Dallas Heritage Village

Photos courtesy Dallas Heritage Village

Last week, the Dallas Heritage Village announced that it was closing the Blum House indefinitely until it could be repaired and rehabbed, causing a flurry of questions — and rumors — about the organization and the state of the Blum House and the other structures at the Old City Park that comprise the museum.

We sat down for a lengthy interview with DHV executive director Melissa Prycer to talk about the state of the Blum House, the intricacies of caring for historic structures, and how the organization’s funding has changed since its inception.

CandysDirt: Unlike your run-of-the-mill home that needs maintenance, these homes are museum pieces and have to be maintained and rehabbed differently. Is that where the bigger price tag comes in to play?

Prycer:  “Yes absolutely. So this is true of every structure at Dallas Heritage Village. We can’t buy anything off the shelf. So whenever we are replacing wood, generally speaking, we’re having that specially milled. And you know we’ve got a great relationship with Davis-Hawn Lumber, and they do provide a discount, but they still do you know, charge us — it costs them money too. There are a lot of misconceptions about historic preservation, but I think the biggest one is that we can just go to Home Depot to get, say, the siding for one of our historic homes.

Even the really basic lumber is not going to be the right dimensions to match what is there. So then when you have a house like the Blum House with a lot of really intricate gingerbread work and of course each of those porch spindles is fancy it adds up. And the other thing is that the roof is metal shingles which interlock, and they’re not super common. (more…)

Blum

Photos courtesy Dallas Heritage Village

  • The Blum House has suffered ongoing deferred maintenance, Dallas Heritage Village says
  • It will cost around $650,000 to repair and restore it, according to estimates

Preservationists and history buffs awoke Saturday to alarming news — The Blum House, which sits at the Dallas Heritage Village in Old City Park — was being closed to the public indefinitely due to deferred maintenance.

Although DHV executive director Melissa Prycer posted the news Friday on the organization’s blog, most didn’t actually find out until Saturday morning, when the blog post and pictures of the decaying structure were shared on Facebook.

In the blog post, Prycer said that the staff has been concerned about the deterioration of the rapidly aging Victorian.

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The historic Winnetka Heights neighborhood in North Oak Cliff had a big win this Wednesday at City Hall. The city’s thoroughfare plan was amended to take away the 12th St. Connector, knitting the neighborhood back together with parks and open space. It was a change 40 years in the making, with some of the original residents still part of the fight.

When cars became big in Oak Cliff and everywhere else, Tyler and Polk streets were made into a one-way couplet, and this connector, installed in 1967, allowed northbound traffic to reach West Jefferson Road by skipping the Jefferson St commercial core. More importantly it has allowed first responders (located at Polk and 12th streets) to access the neighborhood to the north more quickly.

The election of Dallas City Council member and mayoral hopeful Scott Griggs to the District 1 seat in 2011 is a big reason we’re seeing this change.

“The project got legs when Scott joined council” says Lee Ruiz, president of the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association. “He understands the new urbanist feel of how neighborhoods should be.”

Conversations began with City of Dallas staff and elected officials in 1981 when the neighborhood association formed and work began to dedicate the area as a Conservation District. But the project wasn’t a priority.

“Our neighborhood is known for its tenaciousness,” says Ruiz. (more…)

blue house

[Editor’s note: Merry Christmas! This week, we’re taking time off to focus on our loved ones, so we are sharing some of our favorite stories from this year. Keep an eye out for our top features from the archives as we rest and get ready for a brilliant 2019! Cheers, from Candy and the entire staff at CandysDirt.com!]

Bethany: It never ceases to fascinate me, how entire homes are moved from one spot to another – and what has long been known as the Blue House in the Cedars was a very painstakingly precious undertaking. I had the chance to talk to the man who will be restoring the home to its former glory, and get a better idea of what it takes to bring a long-neglected beauty back to life.

It took a bit, but the Blue House is almost completely safe now.

Almost, because windy weather has held up the removal process, so it sits on two lots — its original on Griffin, and the new lot at Beaumont and Browder.

It may take a while for the entire house to make the trek over to the new location, Dallas developer Mark Martinek told me last week.

We’re still moving it,” he said. “It’s kind of half on the original location, half on the new location.” (more…)

Jenna Bush Hager is, of course, one of the darling fraternal twin daughters of former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush. Even though she lives and works in New York City, we kind of still think of her as a Dallas gal, right? I will always remember the twins from their stint at The Hockaday School, before their dad became governor of Texas and the family moved to Austin.

Now grown and prolific women in their own right, Jenna and her twin, Barbara, have (among other amazing things) written a terrific book called Sisters First: Stories From Our Wild & Wonderful Life. The twins teased the book here in late February at a gala event for 4Word, an organization that connects, leads and supports women in the workplace. (4Word was founded by women in commercial real estate — stay tuned.)

In their book, Jenna and Barbara, each named after their grandmothers, and each thrust into the public eye just as they landed in college, discuss the valleys and peaks of carrying the Bush surname. They reflect on their “way normal” upbringing in Midland, Texas, where their maternal grandfather was a home builder, to stories from White House life; how they thought everyone’s grandfathers had presidential inaugurations; where they were and what happened on 9/11; life with the Secret Service; Jenna bemoaning the loss of anonymity as a charter school teacher during her father’s term, and Barbara telling us how her dad texts her daily, and cheered her through a recent break-up.

Jenna is a contributing correspondent on NBC’s Today show and an editor-at-large for Southern Living. She is also the author of The New York Times best seller Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, which she wrote after traveling to Latin American in 2006 as an intern with UNICEF. 

Jenna will be in Dallas April 11, as featured speaker at the Park Cities Historic and Preservation Society’s Distinguished Speaker Luncheon, which is heavy on real estate this year. Lucinda Buford, Realtor extraordinaire at Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, is president of PCHPS. Allie Beth Allman & Associates is presenting sponsor. Capital Distributing, Lucinda Buford and Tessa Mosteller, and Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s, are home sponsors, and Highland Park Village, William Briggs Architect, Venise and Larry Stuart are Legacy Sponsors. 

So what is Jenna going to talk about? (more…)

3356 Merrell Front

Ed has done it again! I swear, Ed Murchison seems to constantly nab the most fun midcentury modern listings in the city. This cool 1961-built ranch in Northwest Dallas’ Sparkman Club Estates is so absolutely perfect, with tons of original cabinetry and finishes.

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Bishop Arts 7th St House12

Source: Google Maps, Jan 2016

The landscape of  the Bishop Arts District is changing quickly — tiny historic Craftsman homes by the dozens are being razed for apartment complexes, half-million dollar condos, and five-story mixed-use developments going up. One developer, once demonized by the community for their rudimentary design out of the gate, just won major Brownie points with the help of Rogers Jr. House Moving.

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Panel 8.1.16

[Editor’s Note: We’re hosting a robust conversation about the future of Fair Park here on CandysDirt.com ahead of the 8:30 a.m., Aug. 4 City of Dallas Park Board meeting that could help decide the iconic landmark’s fate.]

UPDATE: We have the entire agenda, including the unabridged version of the Walt Humann proposal for managing Fair Park, embedded at the end of this piece.

If you care about the fate of Fair Park, you may want to show up to the Park Board meeting this Thursday. Or at least read the 20-year, $12 million management contract that the Park Board will be voting on.

Park Board Agenda

Monday night’s panel discussion on Fair Park and the potential Park Board vote on Walt Humann’s management contract filled the Hall of State (around 300 attendees.) Despite Mayor Mike Rawlings’ last-minute press conference Monday afternoon to “make sure everybody knows the exact truth of what’s happened,” that everyone’s behind this approach (a private firm managing Fair Park), that the Park Board has been talking to Walt for two years, and “now it’s time to vote.” It was all too dismissive of the community meeting scheduled for later in the day.

The community meeting was organized in less than 1 week, in response to the July 21st Park Board special work session meeting where board members walked out (see about minute 31 of the meeting) in objection to the truncated meeting agenda which limited a thorough discussion on the proposed management contract.  They are expected to vote on the management contract at the upcoming meeting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, which would then set it up for a city council vote. To enact the management contract for the next fiscal year, the agreement would need to be passed through council before next year’s budget is approved in September. These boards meet once a month, and the council meets twice a month with time required to put items on the agendas … you see the rush.

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