A home at 4415 Fairfax Ave. in Highland Park, originally built in 1929, was demolished Aug. 21.
Less than 24 hours before that, an estimated 30-40 neighbors in the 4400 block of Fairfax Avenue gathered Aug. 20 among yards decorated with signs that read “Preserve Our Street,” “Restore 4415,” and “Keep the Trees” for a block party to raise awareness about the historic home. A contingent from Preservation Park Cities was on hand as well. Highland Park Department of Public Safety spokesperson Lt. Jessa Russell said officers also responded Aug. 20 after an officer saw the gathering and “observed there was not a special permit for an event on that block,” and a food truck that had been there was turned away.
The home at 4415 Fairfax Ave. was previously owned for decades by Thomas B. Howard Jr. and his wife, Mary, Dallas County Appraisal District records show, but a custom home-building firm has owned it since June. Highland Park permit logs show a demolition permit was issued for the house Aug. 17.
“It was an estate, and the neighbors attempted to negotiate with the buyer, tried to enter into some diplomatic conversations about how it could be saved,” Preservation Park Cities President Amy Beale said. “As a last ditch effort…they invited the neighborhood and community out to draw awareness to this demolition.”
In hopes of turning the tide against the demolition of historic homes in the Park Cities to make way for new ones, Preservation Park Cities compiled a list beginning in 2021 of the ‘top 100’ homes in the Park Cities, began a dialogue with city and town officials, and continued to educate about historically and architecturally significant homes. While the home at 4415 Fairfax Ave. was not one of the ‘top 100,’ it had been landmarked by Preservation Park Cities.
“People are, as a community, do seem to be in solidarity…over this and just some common-sense ordinances that we as a board hopefully can draft something with the support of the community that we can present, and we might have a little bit more teeth on it just based on this momentum that’s gathering.”
Since the ‘top 100’ effort began, Beale says she’s aware of three homes on the top 100 list that have been razed, including 4511 Highland Drive, a 1920s arts-and-crafts-style home that was designed and owned by architect Herbert Greene and 4908 Lakeside Drive, a neo-Classical home by architect Hal Thomson. Both homes were also featured in the book Great American Suburbs: The Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas, published in 2008.
PHOTOS: Deborah Brown