What began as the John Merrifield farm in 1843 is now the thriving urban neighborhood of Sunset Hill. Merrifield acquired 1,000 acres before he died in 1873, hoping to avoid encroachment from the new development of Hord’s Ridge to the east.
Mr. Merrifield would be quite surprised at the sight of his home today. His son expanded the farm, the grandchildren divided it, and development had begun by the 1890s. Encouraged by Thomas Marsalis’ Oak Cliff subdivision, several affluent families built large homes in Sunset Hill. More subdivision followed, and by 1913 full-scale development began.
The Merrifield Cemetery is located on the southeast corner of Hampton & Jefferson. There are only 2 headstones plus a Texas Historical marker. One headstone is for John Merrifield & his second wife, Elizabeth, & another headstone for their son Joseph Foreman Merrifield. No one knows how many people are actually buried here. Some estimate about 20.
In 1915, the suburb of Sunset Hill was annexed by the City of Dallas.
Trees, bungalows, and revitalization
Hann and Kendall, two of the developers of Highland Park, were responsible for the wide boulevards and tree-lined streets seen here. They advertised their homes as “California Bungalows,” although smaller than their West Coast cousins. This low-slung airplane style of bungalow is seldom seen in Dallas. These unique two-story bungalows exist amongst the larger homes, along with many Prairie and Craftsman bungalows.
The wide variety of architectural styles is conducive to new homeowners seeking to renovate homes in the area. Some fine examples of Prairie foursquare are seen, along with charming brick Tudor and Spanish eclectic cottages and later homes built in the 1930’s and 1940s.
The revitalization trend is well established in Sunset Hill. John Merrifield might not be so surprised after all. He is buried in the old family cemetery on the corner of Hampton and Jefferson. His great-great granddaughter lives in a home built on the site of the original old home place.
Information provided by Heritage Oak Cliff