Published: 20 September 2008
The ideal suburb
Advertised as "Dallas' Ideal Suburb" by the Russell Realty Company in 1911, Winnetka Heights stands today as Dallas' best example of preserved, intact tum-of-the-century housing. The neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a City of Dallas Historic District.
Originally included in the Midway Addition to the city of Oak Cliff in 1890, it was replatted as Winnetka Heights in 1908. Four prominent businessmen - L.A. Stemmons, TS. Miller, Jr., J.P. Blake, and R.S. Waldron developed the 50 square-block area as a prestigious suburb. Sales were brisk, with several millionaires building opulent Prairie-style homes in the first wave of construction. All four of the developers built their homes here, but only the J.P. Blake home at 401 North Rosemont (home of the Oak Cliff Society for the Fine Arts), and the TS. Miller home at 101 North Montclair remain today. Wonderful examples of Arts and Crafts/Prairie architecture, they stand as a bye-gone reminder of these first families and their lifestyles.
As time went by, lots were subdivided to allow for the construction of bungalows and cottages. Each home, be it a two-story Prairie or bungalow, was constructed with the finest materials and craftsmanship throughout. All the houses had distinctive exteriors and rich details inside.
Fine craftsmanship, vibrant history
The end of World War Il ushered in Winnetkas' decline, as demand for housing forced many of the grand old homes to be cut up into apartments. Urban blight took its toll through the 1960s until young homeowners began buying and restoring these homes. Attracted to the extraordinary old architecture, low prices and in-town convenience, these homeowners formed the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association to organize their restoration and conservation efforts while seeking protective zoning as an historic district.
The first Oak Cliff neighborhood to be rezoned, the Winnetka Heights Historic District was created by the city of Dallas in 1981. Projects of the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association have included park and street beautification, installation of historic street lamps, code enforcement, sidewalk replacement, crime prevention, and the annual Holiday Home Tour. Winnetka Heights neighbors are dedicated to the preservation of the neighborhood as an enduring symbol of early 20th century life, while ensuring Winnetka Heights remains the most vibrant historic district in the city.