Turner House History

Construction

John Phillip Blake, Lesslie A. Stemmons, Thomas S. Miller, and Roman S. Waldron platted the last major subdivision in the original Oak Cliff townsite in 1908 and named it Winnetka Heights after an affluent Chicago suburb. Each of the developers built one of the four original residences.

East Texas oilman J. P. Blake purchased 3.72 acres adjoining the northwest corner of this new subdivision and in 1912 constructed this outstanding example of Modified Prairie four-square architecture at 301 North Rosemont Avenue for his personal home at a cost of $55,000. Mr. Blake was President of Columbia Conservatory of Music and the family enjoyed hosting musical events, lavish lawn parties and opulently entertained a young Oak Cliff through 1917.

Depression and WWII

The home and grounds were then sold to Rowena Benton Ramsey. In June 1923, Mrs. Ramsey sold the property to Monta R. Ferguson who divided the property and created the Ferguson Subdivision. The address of the abbreviated estate was changed to 401 N. Rosemont Avenue. M. R. Ferguson retained ownership of the home and carriage house through the difficulties of the 1929 Stock Market Crash and the Depression years that followed. The main house and carriage house had been modified for boarding house occupancy by the early part of WWII.

Church Sanctuary

Foly B. White purchased the property in 1942, although it is unclear if the Foly family ever lived in the home. The property was again subdivided and the western 55 foot parcel of the estate including the carriage house was sold. The newly formed Oak Cliff Lutheran Church purchased the main house for their sanctuary in early 1948.

OCSFA

The Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts became the new owners and conservators of the main house and grounds in May 1957. The 401 North Rosemont site was included as a Clubhouse in the 1981 Winnetka Heights Historic District Overlay. Today it remains as one of only two surviving original structures in Dallas’ largest residential Historic District.

Renamed Turner House

The property was renamed Turner House in 2002 honoring Mrs. E.P. Turner, founder of the Oak Cliff Society of Fine Arts. The Society has a Board of Directors committed to preserving the beauty and elegance of her structure for the benefit of Oak Cliff neighborhoods and the Dallas community.

Turner House Today

Turner House was opened to the public in the summer of 2003 for event rentals. Since then we have hosted a variety of organizations including Dallas Baptist University, Preservation Dallas, Old Oak Cliff Conservation League and the Winnetka Heights Neighborhood Association. Turner House has also been the venue for weddings, anniversary and birthday parties, recitals, workshops, memorial services, holiday parties, scholarship ceremonies, tea parties and book clubs.

Some renovations have been completed and there is more to come. Meanwhile, check out some of our photographs on the photo tour!

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