Preservation Dallas Doesn't Reach Highland Park, Apparently

Categories: News
George Dahl's Highland Park house, which he designed and constructed and lived in 80 years ago, was torn down yesterday. Hooray for history.

Preservation Dallas executive director has left the building -- actually, he's left town entirely. As we reported in October, Jones has taken the gig as exec director of the Galveston Historical Foundation, and his last day in Dallas was Friday. And he's yet to be replaced; at the moment, Preservation Dallas only has an interim executive director, Katherine Seale, who was director of the Discover Dallas! survey. She's been at Preservation Dallas almost as long as Jones was: He hired Seale shortly after he came on board six years ago.

We called Preservation Dallas about Jones' replacement in the first place because we were a little surprised not to see someone from PD quoted in The Dallas Morning News' piece yesterday about efforts to tear down influential Dallas architect George Dahl's art-deco home on Bordeaux Avenue in Highland Park. (The house, of course, was torn down late yesterday afternoon.) Turns out, Seale's the one who got David Flick on the story in the first place: Seale says that last week, she was contracted by an upset Ashley Akin, Dahl's granddaughter, who wanted to know how she might save the house built in the 1930s. Seale suggested she call Flick; story ran yesterday; house came down yesterday. Oh, well. Nice try.


Had Jones still been there, perhaps he could have rallied the troops to stave off the inevitable a few days longer; the man knows how to stop bulldozers. Then again, the way Dallas so reveres its history -- by turning it into a parking lot or a McMansion -- nothing lasts forever, no matter who's in charge.


Seale says that at the moment, she's not particularly interested in the gig. "Dwayne's left large shoes to fill," she says. "I am an architectural historian, and my interest is buildings and people who build them, not running a nonprofit. But I may surprise myself and love it."


The Preservation Dallas board has assembled a search committee, which has told Seale their quest for a new executive director could take six months, at the very least. They're going to conduct a national search, complete with a help-wanted ad to be placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Web site. Seale says three or four folks have already expressed interest in the job.


Still, she may yet want the job: "I will see how this goes," she says. "Hopefully we'll find someone sooner than later, but they've prepared me that this will take at least six months." Till then, beware the wrecking balls. --Robert Wilonsky


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