How a Once-shabby 1926 Old East Dallas Apartment Became a Local (and National) Historic Landmark

Two years and two weeks ago Dallas' Landmark Commission voted to make a landmark out of an afterthought -- a Mediterranean Revival-style three-story apartment building perched amid East Dallas Craftsmans and Tudors. Until recently it was painted a gray shade of who-cares, and was notable mostly for the strange palm trees out front that gave it the look of old, faded Hollywood.And for as long as anyone can remember, the place called Bella Villa was a weird place; a bad place, too, where residents were a mishmash of "paying tenants, homeless transients, drug users, and partying college kids," one of its former inhabitants, writer J. Rene Guerrero, lamented in a blog post two years ago.Bella Villa has been here, at the intersection of McMillen and Miller avenues in the heart of Vickery Place, for almost a century. But until that June afternoon in 2017 no one ever said it was special. Or meaningful. Or ... historic. Not until two Landmark Commissioners deemed it otherwise, and set about to preserve the unlikely candidate with the rotten roof and crumbling foundation and wood floors that felt ready to buckle with each careless footfall. "The overwhelming comment from longtime residents, some of whom have lived in Vickery Place from the 1960s, is, 'This place has always been a dump,'" said Barrett Linburg, one of Bella Villa's latest owners. "That's what I've heard, over and over."   Continue reading...

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