Restoration Hard Way
On a street where every barking dog is heard by pointed ears and every ambling pedestrian shrewdly watched by beady eyes, the first clue that the 6015 Bryan Parkway court case had settled came with the arrival Tuesday afternoon of a big plastic porta-potty. Curtains up and down the block snapped open a crack while workmen maneuvered the stinky gray obelisk into place. Something was about to happen at 6015, something sustained and difficult that would involve workmen going to the bathroom.
I got an e-mail here at the Dallas Observer seconds after the traveling toilet arrived. "Dashed fools!" I said to myself. "Wasting their money on a portable toilet! Don't they know that's what the whole house is?"
A short time later another e-mail arrived with news that the court case over the threatened demolition of 6015 Bryan Parkway had been settled. Some kind of confidentiality clause involved. Yeah, sure. That'll take about one weekend for the neighborhood to shred.
This house was on Preservation Dallas's list of the most-threatened historic sites in the city. A suburban couple bought it. They wanted to tear it down and build a new one. The neighborhood was bitterly divided. Preservation Dallas sued. Now the house has been abandoned for several years and is in predictably deplorable urban stinky-poo condition. It seemed to me the house was right at the precarious line where you could either spend three-quarters of a million bucks fixing it up or just feed it through a chipper and let people spread it on their tomato plants.
Our block is part of the Swiss Avenue Historic District, even though the swells on Swiss try to pretend it's not. Grrr. Some day our class resentment will explode, and then they will be sorry. Wait, that's a completely different dispute. Forget I even brought that up.
For now, it looks like the suburban couple has sold the house on our street to someone who intends to restore it, with help from Preservation Dallas. That's great. I am very much in favor of historic preservation as long as I'm not payin' for it.
Out of court and on our street, this was a nasty fight, because that's how we fight in Old East Dallas. Both sides went way over the line. I think the suburban couple were treated badly--and very unfairly--but so were people on the block who fought to save the house as a matter of principle. I especially did not like the part where some of the neighbors called the IRS on some of the other neighbors, hoping to screw up their business.
You know, if that's really how you feel about your neighbors, why not just call the Mafia?
So the house is saved. We'll get over it, make up and move on to the next Balkan-style bloodletting. Gosh I love my block. It's so un-Frisco. If we could just put aside our differences, unite together and turn on Swiss! --Jim Schutze