Preston Tower - Small

Preston Tower’s balconies are fantastic, but the floorplans are odd shaped.

By Jon Anderson
Special Contributor

Correction: In last week’s column, I made a rookie mistake of believing a friend without checking (he’s been flogged and I’ve been humbled). The history of the “21” building at 3883 Turtle Creek is far more interesting than the story I was told about the 21 name reflecting the number of stories. In fact, as pointed out by reader/commenter and 21 resident John Rogers, 21 refers to the number of acres of the original plot. Development began in the 1880s as the site of Holy Trinity University which in the 1940s became Jesuit High School before being sold for the development of “21” and other commercial uses. The building was originally envisioned as low-income HUD housing. But when the original developer was arrested for skimming money from the project, ownership reverted to HUD before changing ownership again and being converted to condos.

On with the show…

The “Sticks” (the Pink Wall)

The Athena and Preston Tower were built in what was considered “the sticks” back in the day. If you’re under 60, you may not have heard of “Behind the Pink Wall.” It was a marketing phrase that made its way into local parlance. Today, the “pink wall” is a low, curvy faded beige brick wall you’d imagine Humpty Dumpty to preside over. It runs along the north side of Northwest Highway from the Athena to Preston Road and rounds the corner heading north for a bit. Locals think of it as a shrine. Practically, it’s a barrier keeping crazy folks from driving into building lobbies (and they do plow into the wall with some frequency).

Both Athena and Preston Tower were to have had two towers each. Preston Tower was to have had a second oppositely-curved tower also facing Northwest Highway. The Athena would have gotten a matching big-box tower as well (which a friend calls the Bob Newhart building). I assume interest wasn’t strong enough to make the second towers viable. By the time condos rolled around, I’m guessing the moment had passed. Today a pair of forgettable low rises occupy the space.

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As we wrote about last year, the intersection of Preston and Northwest Highway is one of the highest-profile in all of North Dallas (and probably one of the highest-valued, too).

It’s not just the current real estate prices of Preston Hollow that give this area its prestige—the intersection has a fascinating history.

The northeast quadrant has a wavy, pink brick wall, and to live “behind the pink wall” was an address with serious social cachet in midcentury Dallas (legend has it Ebby Halliday herself coined the phrase).

The pink wall was built in 1954 by developer Hal Anderson in front of his first apartments; he later built the high-rise Athena and Preston Tower apartments next door. Parts of the wall might be a bit faded now, but to live here in the 1950s or 1960s was to have arrived. (You’ll likely get raised eyebrows if you talk about the real estate “behind the pink wall” to a young person, but older folks will remember the phrase well.)

Today’s Tuesday Two Hundred takes us one block north to 6126 Averill Way #208W, located in the Imperial House Condominiums, built around the same time, 1964, by Sid and Ada Lynn, with George Dahl as architect. These charming French-style condos have a fanciful, throwback feel, with a grand, circular staircase, domed ceiling, and retro metalwork in the entryway. Can’t you picture Betty Draper from Mad Men gliding down the stairs in kitten heels on her way to cocktail hour?

6126 Averill

Unit 208W is located on the second floor (there is an elevator in the building, as well as those stairs), a two-bedroom, three-bathroom condo with a roomy 2,134 square feet. It is newly listed by Peter Livingston at Realty One Group Partners for $239,000, or $112 a square foot.

Unit 208W has plenty to offer a buyer, but parts of it are a bit dated need freshening. A similar size, but renovated, unit in Imperial House sold last November for $345,000, or $139 a square foot. If that sale tells you anything, it’s that you could make the upgrades on this unit and see a return on your investment. Jump to read more and see photos!

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