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Dallas Groups Work To Ensure Deep Ellum's Past Doesn't Get Lost In The Future

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Do you ever walk through downtown Dallas or Deep Ellum and look at all the historical buildings and wonder what purpose they once served?

Hopefully, soon you'll have an answer! The City of Dallas and Preservation Dallas are working to make this happen.

Established in 1841, Dallas is a city with rich history.

"Of course, downtown Dallas is where the city started and grew out from there and grew over into the Deep Ellum area," Preservation Dallas Executive Director David Preziosi said. "Deep Ellum is really important too because that is one of our most important African-American areas in the city."

Preziosi said right now, a massive effort to preserve their historical buildings is underway. About two years ago, the city council approved $100,000 in funding for a historic resources study. Then in combination with additional funding and donations, an Austin based consulting firm was hired to survey all of the buildings downtown and in Deep Ellum. It has created an 800+ page online database documenting the findings.

"We're hoping that out of this comes some more knowledge and more appreciation," Preziosi said.

In the database you can find information on the city's first residence owned by John Neely Bryan. It also served as a post office, general store and the initial makeshift courthouse.

Deep Ellum started as a residential district for formerly enslaved men and women after the Civil War. It was one of the only areas they and Jewish immigrants were allowed to do business.

After railroad tracks were installed, a cotton gin factory and Ford Model T plant were built. The plant was located in the old Adam's Hats factory location.

Then by the 1920's, Deep Ellum became a hotspot for jazz and blues musicians. Two of the most well‐known clubs were the Park Theatre and Tip Top dance hall which were both on North Central Avenue.

"I think it's wonderful to have and will help just increase the knowledge of Dallas and which buildings would be potentially eligible for either a City Of Dallas landmark status or maybe listing on the National Register of Historic Places," Preziosi said.

He said in order to permanently preserve these buildings , it's crucial to have these recognitions.

The project will be presented to the Landmark, as well as the City Planning Commission in May. Then will head to city council in June for final approval. The hope is to then have the database up and running for public access right away.

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