Snapshot of history
When John and Lisa Moreno bought their house in Lakewood in 1998, they had not only found their new home but a piece of history, though at the time they didn’t know it.
The couple, both history buffs, knew that noted Lakewood architect Albert Dines built their home. Some searching and the help of a mutual friend led them to Dines’ daughter, Janet Dines Meredith, who lived down the road in Meadowlake. The Morenos told Meredith they now lived in the home her father had built in 1925 and asked if she had ever seen it. The answer was no, so they invited the builder’s daughter over and, not surprisingly, the three found themselves talking about the past.
The question the couple really wanted to ask was if Dines’ daughter had any photos of their house. She explained there was nothing, everything was lost in a house fire years ago. But a few weeks later, the Morenos were in for a surprise.
Meredith invited them over for tea and there, sitting on a table, was a stack of photographs, not only of the Morenos’ house but many other houses Albert Dines built. It turned out not all of the photos had been lost in the fire. In total there were about 100 images that the Morenos believe were all taken in the 1920s and possibly early ‘30s when Dines did most of his work. Whether they were taken by Dines himself isn’t known.
“Just that perspective of what Lakewood looked like, we found it so fresh and new, we just found it so intriguing,” Lisa says. “We wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to preserve the photos.”
While the houses themselves have largely retained much of their original character, there were unique details within the images that show how much Lakewood has changed. Awnings once hung from many of the homes, and lawns weren’t as rich with foliage as they are now. Then there were the photos with people in them, like the one of a woman in a flapper-style dress leaning glamorously while holding a drink, never knowing that decades later a couple would study her image.
With Meredith’s blessing, the couple took all of the photos to be scanned and copied to create an album of their own, which they duplicated for Preservation Dallas. They also shared images with as many present-day homeowners as they could identify.
“Our interest is to try to promote the history of Lakewood,” John says.
Meredith has since passed away and the Morenos believe the original photos are still within the Dines family. While Meredith was still alive, she considered donating the collection to the city’s library archives. In the end, she decided to keep the images. The couple believes it’s actually the memory of her father that she wanted to keep close.
“I think she wanted to protect the photos in the end and so I think she didn’t want us to come back and look through them again,” Lisa says. “We pretty much had one chance to do it and we were very fortunate that we got that opportunity.”
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