This morning, under the shadow of controversy, the city of Dallas demolished an apartment building that was once home to Lee Harvey Oswald, the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The 10-unit apartment building located at 604 Elsbeth Sreet was vacant and has been for years. Oswald, his wife and his daughter lived in the building until March 1963 — seven months before Oswald would allegedly shoot and kill the President as well as Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit.
The "will they or won't they" over the demolition has been covered extensively in Dallas. History junkies in particular have expressed outrage over the implications of demolishing a home with an historic past. The home was, after all, built in 1925, about as old as it gets in a city like Dallas.
But is the rundown former home of a future presidential assassin an historical site worth saving? After all, the home hardly houses happy memories, as told by the Dallas Morning News' Gordon Keith:
Lee Harvey and Marina Oswald lived there for the worst six months of their marriage, November of 1962 to March of 1963.
Oswald beat her there. Multiple times. They argued over former lovers, baked beans, unzipped dresses and whatever other pretext could ease them into their drama. Despite a love life that was intermittent and not always consensual, Marina Oswald got pregnant with their second child there, which made her sad and him hopeful because he wanted a son. It would be another daughter.
After one fight, she tried to commit suicide in the bathroom there, standing on the toilet with a rope formerly used to hang the baby's clothes on, now to hang the baby's mother. He stopped her.
Granted, Dallas has had some trouble in the past sensitively acknowledging JFK's assassination. The memorial in his honor — which was almost never even built — was ignored for years and fell into a depressing state of disrepair before it was finally restored recently. The spot on Elm Street where Kennedy was shot is marked with a simple "X" in the road, one that frequently fades and is often barely visible. But Dallas has been planning an event to mark the 50th anniversary this November for some time now.
The building stood in a neighborhood south of the Trinity River in Dallas called Oak Cliff. As a native of the city myself, I can tell you that while the area used to be fairly rundown, several neighborhoods in that part of town, especially the Bishop Arts District and Kessler Park (no relation) have become much trendier in recent years. While it's certainly important to acknowledge and remember our history — especially the ugly parts — perhaps it's time to let this corner move on.
[Image via AP]