The Tenth Street Historic District, located on the southeastern edge of Oak Cliff, is one of the most important African American neighborhoods in Dallas. It developed around an established African American community dating back to the post-Civil War era when freed slaves settled there. The district contains mostly late nineteenth and early twentieth century structures of simple wood frame vernacular or folk style houses with a few Craftsman and Queen Anne style houses. A handful of commercial and institutional buildings also still exist from a time when the neighborhood was largely independent from the rest of Oak Cliff, and even Dallas, due to segregation.
Following World War II, much of Oak Cliff experienced a period of decline as many families moved to the outer-lying suburbs. At the time many new highways were constructed, including Highway 35E which physically cut Tenth Street off from the rest of Oak Cliff. Over time the neighborhood continued to decline as families moved to other areas and homes were left to renters or became vacant. Recognizing the neighborhood as the only African American community from the late nineteenth century, the City of Dallas designated the Tenth Street neighborhood a Historic District in 1993 as a means to try and stabilize the neighborhood. The following year, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its importance to Dallas.
Over the past few years the district has suffered from numerous court ordered demolitions of deteriorated and neglected vacant houses in an effort to “clean up” the neighborhood. If the demolitions continue unchecked, it could lead to the demise of historic status for the neighborhood. In addition, as the new deck park is built there could be additional pressure to redevelop the neighborhood with inappropriate new construction. The neighborhood residents have recently formed a new neighborhood group that has been active in attending Landmark Commission meetings and opposing demolitions in the district, but with a court order the Landmark Commission is powerless to stop the demolitions.
UPDATE: The house pictured above was demolished in early 2019. In May of 2019, Tenth Street was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in the country due to the demolitions. To find out more about that click here. In August of 2019, the Dallas City Council passed a resolution preventing city resources from demolishing houses in the district, unless the fire marshal declares the house a clear and present danger.