While many neighborhoods in Irving and especially Old East Dallas are marked for bulldozing in the area’s latest rounds of gentrification, the city’s landmark commission strives to preserve structures and even entire districts deemed significant to its past. In 2019, while much of the city and its properties are marked for rebuilding, there are several structures that will remain intact due to the commission’s efforts.
On Bryan Street in Old East Dallas, a 1928-built 12-unit residence still boasts its original Mediterranean-style design that was popular in the city during past decades. The residence is a throwback to a time when streetcar lines made it easier for singles and couples to reach downtown from the Bryant Street neighborhood, where multi-family units like this one became quite popular. While the building itself lacks pomp and obvious visual appeal, its style is reminiscent of significant ease in architecture that made buildings like this one popular in the early 1900s, and one reason the landmark commission sought to keep it preserved.
The David Crockett Elementary School is yet another structure preserved by the commission for its historical significance. When the school opened in 1903, it was heated by a pot-bellied stove, maintained every day by the school’s janitor, whose wife also cooked up enough chili to feed the entire school for just five cents per bowl. While the school’s interior has since been renovated into apartments, the outside of the building is relatively untouched and still looks just like a century-old standard Dallas schoolhouse.
A weathered three-story brick building on Commerce Street is easy to overlook, but the Bluitt Sanitarium was the first medical clinic in the Dallas and Irving area for black doctors and patients, making it very significant to the city’s history. The Sanitarium opened its doors in 1904 when black and white businesses were still separated by an undocumented but very real “color line,” and was one of the first and only businesses owned by nonwhites at the time.
The Didaco and Ida House might not seem very tech-savvy by today’s standards, but when the structure was built in 1910, it featured advanced ventilation and plumbing fixtures and had closets in every room, considered quite creative at the time! Didaco and Ida Bianchi were Italian immigrants who settled in East Dallas in 1903, after which Didaco cofounded a cement stone company, applying his artistic skills to concrete and making quite a handsome living from it. His home was then designed with details and features often reserved for expensive mansions, and which make it appreciated by the landmark commission today.
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