Melissa Parent joined the Historic Preservation Division at the City of Dallas just before Thanksgiving last year replacing Eric Hill who moved to Boston last summer to work for the city there. Melissa grew up in Eagle Lake, Maine and her family would travel regularly to visit historic sites, which she believes started her affinity for historic places. After high school she spent five years in the Air Force with one of her more fun stations being Hawaii. After leaving the service she worked for an architectural photographer before going to the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Last May she graduated with a degree in historic preservation from the university.
While in her last year of school she got interested in the planning side of historic preservation and worked on surveying the Arts District in Fredericksburg as part of her school work. She also built a web site for the city and did walking tours as part of the project. She looked at the project as a way to get people motivated and interested in their city. After graduating she interned for the National Park Service at the Washington D.C. office managing preservation fund grants.
So why Dallas? Melissa wanted to “try something new” and different after being surrounded by the mostly Federal Style of architecture in D.C. and Virginia. She was also familiar with Texas after being stationed in San Angelo for a while helping her decide to apply for the open planning position here. During her interview she got to see some of the historic districts she would be responsible for and became excited about the variety of historic architectural styles in Dallas. She was especially surprised by the magnificent boulevard and homes in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. The wide streets and grand setbacks were nothing like the small roads and setbacks in Virginia.
As she has spent more time in Dallas she has also come to appreciate the eclectic mix of historic building shapes and materials. Especially in the downtown which she says is so different from D.C. where everything is very similar in style and size. So what’s her favorite style of architecture? Melissa says she likes a variety of historic architectural styles, but probably leans more towards the Victorian era architecture, which we have a little bit left of in Dallas!
In her role at the city, Melissa oversees six of the twenty-one historic districts including Edison LaVista, Munger Place, Peak’s Suburban, State Thomas, Swiss Avenue, and the Wilson Block. Her job is to work with homeowners in those districts on Certificate of Appropriateness applications. She will also be assisting Jennifer Anderson in the division on social media outreach and other special projects.
Melissa says she has enjoyed her time her in Dallas so far and survived her first Landmark Commission meeting in January having to present the cases she reviewed. And these cold weather snaps lately aren’t phasing her a bit after growing up in Maine. Welcome Melissa and thanks for joining the city preservation team of Mark Doty, Jennifer Anderson, Liz Casso, and Marsha Prior who work diligently to preserve the historic places in the historic districts of Dallas!