Another One Bites the Dust

Last month we reported on a horrible trend taking over the lovely Highland Park suburb of Dallas… The city’s most majestic and historic homes are being torn down at record number. And unfortunately there’s another one to add to the list.. 4908 Lakeside Drive, one of Dallas’ great architectural masterpieces. Built in 1918 by Hal Thomson, the 7,600 square foot mansion was situated on three quarters of lush acreage and was one of my favorite homes in Dallas. This one was particularly gut wrenching.

image via @preservationparkcities

Today we will pay tribute by revisiting the real estate listing. The write-up read:

Elegant details throughout the home include marble and inlaid marble & wood flooring, meticulously detailed moldings, trim and plaster treatments, Gracie hand-painted wallpaper, Guerin hardware, five fireplaces, and a magnificent Treillage room looking onto a side-yard area shaded by a specimen 100-year-old Magnolia, and private spa. The graceful kitchen features Viking & Sub-Zero appliances, stone flooring, gas fireplace, cast stone moldings and a floor-to-ceiling glass breakfast room overlooking the grounds. Upstairs you’ll enjoy the richly detailed library with fireplace, luxury master suite with sitting room overlooking the grounds, and three additional guest bedrooms. The elevator takes you to all floors, including the basement with a climate controlled wine cellar. Outdoors, take in the expansive and private setting with lush gardens, majestic trees, entertaining patios and romantic columned gazebo with seating. Truly one of Highland Park’s most prized homes and location.

You can learn more about the former Lakeside home and what the city can do to aid preservation via Douglas Newby.

My personal opinion is that one never “owns” a historically significant property, but is simply a “steward” honored to temporarily enjoy the home and preserve its legacy for future generations.

Coral Gables, Florida serves as an excellent example of enforced preservation. The process engages the community to determine what homes will be given Historic Designation, and designation can even take place once a homeowner begins the demolition process in order to save the home. The details are outlined in this document, and I have copied and pasted the process for historic designation below…

Coral Gables HISTORIC DESIGNATION PROCESS: Proposals for designation of potential historic landmarks may be submitted to the Historical Resources Department by any citizen who provides information which illustrates that the property meets the established criteria for listing. The Historic Preservation Board then conducts a public hearing to determine whether or not the property possesses sufficient historical, cultural, aesthetic or architectural significance to qualify for listing in the Coral Gables Register. Initially, the property must be at least fifty (50) years old or older to qualify for listing. The property may be considered significant if it can be associated with persons or events which have made an impact on our community, or if the property is deemed to possess architectural distinction. If the Board votes in favor of the historic designation, an ordinance is enacted which designates the property as a local historic landmark and lists it in the Coral Gables Register of Historic Places). For each of the public hearings the property owner is notified and encouraged to attend.

Fifty of the homes photographed for Great American Suburbs: The Homes of the Park Cities, published in 2008, have since been demolished. Unless the Park Cities establish similar enforcements, I am afraid that we will see our beautiful suburb turn into something completely unrecognizable. I would love to hear if your town is doing anything to control preservation… Please weigh in below!


    • I’m in Hyde Park Cincinnati Ohio…our neighborhood has been plagued by the same situation. New builds have tax abatement incentives.
      Our home is called Tulip House she is One Hundred and Six.

      • Norwood area here in a 120 year old home and former Dallas resident for 26 years, the last 10 of which I lived in Lakewood, one of the few conservation districts (not preservation) in Dallas. I have actually been in that home which was truly lovely as I purchased items at the estate sale, including the blue draperies in the upstairs bedroom which I have had re-sized & moved twice since the above pictures. I won’t ever look at those draperies without feeling a little sadness that beautiful home was demolished.

  1. It is heartbreaking to see beautiful historical homes being demolished. I have to wonder what the new property owners will build in this home’s place.

  2. Why on earth would they destroy this beautiful home???? I have said forever America does not value its history…and we have so little of it-this is so very sad!

  3. This makes me physically sick to my stomach. Thank you for bringing attention to and honoring these architectural masterpieces. I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around why one would purchase a historic home only to demolish it. There are plenty of McMansions that are more deserving of that fate.

  4. Where there no bidders to keep the house????…..what is going to be there in its place? will the buyer keep the three acres in tact? sounds like the property was a donut hole for the birds…I would hate to hear it is being subdivided….

    • I have read elsewhere that the next door neighbor, an elderly gentleman bought the house for the property. He wants more space between his home and other so he plans to leave the land empty.

  5. It’s heartbreaking to see such a beautiful home destroyed.

    Do you know if it was torn down so another house could be built?

    Also, do you know if anything was saved from the house before it was demolished?

  6. Seeing that pile of rubble is physically sickening!
    I hope you will feature what the ‘after’ turns out to be. But perhaps it will just another big bland box, not worth noting.

  7. This needs to be outlawed. What an utter waste of money to buy a gorgeous home and bulldoze it only to put up some monstrosity lacking any architectural style.

    Dallasites need to band together to designate historical properties as untouchable unless they have an un-repairable structural/foundation problems

  8. It is a true travesty of what is happening across the country to these significant representations of American history. Personally, we took our historic home off of the market, when we learned that all of these “Pottery Barn Kids” would walk in and immediately talk about the beautiful features they wanted to tear out. It seems as though there is a lack of refinement, respect and legacy for much of anything these days.

  9. If I had that kind of money I would have bought the place. My husband and I would love to find a home like that with all the details and fine wood work. I’m sure a modern or square house will be built. These homes are truly works of art. The inside of this home was lovely.

  10. I am astonished at the complete disregard for preserving this home and others. I had no idea. Where I live in California the small iconic beach cottages are being replaced by pricey million dollar homes, as well.

    I appreciate you bringing this to your readers attention. I love everything about that house. A friend lives in a 160 year old walk up brownstone in Brooklyn. Just steps to the East River and they love that it has a history and the fun in preserving such a glorious building.

    Yes, we are just stewards of the land and homes we occupy. I cannot wait to read about Coral Gables and thank you for sharing such a beautiful home with great bones, shame on the new owners.

    Preserving our homes, countryside, wildlife just isn’t in vogue in some areas.

  11. Travesty. What gorgeous flooring, what impeccable storage and closets. And to think I’m renovating my floors to look like those! What a waste, how very sad. When I moved into Dallas in 1991, this was a favorite landmark home of mine, I’m gutted seeing this. Zero pun intended. ♡sBm

  12. What is going on with the park cities residents and local government that they continue to let this occur? Where is the public outcry? Why aren’t the city leaders trying to preserve their once beautiful city?

  13. What a gorgeous property. This breaks my heart and I have no connection to the area whatsoever.

    Seems to me that many homes being torn down in Dallas and elsewhere are being purchased by out-of-state buyers or developers who have no emotional attachment to the area or these homes. Such a shame.

  14. This is heartbreaking! I lived in Dallas for 44 years and some of homes demolished were my favorites. I don’t think I could bear to drive through it now.

  15. So incredibly sad! It breaks my heart, I really don’t know how someone could destroy such beauty and history. We own and are restoring a historic home (1874) and there is so much that just cannot be duplicated today. Such character.

  16. This masterpiece of a home is one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. I am drooling over every picture. I could only dream of buying such a home, but then to see someone buy it and tear it down is so heartbreaking to me.

  17. It is a sad comment on a society that would rather throw away history that preserve it. A historical home need not be decorated as a traditional home, as 4908 Lakeside Drive shows; a modern sensibility can co exist within a traditional framework. There are many areas throughout the country that have whole communities, some large and other mere blocks long that have been allocated as Historical areas, that have covenants on what exterior changes can be made to keep the historic nature of the community in tact. If for some reason other than “let’s tear it down” a new home is to be built, it must seamlessly fit into the architecture to look as if it were built in the same era, and go through a strict approval process. I believe rather than selecting which home is historic and that which is not, it is better to have communities under covenants that saves many homes and keeps the area looking cohesive.
    Finally, if you don’t like the home, then don’t buy it. The home was for sale, not the lot.

  18. This made me physically ill. It feels almost like a murder. What a beautiful home, why would anyone raze it? I am a native Charlestonian, this would never have been allowed in Charleston.

  19. This was a stunning piece of property. Historical significance aside, why in the world would anyone not be able to live in such beauty? I can see wanting to put your own personality into it but honestly, this workmanship doesn’t exist anymore and if it did, the sheer amount of time and money to recreate it is staggering. This breaks my heart not only because they destroyed the beauty but also because of what this does to the environment. Humans lay waste to anything in their path that they don’t like. We are lousy stewards of the world we inherited. Heartbreaking waste of beauty and many hours of love and labor that it took to build that home.

  20. This makes me sick to my stomach!! What a travesty! Is there no one with any sense? It was an absolutely lovely home! Why in the world would someone buy it to demolish it?? If you don’t like it, why in the world wouldn’t you just go find one you do like instead of destroying this gem??

  21. All it takes to preserve a neighbourhood is organization. I live in Hudson, New York. Whole swathes of the city are earmarked as historic districts. All facade changes in those areas have to go before a board, and nothing can be torn down without permission. Dallas has had the Swiss Avenue historic district for at least 50 years. Talk to them. Just organize like they did. Find other like-minded people and draft guidelines for your historic district. Then go to the city council with the streets or area you want in the district and have it approved.

  22. Lake Forest, Illinois has a very strict Historic Preservation ordinance and a volunteer Preservation Foundation as do other communities in the Chicago area. Private owners have preserved and continue to maintain numerous historic homes, public buildings, Lake Forest College, our landmark retail Market Square and the East train station. Appreciation of history is character defining, and has to be driven by the residents. Obviously they don’t care.

  23. I was recently in Dallas and drove around these neighborhoods. The new houses – almost without exception – are ugly and soulless. I felt pain for the neighbors having to look at those houses. This is hubris.

  24. Since the home is in the city of Highland Park the complaints and action have got to start there. I’m shocked there isn’t a preservation society in HP and UP. This is tragic. Each year I come back in the fall for Kips Bay and am saddened to see the transformation of HP . Andrea ask Doug Newby if he’d head this up with some heavy hitters in HP.

  25. I am physically sick too my stomach as well to see such a stunning historic home being torn down. Just sickens me to the core that some people today do not appreciate that talent and Craftsmanship to build a house like that, especially in 1918, without the tools builders have today. Please please preserve those beautiful homes.

  26. To stop this you have to get a historical overlay so homes can’t be torn down or renovated beyond recognition. Not sure that will fly in Highland Park.

  27. We live in Carmel CA and there are very strict guidelines both at the county level and city level for historical properties. You cannot tear them down. The only way to stop this destruction of landmark homes is to either force the city management to install historical guidelines that prohibit the demolition or go to a wealthy group of individuals and have them buy up the homes, place deed restrictions on the title and then sell the homes to a buyer who is willing to abide by the restrictions.

  28. This makes me cry. That gorgeous house had so many thoughtful details inside and out! No one should have been allowed to raze it like that. The sad thing is that there are so many people with money who have no sense whatsoever of history or style. Makes me think architectural history/appreciation should be taught in all the schools, so kids grow up with an understanding and appreciation of the beauty around them. Even if this house was not to one’s taste, it could be appreciated for its genuine historic significance.

  29. I blame both the previous owner, and the new owner. Why would they sell to someone who planned to destroy the home? I live in an old beautiful home, and when I sell if they told me they planned to destroy the place Id refuse to sell. Its true we never own these houses we are just the caretaker for awhile. There was no excuse to destroy any of those beautiful homes! If its not what they want, fine buy another house or better a lot to build what you want. It shows a total disrespect for history, and that makes Highland Park the beautiful place it is. Texas has so much open land its totally selfish, and disgusting to destroy those homes for their own selfish reasons. Id be ashamed of myself!

    • I agree they should be very ashamed. This is so wasteful to destroy such a beautiful place. Anything they might replace it with would not hold a candle to what was taken down.

  30. Do not think for a second that money buys class or taste. This is a travesty! That house was a gem that will not be replaced with anything worth a second look. Shame on the nouveau riche of anywhere that destroys such beauty!

  31. It seems history means nothing to people anymore. The days of beautiful architecture of Highland Park is vanishing quickly. I’ll never understand why someone would purchase such a beautiful home only to tear it down. Obviously, it’s people with more money than common sense let alone taste.

  32. WHY???? WHy-Why-WHY????? all I can think of is – – – SELFISHNESS….. and then I just want to say a bunch of bad words…

  33. Alas, I can not add anything that hasn’t been said before me. I quote the author “it’s gut-wrenching.” I’m sad

  34. This travesty is so hard to accept. I’m totally sickened but the demolition of these timeless and elegant properties. Appears that these people have no regard for the importance of history. My head is spinning! So, so sad!

  35. Being from Charleston SC, I’m sure you know what we think about preservation!! Looking at these photo’s of this beautiful home makes me heart sick. Anyone with enough money to purchase it, tear it down and then rebuild would have had the money to update it, while preserving its grander. Yet, I am not surprised considering the world we live in today. Elderly people, traditions, morality is all being tossed aside with no appreciation for what truly matters. Tearing these graceful and beautiful architectural gifts down is only a another indicative sign of our times. All of it breaks my heart.

  36. Absolutely tragic. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if contractors with moral integrity repurposed these homes into condo/multi family residences!

  37. What is it that buyers can’t see when deciding to teat down such a structure? To maybe put in it’s place a shell of steel and stucco to look as ghastly as possible? This breaks my heart. Shame on these owners!

  38. This trend, in demolishing beautiful old houses, has going on in Austin as well as San Antonio, Texas for years. Preservation, restoration and special designation policies should be enacted in communities to prevent this from happening period.

  39. Surely it must take a very conceited and stupid person to destroy such a gracious, historic home and believe they can produce something superior. How does such a new owner ever fit into an established and well loved neighborhood??? The great craftsmen who toiled to build these old houses no longer exhist. Instead, new builds consist of inferior materials staple gunned together by indifferent crews of barely trained carpenters. Shame, shame on so much of American society that no longer cares for much at all except their own instanr gratification !!

  40. While I am a firm believer in being able to do with your property whatever you want, this is just so wasteful. And so sad. Reminds me of the scene in Mansfield Park where Mr. Rush is talking to the landscape architect about tearing down the avenue of majestic trees on his estate to follow the then latest fad in landscape design. No reverence for what came before – it’s a sad commentary on what we value as a society.

  41. I can’t even possibly understand why. So sad. just so so sad. What I do know, is that I were the neighbor of this new person moving in, they need not come to me to ask to borrow a cup of sugar as I’m confident we will have zero in common with each other.

  42. I agree with everyone on this senseless destruction!! And I really agree with Virginia McMillan that you can’t buy lumber today that will last but maybe 20yrs. And yes all the other materials that is not worth buying!!! And…. can’t find skilled craftsman!!

  43. Thank you for writing about this home and the needless devastation of the community when homes like this are torn down.

    You are so right that action needs to be taken and any one who has an interest can make a positive difference just by encouraging friends and family to explore saving the home when they sell it.

    In addition community led ordinances can make a huge difference retarding demolitions and making renovations easier.

    Your call for designers and architects to get more involved is huge

    Thank you,
    Douglas Newby

  44. I’m just going to say it; people from out of state moving to Texas. Nuevo Riche with no taste or respect for the neighborhood and certainly not knowledgeable of the neighborhood.

  45. In the early 70s I was an SMU student. I liked to ride my bike to Turtle Creek and once I stopped to take a picture of this house. Almost 50 years later the only photos I have of that time are of four of my friends/dorm mates and one picture of this very house. I could not cull it whenever going through my pictures. Never did toss it because it was such a beautiful house and always gave me pleasure to look at it. It was that soft pink even back then. Thank you for highlighting this, although sad for the loss, I was pleasantly surprised to see it looked the same before it got taken down,

  46. Its crushing. I can’t even make sense of a community that would allow this. Back in the 1980s my husbands parents could no longer justify holding on to their Palm Beach estate. It was a beautiful house and the next owner promised to restore…well as soon as the ink was dry down it went. The construction of the home was so far superior to anything of today.
    I can’t believe that materials aren’t or weren’t salvaged from such a home.
    I wish we would have taken more …so sad.

  47. I live in a small town in New England. And anyone who lives in New England can tell you that our zoning laws can be a bit unreasonable. But, when you see things like this happening across America (where history is being destroyed), you can kind of see their point.

  48. What a catastrophic loss. The house was stunning and almost nobody today can build to that level of quality and detail. It looks like the owners own the adjoining house and likely destroyed this gem to have a double lot. So sad

  49. What a very distressing state of affairs. Not only lovely large homes such as this, but also small historic houses are being lost. I can’t help but feel that this kind of destruction just shows a very distinct lack of taste and good sense.
    Shame on whoever behaved in this wanton way.


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