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Swiss Avenue
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member QuarrellaDeVil
N 32° 48.398 W 096° 45.883
14S E 709286 N 3632062
Quick Description: Texas Historical Marker commemorating Dallas's Swiss Avenue historic district, located in the Dorothy Wallace Savage Park, in the 5500 block of Swiss Avenue.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 1/19/2012 7:05:41 PM
Waymark Code: WMDJ5D
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
Views: 9

Long Description:
The following is from the National Register listing in the THC's database.

Swiss Avenue, one of the most beautiful avenues of the Munger Place residential district, initially was composed of two separate streets, one for public thoroughfare and one for private use, separated by a 40 foot park. Today the Avenue exists as a tree-lined, parkway-divided boulevard and remains the only area of the former Munger Place retaining the exclusive residential flavor of the early Twentieth century subdivision. Massive stone pillars once framed the entrance to the district at Swiss Avenue and Fitzhugh, marking the formality an importance of the area, but the city removed them in 1969 because they presented a traffic hazard.

Among the Swiss Avenue homes can be viewed a variety of styles, ornament, taste and scale, which is highly representative of the early Twentieth century taste in architecture. At least sixteen distinct styles of architectures can be described, but only a few homes can be considered as purely one style. This variety reflects the attitude toward individuality, yet it intrudes very little on the overall sense of harmony. The unifying effect is due to the equal setbacks, siting, common height and the almost complete use of brick as a building material.

With the announcement of the opening of the residential area, Dr. R. W. Baird was the first to build on Swiss Avenue in 1905 at 5303 Swiss. The massive Classical Revival mansion dominated the landscape for several years. Then in 1910 the surge of building along the Avenue began. Of approximately 200 houses, the majority of them were constructed during the 1910's and the 1920's.

One of the popular styles of this period was the English or Jacobethan architecture, as represented by the house at 4915 Swiss built by J. C. Robertson in 1913. This house reflects the popularity of the halftimbered construction in the early 1900's, following the trend set by affluent families in Northern states where wood was scarce. The extending portico with crenelated parapets, window tracery and Tudor arches are good examples of the Gothic style. The house at 6243 La Vista is an excellent example of Jacobe than style, embellished with a fancy brickwork, ridged roof and outstanding wood and stucco detailing. Another good example of Tudor type architecture is at 6020 Swiss built in 1927.

More characteristic of the Queen Anne style is the house at 5020 Swiss built in 1922 by O. S. Bogus. This house of dark herringbone brick and stone has a classic shingle style roof- and stone chimney. It also reflects the Queen Anne style in the chimney emphasis, portico, half-timbered woodwork, and dormer windows.

The Georgian Revival or Neo-Colonial style was very popular along Swiss Avenue. Motivated by the Twentieth century desire to restore order to architecture, these mansions are rectangular in plan with symmetrical facades. The roofs are generally hipped, doublepitched, or of gambrel form and the eaves are often detailed as classical cornices. In most cases the central part of the facade projects and is crowned with a pediment or balustrade. Doorways have fanlights and are set in tabernacle frames. Windows are usually rectangular with double-hung sash, and Palladian windows are frequently employed. Some of the best examples in the district are at 5439 Swiss built by G. C. Greer in 1916, at 5416 Swiss built by W. M. Taylor in 1916, at 5420 Swiss built by G,. M. Taylor in 1916, at 5731 Swiss built by Theodore Plarcus in 1921, at 5736 Swiss built by W. 0. Womack in 1923, and at 5907 Swiss 'built by E. Hundahl in 1929.

The E. P. Brown House built in 1916 at 5314 Swiss also has Georgian influences appearing in the colonnade, under eave treatment, Palladian windows, and shell fan above the dormers. However, the elegant wrought iron portico, wrought iron windows and dell robbia characterize this house as an Italian villa style. Mixing Beaux-Arts style with Second Renaissance, the house at 5500 Swiss designed by Hal B. Thompson in 1917 also displays the influence of Italian villa in its detailing, garlands, planters, balustrades and corner treatment.

The influence of Frank Lloyd Wright is seen in the R. W. Higginbotham House at 5002 Swiss built in 1913. Designed by the Dallas architects Lang and Witchell, this house shows the direct influence of Wrightian Prairie House forms as typified in the Robie House located in Chicago. Strong horizontal lines, expressed by light stone bands set in a field of dark brick, low hipped roof with large overhanging eaves, heavy brick piers and chimney masses, leaded glass window motifs, and low flat planters are all features of the Prairie House style. Besides the Higginbotham House, the homes at 4949 Swiss, 5611 Swiss, 5703 Swiss, 4933 Swiss and 5714 Swiss reflect to varying degrees the Prairie style.

The eighth block area of Swiss contains a showcase of opulent houses, built along Swiss Avenue in the early Twentieth century when Munger Place gained a reputation as an exclusive subdivision. Swiss Avenue's integrity as a neighborhood has survived the commercialism and growth of apartment complexes in the adjoining blocks and its architecture remains one of the few historic links with Dallas' early development.

Swiss Avenue, founded as Swiss Boulevard in the early 1900's. was the focal point of the new exclusive residential area of Dallas, known as Munger Place. Today the Avenue contains unique examples of early Twentieth Century architecture and is the only area of the former district that has maintained its integrity as a neighborhood.

Munger Place was founded by R. S. Munger, who had become widely known throughout the Southwest in the late Nineteenth Century as a pioneer in the manufacturing of cotton gins. Unable at first to interest manufacturers in his new devices, Munger established his own enterprise, the Continental Gin Co., in Dallas in the 1880's. He later located his company in Avondale, Birmingham and Prattville, Alabama; Mephis, Tennessee; and Bridgewater, Massachusetts. In 1902 Munger retired from the management of his ginning companies and became involved in real estate. Aware of various housing developments in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, Munger decided to establish a new residential area in Dallas.

In 1905 the Dallas Morning News announced the opening of Munger Place, a 140-acre residential development that the Munger family intended to be the "grandest residence section in the entire Southland." The area was to include the property between Fitzhugh to La Vista, and Bryan to Columbia.

Munger Place was the third Dallas area within the city to be developed as an "exclusive residential district." Special features of the district insured the most modern conveniences for its residents. Lots in Munger Place were raised one to four feet above street level so that water would drain away from the house. All water, sewage, telephone and electric lines were installed in alleys, ranging from 15 to 40 feet in width, to avoid disfiguring the architecture of the houses. The streets were paved, parkways were landscaped, and sidewalks were concreted. Furthermore, Munger Place was located within a convenient distance to the central business district.

There were no zoning laws prior to 1927, so Munger accomplished his dream of an "exclusive district" by placing certain restrictions as to cost, construction, landscape, ancl architecture on all residences, thus creating the first restricted development in Texas. Along Swiss Avenue a $10,000 cost minimum was placed on all houses. Residences were to be of two-stories, facing the same direction on the street, and at least 60 to 70 feet from the front property line. Lots were sold only for residences and stores or shops were restricted to certain specified locations. It is to these deed restriction, their enforcement and their end effect that Munger Place stands out against earlier real estate developments.

Close proximity to the city of Dallas attracted those politically and civic-minded individuals conscious of their identity with Dallas. Along Swiss Avenue were the residences of persons involved in every phase of Dallas growth.

The first house on Swiss was built in 1905 by a young, successful physician, Dr. R. W. Baird, at 5303 Swiss. In 1910 Christian Weichsel, a pioneer in the Dallas banking and insurance world, built a house at 5009 Swiss. Another early builder, Dr. J. B. Cranfill was not only prominent in the professions of medicine, ministry, and journalism, but was also a leader in the Prohibition party, serving as its vice presidential candidate in 1892. Other prominent residents who built homes in the 1910's included B. T. Barry, an early mayor of Dallas; Reverend J. P. Lynch, Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas; Shirley M. English, president and general manager of the Postal Telegraph--Cable Company of Texas; William A. Green, head of the firm William A. Green and Co., operating one of the most comprehensive department stores in Dallas; George Patullo, a Texas writer; J. P. Griffin, an officer of the Texas Electric Railway; C. R. Miller, founder of Texas Textile Mills; J. C. Robertson, a prominent attorney; E. R. Brown, president of the Magnolia Petroleum Company, vice-president of Standard Oil Company of New York; Rufus W. Higginbotham, a foremost merchant and founder of one of the largest wholesale dry goods houses in the South; and many other successful members of the progressive Dallas community.

Besides the obvious architectural and historical significance of Swiss Avenue, the area is also valuable to the city as an environmental resource. The strength of this area in terms of its unity and beauty, makes it extremely important to the city as potential incentive for the revitalization of East Dallas, generally plagued with the image of deterioration. Concerned Dallas citizens have come to realize that preservation efforts need to be directed to this area to prevent its decline. An important step was taken recently by the city council in passing an historic zoning ordinance and declaring Swiss Avenue an historic district. It is hoped that similar efforts will make the public aware of the area's significance and help to maintain its unique character, for the district remains one of the few historic areas in Dallas worthy of architectural distinction.
Marker Number: 6892

Marker Text:
This wide boulevard was a muddy country lane in 1857, when Swiss immigrant Henri Boll named it in honor of his native land. Swiss Avenue was lengthened and paved as part of Munger Place, an exclusive 140-acre residential area developed in 1905 by cotton gin manufacturer R. S. Munger (1854 - 1923). To assure the unified appearance of the neighborhood, Munger imposed such building requirements as $10,000 minimum cost and two-story height. At the same time, the houses are unique because residents were free to choose from the variety of architectural styles popular during the early 20th century, including Tudor Revival, Georgian Revival, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style. Dr. R. W. Baird's Classical Revival residence at 5303 Swiss Avenue was the first one erected here in 1905. By 1920, about 200 elegant homes had been built in the Munger Place addition. Residents included prominent lawyers, bankers, merchants, industrialists, and doctors. In recent years, the Swiss Avenue area declined, and some of the old homes were demolished or divided into apartments. Efforts of the Historic Preservation League and interested citizens to save the neighborhood resulted in the city of Dallas designating it as the city's first historic district in 1973. Entered in the National Register of Historic Places 1974

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