166-Year-Old Oak Cliff Cabin, One of Dallas' Oldest Buildings, At Risk of Being Lost

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Last night at the Turner House, the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League unveiled its 2012 Architecture at Risk List, its annual enumeration of properties in danger of being demolished, neglected, and otherwise relegated to the dust bin of history. They offered a sneak peek of the first item on their list, the Humble Oil service station at Zang and Beckley because OOCCL wasn't sure it'd last until yesterday. It did, but it won't it won't for much longer.

Rounding out the list, which you can see in full here, are the Mission Motel, which the owner wants to convert to apartments but for now sits empty; Cannon's Village, the gabled, house-like storefronts built in the 1920s at the corner of Davis and Edgefield that for years housed Cannon's five-and-dime and, oddly, a medical lab upstairs; the sign advertising the now-demolished Alamo Plaza hotel; Oak Cliff's Googie architecture (think the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign) in general; and a handful of houses and commercial buildings sprinkled throughout the area.

The most interesting item on the list, though, is the Sharrock Cabin, a rickety assemblage of logs tucked away in the Mountain Creek area. So rickety, in fact, that former OOCCL president Michael Amonett would not disclose its location to a roomful of preservation-minded neighbors for fear it might be irreparably damaged before it can be restored.

The cabin was built by Everard Sharrock, who moved to Texas from Illinois in 1846 and homesteaded 640 acres in southwestern Dallas County. The land was owned by the family of Judge Grady Niblo and farmed by tenants for most of the 20th century. The land was purchased in 2005, and the 33 acres containing the Sharrock Cabin and outbuildings was donated to the city. Recently, land nearby began being cleared for development (Amonett described it as a "moonscape") adding urgency to the quest to save the heretofore isolated structures.

The cabin is the oldest structure in North Texas that still occupies its original site. Councilman Scott Griggs said he's working with the city to have the cabin designated as a Dallas Landmark, after which he hopes intensive preservation work can begin. It won't be cheap, though.

"To restore these buildings is going to take millions," he said.

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