History is a Fine Teacher

May 30, 2018



As Yogi Berra might have said ,” You can hear a lot by listening”. And in this case reading.


The 5/18 Dallas Morning News had two very instructive stories.




The east side of the Central Business District is slated for a huge makeover that will save and renovate 18-20 historic buildings to accommodate office and retail space, a park and likely some residential. Here are a few quotes from the story.


”We fell in love with these buildings and the history”.- First tenant.


“We want to make sure we do the right things with these buildings.” Park developer


“We are overrun with people and we haven’t even gone to market yet”- Developer


See where this is going?




The old Braniff site at Love Field is being re-envisioned as a business jet center with offices and retail. The fact that the façade had to be saved (It’s eligible for national historic status) caused the developers to become creative. And they did. There is already a first lease inked.


The original architects were Pereira and Luckman and a local fellow named Mark Lemon. I repeat Mark Lemon. Here are a couple of quotes.


“It has historical significance. At the time, we didn’t understand the architects’ background and history”. Developer


“The Texas Historical Commission has been a part of the whole process”. Developer


So, in a short drive down Mockingbird you will see the exact opposite reverence for history and creative thinking when the historic Bradfield and Hyer Elementary Schools will be destroyed and faux history substituted. It is not the architects fault. They design academic factories from the inside out.


It’s really the Board that decided to destroy the buildings-without being forthcoming during the bond election- rather than actually work a little extra to save some of the history. It is a consequential mistake and interestingly the opposite of the HP Town Council who brought in an architect skilled in classical historic architecture to rescue the design from an architect who apparently had none.


It is very sad that a school board doesn’t see the value of history that developers see. Perhaps the guys trying make money have the vision to see the resonance that true historic preservation has to potential tenants and the way it communicates values and continuity.


Oh, Mark Lemon. He designed Hyer.


David is a Highland Park resident, who was recently appointed to the Texas Historical Commission by Governor Greg Abbott. David served previously on the THC from 2001 to 2013.

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