Lakewood proper is surrounded by a collection of old-fashioned neighborhoods, generally developed from the early 20th century to the 1950s, including Lakewood Heights, Junius Heights Historic District (Bungalow Heaven), Parks Estates, Caruth Terrace, Wilshire Heights, Mockingbird Heights, Mockingbird Meadows, The Gated Cloisters, Hillside, Lakewood Hills (formerly Gastonwood-Coronado Hills), Hollywood Heights, and Belmont. Among the many historic attractions are the Lakewood Country Club and Lakewood theater.
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HISTORIC LAKEWOOD COUNTRY CLUB

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In 1912, Lakewood Country Club’s graceful three-story clubhouse overlooked a woodland that rolled and tumbled pleasantly over this fast growing East Dallas neighborhood. The Club’s founding fathers knew that the land at the corner of Gaston and Abrams would be a perfect spot for Dallas’ second 18-hole golf course.

To fulfill their vision, they hired a Scotsman, Tom Bendelow, whose prolific career included more than 400 golf courses. As the story goes, Bendelow would set off in the morning with an armful of stakes and a hammer and by the end of the afternoon present a new, yet unimaginative golf course — two doglegs left, two doglegs right, two par 3s a side, fairway bunkers 180 yards from the rectangular tee boxes, and a water hazard or two that might or might not come into play.

To fulfill their vision, they hired a Scotsman, Tom Bendelow, whose prolific career included more than 400 golf courses. As the story goes, Bendelow would set off in the morning with an armful of stakes and a hammer and by the end of the afternoon present a new, yet unimaginative golf course — two doglegs left, two doglegs right, two par 3s a side, fairway bunkers 180 yards from the rectangular tee boxes, and a water hazard or two that might or might not come into play.

Throughout the tough years of World War I, Prohibition, The Great Depression and World War II, Lakewood members held onto their dream that their course was something special. The introduction of slot machines in the men’s locker room provided funds to improve the course during the darkest days of the 20s and 30s. Those improvements led to hosting the Texas Amateur in 1942 and the Dallas Victory Open in 1944.

Byron Nelson won the 1944 Victory Open — one of eight tournament titles for him that year. The Victory Open became the Dallas Open, which later became the Byron Nelson Classic, one of the most successful events on the PGA Tour. The long and happy association between Lakewood and Nelson continued into the new millennium with the Byron Nelson Junior Classic Invitational.

The post WWII boom sent Lakewood to make more significant changes to the golf course. Ralph Plummer, a Texan with a knack for bringing out the best a site has to offer, worked his magic in 1947. The Plummer design provided a course neither too long nor too tight, with subtleties and mysteries from tee to green that take some time to master. Of note is that Plummer designed, built or re-worked the three Texas courses to host U.S. Open events — Northwood, Colonial and Champions — where the premium is on accuracy and course management, not brute strength.

The team of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore completed the 1995 facelift at Lakewood. Crenshaw, a Plummer aficianado, knew just how and where to improve the gem Bendelow laid out and Plummer reinvigorated. Tiff 419 Bermuda fairways, Pennlinks bent greens, repositioned tees and improved bunkering now greet all who desire to challenge the 6,750- yard, par-71 course.

Lakewood is one of the oldest and best clubs in the Southwest. The membership knew if they could restore Plummer’s imaginative design through Coore and Crenshaw’s subtle and effective touch, they would have something special to celebrate and share. The 1998 Texas Mid-Amateur was the first to test the redesigned course. The 2000 Texas Amateur and the 2001 AJGA Boy’s Championship followed, along with the Byron Nelson Junior Championship. The Byron Nelson Junior, held at Lakewood annually, is now considered one of the elite Junior Tournaments in the state and is nationally ranked by the American Junior Golf Association. Lakewood hosted the 24th Annual Texas Joe Black Cup matches in 2004, a Ryder Cup style competition between North and South Texas PGA sections. In 2003 Coore and Crenshaw returned to resurface the greens with a new bent grass, a blend of LS44 and 962. They further updated the golf course by adding seven new fairway bunkers and two new back tees. This work provided another step in the progress of the historic golf course and the future of Lakewood Country Club.


HISTORIC LAKEWOOD THEATER

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Dallas was a growing city of over 250,000 people. The East Dallas neighborhood of Lakewood, bordering White Rock Lake, was developing into one of the city’s most beautiful places to live. The Lakewood Shopping Center was the community’s focus. And so Karl Hoblitzelle’s Interstate Theater chain hired noted architect John Eberson to create the Lakewood Theater — promoting their latest addition with “coming attractions” film clips like this one at right, showing them at their Palace Theater and elsewhere.

The opening-day movie on October 27, 1938: “Love Finds Andy Hardy” with the irrepressable Mickey Rooney and the fast-rising singing sensation Judy Garland. The admission price? 15 cents. And popcorn? Just 25 cents.

Lakewood Theatre-2And for the next 60+ years the Lakewood theater has stood as a beacon — both literally and figuratively — in the East Dallas landscape. Families paid regular visits. Kids knew that when the lighted ball at the top of the tower was extinguished, that meant Mom’s 10 p.m. curfew time had arrived

While initially a “second-run” theater — repeating popular films after they had first been shown at the prestigious downtown theaters — the Lakewood was eventually upgraded into a first-run house, hosting the Dallas premieres of such artsy films as “Belle du Jour,” “The Fox,” “The Legend of Lylah Clare” and “The Killing of Sister George.”

Even as the neighboorhood expanded, the Lakewood’s 100-foot red, green, and blue Art Deco tower remained Even as the neighboorhood expanded, the Lakewood’s 100-foot red, green, and blue Art Deco tower remained visible for miles, serving as one of the backdrops of everyday life in East Dallas. By the 1970s the Lakewood evolved into a successful discount theater, setting attendance records at $1 per person for such films as “Earthquake.”

Lakewood Theatre-3In the 1980s old movie palaces across the country were facing an uncertain future. But the Lakewood was lucky, being purchased by individuals who cared about maintaining its heritage and style. They made improvements like retrofitting a 1927 Robert Morton pipe organ into the space. They promoted vintage films and community events. Even so, after a final revival screening of “The African Queen” the theater went dark for several years. But further changes in management and renewed community appreciation brought the Lakewood back to life once again – this time for good.

The theater is now Dallas’ sole remaining single-screen movie palace in anything resembling its original condition. Still showing films, still entertaining audiences, the Lakewood now draws audiences from a wider geographical area, to watch a wider variety of entertainment choices than ever before.