Violeta Gallardo Montejano
About The Neighborhood
Elmwood is a picturesque North Oak Cliff neighborhood of charming homes and expansive parks. The community is located on gently rolling, tree-shaded hills above the limestone banks of Cedar Creek. This land was once the Tennessee Dairy Farm and remnants of the farm exist to this day, including the former farmhouse and portions of an old stone wall that divided the farm.
Frank Jester, the original developer, purchased the farm in 1924 and building continued into the 1950s. Due to this thirty-year span of development, a variety of architectural styles are represented in Elmwood. These include: Tudor cottages; craftsman bungalows; 1930s cottages of brick or wood; and a variety of ranch style houses from the 1940s and ’50s, made of stone, brick or wood.
Elmwood Park, along the banks of Cedar and Elmwood Creeks, is a focal point of the neighborhood. The park is full of mature trees and is home to a variety of birds and wildlife. The park has play equipment, open spaces for sports, and is a popular place for walking dogs and jogging as well.
GREENBELT & DOWNTOWN ELMWOOD
Elmwood Parkway is a focal point of the neighborhood. The park follows Cedar Creek on the northern edge of the neighborhood and then runs south along Rugged Branch through the center of Elmwood. Full of mature trees and home to a variety of birds and wildlife, the park has play equipment and open spaces for sports, being a popular place for walking dogs, jogging or enjoying a leisurely stroll.
Elmwood also has its own small business district along Edgefield Ave. This area features a collection of unique small commercial buildings, professional offices, a Masonic Hall and several places of worship. In 1988, this location was used for the filming of parade sequences in the movie Born on the Fourth of July.
With its expansive parks and greenbelt, it's easy to forget that Elmwood is just 15 minutes southwest of Downtown Dallas. Convenient vehicular access and two DART rail stations serving the neighborhood place all the amenities of the city within easy reach.
Interact with the map below to learn about some of the things we love about our neighborhood.
Elmwood began as the Tennessee Dairy founded by Lindsley Waters in 1907. With just 20 cows and covering 640 acres, the dairy was a corporate operation and a modern facility that was the first in Dallas to deliver pasteurized milk in glass bottles, even winning "most sanitary dairy farm" at the 1908 State Fair of Texas. Remnants of the farm exist to this day, including a house on Brunner Avenue reputed to be the dairy foreman's quarters and portions of an old stone wall that divided the farm, which are visible along the 1700 block of S. Edgefield near Elmwood Blvd. After a fire destroyed the farm in 1919, Mr. Waters moved production to Deep Ellum east of downtown Dallas in order to expedite deliveries.
In 1924, real estate developer Frank G. Jester (1867-1963) purchased the land from Southwest National Bank and platted the Elmwood Addition, selling quality homes in a "park-like" and "restful" setting just outside the southern boundary of Oak Cliff at the time. He advertised homes through a creative and aggressive marketing campaign in The Dallas Morning News.
Elmwood’s progress would fluctuate throughout the four decades of its development, meeting high and low demand in the pre-war and post-war years of World War II. Thirty-seven houses were constructed in the first two years of planning and only 52 houses were constructed during the years of the depression, totaling 467 homes by 1938. National Folk and period revival styles were common during the pre-war years, while minimal traditional and ranch houses lined the streets of Elmwood after the war.
The neighborhood opened its only school in 1929. In less than 10 years, however, the wood frame building was so obsolete that reporters quoted several residents from Lansford Ave, Melbourne Ave and Brunner Ave calling it "an impossible condition," "a disgrace to the Dallas school system" and "the worst school in all Dallas." A modern brick structure with an iconic frieze – later named after beloved Irish-immigrant teacher Margaret B. Henderson – opened in 1941. It was the first Dallas school named after a living Dallasite.
Perhaps the most active civic group in Elmwood was the Elmwood Dads Club made up of fathers of Margaret B. Henderson pupils. They sponsored an annual picnic at Kiest Park, advocated for neighborhood improvements and even hosted an achievement night in May of 1950 to celebrate the
NOTABLE EARLY RESIDENTS
Brunner Ave was named in honor of Brunner Clarence Barnes (1917-1985). Brunner C. Barnes was born in Wapanucka, Oklahoma, and lived there until his father's death around 1925. After struggling for several years, the family moved to Dallas in 1928, living with Brunner's older brother and his wife, Sam and Bea Barnes, on Lansford Ave east of Edgefield. Brunner attended Winnetka Elementary school (later renamed W.E. Greiner Junior High) where he met a lifelong friend, John Collier. John and Brunner hunted and played in the woods and fields to the west of Brunner's new home. John’s father worked as a developer for the Elmwood addition and as the streets of the new subdivision were being laid out, he named one after his son's new friend from Oklahoma.
After having a street named in his honor, Brunner C. Barnes went on to graduate from Sunset High School in 1935 and Texas A&M in 1940, retiring as a Major at the end of World War II, where he had served in army chemical warfare. He returned to Dallas and worked as a chemical engineer for the Magnolia Oil Company until 1960, when he co-founded Barnes & Click Engineering.
POST-WAR TO PRESENT DAY
Adjacent to Elmwood was a very popular restaurant once considered the go-to spot for almost everyone in Oak Cliff over the course of 50 years. According to Oak Cliff Advocate, Austin’s Barbecue reigned as the destination of choice for thousands of Oak Cliff diners with its sliced beef sandwiches, fries, coleslaw, beans, ribs, steaks and "to-die-for" burgers. Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit moonlighted at Austin’s, working security on weekends at the restaurant that was just two blocks from the home of another Dallas Police Officer, Sergeant Samuel Quinton Bellah, who would later serve in the presidential escort ahead of President John F. Kennedy's motorcade through Downtown Dallas.
Known as “The Heart of Oak Cliff,” Austin’s Barbecue closed in July of 2000 and the building was replaced with an Eckerd drugstore, now CVS Pharmacy.
Elmwood was the filming location for a number of scenes in the 1989 movie "Born on the Fourth of July" starring Tom Cruise. Margaret B. Henderson was used for Ron Kovic's high school and Edgefield Ave was transformed for two parade sequences set in Massapequa, Long Island. Faux storefronts for ice cream shops, jewelers and insurance agencies lined the movie set. A dome-shaped fictional restaurant named Boyer Burger was built next to Elmwood Methodist Church and demolished as production wrapped. Tom Cruise later made it a point to thank Oak Cliff for its hospitality with a half-page advertisement in a November edition of the Oak Cliff Tribune.
That same month, residents became aware of plans by food packaging manufacturer Dixie Wax Paper Company, later Dixico Inc. – an Elmwood-area business since 1932 – to request regulatory state and EPA approval for burning hazardous solvents, alcohols, inks and other liquid wastes at its plant at 1300 S. Polk St. on the Elmwood Branch of Cedar Creek. The company insisted that its incineration methods were environmentally sound, but neighbors collected evidence to the contrary and organized the group Individuals & Residents Against Toxic Emissions (IRATE). A year-long battle culminated in 400 people attending a public hearing; Dixico ultimately withdrew its application, citing too much time wasted on the effort. In 1996 Dixico sold the building to Delta Industries, which refurbished automotive air conditioners on-site until January of 2015. The following year the building became Tyler Station, an office and retail space for small businesses, and home to the neighborhood's first post-prohibition brewery.
Today the neighborhood is estimated to contain 1,375 homes with a population of 4,500. Improvements continue to be made around Elmwood Parkway, including a mile-long loop trail that opened in 2012 as well as a crossing bridge and trail extension to Kiest Park that opened in 2016. Elmwoof, the only dog park in Southern Dallas, opened in 2020.
Heritage Oak Cliff Grants
Current Year - 2021
2019 - $500
2017 - $5,745