A new book exploring the history of Dallas through its buildings features several iconic spaces in East Dallas.

In “This Used to be Dallas,” author Harry Hall examines 90 buildings, including the Davy Crockett School, the Filter Building, Campisi’s restaurant and several other structures from our neighborhood.

“Dallas has a reputation of destroying the past,” Hall said. “There’s some truth to that, but it’s not as bad as I thought.”

Hall started researching the book in the spring of 2018 and was inspired by preservation work in East Dallas.

“I looked for building that had good stories, had good pictures and had historical significance,” he said.

One of his subjects, the Crockett School, narrowly escaped demolition and was transformed into a modern apartment complex called The Principal Residences complete with water fountains and lockers.

“The whole neighborhood is filled with houses like that, and it’s important to preserve that,” Hall said. “I’ve been able to get a greater appreciation for renovations. They really upgrade neighborhoods.”

Hall also hopes his book will challenge modern views of places like Campisi’s.

For years, rumors spread that the restaurant at 5610 E. Mockingbird Lane was linked to the mafia or the John F. Kennedy assassination. In a 1994 interview, David Campisi admits that the family never capitalized on the whispers that linked them to the seedy underworld.

“Even if people know the story, they still want to read about it,” Hall said.

Additionally, the book includes the history of the boathouse and Winfrey Point.

Purchase a copy for $29 at thisusedtobedallas.com.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.