Preservation with Reservations

I feel that Charles Matthews failed to state some important facts about preservation and the Historic Preservation League’s activities in “There Goes the Neighborhood” (August).

Mr. Matthews questions whether preserving a neighborhood such as Munger Place is really preservation and then implies that the League, in its preservation activities, is not “fighting for people” as it “fights for buildings.” Whether the HPL is working at saving an individual building or a group of buildings such as a neighborhood, we are conserving a people-created environment for people. For the individuals involved, this is not an exercise in architectural detail, nor is it a documentation of history. Instead, it is an effort to protect our heritage for the people who will inherit it.

In an effort to preserve some of the remaining texture of our urban fabric, the HPL concentrated the Historic Dallas Fund in the neighborhood called Munger Place. Many of the houses in the area were substandard or red-tagged. They probably would have been demolished, and the families that lived there eventually would have had to move. In our efforts to preserve the neighborhood, we felt a responsibility to help the residents relocate.

Consequently, the Historic Preservation League, through the revolving fund, committed more than $20,000 in cash, goods, and services to relocation. From Matthews’s own interviews, the families relocated are positive about the help they received and the new locations.

Katherine Slick/Historic Preservation


Mr. Matthews responds: I certainly never questioned whether the HPL is really preserving a “people-created environment for people. ” (What other kind is there?) My only question about its activities arises because it is quite clear that preservation activities have made it more difficult for low-income families to find housing in the areas of their choice. Historic designation, because it has been successful in raising property values in Munger Place, has also made it more difficult for lower-middle and even middle-income families to buy houses in that area. Perhaps that’s as it should be in a free-market economy. But I think the HPL should take a good hard look at its concepts of what is “historic, “and what is merely desirable housing for the predominantly middle-class members of the League. Although the people I interviewed are “positive” about the League’s efforts to relocate them, they had no choice but make the best of a pretty difficult situation. I think it’s clear in my story that the HPL’s program to relocate these people is the only one, and that it has served only a very few of the people who have had to move out of Munger Place. The HPL’s efforts in this regard are most praiseworthy.

In a recent housing forum held in Washington, D.C., I reported that Lake-wood Bank had made 211 permanent loans on residential structures in East Dallas for a total of 6.8 million dollars. All these loans have been made since 1972. We have had no delinquencies or foreclosures on any of the loans made in East Dallas, which is a record very few lenders can boast.

Artie Barnett/Lakewood Bank and Trust/Dallas

Lessons for the DISD

As an educator, I agree that the exam exemption program used in the Dallas public schools is ridiculous (“Publisher’s Page,” July). It is wrong because an exam, if relevant to the material being taught, is an indication of both teacher effectiveness and student awareness. The daily lessons and assignments may be compared to the practice sessions of a sports team while the tests represent the game the players have practiced for. The reward is a job well done in a competitive situation, or the feeling of success, a very good foundation for any student’s future.

Larry Duprey/Teacher’s Association/

Holyoke, Mass.

I am a middle class, Anglo female who spent my twelve years of public education in the DISD. Also, if it makes any difference, those years were spent in Oak Cliff. I am currently a senior at one of the state universities.

After hearing all through high school about what a “poor education” I was receiving, I was leery that I would lag behind my peers as a freshman in college. But I found that my standardized test grades were equal to, if not better than, most of the other students’, even in my advanced placement classes. My grades were, and are, always higher than the average.

Perhaps even greater was my fear of living without my parents. But I found that I had received a much broader look on life and more varied experiences than had students from private institutions and suburbs. They were appalled at what the real world was like.

Mary Lu Johnston/Dallas

Close Harmony

The Vocal Majority barbershop chorus is composed of more than 125 Dallas area businessmen, who did not take too kindly to your tasteless reference in the July “Previews” I”Who except friends of the chorus members would possibly want to go?”] There are, in addition, thousands of bar-bershoppers, their families, and patrons who have attended our shows and those of the area’s other chapters for years.

Bob Arnold/Dallas

There are probably considerably more barbershop music aficionados than symphony-goers in Dallas. The Summertop Barbershop Bonanza with the Vocal Majority was nearly a full house with very few “friends of the chorus members” in evidence. You apparently don’t realize that Dallas is a hotbed of good barbershop music (one of the three native American music forms) with seven chapters (membership varies from 30 to 130 each) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Frank Harkness/Dallas


After being somewhat curious all along over D Magazine’s rather ginger handling of the whole Reunion affair, I was gratified to read Henry King’s letter in your August issue in which he pointed out thatyou and the rip-off tower share the samePapa. After all this posturing, we findthat D Magazine has feet of clay after all.

Mr. King may very well come to “havea little more faith,” but you’d better cancel our subscription. I’ll renew it the day Ipay your boss another $1.50 to ride his elevator. Jack Briley/Richardson

(It’s a conspiracy, Mr. Briley. We are really a secret propaganda unit for the Hunt interests. You may have noticed that we ’ve never said anything about the energy crisis. That we’ve been very cautious on the Middle East question. That we gingerly avoided any mention of the Alaska pipeline. You caught us, Mr. Briley. Shucks.)

Did Women Get the Business?

Your July issue attracted my attention with Jim Atkinson’s handbook for entrepreneurs, “So You Want To Start Your Own Business?” The content of the handbook disappointed me.

The handbook assumed that all would-be entrepreneurs were male. The exceptions to this assumption were the examples of Betty Graham and Mary Kay Ash.

One can accept the grammatically and journalistically correct use of the word “he,” in many instances. But all artwork was of men. “Dressing Fit To Sell” considered only men. The section on “The Entrepreneur and His Family” did not include the entrepreneur’s husband, al-though it did include the wife. It could have dealt with the entrepreneur’s spouse.

Jim Atkinson has done a disservice to the many women who are accomplished entrepreneurs. Pat Seaman /Garland

Judge Not, Lest . . . .

We take strong issue with your implication that the nomination of Ron Chapman for the Criminal District Court of Dallas County was due solely to the fact that his name is the same as that of a well-known radio executive in Dallas (“Publisher’s Page,” June).

You overlooked the fact that Ron Chapman is exceedingly well qualified for a criminal district court bench, with more than ten years’ experience as a prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, and municipal court judge. He is also certified as a specialist in criminal law by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of Texas.

Ron Chapman and his entire family campaigned hard throughout Dallas County this spring, presenting Ron’s qualifications to the voters and outlining his plan for more efficient court administration and swifter justice. We believe that it was these efforts and these qualifications which were responsible for Ron’s gaining the nomination, rather than a mere name coincidence.

Ronald Goranson, President, and Richard

E. Harrison, Immediate Past

President/Dallas County Criminal Bar



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