City of Dallas Preservation Staff Spotlight: Liz Casso
Liz Casso joined the City of Dallas Historic Preservation Division last summer and is the newest member of the division, which is now fully staffed at five people. A big change from a few years ago when there was only one full-time planner for preservation at the City of Dallas.
Liz grew up in Laredo and said she always had a passion for historic preservation and even when she was young knew she wanted to get into the preservation field. She has an undergraduate degree from Texas A&M in anthropology and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design's graduate school for Historic Preservation. Liz has been working in the field of preservation planning for over ten years. Her first job was with the City of Fort Worth as a preservation planner and she stayed there for a couple years before going to the City of Plano to serve as their Preservation Officer. She then returned to Fort Worth in late 2011, when the Preservation Officer position opened up there. In 2015, she decided to make the transition to the City of Dallas where she is now a Senior Preservation Planner.
For several years Liz and her husband Bill have been living in historic Old East Dallas, they have a charming 1920s Craftsman style house in Peaks Suburban. With the long commute to Ft. Worth an issue she jumped at the chance to work in Dallas when a position opened up at the City. She also said it was a wonderful opportunity to work with a great team of preservationists, whereas in Ft. Worth she was the only preservation planner which made for a very heavy case load.
In her new role she serves as the staff person to the West End and Harwood Historic Districts, and the City of Dallas Individual Landmark properties. She is also taking on the role as staff to the Designation Committee and helping applicants through the process of becoming a City of Dallas Landmark. Currently there are about eight properties in the queue that are going through the designation steps and she is working to get them through the process. With the nomination process in Dallas and going through zoning changes, she said it takes time to make sure that the historic sites are carefully reviewed and analyzed so they fit the criteria for designation in order to be protected.
Liz believes that it is important for cities to recognize and protect historic places so that they are not torn down for the new, which leads to the loss of character in cities. After all she says "many people like to live in historic districts or historic buildings because there is something special about them, they are a record of the past and tell a story about the former occupants and the community." That story is important to her and she feels that buildings should not be landmarked or protected just because they are old but for the role they played in the development of community. Liz looks forward to her work with the city and helping to protect the important historic places that are part of the fabric of Dallas.