For some reason, Cosette Faust Newton believed umbrellas were an important element in her fortifications against vandalism. (photo: Highland Park Library)

D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Backyard Yacht of Highland Park

The 4000 block of Miramar Avenue looks pretty normal — if “normal” can ever appropriately be used to describe a row of homes in Highland Park. It sits just off Lakeside Drive, with easy access to sickeningly picturesque Lakeside Park and Exall Lake. It’s a block away from Beverly Drive and Dallas Country Club as well.

The Newtons were serious about their property rights.
The Newtons were serious about their property rights.

The homes are a mix of traditional and modern designs, most valued in the $3 million-$4 million range. On the corner, technically on Lakeside, sits the 60th most expensive home in Dallas. At 4004 Miramar, you’ll find the cover model of the July-August 2014 issue of D Homeone of the 10 Most Beautiful Homes in Dallas. Across from that, at 4005, is a fairly unremarkable (by Highland Park standards) house that’s valued at more than $3.1 million, with $2.5 million of that assessed for the land alone.

That lot looked very different 50 years ago, when it was the location of a house belonging to Cosette Faust Newton and her husband Frank. There was much to remark about the place back then. In the early 1960s, it sat largely abandoned, fortified by cement fencing topped by broken glass. In the backyard stood a “mock yacht,” the three-decked S.S. Miramar, built to look like a ship and intended to host glamorous parties. All was in disrepair, and neighborhood kids weren’t shy about trespassing in the place that many thought haunted.

In 1977, China Galland wrote about Cosette Faust Newtown and her ”Garden Ship of Dreams. She recounted Cosette’s long battle with Highland Park over her right to keep the S.S. Miramar sailing and of the growing paranoia that led her to transform her home into a fortress. (As well as the ugly side of her eccentricity, when she held a black gardener prisoner in her home.) It’s one of the 40 greatest stories ever published in D Magazine.

Note how Cosette Faust Newton subtly compares her plight to the fight for the Alamo.
Note how Cosette Faust Newton subtly compares her plight to the fight for the Alamo.

The museum that the Newtons opened on Cedar Springs Road after their house was razed is gone now. In its place is the Ashton luxury apartment building. So what we have left of them is photographs and whatever artifacts and books the library has in its collection.

Highland Park doesn’t seem like it’s quite so colorful today. Of course, now the town’s residents are so rich, they’d never bother building a fake boat out back. They’d be more likely to  build a fully operational luxury liner and a small lake to sail her in.

3 comments on “D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: The Backyard Yacht of Highland Park

  1. As I had told folks over the years, I knew these people in their last years and they had mellowed out…..and later when they tore the building down in 1977,…………………………

    Myself and several other folks had saved the 40 to 50 odd signs that were in their yard in Highland Park in the 1950′s….some books an other things and gave these things too two universities…..over the course of 30 years…..and still have this problem with redneck city folks who live in here now posing as natives now in high positions, who are transplants, not native who go by the rules of some pretty out of date people folks of the Park Cities today….

    .Dark and confused and who still hold a grudge and still put the C.F.Newtons down deeper in the grave they have been in since the 1970′s………of course at the time in the 1950′s, they were way out there…made Life Magazine and T.V on the destruction of their home, their exposure of how Highland Park was a well run Police town much life Beverly Hills came out A GREAT POLICE STATE I was later told by my grandparents who had lived in Chicago….which is the real censorship, they the Newtons did expose, that Ozzie and Harriet role models were rally the Hermann Munsters…..

  2. This is a true story and ignored by the Dallas Historical Society that had given a lecture on the C.F.NEWTONS this year as a matter of fact…..and many decades too late……

    Making them look like wild and deranged people, and they may have been that way, but I met a colorful aging elderly couple who were in love with the adventures they had once done together…..and the sad element of their whole life was gone in a matter of days with a Bulldozer…..where the Rosewood Cresent Hotel site is today on Cedar Springs,…………………

    Where the J.F.K motorcade came up hill that fate full day in November 1963, thus the Newtons last Show was the J.F.K Museum by 1964…..we were Troup Gallery that had moved their from Fairmont Street after having had a fall out with Chapman Kelly and his drugged out beat/nicks…. and I am the Survivor Alexander Troup………………………….True stories made in Dallas…..

  3. Artifact and books, papers and posters now housed at the U.T.Arlington Special Collections Library in Arlington and at N.T.S.U Special Collections Library in Denton…And in Austin Texas and on FACEBOOK under Miramar Museum…….