Exterior photo of the McCommas Estate
Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

Twelve ponies were all it cost the McCommas family in 1846 to purchase 640 acres of land that would one day house a more than 12,000-square-foot home in East Dallas.

It’s safe to assume Stuart and Shirley Crow paid just a bit more than that when they purchased what’s left of the McCommas and Abrams Estate in the 6300 block of Mercedes Avenue.

The Crows have updated the five-bedroom, four-bath historic house with modern features, such as a walk-in fridge stocked with groceries, a sledgehammer and a cell phone. “Just in case your kid gets stuck in there,” Stuart says. But the home started from much humbler beginnings. 

Research compiled by publisher Alex Troup found that patriarch Amon McCommas built a two-story, wood-frame house on the highest point on the property, bounded by Mockingbird Lane to the north, Llano Avenue to the south, Greenville Avenue to the west and Abrams Road to the east. The family survived its first winter on the homestead by living off a buffalo Amon and his sons shot in the plains south of Dallas. 

The McCommases lived on the property until 1870, when Amon died and the land was parceled to family members and sold. His oldest son, John McCommas, remained in the original house on 40 acres until his death in 1910. 

After he died, the Greek Pantaze brothers demolished the structure and rebuilt a French-style home with large windows overlooking a flower garden. Yet some believe the lovely façade disguised more sinister activities within.  A year later, the residence mysteriously burned — possibly by the sheriff or vigilante groups who thought the house was operating as a bordello.  

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

It wasn’t until Harold Abrams purchased the property in 1920 with the dream of creating a residential area to compete with Highland Park that the house known today began to take shape. Abrams remodeled a few additional homes on Mercedes and Jacotte Circle before being diagnosed with cancer. He later took his own life in 1938.

Before his death, Abrams rebuilt the residence using walls that remained standing after the fire. A carriage house and a stable master’s house were also built during that time and remain on the property — along with a garage, pool and tennis court that the Crows added.

Today, the old McCommas and Abrams Estate sits on nearly 4 acres connected by pathways lined with overhanging crepe myrtle tress. The Crows have made significant renovations — adding more rooms, modern plumbing and heating and cooling systems — while salvaging as much of the original house as possible, Shirley says.

“Talk about biting off something you can’t chew,” she says. “That’s us. The work never stops.”

The wood floor in the main room is original, and many old fireplaces still exist throughout the house. The Crows also commissioned a piece of stained glass from shards of broken glass and pottery they found in an incinerator.

In the yard, the pair saved one of several greenhouses that dotted the land when it was owned by an avid gardener. The only item that remains from the McCommas house is a wooden hitching post with an owl carved on the top.

Yet many hidden treasures may exist throughout the property, which once spanned a mile wide. During their heyday, Bonnie and Clyde are rumored to have buried a sack of money on a small street off the “Old Road to Greenville,” which later became Abrams Road.

“When you’re digging in your garden,” Shirley says, “you should dig a little deeper.”

Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

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