Unless you know where to look, you will probably cruise right by Parks Estates, but it is one of East Dallas’ oldest and most fascinating neighborhoods.
Nestled between Lakewood Country Club, Hollywood Heights and Junius Heights, Parks Estates opened in 1924. Prior to development, the area was heavily wooded highlands and a farm. Joseph F. Parks, who ran a casket company, purchased 22 acres near the Lakewood Country Club before the 1920s, and the area provided produce for the Parks family, who lived in the Victorian home at 4321 Swiss Ave. The original farmhouse, a very unique home located at 419 Paulus Ave., remains.
In 1922, the Parks family, which included wife Lucy and their five children, built the house at 6220 Worth Ave., just outside Dallas’ city limits. It eventually became the East Dallas YMCA when Parks died in 1957. It served as the Y, complete with swimming pool, fields and activity rooms until 1999, and is now a Dallas Landmark. The streetcar used to run down Tremont and stop in front of the unique Spanish Mission style house, which still retains most of its original details. It had a sleeping porch, three fireplaces and hand-carved details in the woodwork. The home remained vacant until 2007, when it was purchased and refurbished by Lakewood neighbors.
A 1924 Dallas Morning News piece describes the neighborhood as having “urban conveniences including permanently paved streets, an ornamental lighting system, sewers, lights, water and gas services.” It also says the area will be “high class residences of brick construction.”
Another article describes how the city planted hackberry trees in several triangular parks at the intersections of the streets, underground wiring for ornamental lights and a tennis court on Tremont. The tennis court is gone, but the triangular mini-parks and unique lighting can still be seen today.
David Graham and his wife Mayme moved to 6216 Tremont in 1924, becoming the first official residents of Parks Estates. Today, a small park at the intersection of Brookside, La Vista and Abrams bears their name. Elected to the City Council in 1935, he was named mayor pro-tem and served two terms at City Hall. Graham was instrumental in installing the original Lakewood Library Branch at the Diener-Mills building and was a 33rd-degree mason, according to his obituary in the Dallas Morning News.
As a founding member of Lakewood Country Club, Parks included memberships to the club as incentive for prospective buyers. The tradition continued for Parks Estates home owners into the 1960s according to the Parks Estates directory.
The stock market crash of 1929 took a bite out of development in the area, but the home (which appears to be abandoned today and previously had a family of coyotes living in the garage) at 6231 Tremont was built in 1930 as a “Honeymoon Cottage” for Parks’ son Largent, who has a street named for him in the area.
In 1967, when Abrams was realigned and connected to Columbia, two of the original Parks Estates homes were destroyed. One house that just survived Abrams’ expansion was 6216 Junius St., which was the parsonage for the Gaston Avenue Baptist Church, now Criswell College. The house that stands at 611 Brookside Drive is a newer addition to the neighborhood, and was once the shared flower garden for the neighborhood.
Today Parks Estates is known for its mature trees along Brookside and architectural diversity. Walkable to downtown Lakewood yet secluded off of Abrams and La Vista, the neighborhood is home to a mix of young families and long time residents. It is now part of the Abrams-Brookside neighborhood, which is bordered by Glasgow, the Santa Fe Trail, Brookside and Abrams.
See more images of the neighborhood below.
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