Perry Heights History

Perry Heights Neighborhood

HISTORICAL PERRY HEIGHTS, Established in 1922

This picturesque neighborhood is a secluded residential community sitting serenely amid swiftly changing Oak Lawn. Located minutes from Downtown and Love Field, Perry Heights is nestled between Interstate 35 and Interstate 75, offering the convenience of location rarely found in the inner city. It offers immediate access to the North Dallas Tollway, the Medical District, Dallas Market Center, the Arts District, as well as the Uptown, Downtown, and Deep Ellum entertainment areas.

Craddock Park, the northwestern boundary of the neighborhood, is very near the site of the springs where Dr. John Cole built his Cedar Springs Settlement in the mid-1840s. The area was a thing of beauty, with freshwater springs, groves of trees, and clear, running streams. The settlement at the springs grew quickly as it stretched along the creek, and spread across to embrace farms and orchards.

The Springs community offered its people a good reason to live there. It had a store, a doctor who was also a pharmacist, and a smithy. It had good water gushing from underground and a ferry to cross the bad water. As it grew, a track for horse racing, a grist mill, a distillery, an academy of higher learning, and a place to worship was added. The Keechi were the main indigenous tribe in the area and their villages were located along the Cedar branch mainly around a large spring in what is now Craddock Park.

In the late 1880s, Captain William Lemmon and Oliver Bowser built the popular Oak Lawn Addition on Lemmon Avenue. This addition became so popular, that businessman Gordon Perry bought nine blocks in 1922 and began advertising his new subdivision with the descriptive slogan, “Perry Heights–Cool at Nights!”. So many ministers lived along the 4300 and 4400 blocks of Rawlins during the 1930s and 1940s that it was often referred to as “Bishops Row”.  

Perry Heights is comprised of nine square blocks bounded by Wycliff, Lemmon Ave, the North Dallas Tollway, and Cedar Springs. The three main corridors are Rawlins, Hall, and Vandelia with the cross streets of Herschel, Prescott, and Hawthorne. There are approximately 110 single-family homes and a 45 unit condominium project. Most of the homes were built in the 1920s, while the Park Place condominiums were built in the 1960s on the original E. Gordon Perry homestead site.

The architecturally eclectic homes in the elegant nine-block area include Colonial Revival and Georgian mansions, stucco, and brick bungalows, and charming Tudor-style homes from the Arts and Crafts period.

Many of the homes in the area feature steeply pitched slate roofs, gables, bay windows, and window boxes. Some homes have guest cottages in the rear yards that formerly served as quarters. All the houses are brick and many possess interior and exterior decorative stonework, wrought iron accouterments as well as leaded glass windows.

Towering Oak, Pecan and Elm trees shade the streets; English Ivy cascades over the fences and climbs the walls of houses and tree trunks. Well-manicured lawns with giant Southern Magnolia, Redbud, and Mulberry trees along with Crepe Myrtle shrubs, Bamboo hedges, and Azalea shrubs, create a lush environment that welcomes squirrels as well as the occasional raccoon. Inviting front porches are surrounded by caladiums, rose bushes, and tropical ferns.

After extensive commercial development along Lemmon Ave. and Cedar Springs Road during the 1950s, the neighborhood began to see a rampant flood of vehicular traffic as well as a slow decline in property values. In the mid-1970s, the neighborhood, with the assistance of money and materials donated by a brick firm and a local bank, successfully petitioned the City of Dallas to eliminate vehicular traffic on two of the cross-streets connecting Lemmon Ave. and Cedar Springs. It was a simple solution that dramatically changed the neighborhood and saved the area from further deterioration.

In 1995, the Perry Heights Association, Inc. was successful in obtaining ownership of the closed portion of those streets and gained permission from the City of Dallas to erect fences across those street ends to prohibit pedestrian traffic as well. The action was prompted by neighbors in response to increasing opportunistic crimes occurring within Perry Heights.

As Perry Heights moves towards its 100th anniversary, it takes pride in having maintained its fine homes, shaded streets, and the friendly people who make it so special.

Perry Heights Association, Inc. was formed in the mid-1980s and operates as a Texas non-profit corporation. It is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the homeowners each spring. The Board meets as required by the needs of the Association. In addition to the Board, committees are formed for specialized tasks.

Although there are no annual dues, the Association operates a security program that is funded by voluntary contributions by homeowners. Currently, approximately half of the residents contribute to the fund. The Association employs off-duty Dallas Police Officers to patrol the neighborhood in Dallas police cars at random hours on random days through the Expanded Neighborhood Patrol program of the Dallas Police Department.

The Association is actively involved in responding to development and requests for zoning changes in the surrounding area. Upon occasion, it has mounted successful challenges to projects it felt to be unwise. The Association takes pride in its efforts to work with developers to see that the neighborhood’s aesthetic concerns are addressed and maintained.

Perry Heights Association Functions and Activities

Perry Heights Association, Inc., a Texas Non-Profit Corporation, was formed in 1985 and operates according to By-Laws developed at that time and amended by the Association. Copies of the Articles Of Incorporation and/or By-Laws are available from the Board Of Directors or from The Secretary Of State in Austin. The Association is composed of voting (individual and joint property owners and their spouses) and non-voting members. Currently, there are 9 Board members who are elected at the Annual Meeting on the last Wednesday of March. These Board members elect officers. The neighborhood is comprised of approximately 156 homes and condominiums. There are no dues associated with the Association. In 1975 several of the streets in the neighborhood were closed to vehicular traffic and in 1995 these streets were closed to pedestrian traffic with the construction of barrier fences. The dead-end portions of these streets were abandoned by the City of Dallas to the Association which is responsible for their maintenance, etc. 
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Since there are no dues, there are no funds readily available for the activities or functions of the Association. Our Association is only as strong as its volunteers and helping out is the only way to get the job done. Please join the team and help keep Perry Heights a desirable and fun place to live.  The Association has a volunteer coordinated Crime Watch program. The chairperson changes from time to time. Please ask a neighbor or contact a Board Member to get the name of the current chairperson. It is important to report all criminal and suspicious activity first to 911 and then to the Crime Watch Chairperson. Crime statistics for our sector of Oaklawn only reflect incidents reported to 911. The Association receives crime statistics from the Dallas Police Department on a regular basis. The Cedar Spring Area Stakeholders Crime Watch meets at the Oak Lawn Branch of the Library on the third Wednesday of each month at Noon and anyone in the area bounded by Oak Lawn, Lemmon, and the Tollway is invited to attend. The Interactive Community Police Officers provide information regarding the criminal activity in the area and ask for input from residents and business owners.