Old Oak Cliff Conservation League

.By Rita Cook   
If you’re a fan of Dallas’ Oak Cliff area (and who isn’t these days) then one group you’ll really appreciate is the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League (OOCCL). A 501(c)(3) organization that has been around since 1974, the league grew out of an attempt by developers to put townhouses in Winnetka Heights.

“Although it says "Old" we've added neighborhoods up to the 60's with Oak Park Estates, Kiestwood and Glen Oaks,” says Michael Amonett who lives in a home in Oak Cliff built in 1939 and is the President of OOCCL. “So much activity is happening around the Bishop Arts District with issues taking a lot of our attention that we tend to focus a lot of our energy there also, but there are so many great parts of Oak Cliff waiting to be discovered that we hope we help with that with the Home Tour.”  ( Photo The Polar Bear building is one of the buildings at risk in the Gateway - on the 2010 Risk list.)

As for the Home Tour, Alicia Quintans, a board Member of OOCCL, Chair of Architecture at Risk Committee and a Neighborhood Representative for Beckley Club Estates says “Oak Cliff has a rich and diverse history, which is still represented by the architecture unlike many other areas of Dallas.”  Regarding the architecture, the Home Tour normally sees as many as 2000 patrons in attendance interested in the conservation efforts in Oak Cliff. This year the tour will take place on October 8th and 9th .

“We take the money from the Tour and we reinvest it back into the community,” says Amonett.   “We fought and we lost against the demolition of Oak Cliff Christian Church by DISD.  We fought them all the way to court to try to save this building.  We don't mind doing things like this though because I think our efforts have raised awareness about historic architecture at Risk here in the area. 

Quintans adds that the Oak Cliff Christian Church was a 1916 structure that had been located on land slated for Adamson High School expansion.  “The League lost the battle, yet learned valuable lessons,” she says.

Other challenges Amonett says the league faces are aggressive zoning overall that upzones land so it becomes more valuable than the structure.  “This is what demolished much of Oak Lawn's character,” he adds.  “Historic Preservation is a much slower process and people get impatient.  They want results now.  Re-doing one house at a time is much more time consuming and tedious, but the result is timeless versus a strip center that is dated in 15 years.”   (Photo:  LO Daniel Mansion is on the 2011 Risk list)

The Bishop Davis Zoning issue last year rezoned over 300 acres through the heart of Old Oak Cliff.  The current Oak Cliff Gateway seeks to rezone over 800 acres.  “We are extremely focused on historic preservation and not just large structures but intact neighborhoods, complete historic retail streets small structures or iconic things that people feel strongly about,” Amonett concludes. 

Overall there are there are 30 neighborhoods that are members of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League. 

OCTOBER 9 - 10     12 - 6 PM Both Days
For more information http://www.ooccl.org/

Photos:  Michael Amonett

Rita Cook is an award winning journalist who writes or has
written for the Dallas Morning News, Focus Daily News, Waxahachie Daily Light,
Dreamscapes Travel Magazine, Porthole, Core Media, Fort Worth Star Telegram and
many other publications in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago.  With five books published, her latest release
is “A Brief History of Fort Worth” published by History Press.  You can contact her at [email protected]