Presented By

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  1. The Elevation of Tex-Mex
    Mico Rodriguez
  2. The Bounty of the Barnett Shale
    Kelcy Warren
  3. The Entrepreneurial Woman
    Tomima Edmark
  4. The Growth of the Vietnamese Community
    Jennifer Nguyen
  5. The Founding of Uptown
    Phil Cobb
  6. The Changing Face of Politics
    Craig Watkins
  7. The Brain Gain
    Dr. Hao Zhu
  8. The Four Sport Town
    Mike Modano
  9. The Underground Culture
    Katherine Owens
  10. The Catholic Migration
    Father Ivan Asencio
  11. The Organized South Asian Community
    John Hammond
  12. The Next Way to Develop
    Jeff Blackard
  13. The Allure of the Silicon Prairie
    Anousheh Ansari
  14. The lighting of Reunion Tower
    George Schrader
  15. The New Old Tradition
    Jennifer Moreno
  16. The Test Kitchen
    Mariel Street
  17. The Art Magnet
    Kevin Moriarty
  18. The Glamorous Return of Dallas Shopping
    Brian Bolke
  19. The Strengthening of the Gay Community
    Jack Evans and George Harris
  20. The Resurgence of Downtown Dallas
    Art Ortiz
  21. The Megachurch Boom
    Ed Young
  22. The Fundraisers
    Lynn McBee
  23. The Refuge
    Pedro Amaya
  24. The Reason Dallas Took Off
    Ron Barzyk
  25. The Girl Who Stayed Home
    Erykah Badu
  26. The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings
    Virginia McAlester
  27. The Thriving Ethiopian Community
    Birhan Mekonnen
  28. The New Dallas ISD
    Jessica Leija
  29. The Rebirth of the Trinity River
    Peter Payton
  30. The Trains Start Running
    Ladrika Davis Gross
  31. The Architect of an Art Scene
    Stephen Lapthisophon
  32. The Calculator That Changed the World
    Vonnie Howard
  33. The Rise and Fall and Rise of Deep Ellum
    Frank Campagna
  34. The Big Move
    Kendra Norwood
  35. The Expanding Empire in Fort worth
    Scott Hernandez
  36. The Family Recipe
    Chuy Cruz
  37. The Transformation of Oak Cliff
    David Spence
  38. The Now-Legal Immigrant
    Jesus Castillo Carrizales
  39. The City of Philanthropists
    Lyda Hill
  40. The Transplants
    Tara Vornkahl
00 The Preservation of Our Historic Buildings Tuesday, June 3, at 5:39pm in her Swiss Avenue home

Virginia McAlester

On the occasion last year of the release of the monumental 880-page second edition of Virginia McAlester’s A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture, the New York Times quoted another architectural historian, Rice University lecturer Stephen Fox. It was Fox who called McAlester “the queen of Dallas historic preservation.” But, as McAlester herself will tell you, her mother really started it all.

It was she who, in the early ’60s, fought against zoning changes along Gaston Avenue that led to the construction of apartments where single-family houses once stood. McAlester lived in a series of six houses on Swiss Avenue as her parents bought and restored them. And then, in 1972, the mother, daughter, and nine other visionaries together founded the Historic Preservation League (which later became Preservation Dallas). By the following year, the group had convinced the City Council to adopt the Dallas Preservation Ordinance. Swiss Avenue was the first Landmark District. Three contiguous districts were added. And today the city has 21 such protected neighborhoods—not to mention scores of designated Landmark Structures. 

“I think when you really look at it, preservation in Dallas has been tremendously successful,” she says. “We’re really, really lucky. There have been a number of buildings that were torn down too quickly, but I don’t think that should obscure the fact that we’ve had a lot of successes. People probably don’t realize the degree to which we have been successful.”

McAlester says this while seated in a sunny room of her Swiss Avenue house. It’s a 1917 Mission with wire-cut bricks and a Vermont slate roof. It has been in her family since 1921.