Aldredge House: Party palace or a place for history?

Friends of the Aldredge House hope to find new ways to preserve the Aldredge House. (Photo by Rasy Ran)

The Aldredge House seems to be all things to many people. To some neighbors, it is a nuisance with absentee owners. To friends, it is a historic home that should be preserved for educational purposes and the enjoyment of the community.

After years of infighting, the two sides found some peace in the past two years, but a revised request for nighttime events has put that tepid alliance back on shaky ground.

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Friends of the Aldredge House (FOAH) formed recently with the goal to transform the property into a historic home open to the public. “We want it to always be open to the public, in more fun and exciting ways than it has been in the past. It is one of the few things that hasn’t changed in Dallas,” says Marianne Howells, FOAH president.

The organization came to be after Swiss Avenue neighbors got together to discuss the home’s future. It has served as an event venue whose late and rowdy weddings have bothered neighbors and brought complaints. This caused FOAH to search for a middle path between the concerns of the neighbors and the needs of an aging property. They plan to raise funds from historic events and big donors, rather than raucous parties as in past years.

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“We haven’t done weddings and late night stuff in over a year,” says Howell. “We don’t want it to be unpleasant for the neighbors, we want them to be happy.”

Neighbors agree the stately street has been quieter in recent years, but many remain skeptical of FOAH and its mission. The same week the nonprofit group formed, planning conditions were submitted to the city that requests approval for a large number of events at the Aldrege House.

Specifically, the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance, which owns and manages the home, is asking annually for two events with up to 150 people, 10 events with up to 120 people, 48 events with up to 60 people, and an unlimited number of events with up to 30 people. With a special use permit, the parties have the potential to last all night, with hours set from 6 p.m.-8 a.m. the next day, although “general hours” are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. The Dallas Plan Commission has not yet ruled on the new conditions.

When asked about the perceived conflict between the FOAH intentions and the revised application, Howells says there is a need for immediate maintenance funds while the new group develops long-term fundraising plans. “We want to begin an endowment so that they won’t have to do big events, but it will take a little time. The alliance wants to make sure that they can still pay for the house in the meantime. … What I want to see is a compromise, where everybody gets a good part of what they want. Where the neighborhood is not being bothered and the house is being maintained.”

David Dean, adjacent neighbor and former Texas Secretary of State, says that these new conditions would legalize illegal activities. “It’s not about the parties, we all love to entertain,” Dean says. “It’s about making money and the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of the home.”

Quiet enjoyment” is a legal term that guarantees “the right to exclude others from the premises, the right to peace and quiet, the right to clean premises” for a landowner. Dean and others say the Aldredge House has violated that covenant.

There is, potentially, a lot of money on the line. lists the Aldredge House rental rate as between $7,364 and $19,697 per wedding. It hosted 26 weddings in 2015, which means a revenue of anywhere from $191,464-$512,122. That’s down from 2014, when more than 40 weddings were held on the residential street. Plus there’s the rehearsal dinners, photo shoots, bridal showers and other events throughout the year.

Barbara McDaniel, who lives across the street from the Aldredge House, says her ideal owner for the house would be “someone to take care of it, restore it, preserve it, and occupy it on some level. We want the house to join into the neighborhood in another way, not commercialize it.”

Even the skeptical neighbors agree that if FOAH uses the house as promised, they would become its biggest supporters. “We love their house more than they do. I sent in my membership of the Friends application,” McDaniel says.

But the historic bad blood, mixed with this new planning condition request, have many neighbors waiting to see what happens next.

Correction: This version clarifies two points: That late night events are only allowed with a special use permit, and that this request for planning conditions is a revision of planning conditions submitted in Aug. 2015. 

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    Here is a screenshot of the DCMSA request listing the types of events. As you can see, the last option is “evening events” with hours from 6 p.m.-8 a.m.

  • The revised planning condition document lists event hours as 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. with a special use permit. We have corrected this version to state the hours “with a special use permit,” which was left off the initial version. We also corrected it to say that the planning conditions were revised in May, but initially filed in Aug. 2015. Those are the only two errors presented to us by the DCMSA. If there are others, please let us know. This story was up for a few days before those small clarifications were brought to our attention, but we fixed them within 12 hours of receiving the complaint from DCMSA.

  • Mariana Greene

    This story has multiple serious errors. One of the worst and most harmful is printing that the new permit would allow events to go on from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. That is completely inaccurate. Events would end at 10 p.m., except for the possibility of two events a year ending at midnight. Plus many other stipulations willingly imposed by the auxiliary to curb any nuisances the adjacent neighbors have complained about. I am troubled that a correction and a corrected version online have not yet appeared, more than 24 hours after the publication was made aware of the multiple errors.

  • ss

    I would love to see weddings weekly happening by me. But then I’m not a cranky neighbor and am actually neighborly. How many times do you scream “Get off my lawn!”?

  • ss

    Why did you move into a home there then? Not very nice to try and destroy the source of income that maintains the home. How late do weddings even run. Most end at 10 pm. Midnight would be the absolute latest and on a Saturday night. You are the one who moved there knowing this. Really unfair.

  • ss

    Yes. Why did they move in next to an events venue then? So unfair to the Aldredge house.

  • Jay Cutcher

    These neighbors are a bunch of hypocrites. If you ask any of them, they pride themselves in keeping their houses as original as possible. NONE of them are close to original except the Aldredge House. In order to keep this house original, they need to generate funds. I have no issues with neighbors not wanting these parties in their neighborhood, but be up front. If you are truly interested in keeping the history of these houses, you would welcome anything that generates funds for the Aldredge House so they can do exactly what the other owners claim they want.

  • LakewoodRes

    Say the idiots who move next to an events venue and then complain.

  • NickyBlues

    Thank you for your article on this critical Swiss Avenue neighborhood issue. Based on the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance/Friends of the Aldredge House updated and newly submitted zoning change request, the immediate next door and surrounding neighbors of the Aldredge House would have to endure the following:
    -2 ‘Gala’ events of 150 guests
    -10 ‘Large’ events of 120 guests
    -48 ‘Small’ events of 60 guests
    -4 ‘DCMSA’ events of 100 guests
    This totals 64 events with a total of 4,780 guests plus the support staff required for the events – and the total above doesn’t include ‘unlimited’ events’ of 30 attendees.

    I wonder if everyone reading this article would welcome a neighbor who throws that many parties with that many guests? My family has lived next door to the Aldredge House for 18-plus years and we’ve tried to get their parties under control. Many of us in the neighborhood have tried to reason with this group. See the video link below with examples of the Aldredge parties. These events happened ‘after’ their egregious behavior was publicized and when the DCMSA should have been on their best behavior.

    I’ve had women from the DCMSA told me they wouldn’t want to live next to an events for hire venue like the Aldredge House . . . yet they continue to push for the zoning change in our neighborhood to allow those parties. They certainly wouldn’t have it in their Park Cities neighborhoods.

    Our Swiss Avenue Historic District neighborhood deserves better . . . and the Aldredge House certainly deserves better.

    More to come . . .
    Nick McCune