Dallas County

Stepping into the Past at the Alexander Mansion

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Kathy Tran
For all its splendor, the three-story Alexander Mansion is easy to miss. It sits too far back from the road to catch with drivers' peripheral vision. Its neighbors are payday loan shops and long-shuttered shells of used car lots, their perimeters still fenced off by barbed wire and the occasional angry Rottweiler.

You wouldn’t know it today, or even 50 years ago, but from the 1880s until the 1920s, Ross Avenue in Old East Dallas was known as the city’s Fifth Avenue. Opulent mansions lined the boulevard like ants on a diamond-encrusted log. Inhabitants shared a common denominator: They were rich. Oil tycoons and lumber czars hosted croquet matches in front yards and debutante balls in living rooms.

The Alexander Mansion, the 12,500-square-foot home at 4607 Ross Ave., is one of the last vestiges of that era and the focus of a dedicated band of preservationists who worry about its deteriorating condition. It needs a new foundation and a new roof. Photos by Kathy Tran