113-year-old school in Old East Dallas may have a residential future

Front facade of 113-year-old Davy Crockett School. (Photo by Jackson Vickery)
Facade of 113-year-old Davy Crockett School. (Photo by Jackson Vickery)

What can be done with a historic school building that doesn’t have a future as a school? It’s a question that for decades now has hovered over the Davy Crockett School on Carroll in Old East Dallas’ Peak’s Suburban Addition Historic District.

A prospective buyer, familiar with the neighborhood and its possibilities, sees its next life as an apartment building and has asked the city for a zoning change to make it happen.

“It’s certainly a challenging building, there’s no question about it, but when you walk into what used to be the classrooms, the building really said to us it would be a remarkable place to live,” says Allan Brown of Prevarian.

The project would be a departure from Prevarian’s usual projects, which focus on health care real estate and senior communities. The company’s interest stems from its own presence in the area; it owns an office building at Gaston and Carroll that it has renovated over the last few years, Brown says.

“We see that area as an area in transition, and we sincerely want to be a positive part of what’s going on over there,” Brown says.

The 113-year-old Crockett school became an official Dallas landmark in 1993, which protects the building from being bulldozed or any significant changes to its exterior. In 1986 Dallas ISD moved Crockett’s students to a new campus across the street, Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary. Zaragoza sits on nearly two acres that was once part of Buckner Park, traded to the school district from the city’s Park and Recreation Department in exchange for a similarly sized piece of land adjacent to the Crockett school. Ken Good purchased the Crockett building from the school district in 2011 for $239,000, and Preservation Dallas honored his rehabilitation efforts in 2015.

Buckner Park in Peak's Suburban Addition Historic District. (Photo by Jackson Vickery)
Buckner Park in Peak’s Suburban Addition Historic District. (Photo by Jackson Vickery)

The park itself is about to undergo a renaissance. Based on a master plan that famed Dallas planner George Kessler created in 1914, which was expanded upon by the city, neighbors and the Zaragoza school community in 2005, Buckner Park currently is under construction and should reopen in December 2016.

Brown says the Crockett school’s proximity to the park was another selling point for adapting the building into apartments. Prevarian tapped neighborhood architect Todd Howard, who recently created plans for Lakewood Elementary’s expansion, to oversee the redesign.

If the Dallas Plan Commission (and, ultimately, the Dallas City Council) give the project a nod, Prevarian expects to begin construction this fall.

“We understand the neighborhood and have gotten to know the neighbors quite well,” Brown says. “It’s a beautiful building, and we intend to preserve the integrity of the building.”

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