The Swiss Avenue Historic District, in Old East Dallas, is a diverse neighborhood containing the finest collection of Early 20th Century residential architecture in the entire Southwest. Established in 1905 by real-estate developer, Robert Munger, it was designated in 1973 as the first historic district in the City of Dallas. It is an official Dallas Landmark District and, in 1974, the entire District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The boundaries of The Swiss Avenue Historic District include portions of some of the city’s earliest streets:
Beacon Street • Bryan Parkway • Bryan Street • La Vista Drive • Live Oak Street • Swiss Avenue
Homes for sale in the Swiss Avenue Historic District
The entire district, Swiss Avenue between Fitzhugh and La Vista, was listed as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places on March 28, 1974 and is a Dallas Landmark Historic District, the city’s first, established in 1973. One home within the district is listed individually on the National Register while several more are designated as Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks.
The Historic Preservation League of Dallas (a forerunner of the non-profit organization Preservation Dallas), with the help of the Dallas Department of Urban Planning, performed the original research for the designations. The National Trust for Historic Preservation initially became aware of the Dallas Preservation League’s work through its Department of Field Services in the fall of 1972, and in January of the next year, the preservation league was awarded a $500 grant to retain an architectural historian to conduct an architectural survey of the proposed district. Another matching grant of $800 was provided later to assist the league in hiring legal assistance to challenge a proposal to build a high-rise apartment complex in the district.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s study on the district’s founding, getting the historic district ordinance passed was just one of many serious problems facing those seeking to preserve Swiss Avenue. Newspapers referred to the group as, “an unnamed group of interested citizens,” which the Trust reports numbered only nine people. Two architects, an audiovisual expert, a freelance writer and journalist, a banker, contractor, and two lawyers were part of the initial group. Many absentee landlords of the Swiss Avenue homes felt that the value of the structures was only in the land, much of which was re-zoned for high-rise apartments.
Once the boundaries of the district and an ordinance covering the historic district were prepared by city staff, the Dallas Historic Landmark Preservation Committee (now the Dallas Landmark Commission), the Dallas City Plan Commission, and the Dallas City Council had to approve the plans and ordinance. The Trust claims that the City Plan department staff actually initiated the idea of the historic district.