A Highland Park teardown is just another old, out-of-date house or it is an architectural accomplishment designed by one of the best architects in Dallas or the country, and the former home of prominent residents. An insignificant Highland Park teardown makes room for a new architect-inspired home. An architecturally significant home that becomes another Highland Park teardown is a travesty.
Highland Park Teardown Trail of Tears
The Highland Park trail of tears leads from one Highland Park teardown site to the next Highland Park teardown site. We have seen architecturally significant homes like this one designed by Fooshee & Cheek at 4208 Beverly Drive torn down to make the lot more marketable. Over the next five years, after the house had been torn down, it still had not been sold. During this time many potential buyers lamented they were not able to buy the lot with the architecturally significant home on it so that they could renovate the home.
O’Neil Ford Designed Home on Armstrong Avenue—A Highland Park Teardown
Ironically, my first visit to this O’Neil Ford designed home was when I gave a talk to the Shakespeare Club, the oldest club in Dallas, on the architecturally significant homes in Dallas. I was astounded to discover how many Shakespeare Club members were currently living in an architecturally significant home or had once lived in an architecturally significant Dallas home. It was also exhilarating to speak in a home designed by O’Neil Ford that felt current with its Texas Modern design and its size, almost 10,000 square feet. This was an architecturally significant home that I was confident would survive. Instead, several years later the home was marketed for sale as lot value. As a result, the buyer, a real estate speculator, purchased it for its lot value. The buyer’s high-profile real estate broker advised him to tear down the house as the broker said the lot would have more value without the house on it. Finally, after two years, the lot sold for less than what the land had been purchased for earlier. One has to wonder how many potential buyers might have purchased the home if it had remained standing and if it had the support of the architect, interior designer, and contractor community providing ideas, guidance, and cost estimates to renovate the home.
3616 Crescent Avenue by Architect E.G. Hamilton—A Highland Park Teardown
Here is a preservation success story that turned bad. Architect E.G. Hamilton, the architect of NorthPark and many other important Dallas buildings designed his most important residence at 3616 Crescent Avenue in Highland Park. Almost 20 years ago this home had been purchased by a couple as a Highland Park teardown. When on the day of closing it was brought to their attention the architectural importance of the home, they agreed to sell the home to another family who desired to renovate this Midcentury Modern home, which allowed the original buyer to buy another lot. This E.G. Hamilton home enjoyed several million dollars of sophisticated renovation that added to its appeal. However, a couple of owners later, the home was sold and became another Highland Park teardown—indeed a travesty.
There are many examples of old homes in Highland Park that have been torn down and homes not much better that takes their place. I do not need to illustrate this with images, because we have all seen so many uninspired new homes.
Some Historically Significant Homes Are Replaced with Even a More Architecturally Significant Home
Occasionally, a historically significant home like this one at 4800 Preston Road where Governor Bill Clements and his wife Rita lived for many years is torn down and a more architecturally significant home like the one designed by British architect Quinlan Terry and Dallas architect Larry Boerder is built on the site.
There Are Five Reasons the Architecturally Significant Home at 4101 Beverly Drive Will Not Become a Highland Park Teardown
Despite there being 11 houses in Highland Park that are currently in the process of being torn down, there is hope that this architecturally significant home will not be torn down. As I discussed with Dallas Morning News reporter Steve Brown, there are five reasons why this home might not become a Highland Park teardown.
- This 1915 Herbert Greene architect-designed home is the most iconic home in Highland Park. Andy Beal did tear down a historic but relatively insignificant home on 6 acres on Preston Road, but he did not tear down the iconic Crespi Estate on 25 acres when he owned it.
- The Beaux-Arts style seen here is the most prominent example of this Gilded Age architectural style in Dallas.
- Located at the corner of Beverly and Preston, this architecturally significant home is at the epicenter of Highland Park.
- The home has a rich historical heritage even before prominent business leader and philanthropist Ed Cox owned the home for over 40 years. The original owners were Alfred Tennyson Lloyd and Susie Rose Youree Lloyd.
- 4101 Beverly has an elevation more impressive and has a greater height than presumably Highland Park would allow for a new home. Here architect Herbert Greene designed a home on 6.6 acres that is already perfectly sited and magnificent.
Architect Herbert M. Greene Designed Many of the Most Important Early 20th Century Buildings in Dallas
Some of the other reasons that this home is so important to Dallas is because it is a link to the cultural, business, spiritual and aesthetic lineage of Dallas. Architect Herbert Greene also designed in the early 20th century the Neiman Marcus building, the First National Bank, the Scottish Rite Cathedral, and the First United Methodist Church, Dallas, the Dallas Morning News building and the Belo Mansion. These Herbert Greene designed buildings all quickly convey the heritage and modern founding of Dallas over 100 years ago. My hope is that 4101 Beverly Drive continues to contribute to our historical understanding of Dallas and to our aesthetic enjoyment.
Out of the Architectural Frying Pan into the Highland Park Teardown Fire
I am particularly sensitive to teardowns as I was raised in a 150-year-old village with brick-paved streets and magnificent historic homes that included one by Frank Lloyd Wright, several by Harold Zook, and a host of other architecturally and historically significant homes and styles. The Wall Street Journal wrote an article almost 35 years ago on Hinsdale and the teardown phenomenon occurring in the village of Hinsdale 20 miles west of Chicago. On every visit back to my hometown, I would go down Park Street, my bicycle route from my historic home to Oak School. It was on this daily journey as a child that I became subliminally seduced by the graceful architecture along the tree-lined streets. On return visits as an adult, every original home that was missing caused a bit of heartbreak. Maybe that is the reason that when I graduated from SMU, I worked to create the first single-family zoned historic district in Dallas where homes could not be torn down. When I was at SMU overlooking Highland Park, I was enamored with the homes that had much of the same presence I was accustomed to in Hinsdale. I did not realize I would have to brace myself for the accelerated pace of teardowns in Highland Park.
Awareness, Appreciation and Strategy Will Help Perpetuate Architecturally Significant Homes
There are many small gestures and initiatives that can take place that will save architecturally significant homes and encourage good new homes in the future. The architectural landscape and understanding the history of Dallas is important for the success of the city.