Dallas’ oldest home tour showcases Oak Cliff life

Posted on 12 Jan 2006 at 7:35pm
By David Webb

31st annual event to feature 10 properties; money raised from tour finances neighborhood projects



The Belmont Hotel is one of the featured properties guests of the 31st annual Oak Cliff Fall Home Tour will get to visit on Saturday and Sunday.

Three of the 10 properties on the Oak Cliff Fall Home Tour this year are owned by gay couples, according to the event’s coordinator.

Vicki Fitzgerald, chairwoman of the tour, said the event showcases the beauty and the diversity of Oak Cliff each year. It is the 31st year of the tour, making it the oldest and most successful home tour in Dallas.

“I think why I like to work on the tour so much is that it shows off Oak Cliff,” Fitzgerald said. “You just don’t get better than the home tour if you want to see the way Oak Cliff really is.”

Fitzgerald said that every year she encounters people from other parts of North Texas who are surprised to learn how beautiful the homes and terrain in Oak Cliff are.

“I just have fabulous stories about people from North Dallas and other parts of North Texas that come and purchase their tickets,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said her favorite story is about a real estate agent from Addison who had wanted for several years to visit the home tour because of what she had heard about the phenomenal homes.

“She had always been afraid to cross the river,” Fitzgerald said. “Finally and these were the words she used she just said she was going to suck it up and go over and hope for the best.”

The real estate agent fell in love with Oak Cliff and wanted to start listing houses in the area, Fitzgerald said.

“She went to every property on the tour and took two whole days to go,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said she is unabashedly boastful of the home tour.

“I told my husband one night about two months ago this might be the best one yet,” Fitzgerald said. “And my husband said I say that every year. And I said I think they’re getting better every year.”

Fitzgerald said the tour this year will go through the restored Belmont Hotel, the Kessler Park United Methodist Church and eight homes.

“I think it is going to be a great tour,” said Fitzgerald, who has volunteered on the tour for six years.

“We have everything from a home that is almost 100 years old to the Kessler Woods property that is brand new and pretty much everything in the middle.”

Fitzgerald said the inclusion of churches on the home tour always pleases the guests.

“Some of the older churches have so much beautiful stained glass, art work, bells and beautiful organs that they are actually quit popular,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said the home tour benefits Oak Cliff neighborhoods. The money that is raised goes to award grants to neighborhood projects. About $85,000 in grants has been awarded over the years, she said.

This year the home tour awarded grants of $1,500 to Beckley Club Estates to restore entrance monuments, $1,400 to Elmwood to set up security in the downtown area, $2,500 to Kessler Plaza for the Plymouth Greenbelt Median project, $2,000 to Kings Highway to create pathways for the Stone Park project, $539 to Stevens Park Village for an entrance sign renovation and $2,275 to Winnetka Heights for historic park improvements.

“I just can’t say enough about the home tour,” Fitzgerald said. “Oak Cliff has so many neighborhoods working very hard to maintain their integrity so this helps a little bit.”

The home tour is Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the Nodding Dog Coffee Co. at the intersection of Bishop and 7th streets in the Bishop Arts District or at any property on the tour. Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors. Visit www.ooccl.org for information.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 13, 2006.

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