tenth street historic district resource center

It’s North Texas Giving Day and one project is looking to preserve the history and celebrate the present-day residents of the Tenth Street Historic District of Dallas. 

During Reconstruction after the Civil War, many emancipated slaves created communities together. Most of these Freedmen’s towns have been torn down or changed beyond recognition over the years, but Dallas has one of the only remaining intact ones in the nation. 

Located in Oak Cliff, this is the Tenth Street Historic District, a designation created in 1993 by the city of Dallas to help preserve African-American culture in this vital area, which has 257 homes, four commercial buildings, three institutional structures, and one cemetery. Other designations include Dallas Landmark District, National Register of Historic Places, and State Historic Marker Program. This area’s preservation is a big deal.    

During North Texas Giving Day, nonprofit Building Community Workshop, known as BC Workshop, is fundraising to help renovate the house above to create a resource for the community, the Tenth Street Neighborhood Resource Center. 

“Our goal is to renovate, keeping it true to historical character and working with residents to create a resource center, staffed by someone from [BC Workshop] and providing information about things like how to apply for permits to do renovations in this historic neighborhood, and answer questions, learn and share back with residents,” said Lizzie MacWillie, Associate Director of Dallas office of BC Workshop. “The place could be available for community meetings, art shows, performances…poetry slams, musical performances that celebrate and elevate the celebrate the neighborhood.” 

MacWillie emphasizes that this is all about creating what the residents want, not what an outside group thinks would be best for residents.  

“We wouldn’t be doing any of this without residents,” she said. 

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2707 State Street, home of Patricia and Curtis Meadows

I’m about to give you the dirt on this State Thomas treasure. You’ll be waiting to hear how it was built around the turn of the century, updated in the mid fifties and then eighties, right? The State Thomas neighborhood contains the largest collection of Victorian-era homes remaining in Dallas. Known as Freedman’s Town, it was created immediately after Emancipation (as in the Civil War) as a separate settlement adjacent to the town of Dallas — adjacent, but not in it. By the close of Reconstruction in 1874, Freedman’s Town was incorporated into Dallas, bustling with about 500 citizens.

The area is rich with history in a town where you really have to turn up stones to find it. In 1986, State Thomas was established as a Special Purpose District, making it an urban peripheral of downtown Dallas. It was christened Uptown. The area would soon become one of the most bustling urban success stories in the country, loaded with downsizing baby boomers and energetic millennials coming in as fast as they could.

In 1986, not one of their peers was nearby. In fact, they were still opening garage doors in the Park Cities, Preston Hollow and North Dallas. But State Thomas was exactly where Curtis and Patricia Meadows wanted to settle for their retirement. (more…)