Most venerable cities in the USA have a neighborhood close to downtown that is being preserved for posterity. Many of the dwellings have been lovingly restored and are legally protected. The daughter of friends in St. Louis used to live in a historic area near what locals call the Central West End. Across the street for the entire length of Forest Park’s north side near the old Chase Hotel and the new Jeanne Gang high rise named 100 Kingshighway, these mansions were the Beverly Hills of St. Louis. St. Louis actually has 17 of these historic districts. In Seattle, it’s the Capitol Hill-Harvard-Belmont area. In Dallas it’s Swiss Avenue, and Ruth & I had a look at it earlier this year.
The Swiss Avenue Historic District is just northeast of downtown not too far from Fair Park, home of the Cotton Bowl Stadium and the fantastic Texas Centennial Exposition buildings. It’s an eight block corridor with a park down its middle containing many live oak trees between Fitzhugh and La Vista Streets. The entire neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it’s Dallas’ first preserved residential area. Like Beverly Hills, it’s definitely worth a look.
A Swiss immigrant named Henri Boll named it. It was largely developed between 1905 and the 1920s. A cotton gin manufacturer, R. S. Munger, lived here and influenced community standards. The Harris-Savage House, home to a former Dallas mayor, has been a major Texas Historic Landmark since 2013. When Swiss Avenue was being built, there were many requirements. For example, houses had to be at least 2 stories tall. However, the architectural style was left to the owner and developers. By 1970 many had been demolished or converted to apartments but there were about 200 of them left. Like other such areas, the initial residents tended to be lawyers, bankers, doctors, and rich industrialists.
What is left of Swiss Avenue has a unique character, has been lavished with much affection, is beautifully preserved, and is definitely worth seeing.