Most long-time Cliffites know bits and pieces of Oak Cliff history, and some are scholars of the subject. During our research to identify the risk factors associated with many current buildings and structures, we were reminded continuously about the abundant success stories in Oak Cliff. The following properties provide excellent examples of organic growth, as well as reminders of how community effort, positive zoning regulations, maintaining original structures, as well as caring property owners and visionaries can change the shape of an entire community.


The neighborhood of Winnetka Heights, built near the turn of the 20th century, experienced a cycle of decline during the 1960’s and 70’s, until the community banded together and helped shape the city’s view toward zoning, restoration and revitalization of the area. The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League was formed in 1974 as part of this effort. New Planned Development zoning for Winnetka Heights in 1975 ended the conversion of single-family houses into multi-family apartments. Years later, the community was granted historic designation and continues to thrive, with a majority of the original structures intact and converted back to single-family houses.

The most well-known success story in Oak Cliff today is the Bishop Arts District. The area was once a popular trolley stop in the 1930’s, originally developed in the 1920’s as warehouses and commercial storefronts. The area fell into serious decline in the 1960’s due to a variety of factors, including the use of buses instead of trolley cars, rising popularity of shopping malls, and changing demographics. In 1984, Jim Lake Sr. and his partner, Mike Morgan, took a risk and bought a group of boarded-up buildings on Bishop Street. Mr. Lake’s famous quote is always worth repeating: "I just thought it needed saving."

With the aide of the community and the City of Dallas, the property owners transformed the area into a walkable, urban streetscape, rich with character and a sense of place. Today, Bishop Arts is a destination for the community, as well as visitors and tourists.


Turner House is a community resource utilized for rmeetings and events.  Turner House was built in 1912 and is one of the remaining four orginal structures of Winnetka Heights and is operated by the Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts.

Lake Cliff Park is one of 4 parks that has been restored and is maintained by Friends of Oak Cliff Parks.  FOOCP has done extensive work at Lake Cliff Park restoring the pergola, rose gardens and fountains. 

Kiest Park and Kiest Memorial Gardens is going through a similar transformation due to FOOCP.  The rill at Kiest Park was so neglected and full of dirt it was barely visible.  Efforts are now underway to restore the historic trailhead.


Monte Anderson redid the #15 Firestation on Bishop and Davis.  It is in current negotiations to be a restaurant.

The Ice House and Kessler Theater both are old structures used for new things.  The Ice House is managed by the city's cultural affairs department and rents out for events.  The Kessler Theater just went through an extensive restoration after being closed for years.  It is a live music venue.

David Spence with Good Space took Settles Garage at Davis and Llewelyn and transformed it into one of the trendiest restaurants in Dallas.  The garage had tons of welded metal throughout the structure that required extensive demolition but the building was saved.


Monte Anderson also took the delapidated Traverlers Lodge Motel on Ft. Worth Ave. and restored it to the Belmont Hotel.  Designed by locally renowned architect Charles Dilbeck, the Belmont is now beautifully restored boutique hotel.

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