Junius Heights is named for Junius “June” Peak. In 1865 he lived with his brother Worth at 4409 Worth St. The Peak children are immortalized in a number of East Dallas streets: Junius, Worth, Victor, Carroll, Flora and Juliette Fowler. Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

When I moved to East Dallas in 2016, the little three-bedroom, one-bathroom Craftsman that my now-husband and I rented was one of the nicest on the block – and that wasn’t a high bar. The house needed new paint and landscaping, but like most original houses in Junius Heights, the charm couldn’t be denied. We renewed our lease year after year, feeling little pangs of doubt as the rent went up and up and the house surpassed its centennial.

I have watched with anticipation as so many houses on my street were renovated and then sold, or sold and then renovated. The beautification brought by these new neighbors couldn’t be denied. Lush St. Augustine replaced under-maintained lawns. Flowerbeds got brighter with each passing season. All the while, we would comment on high listing prices with mild amusement, not overly concerned about how this could impact our ability to remain residents in the neighborhood we had come to adore.

Slowly, we became the longest-tenured neighbors among the houses surrounding ours. A neighbor who bought her house in 2005 toyed with listing it for sale several times, hoping to make a bundle. Evidently it worked. A new family moved in a couple months back, and it took less than a week for the work trucks, plumbers and electricians to follow.

Amid the pandemic, walking these neighborhoods saved my sanity. I walk to Munger Park and Lipscomb Elementary and Lakewood Library with my dog, or I jog Swiss Avenue and Junius Heights, zigzagging the streets of Munger Place and Peak’s Addition with earbuds. When the world seemed to close down overnight last spring, bulbs awoke in full force in East Dallas. In the monotony that followed in the next weeks and months, the daffodils, irises and tulips I saw on my daily walks eventually gave way to blooming wisteria, then lantana, then crape myrtles, then trumpet vines. I walked my neighborhood daily with fresh eyes, altering my route to pass my favorite houses, admiring the flora and appreciating the green thumbs that had planted them.

It wasn’t much of a surprise when our landlords told us they were selling. They had no doubt seen the dollar signs in the eyes of the prospective buyers walking through our neighbor’s nearly identical house. Who could blame them? They offered to sell it to us, but that option is, unfortunately, impractical for us.

Although I’ve daydreamed about living here for the long term, we plan to take our pre-approval letter up Central Expressway where our budget will get us twice the square footage on thrice the lot. My house is over 100 years old and certainly has an optimistic future in a protected historic district like this one. The new owners, whoever they end up being, will have their work cut out for them with renovations. I just hope they plant bulbs in the front yard.

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