A house’s heroes
A developer wanted to tear it down. Preservationists wanted to move it. In the end, a young family will make their home in the 127-year-old West Dallas farmhouse known as the “Struck house.”
The house found its savior in A.J. and Michaella Ramler of Oak Cliff.
The couple recently purchased the property, which includes two other houses on a little less than an acre, for what A.J. Ramler describes as the “land value.”
The Ramlers, who have one child and one on the way, currently live in the four-plex that they own in Sunset Hill. They plan to renovate the Struck house over the next year and move in.
Less than a year ago, it looked like the house, in the Western Heights neighborhood, could be doomed. David Weekly Homes had the property under contract with plans to rezone it and build townhouses there.
Neighborhood resident Deborah Carpenter stood up against that plan.
Preservationists from a budding nonprofit called Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties Inc. negotiated with the builder, who agreed to donate the house if it could be moved elsewhere.
The Dallas Landmark Commission quickly stepped in and initiated landmark status for the house, preventing it from being demolished or moved while its status is under review, which takes about three years.
That ended the Houston-based developer’s interest in the land.
The Ramlers bought the house from the Wheeler family, who had purchased it in the 1970s.
“I went and saw the house, and I was like, ‘We can do that,’ ” A.J. Ramler says. “It doesn’t need a remarkable amount of work.”
The house was built around 1890 by early West Dallas settlers Heinrich Struck and his wife, Anna. Struck was a German pub owner and a member of the Sons of Hermann. Their house on the hill, at what is now 1923 N. Edgefield, became a gathering place for the community, the site of meetings, picnics and weddings.
Ramler, who works for CBG Building Co., thinks too many owners of historical properties fail to see an old building’s value for anything except demolition. Consider the renovated historic building that housed Bolsa Mercado until recently; it rents for around $10,000 a month.
The site of the former Corazon de Tejas restaurant, on West Davis at Beckley, sold to a CVS developer for just land value when, as a renovated historic building, it had the potential to rake in rents of tens of thousands a month.
“People miss that with these historic properties,” Ramler says.
The Ramlers bought their four-plex on West Tenth Street about five years ago, right after college. More recently, they renovated a two-story former farmhouse in the Sunset Hill neighborhood and sold it.
“I love old houses and I love saving old houses,” Ramler says. “It would’ve been a shame for it to be torn down.”