Some neighborhood residents believe the vandalism is the work of someone in their community. (Nathan Hunsinger/Staff Photographer)
First, there is no excuse for vandalism. Ever. Were this an historic building, the damage could likely not be fully repaired. Vandalism is not the tool of those truly seeking solutions to societal problems. I share this article because it brings to light a gathering conflict in our city and this particular act of vandalism may signal a new level in the frustration felt with the way some parts of our city are evolving.
Last year I was privileged to work with other local architects to create a statement on the value and preservation of local history. In this statement, we asserted the idea that neighborhood character transcends purely architectural features and is often defined by events, activities and their association with a broader, more general appreciation of local architectural appearance. Deep Ellum, for instance, has very few high-style historic buildings, yet there is a widely held and much appreciated character to Deep Ellum that the buildings contribute to, but do not fully define. Much the same for the Bishop Arts area. Popular preservation in the 21st Century seems to be drifting towards a greater recognition of this broader appreciation of the things what attract us to many of our neighborhoods.
I know the Disney Streets pretty well. My Dad was a fireman in nearby 35 station (the old one) and I have spent some time exploring the streets in that area. To me, this neighborhood has for some time represented well the ideals of suburban development during the 50's, 60's and 70's. And personally, I shall always associate it closely with Dad and life in Dallas during that time. The kinds of architectural changes you find occurring in the Disney Streets is common across our city and I witness them every day here in East Dallas. Those are older neighborhoods, however, and more closely reflect traditional expectations for historic buildings.
This article, to me, suggests that the loss of neighborhood character is being felt in areas where traditional architectural expectations don't apply, that what we want and need from our older neighborhoods, both residential and commercial, may no longer be what it has been in the past.