Take a Walk Through Wilshire Heights
A Self-Guided Tour of Art, Gardens, and Décor in our Neighborhood

Wilshire Heights is well known for being a walking friendly neighborhood – in fact sometimes it seems like all the walkers create a traffic jam! A benefit of walking is the chance to admire the many lovely homes, gardens, art, and seasonal displays. Below is just a partial list of not-to-be-missed sites; we are sure there are many other hidden gems just waiting to be discovered!

Start your walk at the intersection of Anita and Abrams where, depending on the season, you may be lucky to spot some whimsical skeletons; they usually pop up for Halloween and then stick around for several other holidays. Becky Gruber first started decorating with the skeletons in 2015 before she moved to Wilshire Heights. She brought her skelly collection to Wilshire Heights in 2017 and was able to take advantage of her corner lot to add to her collection. Each year she can’t resist adding a few more. She currently is up to one 12’ skeleton, 10 of the five-foot skeletons, and an assortment of dogs, bats, etc.

Stroll along the 6200 and 6300 blocks of Ellsworth Avenue to view three homes built in the Spanish style; admire the beautiful tile work as well as colorful gardens that wind their way to the front doors.

The next stop is St Thomas Aquinas Church in the 6300 block of Kenwood. Completed in 1957, the building is a fusion of Romanesque and New-Gothic styles; admire the rose window in the choir loft as well as the renowned Shudi organ. The marble for the alter was quarried from the same site Michealangelo used for his Pieta.

As you make your way down Kenwood be sure to stop and admire the beautiful Live Oak tree at 6247 – one of the largest trees in the neighborhood. Owner Elaine Prokup just took over care of the tree when she moved to Wilshire Heights about a year ago. By making a calculation based on the circumference of the trunk, she estimates the tree is over 200 years old.

Don’t forget to turn down Alderson to admire the mural at the intersection of Alderson and Revere.

Lovely maidens stare down a fire breathing dragon. Artist and homeowner Lee Ann McConnell painted the original mural (horses and children running across the fence) in response to the Covid pandemic. Over the years the mural changed several times and underwent a larger change to its current depiction in early 2023. As for the story behind the current illustration, Lee Ann summed it up in one word that can be seen riding along the dragon’s back.

Continue down Alderson to the northeast corner of Malcolm and admire the lovely gardens. From cheerful red poppies in the spring to summer cone flowers and tomatoes, there is almost always something in bloom. The garden was planted 39 years ago and has morphed over the years from mostly vegetables to mostly a flower garden that serves as a pollinator refuge for all sorts of butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Head gardener Evelyn Grubbs loves talking to neighbors and walkers by and answering their questions about the garden. And be sure to keep an eye out for the rare Blue Bottle Tree in the northwest corner!

Further down Malcom be sure to pause at 6231 to admire the beautiful Deodar Cedar tree that hovers elegantly over the front yard. The name derives from the Sanskrit and translates to “timber of the gods.” It is native to the Himalayas where it is known to reach 250 feet tall. The species was introduced in the United States in 1831. Homeowners Linda Gardner and Fred Alsup were told by an original neighbor that the tree was planted around 1940. It used to be much taller but was struck by lightning many years ago.

Next head south to McCommas and stop to admire the beautiful line of crape myrtle trees planted along the south side of the 6300 block. Well known Texas gardener Howard Garrett wrote about the stand of watermelon-red crape myrtles in his Dallas Morning News column as a splendid example of the proper way to plant and maintain crape myrtles – make sure to keep the root flare exposed and never top your tree to maintain a certain height.

Move west to 6278 McCommas to view several pieces of art in the yard and on the front porch. Look up in the trees to spot “Lady in Swing” by Allen Wynn – she often sports seasonal décor such as a fall pumpkin or a Santa hat. The stainless-steel wind spinner titled “Weeping Willow” is the work of Lyman Whitaker. Search in the east flower bed for a wooden head that is the work of Maui artist Avi Kiriaty – it is the base and the roots of a palm tree. Finally look to the porch to spot three glass spheres by Japanese glass blower Hiroshi Yamano.

Depending on the season you may be lucky to enjoy some holiday décor at 6255 McCommas. This is definitely one of the most festive homes in Wilshire Heights. Multiple decorations crop up to celebrate Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, and of course Christmas. And yes, the owner does need a separate storage unit to store all her holiday décor.

If you need a rest, feel free to stop and sit at the bench alongside the Little Free Library at 6239 McCommas. You are welcome to take a book and leave one as well. Sheila and Lenox Bower built the current Tiki-inspired, thatched-roof structure on top an old tree trunk after their original library was damaged by a fallen tree branch. Hardly a day goes by that at least one or two neighbors stop by to visit. A colorful beach umbrella creates shade in the heat of the summer. Also of interest is the funky and colorful bottle fence on the west side of the Bower’s property. Lennox drilled holes in over 200 colored and clear wine bottles and added them to the fence to create a little privacy between the Bowers and their next-door neighbor Elena Duplessis. Several neighbors donated wine bottles making it a true community effort.

Before you leave McCommas, be sure to work your way west to Clements and admire the triangle garden between McCommas and Malcolm. The garden is an excellent example of how to use heat-tolerant plants in your own yard. Plantings include Dallas Red dwarf lantana, Mexican petunia ( or ruellia); pink and white guara, agave cacti, salvia, and Texas primrose. Neighborhood volunteers maintain the garden.

You are nearly to the end of the neighborhood when you turn up Mercedes. Look for the gnome house built into a tree stump at 6107 Mercedes. Homeowner Girija Thyagarajan created the gnome home in 2019 after a storm brought down one of her front yard trees. She asked her roofer to build the wood shingle roof and Girija found the gnome set online
Continue down Mercedes and then admire the lovely gardens at the corner of Mercedes and Norris. And be sure to look at the front of the house to view some truly glorious yucca gloriosa!

The last stop is Jacotte Circle – many neighbors are unaware that Jacotte Circle even exists. In fact, prior to GPS maps, one of the homeowners even had a guy at a pizza place tell her “Lady, there’s no street there.” To find Jacotte turn right into the circle just before Abrams Road. Well known architects O’Neil Ford and Howard Meyer designed several of the homes along Jacotte. Lost Cottage (toward the end of the street with the shingle roof) was originally the gate keepers/gardener's cottage for the Abrams' family estate. The front door doesn't face the street as it originally faced the entrance to the estate as the other two homes didn't exist. The two brick walls with finials at Mercedes and Abrams herald the entrance to the estate. The house was used in the 1978 teen flick "Seniors" which stars Dennis Quaid and other assorted recognizable character actors. Lost Cottage was home to the wacky professor that invents a sex serum that the boys of course try out. The home at 3210 Jacotte Circle was used as the "sex institute" where their serum was put to work. There are some great outside scenes that show how the homes looked like in 1978. Lost Cottage was also once featured in a Sanger Harris Christmas commercial. The alley that runs behind it all the way to Alderson is called Sheep’s Run and allows access to all parts of the estate.