Historic Apartment Building
832 Blaylock Drive
Circa 1917

Lake Cliff may have the most colorful history of any neighborhood in Oak Cliff. It was once part of the original township of Oak Cliff that Dallas annexed in 1901, and it has been the gateway to Oak Cliff since the 19th century.

Named after the small freshwater lake created by the exclusive Llewellyn Country Club in 1890, Lake Cliff was part of businessman T.L. Marsalis’ vision to transform Old Oak Cliff into the most affluent suburb of Dallas. In 1889, he built his private grand mansion at Colorado Boulevard and Marsalis Avenue, and a string of affluent buyers began building the following year.

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Oswald House Vernon Bryant DMN

It seems as if people are coming out of the woodwork to offer their experiences and opinions on Dallas and how it relates to the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. What will prove frustrating to many Dallasites are the blatant generalizations made by these one-off columnists who’ve had only a glimpse of the city they are hot on critiquing.

Take, for instance, James Reston Jr.’s piece in Slate that serves as a journal of his tour through the city, following the footsteps of  alleged JFK shooter Lee Harvey Oswald after the he fled the Texas School Book Depository in downtown’s West End and hopped a bus for Oak Cliff.

While Reston, an acclaimed journalist and author, offers no criticism of downtown, Jefferson Boulevard’s Texas Theatre, or the corner of 10th Street and Patton where Officer J.D. Tippit was gunned down by Oswald, he chooses to single out Lake Cliff, specifically the boarding house where Oswald lived at the time of the assassination.

Reston was recalling how he made his way through the city with retired Dallas Times-Herald journalist Darwin Payne, Sixth Floor Museum historian Sam Childers, and Dallas native and SMU historian Michael Hazel, and had this to say about 1026 N. Beckley Ave.:

The current owner, the granddaughter of the 1963 owner, is trying to sell the place, a low-slung ramshackle of a house in what is still a fairly rough neighborhood. Darwin and Sam thought the place might fetch about $200,000, but the owner is asking $400,000. She suggests that the house should become a public museum where you could see the closet of a room where Oswald slept or the downstairs dining room where he ate his meals. So far, no one is biting.

Now, the issue isn’t that Reston says that the home is “ramshackle” (even though it isn’t), or that he implicates that she might be asking too much for the property, but instead, the issue is that Reston categorizes the neighborhood surrounding this home as “fairly rough” without having actually perused the neighborhood. I think the residents of Lake Cliff, which has some gorgeous craftsman homes and surrounds the beautiful and placid Lake Cliff Park, wouldn’t agree with Reston.

What do you think? Should Dallas be poised for more criticism from outsiders as the anniversary draws near?

Oswald House Vernon Bryant DMN

 

(Photo: Vernon Bryant/DMN)

I understand Pat Hall’s need to pay the bills on the Oak Cliff home where alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald lived, but I doubt opening its doors to tourists will get the house sold. Hall, whose mother rented a room in the Beckley Avenue home to Oswald for $8 a week, is seeking $500,000 for the whole shebang according to DMN reporter Roy Appleton.

But why buy when you can be a looky-loo for $20?

For $20 you can see Oswald’s tiny bedroom and metal-frame bed plus the living room and dining room he shared with others – all with furnishings from his days.

“I’ll answer questions about the house,” Hall said. And “they’re going to be able to touch,” she said, maybe even sit on the bed. But the kitchen and bathroom he used will be off limits.

So, do you think that this is counter-productive for someone who wants to sell a ostensibly historic property? Also, I wonder if this requires some kind of special permit from the city.

Let’s hope she’s able to keep this place from meeting the same fate as the apartment building where Oswald once lived.

002_2013-09-05_–_Book_Signing-(ZF-4840-24184-1-005)Hugh Aynesworth is the only person to have witnessed the assassination of the president, the arrest of the assassin, and the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby. Now, 50 years later —ye gads, it IS 50 years — he recounts the events that have passed into memory and controversy, and sets the record straight in his book, “November 22, 1963 WITNESS TO HISTORY”Witness To History

17178 Club Hill DriveLast evening, the home of Dallas publisher extraordinaire Milli Brown



was packed to the gills with friends, family, and media who not only adore and revere Hugh — I happen to adore his beautiful daughter, Allyson Aynesworth — but recognize him as one of the world’s greatest journalists, who happens to be from Dallas, and who knows more about the Kennedy assassination than anyone.

The fact that Hugh Aynesworth was an eyewitness to history is just the beginning of the story. With a history’s devotion to subject matter expertise and a reporter’s sense of precision, Aynesworth established himself as the most reliable chronicler of the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy” — Bob Mong, The Dallas Morning News

Clarice and Hugh 072_2013-09-05_–_Book_Signing-(ZF-4840-24184-1-006) (1) 060_2013-09-05_–_Book_Signing-(ZF-4840-24184-1-002)Clarice Tinsley popped in after her news broadcast, bought a book, got it autographed then rushed back to the station. Jody Dean, Alan Peppard, Karen Lukin were there as well as countless other media, PR, and real estate tykes including Douglas Newby, who is marketing the Crespi Estate, and Dave Perry-Miller realtor Sherry Pizitz, informing me she was the agent who sold the magnificent showplace home on the 16th hole (I believe, I counted while in the autograph line) we were enjoying to Dallas publishing dynamo Milli Brown. Dallas photographer to the famous John “Doc” Strange was there as well, and kindly shared these photos.

Aynesworth girls etc Witness Book Signing stairsThe Brown home is about 8,000 square feet and sports a huge terrace right off the main living area overlooking the Preston Trails golf course. It’s so green out there, beautiful nature views of lakes, a lush creek, plus spacious living spaces, walls of windows, a gourmet kitchen with honed granite, stainless Viking appliances, a private 2200 square foot balcony off the incredible master suite which includes two separate studies, plus huge walk in closets and I do mean huge. The master itself is 24 by 23 feet. The house has three or four living areas, two fireplaces, a spa, kitchenette in quarters and even an elevator! The sweeping staircase was a perfect setting for Hugh and Paula and photo ops. Totally reminded me how loaded up those Bent Tree and Bent Trail properties are with the best views and really,way less yard maintenance. This one was listed for $1,495,000 and sold to Milli last May.

Of course she didn’t pay asking, Milli’s a savvy business woman and publishing whiz! And Milli also reminded us that we can buy Hugh’s book on Amazon.com, like right here.

 

17178 Club Hill Drive.jpg foyer

Oswald House Vernon Bryant DMN

 

Photo: Vernon Bryant/Dallas Morning News

Lee Harvey Oswald lived in the unassuming brown brick house at 1026 N. Beckley Avenue right up until he was apprehended for allegedly shooting the president. It was the last place he is known to have lived.

And now it can be yours.

It’ll cost you, of course. The owner of the home, Pat Hall, wants to sell the house next month, but don’t expect her to list it for the market. According to the write up from Oak Cliff reporter Roy Appleton, Hall has a figure in mind.

“It’s not going to be too low,” she said during a recent tour of the house. “I’m selling history here.”

I am very interested to see how much this home goes for, especially considering its history and place in our national memory. This is the place that Oswald fled to before holing up in the Texas Theatre. It’s the place that he rented under an assumed name, where he kept quiet and out of the way. It’s the last place he lived before he became infamous.

Hall’s late mother, Fay Puckett, lived as well with the Oswald yoke, a past that continues to attract tour buses, history hounds and the unexpected — as in the Lee Harvey Oswald look-alike actor from Austin who showed up at the front door one day.

“It was kind of weird having that guy standing there,” Hall said. “It took me back.”

After her mother died, Hall, 61, opened the place to tours for several years, encouraging — with some success — donations toward its upkeep.

But she and her house aren’t getting younger. The structure needs repairs here and there. The public demands of history, she said, have been a burden, something she doesn’t want for her children.

So basically, if you buy this house, you can consider it an investment. Put a gift shop in there and add some parking and voila — tourist attraction. You’re close to Zang and Colorado, and Lake Cliff Park, too. There are some great restaurants nearby as well.

DCAD appraised this home at $60,830. Put in your over/under below.

We reported that last week, the apartment complex that alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald once occupied was being dismantled brick by brick, and those bricks were being sold by the building’s owner, Jane Bryant.

However, the rest of the decaying structure has yet to meet the wrecking ball, much to the chagrin of the City of Dallas. Even though the building, which is within yards of the Bishop Arts District, had been slated for demolition for months, Bryant hasn’t made much inroads in actually razing the structure, which is beginning to tick off City Hall.

Roy Appleton’s DMN story (paywall) says that the city can tear that sucker down any time they please and charge Bryant for it:

The city can demolish the 10-unit building at any time and put a lien on the property to cover its cost. Its patience with Bryant “is running quite thin,” an assistant city attorney informed her attorney in a letter Tuesday. The city hasn’t given Bryant a deadline, but a city employee inspected the property Wednesday with a demolition company representative. A crew from a local film production company will be at the site Friday to shoot footage of Bryant and her property.

Appleton also reported that there has been some vandalism at the site, with people scavenging for things from the famed former home of an alleged assassin. Hope Bryant doesn’t lose much!

Here’s one of the Atlanta bricks for sale by the owners of the Oak Cliff apartment complex where Lee Harvey Oswald once lived.

There are lots more available on Ebay. This historical apartment building was torn down last week, at 602 to 604 Elsbeth in Oak Cliff. As you can see, it was kind of a mess but, being such a vital part of U.S. history, I am thrilled that the owner, Jayne Ann Bryant, is salvaging and selling the bricks.

Because I have received several emails asking where they can be bought!

“They are going fast,” Jayne Anne told me on the phone yesterday. “And they are really good, solid Atlanta, Texas bricks.” The bricks were made in a town called Atlanta, Texas, north of Shreveport in Cass County prior to World War II. The Elsbeth property was built in 1925.

Could this have been Lee Harvey Oswald’s commode?

On Ebay, the bidding starts at $11 a brick.

 

Roy Appleton/Dallas Morning News photo

Update 3:09 p.m: I added this great photo of the complex going bye bye– this is history, folks.

 

The owner of the apartment building where alleged JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald once lived fought tooth and nail against City Hall to keep the dilapidated building from meeting the wrecking ball.

That fight ended today, according to Dallas Morning News reporter Roy Appleton. Crews began dismantling the brick building this morning, and will likely finish the task today. The building, which sits on the corner of West Davis and North Elsbeth streets, is just a hundred yards or so from the Bishop Arts District.

Still, the building’s owner is trying to add a silver lining to this cloud and make a buck, too.

Jane Bryant, whose Align LP owns and is trying to sell the property at 600 Elsbeth St. in north Oak Cliff, is under a court order to raze the structure by Friday. And Monday afternoon she was there as a worker removed bricks from its outer walls.

Bryant, who agreed to the order in May, said she hopes to hire a demolition contractor soon and is trying to salvage and sell the building’s hundreds of bricks in the meantime.

The building has been boarded up and the site surrounded by a chain-link fence for years

So, how much do you think Bryant will fetch for a brick from the building?