Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dallas' Mid-Century Heritage At Risk

Preservation Dallas released its list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and there are several Mid-Century gems on the list, including:

  • Midway Hollow Neighborhood: Between Walnut Hill, Northwest Highway, Marsh, and Midway. The Threat: Teardowns and Incompatible New Construction. Sez Preservation Dallas: "Midway Hollow consists of several developments built following World War II with mostly Minimal Traditional and Ranch houses made of wood or brick siding making up the neighborhood. The area is characterized by its large lots, tree-shaded streets, and generous front-yard setbacks. Area values are increasing and demolitions are occurring at a rapid rate. New houses are much larger in scale, constructed of different materials and exhibit garish stylistic details, diminishing the neighborhood’s economic and social diversity. A stabilization overlay or conservation district may be an option to control new development."

  • Ft. Worth Avenue’s motor-court motels: Including the Alamo Plaza Courts Motel (pictured above), The Mission Motel, The Ranch Motel. Location: 712 Ft. Worth Avenue, 514 W. Commerce, 1839 Ft. Worth Avenue. Threat: Neglect and Development Pressure. Sez Preservation Dallas: America’s motor-court motels became increasingly popular following World War II when roadway travel soared. Gas stations, cafes, and motor-court motels — collectively known as roadside architecture — were built along major transportation routes to accommodate the traveler. Ft. Worth Avenue, the former turnpike between Dallas and Ft. Worth, was lined with such roadside architecture like the recently restored Art-Deco Belmont Hotel by Charles Dilbeck. Route 66 is an example of turning roadside architecture into a major asset for the country, just as Ft. Worth Avenue is, for the forward thinking, an asset for the City. That commercial real estate developers see opportunity here is not surprising. There are many opportunities for renewal along Ft. Worth Avenue, from the most glaring to the very subtle. The question is, what is good for Dallas? Unfortunately roadside architecture is presently underappreciated and at least three motor-court motels are imminently in danger of being demolished. Property owners and developers are encouraged to revitalize Ft. Worth Avenue’s motor-court motels.

    I appreciate Preservation Dallas' efforts to raise these issues, but is anyone listening? How have Mid-Century gems from years past fared? The Wynnewood Shopping Village, one of the first great postwar malls, continues to be threatened. And the old Kip's at Northwest Highway and Hillcrest? See the picture below. Ugh.

    Thanks to Robert at Unfair Park for the story tip.

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