Swiss Avenue Historic District is a neighborhood located in Old East Dallas, Dallas, Texas. You will see some of the most beautiful residential architecture in this neighborhood during the early 20th century. The Swiss Avenue Historic District boundaries include some parts of Dallas’ earliest streets such as Bryan Street, Beacon Street, La Vista Drive, Swiss Avenue, Bryan Parkway, and Swiss Avenue. In this article, we are going to know more about the history of this charming and notable neighborhood.
After some Belgian, French, and Swiss settlers, known as the La Reunion Colony, did not succeed in making an entire community on the west side of Trinity River in 1855, most of them decided to remain in Dallas. They settled on the east side of the Trinity River to have a fresh start. Some of the people who chose to settle on the west side of Trinity River were Swiss businessmen Jacob Nussbaumer and Henry Boll. They both settled in 1859, and they both had adjoining properties located along White Rock Road, and they later renamed it as Swiss Avenue, as a nod to their native country.
After Jacob Nussbaumer’s and Henry Boll finished their service in Colonel Nat Buford’s 19th Texas Cavalry in 1865, they subdivided and sold parts of their property located along Swiss Avenue to some of La Reunion settlers and Dallas’ new wave of European immigrants.
In 1873, when the Texas & Pacific Railroad crossed the Houston & Texas Central, businesses started to develop and thrive around the intersection. Not only that, but the residential development to the east also had the chance to be extended. That is why from 1882 to 1889, a small and independent town of East Dallas was established.
In 1851 brothers Robert and Collett S. Munger made a lot of money in the cotton gin industry. That is why they began to develop the north side of Old East Dallas, and they made the Swiss avenue as its centerpiece. After developing the land, the Munger brothers advertised the location as the most desirable and beautiful residential district in Southland, and hailed Swiss Avenue as the upscale core of the Munger Place development.
The Munger brothers wanted to promote Munger Place as a strictly high class and luxurious residential district. That is why they decided to establish Munger Place as the first deed-restricted neighborhood in Texas. Aside from that, they also implemented rules which states that houses on Swiss Avenue should be full two stories, each house should cost at least $10,000, and they should have a uniform setback of sixty feet. Because it was designed as a landscape boulevard for the most expensive homes, Swiss Avenue was hailed as Dallas’s silk-stocking district. The neighborhood has its collection of Tudor, Neoclassical, Spanish Eclectic, Colonial Revival, Prairie style, and Italian Renaissance houses built and designed by well-known architects such as Hal Thomson, Lang & Witchell, and C.E. Barglebaugh. In 1900s, Swiss Avenue was the representation of the grandeur of Dallas’s professional and social elite.
Today, the Swiss Avenue Historic District has about 200 houses situated on portions of Bryan Parkway, Swiss Avenue, Bryan Street, Live Oak Street, and La Vista Avenue. Homes in this neighborhood all have sweeping lawns, an historical architecture, significant setbacks, and oak-lined streets. Swiss Avenue Historic District is now known to reflect the prestige and graciousness of a bygone era. We can now appreciate the beauty of these houses thanks to Swiss Avenue residents’ efforts during the 1970s. Because they all worked hard to ensure the houses are preserved in their neighborhood. In fact, the Swiss Avenue Historical District is Dallas’ first historic district after the foundation of the Historic Preservation League. Almost all of the house in the Swiss Avenue Historic District has been fully renovated. That is why the neighborhood was able to earn the title of being one of the most beautiful intact communities of the early 20th-century residential architecture in the United States of America.