture. We admired the glorious windows with wavy glass and divided panes and were renewed by the light that flowed through them. We felt the natural cooling effect brought about by the tall ceilings during the warm summer months. And now we can’t help but feel enchanted here by the preserved beauty of a bygone era. In return, the Shermans feel comforted, joyful, and lucky, especially now when our grandchildren walk through our door with their faces beaming.”
Even though I have lived in Hollywood Heights, a conservation district, since 1990, I want to give you another view of why it’s such a special place, so of course, who would I ask? No one else but Allie Beth Allman’s Joe Kacynski, who is also known for throwing the best neighborhood Christmas cookie exchange party.
“I love the look of the neighborhood,” Kacynski said. “The continuity of design, not having a super modern home between two Tudor homes, and not having older homes overshadowed by a one that takes up every square inch of a lot. I also like the neighbors who all appreciate the uniqueness of a conservation district neighborhood.”
I’d echo every sentiment here, and I’ll offer up a few more. When I started looking for my first and only home, I had a pretty tall order from my then British husband.
“Find something as close to a thatched cottage as possible.” Well, it’s not thatch, but it is a sweet little 1927 cottage, and it fit the bill perfectly. Yes, the closets are small, and so is the backyard. There isn’t room for a pool. And I’ll have to follow some archaic district rules when I finally decide to update my windows.
I have never found a neighborhood closer in feel to the Air Force bases where I grew up. Those that have had that experience will know what I mean. There is nothing that beats the neighborliness of Americans living on an airbase in a foreign country. You know everyone’s kids and dogs, and you’d do just about anything for one another. I knew that’s what I wanted, for myself, and for any children, I’d have. I thought I’d never experience it in a civilian neighborhood. Then I found Hollywood Heights, and I was sold. I moved here in 1990, and I won’t ever leave.
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Her love of all dogs, international travel, good chocolate, great champagne, and historic homes knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well! And she’s never moving from Hollywood Heights.