This is what the 1600 block of Main Street in downtown Dallas looked like in 1909. Part of this block was razed by Headington Companies to expand their hotel. (Photo: FlashbackDallas)

This is what the 1600 block of Main Street in downtown Dallas looked like in 1909. Part of this block was razed by Headington Companies to expand their hotel. (Photo: FlashbackDallas)

I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the surprise demolition of a block’s worth of historic downtown buildings while the Cowboys played. The razing of 1611 Main and a few other beautiful old buildings on the block to make room for Headington Companies’ Joule Hotel expansion scarred many preservationists and at least one architecture critic. Pearls were clutched, and people stood aghast at the horror of it all.

And yet, there is still no solid plan to stop the wrecking balls that could take down a downtown with little to no protection. That’s part of what City Hall wants to address tomorrow.

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Perhaps best known as the most sought-after location for Dallas' high-society weddings, Arlington Hall at Lee Park will celebrate its 75th anniversary this weekend.

Perhaps best known as the most sought-after location for Dallas’ high-society weddings, Arlington Hall at Lee Park will celebrate its 75th anniversary this weekend.

Tomorrow, Dallas will celebrate a landmark that has stood the test of time. The jewel of Lee Park, Arlington Hall is one of the most recognizable structures in the Turtle Creek area, and this gorgeous structure will celebrate its 75th anniversary this weekend. To kick things off, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, along with councilmember Philip Kingston and several Dallas officials, will gather on the steps of the storied structure tomorrow at 11 a.m. to celebrate Arlington Hall’s anniversary. A luncheon will follow that will feature a lecture by Director Emeritus of the National Park Service, Gary Scott, who will speak on Arlington House at Arlington National Cemetery, the inspiration for Arlington Hall.

The building, which was designed by notable Dallas architect Mark Lemmon, is a two-thirds scale replica of the Arlington House, which was the home of Robert E. Lee in Arlington, Va. Restored in 2002, this structure was originally dedicated in 1939.

Of course, if you’re not attending the luncheon and celebration tomorrow, you can still go to the open house on Sunday, Oct. 26, where  docents and historians will be on hand to tell the little-known facts of Arlington Hall and its very beginnings in the city of Dallas. The event is from 1:30 – 4:30 and its open to the public.

 

 

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It’s a Dallas tradition to honor mom and her commitment to her family and career (and all those dang peanut butter and jelly sandwiches she made and stories she read to you, even when she said she would only read one book and ended up reading five) with a special weekend at the Swiss Avenue Mother’s Day Home Tour.

This unique event showcases the lovely historic homes for which this neighborhood is known, and offers a fantastic marketplace and lovely tea that mom will appreciate even if it will take years and years to make up for that phase of your teens where you were a moody jerk to her every dang day.

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HomeTour2014

Today we’re going to test your knowledge of the Hollywood Heights/Santa Monica Neighborhood for a chance to win a pair of tickets to this year’s Hollywood Heights Home tour.

This year’s tour is a great route, touching on several major streets and showcasing some amazing Tudor and traditional homes, for which this conservation district is known. Hollywood/Santa Monica is an amazing neighborhood, and has a lot of cherished history.

To win these tickets, you’ll have to answer all three of these questions correctly. Email your entries to jo@candysdirt.com by the end of the day Friday. We’ll announce our winner on Monday, so stay tuned! For the questions, jump!

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Speaking of mayors, former mayor Woodall Rodgers’ home at 5750 Swiss Ave is on the market, and this place has some serious history. It’s in need of some restoration, but with a little TLC, you can own a piece of Dallas history for under a million bucks.

Mayor Woodall Rodgers lived here with his wife from 1938 to 1959, during which time he served as the mayor of Dallas. From 1969 to 1973, while the home was owned by Norman Cook, it served as a home for unwed mothers. Listing agent Frank Hayward of Virginia Cook said soccer hall of famer Kyle Rote Jr. (son of Kyle Rote who had a successful football career at SMU and with the NY Giants) used to hang his cleats at the corner of Swiss and Skillman.

Almost 90 years later, the landmark home is still in good and workable condition. It has beautiful hardwood floors, beveled glass sunroom windows and a large garage and carriage structure in the back. Hayward said its just needs cosmetic improvements to bring it back to its former glory.

“This house was probably a real showplace back in the day,” he said. “It’s a historic property and is poised to be a very grand home once again. It’s in good, stable condition and very true to its original structure.”

Equipped with a Riverbend Sandler pool and a putting green, Hayward said the back of the property has an intimate resort feel.

Hayward also said that there has been “quite a resurgence on Swiss Ave” and that 3 or 4 homes have sold in the last 90 days. With all of the history inside these walls, it could be worth the investment. Maybe there’s something about this place that propels people into greatness. For just $950k, YOU could be the next mayor!

 

 

 

 

 

Dallas Realtors, for the most part, call Steve Brown negative Nellie. He knows this, and almost delights in it. But I’m a little concerned he went too far in his latest story that shouts out “For Home Sellers, It’s Getting Tougher in Dallas.” First of all, this story will get on a Google feed and come across the screens of editors all over the US. It will get jumbled with Sunday’s piece in the New York Times on how dismal the Seattle market is doing — PMI Mortgage Insurance thinks Seattle real estate may drop another 11 percent. Zillow, which is based in Seattle, says home prices there are down about 31% from the 2007 peak. Real Estate there is as depressing as the weather.

Let’s get something straight: no doubt this is a tough market. We have been flooded with foreclosures, more than at any other time in Dallas history. Texas had a 9.65 % mortgage delinquency rate in third quarter 2010, which is almost as high as California’s, and far worse than Montana’s 4.94%. Sellers are cutting prices to the point that I almost thing “reduced” should be part of a normal sign. But homes are selling, if buyers can get loans. The financing of mortgages is really the biggest problem with the market. It deserves much more attention. In fact, the NAR should be staging sit-ins at this moment. Self-employed people even with thousands in the bank are finding it near impossible to get loans. Talked to a Realtor over the weekend: he has a client with a 692 credit score and 10% for a down payment and no bank in Texas will consider loaning him money for a $105,000 home. The agent found one guy in Texas who will do it for 8.35%.

What’s that you say? Interest rates are low? Only if you qualify. I’m beginning to think the low-interest rate BS “come on” advertising we see is bordering on violating truth in advertising.

Foreclosures and short sales are driving down values. Like I’ve always told you, if you make an offer and you’re not embarrassed by it, then it’s not low enough. (Sidenote: this came back to bite me in the butt when a certain renown editor of late turned the tables on me with this phrase in negotiating salary!) But Dallas is so different than other areas and Steve, six months is considered a normal number of days on market! Why are you fretting about that? Looking at the Seattle article, folks there say it is taking 17 months to sell their home.

“More than 9,500 North Texas homes in the Realtors‚Äô Multiple Listing Service have been for sale for six months or more, according to the MetroTex Association of Realtors. And that number can be misleading because houses are sometimes taken off the market for a while and then relisted. “

When I search MLS for a property, I always look to see the listing history. You are correct in that this is no market to make a killing on your home, or make anything above what the other homes in the area are comping at. You show me someone putting their house on the market for a fantasy price, I’ll show you someone who’s not going to be selling any time soon.

This spring market will tell us a lot, and here’s what I think we’ll learn:

-It’s a buyer’s market but sellers are willing to let go finally.

-Cash buyers are being greeted with open arms and discounts

-Don’t expect home appreciation in D/FW for another five years (sorry)

-Be grateful our prices are flat, up/down 1%. Could be much worse.

-This administration is clueless on what to do to invigorate the market. It seems to be on a mission to de-stabilize real estate.

-Where’s the money, honey? Now the administration wants to put out of business the two mortgage units responsible for 92% of the mortgages in this country?