christmas gifts

Stumped for last-minute gift ideas for someone on Santa’s nice list? Why not consider a membership or donation to a North Texas nonprofit in their name? It’s a thoughtful alternative to yet another gift that might sit unused or unappreciated.

Here are a few of our favorites related to Dallas history, preservation, housing, and architecture.

 

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NeilEmmons

City Plan Commissioner Neil Emmons was found dead in his home this morning. Photo: Twitter

The political and real estate worlds of Dallas were rocked today with the news that tireless advocate of neighborhoods and preservation of Dallas’ architectural history Neil Emmons apparently passed away in his sleep overnight. He was 45.

Robert Wilonksy reported in the Dallas Morning News that Emmons, who has been serving as a City Plan Commissioner, was found dead by his mother this morning.  As city officials and others who have worked closely with Emmons in his 15-plus years serving the city learned the news, their reactions were overwhelmingly of shock.

“We did not always agree, but I always knew Neil was up for the fight. I learned a lot from you over the years, and I am sad that our hidden notes at the horseshoe will not continue. You will be missed greatly my friend,” said councilman Adam McGough on Facebook.

Dallas Planning Commissioner Neil Emmons was found dead in his home this morning. Photo: Rockwall Pets

Dallas Planning Commissioner Neil Emmons was found dead in his home this morning. Photo: Rockwall Pets

Councilman Philip Kingston also took to Facebook to eulogize Emmons, saying, “No single person in Dallas has done more to affect land use in recent history, and the changes he fought for were overwhelmingly positive. His philosophy was always to side with the neighbor and the neighborhood because doing so produced the best result for the city.

The result? Billions of dollars of economic development that may not have happened without his input and probably would have looked like crap if it did happen. It is not an exaggeration to say that Uptown, Turtle Creek, Oak Lawn, Lower Greenville, and Downtown owe much of their success to Neil Emmons.”

“I don’t think most of the city knows how sad a day this is for Dallas,” Kingston concluded.

In February, our Leah Shafer wrote about the historic Mayrath House and the formation of Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties (DEEP) by Emmons and three other preservationists.Four preservationists, Virginia McAlester, Jim Rogers, Lisa Marie Gala, and Neil Emmons, together founded the Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties (DEEP) fund last month. Joanna England wrote more in-depth about DEEP, which would be a fund to buy up endangered historic properties to save them from the wrecking ball.

Emmons served several terms on the City Plan Commission, starting in 2001 when he was appointed by then-councilwoman Veletta Lill. He served from 2001 until he left in 2009 due to term limits, and then was appointed again in 2014.

mayrath house

Original Geneva cabinets are just one of the Midcentury Modern wonders in the iconic Mayrath house, located at 10707 Lennox Ln. in Northwest Dallas near the Straight Lane estates.

For all of its progress toward becoming a world-class city, Dallas still has a lot to learn about the value of historic architecture.

We are tear-down happy. The list of demolished Dallas buildings with significant historic and architectural value would go on for pages. But here are a few recent examples:

We might have another situation happening now. The Mayrath house at 10707 Lennox Ln. is a Midcentury Modern gem. It was designed by Dallas architect and homebuilder Truett A. Bishop in 1956, and is largely unchanged since then.

Photo: Michael Amonett

Photo: Michael Amonett

A Dallas Times Herald article from Sept. 23, 1957, titled Not a Splinter of Wood Used In Outstanding Home in Dallas, describes the Mayrath House like this:

Wood, the most frequently used material in homes, is completely shunned in the home of one Dallas family. There isn’t so much as a splinter of wood in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Mayrath, 10707 Lennox Lane…Built on columns of steel, the two story house is constructed with aluminum, glass, concrete and Austin stone. It may look like a country club at first glance, but it is a luxury home—one that probably is not equaled in the vast Southwest.

In terms of architectural value, this Northwest Dallas home near Royal Lane and Inwood Road is priceless. But it was listed Jan. 18 by Sharon Quist with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate for $2.5 million, which is just the lot value.

That means the iconic Mayrath house and all its Midcentury significance is likely to face the wrecking ball, probably replaced by another generic McMansion or faux château.

When discussing this possible fate for the Mayrath house, a friend commented, “That is so Dallas.” But it doesn’t have to be. This home is worth saving.

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