Homes on Ninth Street that were slated for demolition in 2018. Photo by Danny Fulgencio

It’s a designated historic district where virtually nothing is protected and cloudy ownership can lead to City of Dallas demolition orders.

The Tenth Street Historic District deserves far more respect than that. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named the neighborhood just east of Interstate 35 on its list of the 11 most-endangered places in America. Tenth Street appears first on the list, no less, although it’s not numbered.

The neighborhood is listed among intriguing sites, including ancestral places of Southeast Utah, one of the last historic coffee plantation houses in Puerto Rico and Nashville’s Music Row.

If you’re new here, Tenth Street is one of the last remaining freedmen’s towns in America. It was the home of seminal blues guitarist T Bone Walker, where former slaves and their children built homes and established themselves in deeply segregated Dallas.

Long neglected by the City of Dallas, and even under threat at times by the city’s own bulldozers, Tenth Street is now hot property and at risk of steamrolling because of its desirable location. It’s a mile from Downtown and at the edge of the planned Interstate 35 deck park.

Tenth Street was treated, at best, like a bunch of worthless real estate for so many years. There’s been very little help in the way of social programs or home improvement assistance, not to mention its crumbling streets and outdated sewers.

“A 2010 change to a local ordinance allowed the city to obtain demolition permits for houses less than 3,000 square feet without regard for Landmark Commission rulings, which is substantially increasing the rate of demolition,” savingplaces.org writes. “To date, at least 70 of the district’s 260 homes have been demolished.”

Now that real estate prospectors are starting to see what’s always been there, that Tenth Street is part of Oak Cliff, in an excellent location and best of all for them, undervalued, we are at serious risk of losing this remarkable part of our city’s history.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation asks readers to add their names to this petition telling the City of Dallas to amend or repeal the demolition ordinance.