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Swiss Ave. Church, Now Actor's Home and Artists Residence, Almost a City Landmark

I may have to tag along with the Landmark Commission's Designation Committee on Wednesday evening when it makes a visit to the former St. Joseph's Church and Academy on Swiss Avenue. I've never met a Waltons cast member before, and as former Observer-er Tom Korosec pointed out in D back in August, the ca.-1905 structures near downtown now serve as the home for one Ronnie Claire Edwards, perhaps best known for having portrayed Corabeth Walton Godsey on the landmark teevee series. (Side note: She moved here to work on 12 Miles of Bad Road, which HBO killed before it ever aired, and sold her L.A. home to Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And she doesn't own clothes, only costumes.)

According to Katherine Seale, Preservation Dallas's exec director and a member of the designation committee, this site visit is the committee's final meeting before sending the case file to the Landmark Commission, which is expected to certify the structures as official city landmarks. But first the committee has to figure out what non-historic pieces of the building Edwards can demolish as she turns the former academy into an artists residence.

"It's really cool," Seale says. "The school rooms had all been covered up in sheet rock, and the pressed-tin ceilings had been encased with tiles and drop ceilings. And she's uncovered all the windows and all of the classrooms and all of the pressed-tin ceilings -- all of it was retained, and no one knew it was there because it had been covered up. It's a really exciting project -- a landmark in your backyard you never knew about." Till now.

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