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Dallas Architecture and Real Estate Insights

by Douglas Newby, Real Estate Broker

Dallas Architecture Blog discusses Modern Architecture and Mid Century Modern Homes, Dallas Neighborhoods, Dallas Real Estate and the Aesthetics of the City.

Northern Hills: Why is it a Favorite Dallas Neighborhood and Crown Jewel of Original Land Grant?

In the 1920s, Northern Hills was described by the VPNfair magazine much like I described the Northern Hills neighborhood in the 1986 book I wrote on the older neighborhoods in Dallas and in my 2020 video on Northern Hills.  Regardless of where Northern Hills was in its evolution, in its infancy in the 1920s, re-emerging in the 1980s, or a favorite Dallas neighborhood in 2020, Northern Hills conveys a neighborhood immersed in nature, refined by the homeowners, and surrounded by Highland Park on two sides and the best of Dallas.

It is almost as if this Northern Hills ad ripped off how I discussed Northern Hills in my recent video—Northern Hills A Favorite Neighborhood Combines Nature and Nurture. Then I remembered this Northern Hills ad was written 85 years before my video.

Northern Hills Featured in A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas

Dallas Neighborhood Book
The neighborhood of Northern Hills captured our imagination as it was re-emerging in the 1908s.


In the book A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas, I stressed the topographical delight generated by this enclave of forested streets and architecturally significant homes owned by wonderful neighbors, in a neighborhood surrounded by Highland Park on two sides.


Northern Hills is described in 1986 as one of Dallas' most important neighborhoods.
The small Northern Hills neighborhood was selected to be featured in the first book on Dallas neighborhoods.

Northern Hills Sentiments Continue


Northern Hills was John Cole’s favorite piece of land.  Northern Hills was one of my favorite neighborhoods in 1986 as reflected in the book A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas and, more recently, you can see in this video that my affection for Northern Hills continues.

In this recent video, I spoke about the natural beauty and elevation of Northern Hills along with neighbors nurturing Northern Hills.  These are themes I discovered that the McNeny brothers, who developed Northern Hills, touted in their early Northern Hills advertisements.

Northern Hills Represented the Best Land in the 1800s and Still Does Today in the 21st Century


Northern Hills neighborhood is filled with tree-lined streets.

Northern Hills was the best land in Dr. John Cole’s land grant and thus saved for last to develop. Dr. John Cole’s land grant became the town of Cedar Springs that now includes Highland Park, Uptown and the surrounding neighborhoods.  In the 1920s, the brothers McNeny & McNeny touted the Northern Hills neighborhood as “Looking down from a height of more than 100 feet upon the city … Northern Hills lies amid the best of Dallas residence neighborhoods, adjoining Highland Park on two sides. It is quiet and secluded yet convenient.”  The McNeny & McNeny Northern Hills ad also emphasizes Northern Hills’ rare natural beauty.  The natural beauty of Northern Hills is something I have been so impressed by and have emphasized when I write or speak about Northern Hills. I have discussed neighbors nurturing the Northern Hills neighborhood.  The McNeny & McNeny Northern Hills ad mentions the natural beauty of Northern Hills being enhanced by terraced lots and landscape artistry applied to wooded ravines.

McNeny & McNeny’s Northern Hills


Finding the Northern Hills 1920s newspaper ad is what prompted me to go back and also look at the book I wrote for the Historic Preservation League in 1986— A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas, which at the time went to #2 on the nonfiction best sellers list in Dallas.


Description of Northern Hills neighborhood in 1986 in A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas
The discussion of Northern Hills in 1986 is very similar to the discussion that preceded and followed the book.


Rereading the book’s chapter on Northern Hills reminded me that even though Northern Hills consists of only about 65 homes, it was featured along with neighborhoods many times larger.  Even though Northern Hills was just re-emerging, it was one of my favorite neighborhoods then for many of the same reasons it is now.

Northern Hills Engages and Entices


It is fascinating how Northern Hills provoked the imagination of Dr. John Cole as he retained this land after he sold off what is now Highland Park, Turtle Creek and Uptown.  The Northern Hills neighborhood continued to subliminally engage and entice homeowners in the 1980s when the neighborhood was just in the process of being renovated.  The winding streets, topography, ravines, seclusion, and enclave of historically and architecturally significant homes projected something special regardless of the neighborhood being in transition.

Rewatching the recent Northern Hills video, I realized how many themes that I spoke about that I also wrote about in the 1986 book A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas, and the themes the McNeny brothers included in their original Northern Hills newspaper advertisement. The original impressions and themes of the McNeny brothers is sustained.  These themes include Northern Hills being secluded and benefitting from the topography and winding streets with forested ravines and terraced tree-lined streets surrounded by the best neighborhoods:  Turtle Creek Park on one side and Highland Park on two sides, and the vibrancy of Dallas around the corner.  As the ad says,

“Delightfully Suburban Yet Part of the City, Northern Hills.”

– McNeny & McNeny

Yes, Northern Hills is delightfully suburban yet part of the city.  Northern Hills has a front porch atmosphere, exuding the cordiality of the Northern Hills Conservation District, yet it is immersed in the city.  Of course, it was and is a Dallas favorite neighborhood.