166-Year-Old Oak Cliff Cabin, One of Dallas' Oldest Buildings, At Risk of Being Lost

Categories: Preservation

SharrockCabin.jpg
Old Oak Cliff Conservation League
The Sharrock Cabin, built in 1846, is the oldest structure in North Texas still on its original site.
Last night at the Turner House, the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League unveiled its 2012 Architecture at Risk List, its annual enumeration of properties in danger of being demolished, neglected, and otherwise relegated to the dust bin of history. They offered a sneak peek of the first item on their list, the Humble Oil service station at Zang and Beckley because OOCCL wasn't sure it'd last until yesterday. It did, but it won't it won't for much longer.

Rounding out the list, which you can see in full here, are the Mission Motel, which the owner wants to convert to apartments but for now sits empty; Cannon's Village, the gabled, house-like storefronts built in the 1920s at the corner of Davis and Edgefield that for years housed Cannon's five-and-dime and, oddly, a medical lab upstairs; the sign advertising the now-demolished Alamo Plaza hotel; Oak Cliff's Googie architecture (think the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign) in general; and a handful of houses and commercial buildings sprinkled throughout the area.

The most interesting item on the list, though, is the Sharrock Cabin, a rickety assemblage of logs tucked away in the Mountain Creek area. So rickety, in fact, that former OOCCL president Michael Amonett would not disclose its location to a roomful of preservation-minded neighbors for fear it might be irreparably damaged before it can be restored.

The cabin was built by Everard Sharrock, who moved to Texas from Illinois in 1846 and homesteaded 640 acres in southwestern Dallas County. The land was owned by the family of Judge Grady Niblo and farmed by tenants for most of the 20th century. The land was purchased in 2005, and the 33 acres containing the Sharrock Cabin and outbuildings was donated to the city. Recently, land nearby began being cleared for development (Amonett described it as a "moonscape") adding urgency to the quest to save the heretofore isolated structures.

The cabin is the oldest structure in North Texas that still occupies its original site. Councilman Scott Griggs said he's working with the city to have the cabin designated as a Dallas Landmark, after which he hopes intensive preservation work can begin. It won't be cheap, though.

"To restore these buildings is going to take millions," he said.

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9 comments
jwsharrock
jwsharrock

Being a Sharrock and a direct descendant of Everard Sharrock Sr., I have had the privledge of touring the cabin and barn.  Although in a poor state currently, it is salvageable and one of the most important things about it is that the barn and cabin still stand on their original sites.  Moving it would destroy much of that heritage.  My family and I support the city of Dallas in their effort to preserve and restore the cabin and too use it as a teaching tool for future generations.

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

Unfortunately, it has already fallen apart and there is a lot missing from decay. Better to restore it in a safe location and then move it back. It's not as hard as one might think.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I don't think you can just 'move' the cabin.  It's not a house built on a pier and beam that can be jacked onto a trailer and moved.  To move it you'd have to take it apart, piece by piece and re-assemble it.  If you're going to go through that, you might as well do it all on-site.  Better to keep all the historical value where it belongs than to leave a chunk of undeveloped land vacant in development happy Dallas.

MikeyLikesIt
MikeyLikesIt

A tenant in the audience last night said the vacant upstairs is leaking through to his space.  That's a threat.

Donna Harris
Donna Harris

Understanding the need to want to preserve and keep the log cabin at its original location, at the same time, many fear for its safety. What about moving the cabin to Heritage Village for now, for preservation's sake?  While it is being restored, one idea would be to create an antique botanical area or working farm to pair with the cabin on the original location, assuming there is enough land. After that happens, then they can move the cabin back to OC, so it can be maintained and protected. When writing about or promoting Dallas, can't tell you how many times I've been asked "where is your history?  We want to see history!"  We have it, we just need to become more thoughtful about restoring and highlighting it, before it's too late.

Anon
Anon

ok, that's all true. but I'm not sure why it's "at risk" at all. the Winnetka Heights ordinance will not allow for a tear down of any kind.

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

 In 2009 “1029 Strawberry LLC” out of Mineola, New York purchased the Village. The absentee owner has done little to improve the property. As a contributing structure to the Winnetka Heights Historic District, the historic mixed-use structure offers such a potential contribution to the area particularly adjacent to the success of the Kessler Theater. The upstairs is abandoned and the building shows significant signs of wear and tear. As the first retail building in the neighborhood with such impressive unique detail as well as a hard fought history, Oak Cliff needs this iconic structure to survive and succeed.

Lee
Lee

Wait, how exactly is Cannon's Village at risk?  I drive past it everyday and it looks fantastic still.  And with all of new interest and business in Bishop Arts and Winnetka Heights, you would think that it would be even less at risk.

Daniel
Daniel

We've already lost so much of our Googie architecture -- notably the former Kip's Big Boy at Northwest & Hillcrest, which was designed by Armet & Davis, arguably the premier purveyors of "high Googie." Losing The Prince of Hamburgers and the Sigels sign (which at least was moved to another location, in the burbs) sucked balls, too.

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