Guest post by Harryette Ehrhardt, founder & past president of the Swiss Avenue Historic District
My husband Jack and I bought our house on Swiss Avenue in 1970, three years before Swiss Avenue was a historic District. We worked on the formation of the District and also the founding of Preservation Dallas. I have represented the neighborhood on the DISD School Board and in the Texas State Legislature. To say we have weathered storms and battles is an understatement.
People have now read the stories and blog posts written about the current predicament of the Aldredge House. On one side, the members of the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance (DCMSA) thought they were doing a good thing by tirelessly volunteering over the course of 40 years to keep the Aldredge house afloat, preserved, and open to the public. They never made a dime for their efforts, but to the contrary, gave lots of time, woman-power and money to the cause.
On the flip-side, we have good neighbors who bought homes on Swiss Avenue to enjoy all that the neighborhood has to offer as a great place to live in Dallas, but who are sometimes bombarded with excessive noise and activity from their neighbor, the Aldredge House.
Temperatures have risen and the rhetoric has amplified. We need to take a deep breath and put down the megaphones (figuratively and literally).
Last night, immediately before the Swiss Avenue Historic District (SAHD) annual meeting, 100- plus people heard a presentation from the DCMSA, including the grandson of Rena Aldredge, who gifted the home to the DCMSA 40 years ago.
Other than apologizing for any discomfort their events had caused the neighbors and advising that they had worked, and would continue to do so, on addressing the issues, there was no discussion of the current conflict. The presentation focused on the history of both the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance and Foundation and the Aldredge House, and their upcoming joint centennial celebration.
The current, upcoming and early Presidents of the DCMSA represented the arc of time over four decades. They were there to educate neighbors, old dogs like me and my husband as well as the fresh young faces who will carry the torch forward for our historic district, on their plan to maintain it as a joyful, harmonious place for the future.
The response was very positive. When the history of the house and the commitment to the mission of keeping it publically accessible and preserved were explained, everyone in the room learned something. The DCMSA alliance was applauded several times by the standing room only crowd.
Immediately following the DCMSA presentation, the annual meeting of the SAHD took place, as it does every year free of charge at the Aldredge House. It was business as usual; the officers of SAHD were re-elected and the annual budget approved.
We are not just an historical neighborhood, we are a smart neighborhood. We can roll up our sleeves and work with DCMSA on the proposed city ordinance that will preserve the Aldredge House and bring peace and quiet to the neighborhood. Let’s roll.
Harryette Ehrhardt is an American educator and politician. She served as a Democratic member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1995 to 2002.