High, but hardly dry: The Manor House high-rise pool

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The Manor House's sky-high pool, 1988, from The Dallas Mo

The Manor House’s sky-high pool, 1988, from The Dallas Morning News archives

The rooftop pool at downtown Dallas’ oldest residential high-rise is a cool dip into some hot history

by CHRISTOPHER WYNN photograph by LON COOPER

In 1966, one of Dallas’ sexiest addresses was the new Manor House high-rise on Commerce Street. The on-site market, laundry and barbershop were perks for sure, but the real marvel was the glamorous rooftop swimming pool. Twenty-five stories high, patrons sunned themselves beneath a dramatic oval cut into the roof that bathed the sparkling blue pool beneath it in light. The open-air view of sky and skyscrapers? Thrilling. The pool was heated in the winter, cooled in the summer and an impressive 7 feet deep, which probably wouldn’t be allowed today. (Comparable modern pools are typically just 4 or 5 feet deep for safety and insurance purposes.) The pool is a dramatic-looking respite for a building that has seen its fair share of dramatic events. In 1984, Jay Hamon, the only son of Dallas grande-dame philanthropist Nancy Hamon, died after a fall from his balcony on the 24th floor. In 1988, police found themselves searching for a Manor House arsonist after three suspicious fires were started in four weeks, costing thousands in damages. Also in 1988, a resident sued the Manor House after contending that, while he was away, management improperly seized his $41 million art collection and sold it to a local gallery for $2,329, to cover four months of overdue rent. (He later settled.) In 2007, the sky-high terrace and pool were renovated. The concrete floors were resurfaced and a retro-modern wall of stacked-wood planters, complete with downlighting, was added. Two new grills were installed. But, overall the scene there remains the same. “Lots of new people move in to this building,” says leasing agent Jason Ramsey, “but there are still people who have lived here for more than 40 years.” Of course, he says, “the rents have gone up on them – but it just proves how cool it is to live here.”

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