Neighborhood’s Home Tour Highlights Battle to Preserve History

Craig Reynolds and Rob Parks were on a mission to preserve their Hollywood/Santa Monica neighborhood near Samuell Grand Park. The plan: Show community residents what could happen to their well-preserved, 1920s bungalows if they allowed deed restrictions to expire.

And so, architect Reynolds and DART planner Parks sought out the worst in City home improvement projects, put together a slide show and presented it on a street-by-street basis to Hollywood homeowners.

“We went out and found things that were so offensive that the Hollywood residents would not want to let the same thing happen here,” Parks says.

In September 1989, after two years of such efforts, Hollywood/Santa Monica (also known as Hollywood Heights) achieved designation as a conservation district. The restrictions, though less severe than those attached to historic districts on Swiss Avenue and in Munger Place, will preserve the Hollywood community for years to come.

And to promote their neighborhood, which includes one of the largest intact collections of stone-embellished brick homes in the country, residents will hold the first Hollywood/Santa Monica Home Tour April 12 from noon to 5 p.m. Proceeds benefit the Shakespeare Festival of Dallas.

Hollywood/Santa Monica includes about 700 homes on 65 hilly, wooded City blocks just north of Woodrow Wilson High School, bounded by the Santa Fe railroad tracks on the west and Samuell Grand Park to the east. Young professionals and seniors are the dominant homeowners.

That’s a good mix, says Katie Bussy, home tour director. Older people preserve their homes, and young people like to come in and restore them.

“These homes are totally untouched,” Bussy says. “That sounds awful to someone who doesn’t know the difference, but it’s the kind of home you’re looking for.

“A home that has never had anything done to it since it was built is a blank canvas. It’s ready for your kitchen, your bathroom. You can go into it, and make it your dream house.”

If Bussy sounds like a real estate agent, she is. She and husband Scott, who moved into and restored their home eight years ago, are proponents of the neighborhood’s conservation district status.

“This is a very desirable neighborhood. Someday, everybody’s going to know it, they’re going to come in here, and we need to be protected at that time,” Bussy says.

Visitors who drive and walk through the neighborhood will find one- and two-story Tudor and Minimal Traditional Homes of about 1,100 to 1,600 square feet, with large lawns, extensive rock and brickwork, Texas-style front porches and stained and leaded glass.

“Good design is in no respect elitist,” Parks says. “You can show people good design and bad design, and they appreciate its value to their lives and will work to have good design around them.

“You don’t have to be an architect or a city planner to be motivated to preserve the environment you have bought into as a neighborhood citizen.”

Says Bussy: “We’d rather keep our $150,00, Tudor cottages than have million-dollar mansions. We’re trying to protect the history of this neighborhood.”

East Dallas Home Tour Roundup: Times, Dates and Prices

Here’s a list of upcoming neighborhood home tours in East Dallas:

• Hollywood/Santa Monica Home Tour. “Much Ado About Hollywood,” sponsored by Hollywood/Santa Monica Neighborhood Association. Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 12. Seven homes. Tickets: $7 in advance, $8 day of tour. Combination Home Tour/Dallas Blooms ’92 (at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden) tickets: $10 in advance, $12 day of tour. Call 330-2787 for information.
• 1992 Old East Dallas Tour of Historic Homes in Munger Place and Junius Heights. Sponsored by Munger Place Historic District Association. April 25-26. Eight homes. Activities include architectural walking tours, entertainment and free trolley rides to tour homes. Tickets are $5 in advance, $4 for seniors, or $6 at tour headquarters on Victor, between Munger and Collett.
• Advance tickets are available at Swiss Avenue Bank, 4217 Swiss, 824-4760; Minyard Food Store, 2118 Abrams, 823-6770; and the Historic Preservation League, 2902 Swiss Avenue, 821-3290.
• Swiss Avenue Historic District Tour of Homes. Twentieth annual tour sponsored by Swiss Avenue Historic District Homeowners Association. Mother’s Day weekend, may 8-10. Eight homes. Activities include a parade, antique and craft fair, and entertainment at Triangle Park, Swiss at Bryan. Tickets: $7 in advance at Dillard’s (558-1620), $10 at the door.
• Lakewood Home Tour. Sponsored by Lakewood Elementary Pre-School PTA. First weekend in November. Details will be available by July. Call 841-5250 for information.

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