Dallas moves in to tear down apartments where Oswald lived




Posted on January 7, 2013 at 6:46 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 7 at 7:35 PM

DALLAS — The monthslong battle over whether an old Oak Cliff apartment complex where Lee Harvey Oswald once lived is a health hazard or a piece of history is coming to a close.

The city took over the property Monday to demolish it after a long court fight. So far the apartment building in the 600 block of Elsbeth Street has come down brick by brick. But a letter from the City Attorney's office told owner Jane Bryant on Monday that the city wants the structure brought down right away.

Bryant was angry. "On the one hand I'm surprised, and on the other hand I'm not surprised, because the city has lied to me and double-dealed and played dirty tricks for the entire time I've owned the property," she said.

But the city says there are no surprises. Bryant bought the 87-year-old building six years ago to renovate the apartments. Lee Harvey Oswald and his young wife and daughter lived in one unit for four months in 1962 and 1963.

But Bryant never did the renovation work, and the structure has no historical designation.

Calling it an "urban nuisance" and a health hazard, a judge ordered her to tear it down by November 30. Bryant indicated in a demolition proposal that she would have the building gone by last Friday.

"They have been telling me that they were flexible as long as I showed we were bringing things down," she said.

But the city says the law is fully on its side to demolish the building now. It’s simply run out of patience.

Under police guard, workers moved in to remove asbestos and the bulldozers will follow. Bryant has tried to sell bricks and boards as souvenirs but won't say how much she's earned.

She'll only contend that the city is unreasonable, saying, "the city actually caused a lot of the delays themselves."

Historical interest or not, the building will be evicted from this street in the increasingly popular Bishop Arts District in days.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com