The Junius Heights Landmark District was established in 2006. Encompassing over 700 structures on 190 acres, it is the largest historic district in Dallas. Bounded by Gaston Avenue, Henderson Avenue, Reiger Avenue, East Side Avenue, Abrams Road, Columbia Avenue, Glasgow Drive and Nesbitt Drive, it is located east of Munger Place, south of Swiss Avenue and southwest of Lakewood.
In the early 1900s, in response to an ever-growing population, the Dallas Consolidated Electric Street Car Company extended its rail lines to the eastern outskirts of the city. Because of its proximity to downtown and this new mode of transportation, the area was growing quite quickly. The Street Car Company’s expansion included an extension of its existing Elm Street line, and the introduction of a new line, the Junius Heights streetcar, which commenced operation on September 2, 1906. Prospective buyers were encouraged to take the streetcar to a newly platted neighborhood of the same name that afternoon to view the lots. Because it was Sunday, no lots were sold that day. But interested buyers remained in the neighborhood until midnight, when a pistol was fired to indicate the start of the sale. Within an hour, two hundred lots in Junius Heights had been sold and by Wednesday, every lot in the neighborhood had been sold.
The architecture in Junius Heights reflects the neighborhood’s period of development from 1906 until the mid 1930s. Styles include Folk and Queen Anne Victorian, Prairie and Tudor. The dominant style, however, is the Craftsman Bungalow. These small houses with low-pitched gable roofs, wide overhanging eaves and exposed rafters comprise roughly thirty percent of the neighborhood. Today, Junius Heights boasts the largest collection of Craftsman Bungalows in the city.
In 1973, the large masonry columns, constructed in 1917 to mark the entrance to Junius Heights Second Addition, were threatened with demolition because of a road widening project in the neighborhood. Originally constructed on Tremont Street, the columns were connected by an iron arch, two smaller flanking columns and electric lanterns. When the neighborhood started to decline in the 1950s, the once grand neighborhood entryway began to reflect that neglect and deterioration… a trend that would continue for several decades. The 1970s, however, brought a new appreciation for historic neighborhoods and houses in Dallas— and across the country. As more young families began to return to Junius Heights, the protection of the Junius Heights Columns became of paramount importance. Neighborhood residents and community leaders came together to form the Committee to Preserve the Junius Heights Columns, under the auspices of the Historical Preservation Society, which would later become Preservation Dallas. Over $12,000 dollars was raised and the columns were dismantled, relocated and restored.
Today, residents of Junius Heights remain ever vigilant in protecting and promoting their neighborhood’s rich heritage and historic resources. An active neighborhood association continues to raise money for various rehabilitation projects throughout the neighborhood and in 2007 the group started an annual historic home tour.
Authors: Leslie T. Carey