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From left: Larry Offutt, Anne Courtin, Harryette Ehrdhart, Virginia McAlester and Martha Heimberg gather at one of the entrances to the Swiss Avenue Historic District, which they worked to establish. (Photo by Can Türkyilmaz.)

An East Dallas organization is planning a no-contact memorial drive Thursday to honor Dallas preservationist and Swiss Avenue neighbor Virginia Savage McAlester, who died Thursday after a battle with myelofibrosis. She was 76.

McAlester grew up in the 1917 Harris-Savage house on Glendale Street and Swiss Avenue and led the effort to make the neighborhood the city’s first historic district. She later became a founding member of Preservation Dallas and Friends of Fair Park. Her book, “A Field Guide to American Houses,” sold millions of copies and proved a valuable resource for preservation groups, according to the Dallas Morning News obituary.

The memorial drive will also commemorate longtime Bryan Parkway neighbor Thomas Hogue, who was found dead earlier this month in his home between Beacon and Live Oak streets. He was 75.

Friends of the Aldredge House is organizing the memorial, which will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday. Cars can start lining up at 10:40 a.m. at Savage Park before the neighborhood drive past Hogue and McAlester’s houses.

The caravan will proceed slowly with lights and no horns. Organizers ask that participants decorate their cars with only appropriate decorations, such as ribbons, streamers or signs. Refrain from balloons and confetti. Neighbors can also pay tribute by lining Bryan Parkway and Swiss Avenue with pink and green ribbons around the trees.

“This, of course, is in no way the only celebration of the lives of these two remarkable people, but only an immediate, impromptu, safe way for us to express our love and sadness together at a time with limited options for expression,” Friends of the Aldredge House wrote in an email.

Everyone is welcome to join the caravan or stand 6 feet apart along Swiss Avenue or Bryan Parkway.


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