Oak Cliff shows off renovations on home tour Some residents say neighborhoods rival any in Park Cities or M Streets

The Dallas Morning News - Monday, October 20, 1997
Author: John McCoy, Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News
Julie Allen-Lindsey is tired of what she calls the Oak Cliff "Oh" syndrome.

"You tell people you live in Oak Cliff, and they say, `Ooohhhhhhh,' " she said.

And Ms. Allen-Lindsey said she's disappointed that the area - once an independent city that rivaled Dallas for dominance in the county - shows up on the TV news mainly in crime stories.

That's why Ms. Allen-Lindsey, a third-generation Oak Cliff resident, agreed to head the selection committee for the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League Home Tour, which was held over the weekend.

"We're trying to help preserve the integrity of the neighborhood," she said.

Ten homes were chosen for this year's Home Tour, which gives the league a chance to show off recent renovation work that boosters say can compete with anything in the Park Cities or the M Streets.

The show was the 16th annual home tour.

Money raised - expected to top $10,000 - will benefit projects in the league's 23 member neighborhoods, said the preservation group's president, Mike Munsterman.

One recent project was the installation of "Winnetka Heights" signs at major intersections in that north Oak Cliff neighborhood, Mr. Munsterman said.

Such touches help a neighborhood bond, he said, and encourage redevelopment in Oak Cliff, where remodeled homes often stand next to dilapidated structures.

Jeffrey and Lynn Cook's two-bedroom, prairie-style house in the 300 block of North Edgefield Avenue, a featured home on the tour, exemplified the neighborhood's resurgence. Built in 1917, the house eventually was subdivided into nine apartments before the city condemned it in 1991, Mr. Cook said.

"It looked like Noah's ark had landed on it," he said.

A new buyer gutted the structure and started over before the city could tear it down. It was later sold to the Cooks, who added whimsical touches such as a sign reading "Mother-in-law's bedroom" on the pint-size door leading to storage space under the stairs.

Home Tour visitors at Brent Reed's home were treated to a multimedia display. He flashed 15 "before" pictures on his computer screen as people filed by.

The kitchen in the 1920 Craftsman-style house got a particularly thorough resurfacing, he said, and now gleams with white tile. "The rest of the house needed paint more than anything," he said.

A marketing consultant who works from home, Mr. Reed declined to say how much money he had put into the house. But he said the rehab work has cost more than the house itself.

The tour's final stop, the Ewing Center building, owned by AIDS Services of Dallas, was also the least traditional. A 22-apartment building for people with the disease and their families, the building was remodeled in two stages from 1994 to 1996, said Don Maison, AIDS Services' president.

The work is a testament to what nonprofit agencies can do, he said. The building was renovated with help from the Meadows Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and numerous design showrooms and individuals who donated materials.

Resident Ron Dobbs, who was showing off his first-floor apartment, said Home Tour visitors were impressed at the quality of the work. One noteworthy feature of each Ewing Center apartment, he said, is the fold-up Murphy beds.

As for why anyone would agree to allow hundreds of strangers to stomp around their homes, Mr. Dobbs said he hopes visitors will take away an understanding of what a facility for people with AIDS can provide.

"At least they'll know about us now," he said.