The story of Lambert’s green paint

Just prior to the second World War, Joseph O. Lambert, Jr., Dallas landscape architect, bought an old house in the Oak Lawn area and settled down to the pleasant task of remodeling it. He simplified its lines by removing the “gingerbread” and the porch; then he mixed a mellow green paint—grayed down and brownish in cast.

The paint seemed to make the house blend with its surroundings: it was flat, glareless, and cool-looking even under the Texas summer sun. It gave an impression of ripe age, the kind of green you’d expect to find in old New Orleans.

Lambert liked the result so well he tried it on his office, an old house in a rundown section on Cedar Springs Road on the fringe of the Dallas downtown business and industrial district. It was a neighborhood of old houses sandwiched between retail stores, automobile dealers, filling stations, and secondhand furniture shops.

Dallas millionaires, driving by on their way to swank Highland Park, were startled. “Spook green”, said a young matron. But Dallas soon fell in love with it. People came to Lambert’s office to ask the secret of the color; others wrote him from out of town and out of the state. Lambert bought a few other properties on Cedar Springs Road and began stripping off their faded Gay Nineties scrolls and gables, throwing on some brickwork and his green paint. Now and then he added bay windows. The result was quiet and unique.

Other property owners took interest. House after house on both sides of the street began to get a face lifting. Doors were painted bright red and yellow. Polished door knockers and hurricane lamps appeared. Intricate ironwork revived other houses. Dallas was fascinated. People who drove through the district would wonder: “What can be done with that old wreck?” In a few months they saw.

Gradually, the character of the district changed. Iron craftsmen, silversmiths, interior decorators, antique dealers, and photographers wanted to move there. One lot that had been vacant for years was occupied overnight. Three old houses were moved in and given the “Lambert green” treatment.

The chain reaction which started in Joe Lambert’s paint bucket was still spreading. Between 1940 and 1950 Dallas saw real estate values on twelve blocks of the Cedar Springs area literally doubled. The influence of his ideas on remodeling old houses could be seen all over the city.

The Jones-Blair Paint Company, which makes Lambert green paint, reported at that time that the color was its biggest seller in Dallas. Orders came in for it from all parts of the country and even from Canada and Europe.

Neiman-Marcus, the city’s style-setting specialty store, even picked up the fad. It was featuring Lambert Green, “Dallas’ most famous color”, in spring clothes and accessories.

So, through the years, Lambert Green has been part of the face of Dallas, and the unique color is well known through other parts of the country. Lambert Landscape Company takes pride in this additional contribution toward the beautification of its surroundings.

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