Thursday, June 8, 2023 Jun 8, 2023
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The middle class is moving back to East Dallas - but what’s happening to the people who used to live there?
By Charles Matthews |

I have a friend whose house is historic. It doesn’t look historic: a pleasant stucco cottage, as much California-style as prairie-style, on Bryan Parkway. His block was annexed into the Swiss Avenue Historic District by force of some enthusiastic gerrymander-minded residents last year. Shortly afterward, property values on the street soared, and realtors’ signs sprouted like mushrooms.

When I visited him recently, he was keeping a wary eye on two small boys playing catch in the street. My friend had just seeded his lawn with Bermuda, and there was obviously some tension between him and the neighbor kids, whose own lawn was concrete. Until my friend moved in last year, his lawn was theirs to play on. The boys were also being kept in check by their mother, a large, tired-looking woman in shorts and halter top, who sat in a rusty garden chair on the stoop and shouted at them in nattering tones. “The Jukes and the Kallikaks,” my friend muttered.

His neighbors aren’t really as disreputable as the Jukes and Kallikaks, the pseudonyms given two socially outcast families in a 19th-century sociological study. But they don’t fit into that “reviving” East Dallas neighborhood. Their large and nondescript frame house was long ago divided into apartments and stripped of its original architectural character. But soon a young professional – a college teacher like my friend, or an architect, a lawyer, an accountant or junior executive, someone with taste and style and imagination and a budget for self-expression – will take that frame structure and do neat things with it.

The Jukes and the Kallikaks will move on.

People – the new people – drop in on one another in those East Dallas neighborhoods. Joggers and cyclists and dog-walkers pause to chat with my friend as he tends his Bermuda. The talk is good: books and politics and the Sanford Sacks close-out sale. And property values. Everyone in East Dallas is talking property: exhorting friends to sell their sterile houses in Richardson or North Dallas and move to the charming old houses of East Dallas.

You’ll hear them talk about one house in the 6000 block of Bryan Parkway: It was bought four years ago for $22,000 by someone who did very little renovating, and it still needs a lot of work. It sold recently for $79,500. In the last year, one Bryan Parkway resident estimates, 40 to 50 percent of the houses in the 5900 and 6000 blocks have undergone major renovation. Historic designation made the houses in those blocks “comparable” to those between Glendale and La Vista in the original Swiss Avenue Historic District, so appraisals went up, and lending agencies became willing to make money available for them.

Even on blighted Gaston Avenue, the existing single-family housing stock sandwiched between decaying apartment complexes has been affected by the rezoning of the area to single-family. A Gaston resident who paid $36,000 for his house last March recently saw the one next door to it, smaller and less well-preserved, go for $65,000.

To escape all that property talk, one new East Dallasite, who lives near the Guru Ram Das Ashram on Gaston, decided to drop in on his neighbors there, thinking he’d find them less materialistic. As they stood on the porch, a resident of the Ashram confided that they owned the adjacent vacant lot and had almost sold it a few years ago: “We’re glad we held out, though. The market’s really getting great, and we don’t want to sell to anyone who’d depress the values. Would you like some herb tea?”

Dallas apparently didn’t know it had a history until the early Seventies. By then it was too late: Crisis rezoning during World War II had wrecked most of Gaston and Live Oak as the large houses were converted into boarding houses for defense industry workers. Then, in the Fifties and early Sixties, developers took advantage of the demand for apartment space and erected housing for stewardesses and students and salesmen where family homes once stood. Highways raced northward, dispersing older ethnic communities – Little Mexico and Freedman’s Town – on the fringes of downtown. The Federal Housing Authority and the Veterans Administration joined hands with the construction industry by denying loans for older inner city housing. And so on, in a pattern hardly unique to Dallas. Of the older Dallas neighborhoods north of downtown, only the pre-war neighborhoods that were then suburbs, Lakewood and the Park Cities, were able to maintain their integrity.

The Swiss Avenue blocks from Fitzhugh to La Vista had been spaciously laid out in the early years of the century and developed in the Teens and Twenties. By the Sixties, though, the neighborhood was in a decline, and residents were willing to consider J. Roger Crownrich’s proposal for a high-rise apartment building at the intersection of Collett and Swiss. Such a development, it was reasoned, might stabilize a neighborhood struggling against the decay creeping across it from Gaston and Live Oak, the flanking streets where flashy apartments were already attracting the Wrong Sort. Meanwhile, the Right Sort had been attracted to 3525 Turtle Creek; maybe high-rise development was a way to bring the affluent back to a neighborhood they had abandoned.

But younger residents of the area, some of whom had parents and grandparents still living on Swiss, had other ideas about what should happen to the avenue. In the early Seventies they began to organize. The Dallas Urban Design department polled the residents of the area in 1971 and found that a majority of those who responded to the survey favored keeping the essential character of Swiss Avenue. The survey report rejected a zoning change because of the difficulties of getting it passed and because zoning an area back to a use that causes a reduction in its value could open the city to charges that it had “taken” part of the value of the land without compensation. The most effective way of preserving Swiss Avenue, the study concluded, was to declare it a Historic District and place it under the jurisdiction of the Historic Landmark Preservation Committee.

So in 1973, Swiss Avenue became Dallas’ first residential Historic District. Everyone agrees it has been good for East Dallas. Everyone except J. Roger Crownrich, who sued the city twice – in 1973, after the Historic Preservation Ordinance passed, and again in the spring of 1978 after the change in zoning that converted much of older East Dallas to single-family – charging that the value of his property had been “taken.” Crownrich lost both suits. Now only weeds stand on the vacant lots at Swiss and Collett on which Crownrich envisioned a 13-story building full of affluent tenants.

Crownrich may be the only person to have lost money because of the historic preservation movement. Houses on Swiss that people were trying to give away 10 years ago now sell for six figures. Lending institutions no longer laugh in the faces of young couples who want to renovate ramshackle houses. Federal insurors and guarantors like FHA and the Federal National Mortgage Association – cozily known as “Fannie Mae” – are loosening up funds for the inner city. Munger Place is alive with the sounds of carpentry.

Historic designation may have been the neatest trick ever pulled by the urban middle class.

Historic designation is bullshit,” says one former member of the Dallas Historic Preservation League. He means what a lot of people involved in the HPL will admit if pressed: Dallas doesn’t have many significant historic buildings left, and the ones currently being designated as landmarks are not in themselves particularly significant. Most of the houses so designated are described as “vernacular prairie style” – adaptations of Frank Lloyd Wright’s horizontal designs for Midwestern residences in the first decade of the 20th century. There are a few fine examples of the style in Dallas, such as Lang and Witchell’s house at 5002 Swiss and the splendid residence at 2707 South Boulevard. (The South Boulevard-Park Row Historic District is the area where Jewish merchants lived at the turn of the century; middle-class blacks live there now.) But most of the two-story frame houses of Lower Munger Place are indistinguishable from their contemporaries in older American suburbs across the country. They should be preserved, of course. They’re in good shape for the most part, and they give the streets they’re on a distinctive charm and flavor. But are they historic?

For a building to be “significant,” according to Hal Williams, executive vice president of the HPL and chairman of the SMU history department, it must be a unique representative of a style or a technique of construction, the work of an important architect, a major element on a city’s skyline, or associated with an important tenant or a major event in a city’s history. There are a few buildings in Dallas that meet those criteria – the Old Red Courthouse, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dallas Theater Center building, and the Texas Schoolbool Depository, for example. But is Swiss Avenue really more historic than any other Dallas residential street?

Most people in the historic preservation movement will admit that Swiss Avenue is no Williamsburg or Georgetown, but they insist that it represents a style of urban living that has all but vanished. Preserving it, they say, enables us to see how our grandparents and greatgrandparents lived; it gives us a sense of continuity with the past, of urban roots. But Old Highland Park is full of Swiss Avenues, of upper-middle-class streets that resonate with the life of early 20th-century Dallas: Euclid and Lexington and Crescent, Stratford and Gillon and Miramar are filled with the kind of house great-grandmother would have lived in if she’d been a respectable matron of the Dallas middle class. But Highland Park is not in Dallas. Or rather, Highland Park is not on the Dallas tax rolls. Moreover, Highland Park is not in trouble. No one wants to put a high-rise on Lakeside or run a six-lane boulevard down Drexel. When change threatens even the perimeters of Highland Park – as in the recently proposed transitway down the MKT tracks – powerful voices are raised and the threat vanishes. Because there has been no threat – and because people in Highland Park own their houses and would prefer to do with them as they see fit – Highland Park isn’t a Historic District.

Historic preservation generally takes place in Dallas only when there is a crisis to be confronted. Now that the momentum of revitalization is high in the inner city, we will probably see historic designation used more sparingly. The residents of Lower Munger Place – roughly a dozen blocks bounded by Gaston, Henderson, Columbia, and Fitzhugh – are lobbying for Historic District status but the rate of revival in that neighborhood is so high that it will come, if it comes, only as frosting on the cake.

One fall weekend two years ago, Lower Munger was included in an Urban Pioneer House Tour sponsored by the HPL, and the newspapers announced that Fannie Mae had just agreed to back a loan program through Lakewood Bank that would commit $2 million for loans in Lower Munger. The area was jammed with bargain hunters excited by rumors that one could buy an old house for as little as $15,000 and renovate it for the same amount.

It was a shot in the arm for the area, where young “urban pioneers” had been settling for several years. It was also a headache for some of the residents, who found strangers knocking on their doors asking if they wanted to sell their houses. But it demonstrated the strong appeal of East Dallas, and it spurred others to invest in the area. Partly to encourage renovation and partly to cut down on speculation, the HPL set up a non-profit revolving fund, buying up property in Lower Munger for resale to eligible and suitable buyers.

Today, on Junius, Worth, Tremont, Victor, and Reiger, the impact of Munger Place redevelopment is spectacularly evident. Virtually every yard has a sign in it: Munger Place Real Estate, Renovation Financed by Lakewood Bank, Grady Air Conditioning and Heating, Miller’s Plumbing Co., Restoration Builders Inc. Porches where old refrigerators once stood now sport Norfolk pines and ficuses. New BMWs are supplanting old Buicks at curbside.

The pace of renovation has taken some of the “urban pioneers” by surprise. Some who settled in comfortably three or four years ago with plans to work on their houses on weekends and holidays, gradually building up “sweat equity,” are a little embarrassed that they haven’t painted the outsides of their houses or finished sheetrocking the spare bedrooms.

One, who speaks scornfully of the new renovators as “the kind of people who can’t live until they’ve put a wet bar in the dining room,” did a double-take recently when he discovered a circular driveway being plotted on the side of a house on a corner lot. “Let one circular driveway be built,” he fumed, “and you’ve lost the whole character of this neighborhood.” For these older settlers, the “gentrification” of Munger Place – the gradual transformation of a “rich urban mix” of middle class and working class, of young and old, of Chicano and Anglo, into a homogeneous, mostly young, mostly professional neighborhood – is not wholly welcome.

“Gentrification” is perhaps the most apt term for

what has been happening to Lower Munger. Some call it “displacement,” others “relocation” – all terms that recognize that when pioneers, even “urban pioneers,” move in, the natives have to move out. In Philadelphia, Washington, and New York, the problem of displacement has become a political issue, as one might expect in the more volatile social and ethnic mixtures of the East. But closer to home, the director of the Houston Housing Authority recently told The New York Times that resettlement there “is called ’historic preservation,’ but it is displacement.” A former dean of the architecture school at Rice commented, “The poor are simply being squeezed out of the few old neighborhoods that the white middle class want most, resulting in further concentration of poor and minorities in slum areas.”

Although every time you talk to a Dallas preservationist the subject of “displacement” comes up unbidden, many of them will deny that it’s a problem in East Dallas. Don Criswell, for example, who bought his house on Junius in 1975, becoming one of the first to settle in Munger Place, says the issue has been “blown out of proportion” and that the feeling that low income people are being displaced is “mythical.” “The house I bought had been condemned by Urban Rehab and was vacant, a substandard rooming house. You have to ask whether renovating Munger Place is displacement or forcing people to seek better housing,” Criswell says. “The Munger Place movement has improved the overall housing stock. Anyway, preservation isn’t the cause of displacement. The city decided to put pressure on the slumlords – I guess we’re supposed to say ’absentee landlords’ – through the Urban Rehab department back in 1972-73.”

Doug Newby, who runs Munger Place Real Estate, agrees with Criswell. Newby moved into his house on Tremont three and a half years ago. Next door to Newby, an architect has recently finished renovating a house, and the windows sparkle, the fresh paint gleams, the St. Augustine is taking root. Brass light fixtures and hanging plants and ceiling fans give the house charm. “You should have seen that place,” Newby says. “It had been chopped up into apartments, the interior stairways had been ripped out, and about 50 or 60 people lived in it – mother, father, four or five kids, and maybe a brother and his girlfriend and their kids, in a single apartment. No one rented an apartment for more than a month. They’d pay a week’s rent, move in, default on the next few weeks’ rent, then move on. When the house was sold the contractor found standing water in the foundation, with – get this – electric wiring hanging down in the water. Twenty percent of the exterior siding had rotted away, and the plumbing had dripped down the walls.”

Newby insists that most of the people who lived in Munger Place before renovation were transients, who stayed at most six months. “When South Vietnam fell, you got a lot of Vietnamese in East Dallas. They’d arrive, find temporary housing in one of the apartment buildings, then move into better quarters when they found jobs and made contacts. It’s been a stopover neighborhood – people arrive at the bus station from Oklahoma or Arkansas, check the papers, find an apartment in East Dallas, get a job and a first paycheck, and move on.” People displaced themselves from Munger Place, Newby insists. In the cities where the “real” displacement is taking place, he says, “you have third and fourth generation ethnic neighborhoods – Chinese, Poles, Italians – that are breaking up. Old East Dallas isn’t like that; there’s no ethnic character here.” Displacement is at its worst, Newby says, when it affects homeowners who find that development is causing pressures to sell and higher property taxes. Because Munger Place was predominantly owned by absentee landlords, he says, the neighborhood was becoming increasingly unfit for tenants. In time, Newby says, the neighborhood would barely exist at all. “We had a five percent a year destruction rate in Lower Munger – property being destroyed by fire or torn down because the owner didn’t want to put money into it to keep it up to code. If East Dallas had had a solid commitment of renters, then we’d have displacement.”

The fact remains that young couples are rattling around in large frame houses that once held, if Newby’s estimates are accurate, as many as 50 people. That’s a substantial lowering of population density. In the dozen blocks of Lower Munger Place surveyed by the HPL in 1976, only 18 percent of the houses were single-family. Assuming that each apartment house had eight tenants (apparently a very conservative estimate), if they were replaced with the “typical” American family of four (a high estimate), the population of Munger Place would be cut in half.

At the corner of Collett and Victor, behind a handsomely renovated house, there is a two-story guest house. Until the beginning of 1977, this was a garage apartment house. For several years, the upstairs tenants were Mrs. Her-minie Martinez and her four children. When the HPL bought the property with its revolving fund, Mrs. Martinez had to relocate. She was aided in the relocation by Dorothy Masterson, an HPL member who has worked with the War on Poverty, the Housing Authority, and other programs dealing with low income tenant groups. Mrs. Martinez wanted to stay in the neighborhood because her children were in the Lipscomb School, an elementary school that middle class whites in the area frequently point to with some pride because it is naturally integrated and the young professionals moving into the area have made it a pet project.

Dorothy Masterson helped Mrs. Martinez relocate to a three-room frame duplex on Worth, in the Junius Heights area north of Henderson, just a block away from the school. Mrs. Martinez likes the new location better; she has planted a small flower garden, elephant ears and periwinkles, beside the house (not in the front yard because “the children would step on them,” she says). The torn screen on the front door has been replaced with one of the screens from a window that doesn’t open. Although the five Martinezes are crowded into three rooms, the duplex is neat, if a little shabby.

Mrs. Martinez, whose husband has deserted her, is on welfare, receiving special aid because one of the children, a daughter, is retarded. She is proud of her neatly-dressed children, who charm a stranger with their politeness and restrained curiosity. She rides the bus to do her shopping, and to Parkland Hospital when someone in the family needs medical care.

Now a year and a half after the move out of Munger Place, the duplex where the Martinezes live is being sold. There is a “ripple effect” from Munger Place, and many of the smaller houses in Junius Heights are being bought by young couples who can’t afford the large houses in Lower Munger. Mrs. Martinez’s landlady, who owns several houses in Junius Heights, has decided to sell them. It is difficult for Mrs. Martinez, with no transportation and with four children home from school for the summer, to look for a new home. Dorothy Masterson has volunteered her help, but rents in the Lipscomb school district may now be beyond Mrs. Martinez’s means.

Dorothy Masterson has handled about 30 relocation cases, involving some 90 to 100 people, all of them residents of properties bought by the HPL revolving fund. She is now trying to find a place for Kenneth and Marita Coyle and their four sons, who have lived for four years in a garage apartment behind a house on Worth at Prairie. The Coyles have been difficult to relocate because apartment complexes convenient to Coyle’s work – he has recently gone to work for a fireplace company in Renner – are either out of their price range or refuse to take large families. Their three-room apartment is cramped, but they wanted to stay; Coyle put up some leftover paneling he had been given after he finished working on a house. Two weeks after he finished paneling the small apartment, the Coyles learned that the property had been sold.

Mrs. Vernon Rivers lived in one of the downstairs apartments in the house at the corner of Worth and Prairie for about 15 years. “I felt kinda bad when I found I had to move,” she says. “I’d been there so long it felt like home. It needed a little repair – the floor was ail out in that bathroom there – but the new one’s better. Not as big, but better.” Mrs. Rivers moved into an apartment across the street from her old one, and counts herself lucky to have found it: “I put down a deposit so she’d hold it for me – lots of other people wanted it.” Her new landlady, who lives in the apartment house, is in her eighties, and it is not likely that her heirs will hold on to the property after her death. Mrs. Rivers faces the possibility of another move with reluctance: “You can’t pick out any place special to live in Dallas. Can’t afford it.”

A few of the people Dorothy Mas-terson has relocated qualify for Section 8 rent subsidies, but because there is a ceiling on the amount of rent they can pay under Section 8, it’s difficult to place them in apartments eligible for the subsidy. She was able to get one family into the Washington Place public housing project on an emergency basis because the head of the household had suffered a series of serious heart attacks. Mrs. Margaret Oliver says she likes it in the project, especially after living for two years in the big house at 5120 Worth the neighbors call “the green lizard.” The huge frame house had been cut into four apartments, and the landlord, Mrs. Oliver says, “didn’t really care for the place. They’d cut off the water and wouldn’t make repairs.” On Worth, the Olivers went without water for weeks; in the housing project repairs are slow to come, but they do come.

Since her husband was disabled, Mrs. Oliver has supported the three children still living at home – she has six others, all with families and problems of their own – with Aid for Dependent Children, a federal welfare program. Washington Place is next door to Baylor Hospital, but Oliver has had trouble getting medical attention at Baylor, which has limits on the number of charity patients it can handle. So he goes crosstown to Parkland, where he gets, Mrs. Oliver says, much better attention.

Washington Place’s proximity to Baylor presents another problem. The hospital would like to buy the land the housing project is on for possible expansion. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has to approve the offer the hospital has made to the Dallas Housing Authority; it has not yet done so, although city officials have supported the sale. If HUD gives the go-ahead, the Olivers, along with the rest of the residents of Washington Place, will have to relocate.

The most difficult of Dorothy Masterson’s relocations was that of Unity House, a halfway house for alcoholics, from Worth to Garrett Street. “It took months to find a place,” Mary Thomas says. An alcoholic herself, she runs Unity House solely with money donated by the men who spend time there. Referrals come from Switchback, a detoxification unit run by the Salvation Army. Unity House doesn’t do detoxification, but provides a home for alcoholics until they can find work. A few men disappear without paying, but others come back frequently – Sunday dinner is a time for reunion – and give money to support the project. A blackboard in the parlor lists the number of years or weeks that Unity House residents have gone without a drink. Mary Thomas’ name leads the list, with 11 years.

A straightforward, positive wornan, to whom bitterness seems alien, Mary Thomas looks weary when she talks about the difficulty of relocation. The new landlord of Unity House, fortunately, understands her work. He runs a similar project for former mental patients. “He proposed that we combine our efforts,” Mrs. Thomas says, “and I thought about it. But alcoholics don’t like to think of their problem as mental – even though it is. It would have saved some money, maybe, if we could have done it.”

What Mrs. Martinez, the Coyles, the Riverses and Olivers, and the residents of Unity House have in common is a high degree of difficulty in coping with the problems everyone faces – transportation, health, food and utility bills, plumbing and electricity and sanitation. And the problems of being renters in a part of town where the availability of acceptable and affordable rental property is declining. It would be easy to dismiss the handful of cases described here as isolated instances of displacement, too few and too random to constitute a trend worth public attention and policy-making. The city bureaucracy, so far, has no facts, figures, or statistics to make a relocation policy with. John Gilchrist, of the East Dallas field office of the city’s Department of Housing and Urban Rehabilitation, told me, “I don’t think there’s been any displacement in Munger Place.” But Urban Rehab’s job is to survey structures, so most of its files are on vacant buildings. Two of the department’s staff members aid residents in relocation, but they handle mostly welfare cases, and Gilchrist said none has come from the Munger Place area. “Try the Office of Human Development,” Gilchrist said, when I asked if another agency might have figures on displacement. “Try Urban Rehab,” Human Development said, then suggested calling the statisticians in the Urban Analysis department. Figures of that sort aren’t available, Urban Analysis said.

But statistics don’t have problems. People do. Dorothy Masterson, who has dealt with their problems, believes that displacement exists. The cases she has handled have all come from houses bought by the HPL, only a fraction of the property that has changed hands in East Dallas. “This is the tip of the iceberg,” she says. “I asked the city for a Community Development Grant for the Tenants’ Union to find out how much displacement was actually taking place – not just in Munger Place but in Fox and Jacobs’ downtown project, too. I didn’t get it. Since the city is insuring the Fox and Jacobs program, they could legitimately fund a relocation study. The city hasn’t come to grips with it because of the level of consciousness of the problems poor people face in Dallas. In older cities, the riots and protest movements have created this consciousness.”

No one but an utter Philistine – a type that, unfortunately, hasn’t been absent from Dallas – would insist that preservation of landmark buildings and distinctive neighborhoods is not a desirable goal. Especially in Dallas, where the absence of an interesting natural environment makes an interesting built environment all the more important. And it would be stupid to resist the return of the professional middle class to the inner city, with all the talent, style, taste – and money – they bring with them, and with the salutary effects their renovations have on the tax base. East Dallas has a flavor and excitement these days that no other part of town possesses.

But the preservation movement could find itself under assault by both displaced tenants and developers, open to the charge that it serves only the narrow interests of the middle class, unless it can find a way to harness its energies to serve low-income people, especially renters. The preservationists’ willingness and ability to put their expertise to work is needed in places like Freedman’s Town, an old black neighborhood wedged between Central Expressway and McKinney. Already severed from downtown by Woodall Rodgers and from other black neighborhoods by Central Expressway, this area, settled by ex-slaves, has a mixture of shacks and larger homes where many elderly black couples live. Shabby as much of Freedman’s Town is, it is a neighborhood where many people have preferred to live and have found housing adequate to their needs. There are rumors from time to time that Freedman’s Town may be “developed,” and doubtless the revival of McKinney Avenue shops and restaurants, and the proposed arts complex on the north side of downtown, have caused visions of townhouses to dance through somebody’s head. Members of the Dallas Historic Preservation League have been studying a project in Savannah, Georgia, where preservationists were able, with solid support from the city government, to link up a variety of federal programs, including Section 8 rent subsidies and the CETA job-training program, to renovate and preserve a historic black neighborhood for its low-income tenants. Dallas preservationists talk hopefully of such a program for Freedman’s Town, but it would take aid and encouragement from the city bureaucracy, a difficult power to channel.

On the other side of Central Expressway, preservationists recently won a battle for the neighborhood threatened by the proposed Roseland Parkway, a six-lane thoroughfare that would have cut a swath through a low-income, predominantly black neighborhood along Roseland and Munger from Central up to Greenville and Ross, where a tract of land owned by Merchants State Bank was recently cleared for a shopping center. East Dallas neighborhood groups got together and wrestled a “no” vote on the Parkway from the City Plan Commission, though the vote was a squeaker – 8 to 7. The Parkway proposal now goes before the city council. One of the Parkway’s opponents says they are “cautiously optimistic” that the council will finally veto the thoroughfare.

The preservationists are prepared to argue that the historic character of the Roseland-Munger area should save it from the bulldozers. Last summer, the HPL surveyed the area surrounding downtown for 19th-century houses; 21 of the houses that remain are on Munger and Roseland. Now that Roseland Parkway has been at least temporarily defeated, it could become attractive as a “renovation” neighborhood. If so, the tenants on Roseland and Munger could be displaced by renovators instead of wreckers.

Like most activists, preservationists are only beginning, as theirsuccesses multiply, to find both thepotential and the problems in theirmovement. If historic designation isused as a stop-gap measure too often,it could have the kind of backlash effect that other well-meant programs- from urban renewal to “affirmative action” to integration of theschools – have suffered. As SusanMead, the former director of theHPL and now a preservation lawyerin Dallas, puts it, “Preservationistsnow need to learn how to fight forpeople the way they fight forbuildings.”