Turtle Creek Park is a secluded, 39-house neighborhood across the stone bridge from Turtle Creek. It is framed by Turtle Creek and the Katy Trail, with Rock Creek plunging down the center of this topographically delightful neighborhood of winding streets.
James and Patricia Shinn introduced me to this neighborhood’s incredible charms when they invited me to dinner at 3500 Rock Creek, located at the bowed corner of Rock Creek and Stone Bridge.
The Shinns are an extraordinary couple and as diplomats have lived all over the world. They came to Dallas when Jim had taken the position of the city of Dallas’ director of international affairs when Ambassador Rubottom retired as the director.
James Shinn – a downtown visionary, who Advocated a Park Over Woodall Rogers Fifteen years ago, James Shinn was advocating that Woodall Rogers Freeway be decked with a park with residential-retail development intersecting the park, creating the vibrant street life he considered essential if Dallas were to become an international city.
His family home was one of the first built in Martha’s Vineyard, and his family was also one of the original landowners that helped found Oakland, California. Of course, I was more impressed that Patricia’s grandfather and my grandfather were contemporaries in Hastings, Neb., in the early 20th century, with my grandfather owning the bank and her grandfather owning the title company.
As part of the diplomatic corps, the couple had lived in glamorous residences and locations including France and Switzerland. When they departed Dallas for California, they mentioned that of all the places they’d lived, Turtle Creek Park was their favorite. That was enough for me. If this was their favorite neighborhood, it was my favorite neighborhood.
When I was discussing architecture with the late Glenn Mitchell on 90.1 he asked me: Where was the first place I’d take a clients who had just come to town for the first time? I said, without hesitation, “Turtle Creek Park. It is a hidden neighborhood with hills, creeks, water and an eclectic collection of houses of all styles ranging in value from $800,000 to over $10 million. And these houses all fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to make a clear and congruent picture.”
Here is this bucolic, protected neighborhood, seemingly removed from the city, just a few hundred yards away from Salum, a chic, chef-owned restaurant, and just a few blocks from Knox and Travis and the West Village, just two miles from the Arts District and downtown — all of which is linked by the Katy Trail or the strand of parks along Turtle Creek.
Turtle Creek Park is the perfect neighborhood because it is small and well-defined. Even with the small number of homes, there’s a sense of place, and a person knows they are in a neighborhood. There’s a great range of values and styles. There’s an aesthetic continuity that makes you think of the neighborhood as a whole, not as a collection of competing houses.
Trees, wildlife, seclusion, protection, water, streets curving across an enticing topography – all desired but in short supply in any city. As you might imagine, every year there’s an annual multi-course traveling dinner from house to house, exuding friendly relations between neighbors, the real definition of a neighborhood.
Turtle Creek Park defies all expectations. It has all of these lovely assets virtually in the center of Dallas.