Hell House

Categories: Schutze
This historic home on Bryan Parkway is either a landmark or a teardown. The courts are deciding now. The neighbors too. And not in a nice way.
Oh boy. The Hatfields is loaded up, and them McCoys got blood in their eyes too. This is when I really love my neighborhood.

I live down the block from a house--6015 Bryan Parkway--included on Preservation Dallas' list of the city's 11 most endangered historic sites. It's an early 20th-century wood-sided two-story house of an architectural style I call Prairie P.U.eee!, which is what all of our houses were in the 1970s before we became historic and genteel. Let me not bore you with the stories of how we did it: Our sagas are all the same money-pit tales of woe. If Julius Caesar were telling it, he would say, "I came; I was a sucker; for some reason I stayed."

But 6015 never got fixed. It looks like hell. The floors are rotted out, and there is cat doo-doo galore. That's what every house on our block was like 25 years ago, but the newcomers don't know that. Maybe their realtors forgot to tell them.

About three years ago a Plano couple who are developers bought 6015 to tear down and replace it with a new house. Some neighbors were overjoyed, because they're sick of it looking bad. Others, especially the ones who fought for 30 years to save the original architecture of the neighborhood, were horrified. Anyway, the whole thing wound up in court, where it has been for three years. Now it looks as if the dispute is about to come either to a resolution or a new level of crisis. Last week the tear-it-downers won in a lower court, but the don't-tear-it-downers took it to the appeals court and won an extension of the injunction against demolition.

The night of the lower court ruling, somebody bashed in the downstairs windows. A big utility fence went up around the house a couple days later. Dwayne Jones of Preservation Dallas could tell me only that the fence is "part of a settlement," but that the settlement is not a final solution.

There were two July 4th picnics on the block, one for the tear-it-downers and the other for the don'ts. Of course we went to the wrong one. I tried to smooth everybody out by saying I personally supported the owners' legal right to deal with their property as they saw fit, but that I probably would stand in front of the bulldozers just because I get off on civil disobedience. I got no laughs--not even a tiny little creaky crack of a smile. I mean, people stared at me like I was something bad on the lawn. And maybe I am.

A tear-it-downer recently addressed a don't tear-it-downer on the block as "Lard-ass," the one epithet that probably applies equally to most of the people on both sides. So maybe that's a good thing, a sign we can agree on something? Nah, I didn't think so either.

Anyway, the whole thing is coming to a head soon, any day now, and I mean to keep you posted. And remember this: He who forgets his history is condemned to live in it. --Jim Schutze




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