Monday, July 27, 2015

Dallas Heritage Village

In preparing for my recent trip to Dallas I had pulled up a list of dog friendly places.  Almost the first place that jumped off the list at me was the Dallas Heritage Village.  I knew it was perfect for Bentley and me when I began exploring their website and found that this was more than a modern day attraction. It is a living history village of buildings that have been relocated from all over North Texas and assembled here so they can share what life was like 100 years ago with us today.
In 1876 James J. Eakins gave the City of Dallas 10 acres of his land in lieu of paying taxes.  This property became the city's first park and was known simply as City Park.  In 1881 the city acquired 8 more acres from the Browder family; this tract included Browder Springs which had served the city as its first public water supply source.

The Cedars, an elegant residential neighborhood comprised of the fashionable homes of business and mercantile leaders, grew up around the park during the 1880's and 1890's. There are still remnants of this neighborhood surrounding the park today.  This area's close proximity to the railroads made it the ideal place for the construction of factories; workforce housing for the factory workers also appeared in this area.  There was a zoo located here and weekly concerts were held in the bandstand. The park was truly an active part of the community. 

This home is an administrative office of the park.  There were several homes on this side street, each with identical steps leading up the small hill from the street.

I'm always intrigued by steps like these and wonder about the home that they led to once upon a time
After World War II residents began moving to the suburbs.  When Interstate 30 was completed The Cedars was cut off from downtown and fell into decline.  But a group of women looking for a place to relocate a plantation home that was scheduled to be wrecked offered new life to the park. Mary Aldredge and the Founders Garden Club had to store the disassembled house in a warehouse before convincing the city of Dallas to let them put it here in City Park in 1966.  When re-assembled Millermore opened in 1969 it would be the first of 21 buildings that would follow to the park. In 2005 the park was no longer referred to as Old City Park when it was re-named the Dallas Heritage Village.

Millermore was built between 1855 and 1862 by William Brown Miller on Bonnie View Road in Dallas. The house was built facing exactly north, using the North Star as a compass in construction. It was designed to catch the prevailing winds for cross ventilation.  Slave labor was one of the factors that enabled Mr. Miller to carry out his plan to build a grand house.

Stone was quarried from nearby and hauled to the house site where pieces for the foundation, chimney and hearths were cut.  Cedars on the property were cut and pulled to the site by oxen and then hewn into beams.  The construction took seven years due to Mrs. Miller's death in 1856 and the 8 weeks it took for a load of lumber milled in Jefferson, Texas to arrive in Dallas via a commercial freight wagon.

When completed the Greek Revival details evident in the house were only a symmetrical fa├žade, a small portico with slender columns and a wide hallway flanked by square rooms.  A cistern on the back porch was designed to catch rain water which was then used by the ladies to wash their hair and clothes since it was softer than the well water! The balcony and 2-story porch were added in 1912.

In future posts I will feature a few of the other buildings.  Please visit their website, Dallas Heritage Village. And, yes, they were dog friendly.  I couldn't take Bentley inside any of the buildings, but I still appreciated the fact that I could bring him in to enjoy the grounds.