Monday, May 16, 2011

The Forgotten Mansions of Fair Park



   That's right, I said Fair Park.

   Fair Park, as in Corny Dogs, Big Tex and 'Oh my God, is my car going to be here when I get back?"

   Many feel that Fair Park is not the safest part of Dallas. But did you know that some of the most beautiful homes in Dallas are neighbors to the Fair Grounds?



   If you take I-45 and exit Martin Luther King Boulevard to get to Fair Park, you might have noticed some rather large older homes on MLK that have been converted to businesses.
   This was my first clue to take a left and see if there might be any other large homes in the area. Much to my surprise, I found a hidden gem, the Park Row - South Boulevard Historic District.


   These two streets were once home to the most prominent Jewish families in Dallas during the first part of the twentieth century. Anchoring this neighborhood was the Temple Emanu-el at the corner of Harwood and South Blvd. A few blocks away sat Forest Avenue High School, the finest and best equipped high school in the city.


   The community was home to some of Dallas' most prominent citizens, like the Sanger Brothers (Sanger - Harris Department Stores) and Linz family (Linz Jewelers). Many of the homes were designed by the most noted architects of the era.


   After World War II, the neighborhood declined rapidly. US - 175 was built, splitting Park Row and South Boulevard in two. Temple Emanu-el moved to a new location in North Dallas. One by one, the Jewish families left for Highland Park and North Dallas.


   Some of the homes were bought by distinguished members of the black community, others became boarding houses, and some were torn down or simply fell into disrepair.


   In the 1970's the city of Dallas designated Park Row - South Boulevard as a historic district. Many of the homes have been restored to their prior elegance. Others have either decayed due to neglect or have simply vanished.

Not all of the homes have been restored.  (below) The lonely front steps to no where are the only clue that a house once sat here.

     Each year, hundreds of thousands visit Fair Park via I-45 , but few realize that these historic homes are just blocks away from the Cotton Bowl exit. (Sadly, the vacant Neo- Classical Temple Emanu-el was torn down in 1972 when I-45 was built) But there are still a few clues that this once was one of Dallas most exclusive neighborhoods.


   The majestic campus of Forest Avenue High School still sits today on Martin Luther King Boulevard, renamed James Madison High. The Linz Mansion on the corner of Ervay and South Boulevard is still there, but operates today as a funeral home and many of the fine homes of Park Row and South Boulevard have survived. Next time you head out to the Fair, take a few minutes to drive through the district and discover a part of Dallas that few State Fair goers have ever seen.







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3 comments:

:::b r a n d i::: said...

Beautiful homes; so sad that this area is so unsafe. :(

kkollwitz said...

Wow, lovely on lovely.

Irrie Mills-James said...

I was raised up in this neighborhood (south dallas) and this area
Have been highly respected just as the homes on Swiss Ave.
I never knew of no one damaging the homes in this area,due to the fact
Growing up our parents and grandparents always said "The houses on South Blvd and Park Row use to belong to famous people of Dallas".
That is always going to be respected.