Several months ago, contractors tore down a weathered Craftsman residence across the street from Pam Morrell’s own Craftsman-style home. In just a couple of hours, the 80-year-old residence was gone, and Morrell suspects her house mourned the passing of an old friend that day.   

 

A few doors down, Emet Schneiderman lamented as well. 

 

“I was devastated, but I think that specific Craftsman opened up a lot of peoples’ eyes to finally see what was happening to these traditional homes,” he says. “It really got people moving.”

 

The Belmont Addition, where Morrell and Schneiderman live, includes approximately 400 homes and spans from Llano to Belmont and Greenville to Skillman. The area, developed in the 1920s, includes houses in a variety of architectural styles: Craftsman, Tudor, Colonial, and Prairie.

 

Now, when Morrell looks out her front window, she sees a titanic Mediterranean stucco. It’s the three-car garage in the front that bothers her most. She feels it’s out of character with the rest of the neighborhood. Schneiderman says that “although the house is nice, it’s incredibly ostentatious and not a good fit for our neighborhood.”

 

They’re not alone. In fact, the area’s new construction convinced many residents that they needed to do something to save the architectural charm of their neighborhood.

 

The process has been a long and arduous haul for residents such as Melissa Kingston, who spearheaded the grass-roots conservation district initiative in 2001. She says the project took upward of 2,500 volunteer hours — hours spent marching through the neighborhood drumming up support and signatures.

 

“Two to three years earlier, the neighborhood had tried, but the project failed,” Kingston says. “I think interest in a conservation district had always been there. I just don’t think they had enough organizational and volunteer support the first time. So, when we started the process again in 2001, people were initially skeptical about our chances.” 

 

The residents first filed a city petition requesting a feasibility study. And then they waited.

 

          Finally, in March, the Dallas City Council ratified the Belmont Addition Conservation District, requiring future builders to construct new or reconstructed homes reflecting the architectural styles of those in the original development. 

 

          An added benefit of the effort, Kingston says, was that it was a  “community-building experience.”

 

          “It encouraged people to get to know their neighbors in a way very few people get to do nowadays,” she says. “When we first moved here, we didn’t know any of our neighbors, but now we definitely feel a strong bond within our community. It’s definitely a front-porch mentality.”

 

          Morrell agrees.

 

“I spent a lot of time knocking on doors. I got to meet so many great people, and it was interesting to see the diversity within our community. It was amazing to see how much everyone loves the community and takes pride in our neighborhood.”

 


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