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Hidden Gems

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Mid-Century Modern - An Endangered Species

Everyone can agree the Parthenon is a historical building worth saving, but as the time span between now and a building's construction date narrows, it gets a little harder to make a determination between what will be saved and what will be replaced with a high rise.

This is one of the reasons Bill and I are active members of Preservation Dallas. We want to see the architectural history of Dallas preserved. We love new as much as anyone, but we also appreciate the need to save some things for the future. Every month we go to PD's In-Town Outing and in May we had the pleasure of visiting one of Dallas' endangered species - a Mid-Century Modern Office Building.

This gorgeous edifice at 2151 Fort Worth Avenue in Oak Cliff is one you might drive right past without even seeing it. The one-story commercial building, set back from the street and nestled into large trees, might not grab your attention, unless Mid-Century Modern happens to be one of your favorite styles - as it is mine. However, you should sit up and take notice.

History Happened Here

Hoke Smith might not be a household name, but he was the design architect for over thirty courthouses, schools, churches and municipal buildings in Texas, including the City Hall in University Park. His crowning glory was PC Cobb stadium, a premiere sports facility, built in the late 1930's, that once stood where the Infomart now stands. While the stadium was being built, Smith was constructing the first phase of his office building.

Almost thirty years later, his sons expanded the building with a large addition and that's what you see now on Fort Worth Avenue. Hoke Smith died just a few years after phase one was completed and in a perfect example of what a woman can do, his wife, Ida, picked up the reins of the business and kept it going until her sons finished college and their military service. Many residential developments in the Dallas area were designed by the Smith brothers - from Wynnewood to Glen Eagles. Their mom stayed with the firm after her boys took over and sold many of the homes to their original buyers, coordinating between these buyers and the Smith design team. In February of 1956 Ida was recognized as the Woman of the Month by the Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce. In the meantime her sons were serving in positions such Dallas City Plan Commissioner, Dallas City Councilman, Oak Cliff Zoning and Plats Commission Member and even Director of the Oak Cliff Country Club.

Magic Happened Here

Even though the Smith firm eventually outgrew their 1960's digs, they held on to the property until 1980, when they found a new steward for the Mid-Century Modern germ. The lovely space became the Design and Planning Department of Leisure and Recreational Concepts (LARC) and it worked out so well the way it stood, it was if it had been designed just for them.

Haven't heard of LARC? Well then, how about Six Flags and the Dallas Summer Musicals? LARC's President and Founder, Michael Jenkins, is responsible for much of the magic of these well-known entertainments, as well as with amusement parks, theater productions and circuses all over the world. Or maybe you know a little section of New York known as Broadway? Jenkins has several Tony Awards for his work in theater.

Keep the History and Magic Going

It's time to change the historical guard at 2151 Fort Worth Avenue. Perhaps you or someone you know could be writing the next chapter for this significant piece of architecture. This gorgeous property is on the market. While it doesn't quite yet qualify for the official historical building designation, as you can tell, a lot of history and magic has happened inside its walls. If you care about preserving history and making it a part of your future, then this just might be the property you've been looking for.

Monte Anderson of Options Real Estate is representing the sellers of this unique property. The owners are specifically interested in finding a buyer who wants to contribute to the historical significance of the building and perhaps add a little magic of their own. Are you that buyer? If so, please contact Monte Anderson at or call him at 972-283-1111.

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