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3525 is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places
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3525 Turtle Creek Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary and Its Inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places
“Super rich get attention” is how The Dallas Morning News captioned their first of several articles on the then under construction 3525 Turtle Creek in 1957. The building, the vision of Edward T. Dicker, Jerome J. Frank, and Howard Meyer, was indeed designed to cater to the super-wealthy.
A respected home builder, Edward T. Dicker (1913-1981) had already made a name for himself in politics, having served in the Texas Legislature, 1950-52, the only Republican elected between 1939 and 1960. During his brief term, he sponsored the bill creating a two-party system in Texas, and was instrumental in securing the presidential nomination of Dwight Eisenhower.
Dicker had arrived in Dallas in 1945 at age 32. He and Tom Lively, who later co-founded Centex Construction Company, put up homes in Beckley Heights in south Oak Cliff, and with partner Jerome Frank, he built housing at Air Force bases and developed several commercial properties.
After surveying the nation, Dicker found that couples wanting to downsize from their mansions had few options and for 20 years his vision had been to create a high-rise apartment building for them. To accommodate this need, Dicker and Frank selected a scenic sloping bluff on Turtle Creek Boulevard and began to plan what The Dallas Morning News called the “most exciting building in America.”
Turtle Creek Boulevard, then a two-lane road, had been established as part of the Central National Road of the Republic in 1844. It is said that Frank Lloyd Wright, who in 1957 was designing the Kalita Humphreys Theater across Turtle Creek, described Turtle Creek Boulevard as one of the most beautiful boulevards in the country.
Cover of celebration brochure
 
Jerome J. Frank (1909-2004) was born in Kiev, Russia, and came with his parents to Minneapolis at age three. He attended the John K. Weber Law School in San Antonio, but the Great Depression thwarted his attempt to establish a law practice in Houston. During World War II, Frank served in the Air Force as a photo recognizance officer in the African and Italian campaigns. After he married Emma Sue Binswanger, of Memphis, Tennessee, the couple established their home in Dallas where “Jerry” co-founded Dicker and Frank Construction Company, which would eventually develop residential properties in Texas, Florida, and California, military bases in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, and commercial properties in Texas, Colorado, Tennessee, and Louisiana.
Frank was an active member at Temple Emanu-El and was on its building committee in 1956 when they engaged Howard Meyer to construct a new synagogue at the corner of Northwest Highway and Hillcrest. It was clear to Frank that Meyer was well suited to design the modernistic building he and Dicker were going to build.
Howard Meyer (1903-1988) received a degree in humanities from Columbia University. After convincing his cotton-merchant father that he was not suited for the family business, he was permitted to attend Columbia's School of Architecture. While a student, he worked in the office of William Lescaze, who is considered one of the pioneers of modernism in American architecture. By the time of his graduation in 1928, Meyer had explored one of the most important collections of essays about architecture written in the 1920s, le Corbusier’s Toward an Architecture, which appeared in English in 1927. So important are these essays that a revised translation was published in 2007.
After his marriage to Schon Landman of Waco, Meyer and his wife traveled to France where they met le Corbusier and to Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands to see the architecture of other modernists. The Great Depression forced Meyer to make a living from small jobs working in the New York City firm of Thompson and Churchill, the New York base for Frank Lloyd Wright. The elderly Wright met Meyer in those years and critiqued the young architect’s prizewinning submission in a national competition for the design of a small house sponsored by the Architectural League.
Persuaded by his wife to work in Texas where the depression was less severe, Meyer, now one of the best-trained architects in the state, was hired as a draftsman and designer for the Texas Centennial Exhibition of 1936.
By 1939, when he received the commission for the house of Mr. and Mrs. William Zale in Highland Park, Meyer had designed a number of buildings for important members of Dallas’ Jewish community that provided Meyer with a core of trusting friends and patrons and gave him the freedom to apply his modernistic training.
Realizing the influence of automobiles, le Corbusier had foreseen the city of the future as consisting of large apartment buildings isolated in park-like settings and Meyer created at 3525 Turtle Creek the first residential building in Dallas to reflect that vision. Its 22 stories of tinted reinforced concrete and Mexican brick rose from the banks of Turtle Creek and overlooked what one resident called “miles of broccoli.”
The apartments in 3525 were large by the standards of the day – the smallest unit was then the size of a typical three-bedroom home. Realizing that their tenants would prefer not to walk far, Meyer placed apartment entrances within 30 feet of an elevator.
“The apartments were designed . . . to provide each tenant with his own private world. Sliding glass doors connecting apartments with individual outdoor terraces create a sense of spaciousness and ‘indoor-outdoor living’ particularly suited to the Southwest.”
Except the penthouse, each floor contained five rectangular units arranged in a pinwheel plan, with the elevator core as its vertical hinge.
Meyer recognized the need to shield residents from the harsh Texas sunlight by constructing what le Corbusier called “brise soleil,” or sun breaker. Cast concrete sun screens on the west side of the building are continuous to block the blazing afternoon sun and a view of the parking garage below, but they extend over only the upper portions of windows on the other building sides to filter just noonday sun.
Because 3525 was designed for the mobile suburbanite, two garage spaces were available for each apartment and parking attendants were to keep cars clean at all times. Once residents left their automobile at the large two-lane porte-cochere, their car disappeared. Entering the large lobby they saw only the sloping lawn and mature trees along the creek and stepping outside they heard the sound of water falling from the pool to a stream below masking the sound of boulevard traffic.
The official opening of the building in July 1958, attended by Dallas Mayor Robert L. Thornton, was followed by numerous galas. News accounts of the time called it the “most talked about apartment building in America,” and its Turtle Room and private 3525 Club became a popular place for prominent Dallasites to gather. The target of a zealous vice-squad officer, 3525 Club was raided twice in 1960 for serving liquor after 1:00 a.m.
The building, one of the first to utilize lightweight concrete, was purchased and converted to condominiums in 1967. Its residents have included entertainers Greer Garson and Jimmy Dean and many prominent politicians, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists.

Thanks to Katherine Seale, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas, who allowed access to their archives on 3525 Turtle Creek.
The original brochure was compiled and printed by Nancy Martínez, Virginia Cook, Realtors. www.NancyMartinezHomes.com

© 2008 Nancy Martínez. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced in any form.
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3525 Turtle Creek Boulevard • Dallas, Texas 75219 • www.3525TurtleCreek.org