Understanding the relationship of architecture and neighborhoods is the foundation of understanding preservation. This 50th anniversary home tour by Preservation Dallas on April 15th is the best Preservation Dallas Home Tour yet. The tour elevates itself from previous home tours that focused on a specific neighborhood, a specific architect or random historic Dallas houses. This Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour presents historically and architecturally significant homes that have had a real impact on their neighborhoods when they were first built and now.
Why 50th Anniversary Home Tour is the Most Exciting Home Tour for Me
What makes this 50th Anniversary Home Tour particularly exciting for me is my past connections to these homes. As many of you know, I have an intense interest in Dallas neighborhoods and Dallas architecture. If you understand these two things, you understand the city. In my individual initiatives to revitalize or bring attention to neighborhoods and preserve homes in Dallas, I emphasize the neighborhood, site and architecture. Also, in my work as a real estate broker I emphasize the neighborhood, site and architecture when I help a client obtain a home that will make them happy. This 50th Anniversary Home Tour showcases homes that illuminate specific sites, neighborhoods and architecture.
The Homes on the 50th Anniversary Home Tour Will Illuminate Why Their Neighborhoods are Successful
When you go on this Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour, you will see the impact these historic and architecturally significant homes have had on their neighborhoods and the impact the neighborhoods had on these homes. I recommend you see these homes on the 50th Anniversary Home Tour in order to see neighborhoods in a deeper way and enjoy the architecture in a more profound way.
Here is a review of the homes and how they have informed me over the last several decades.
1177 Lausanne Avenue – Demonstrating the Appeal of Kessler Park in North Oak Cliff is 50th Anniversary Home Tour
Here is a must-see home if you have any interest in Oak Cliff, early Dallas or emerging Dallas. Visionary planner George Kessler, who did the master plan for Dallas in 1911, laid out the Kessler Park neighborhood in 1926. The Italian Renaissance style Kessler Mansion at 1177 Lausanne Avenue is the crown jewel of Kessler Park, which is the crown of the Oak Cliff neighborhoods.
Past Neighborhood Initiatives Cultivated My Interest and Admiration for 1177 Lausanne Avenue
My active involvement in historic Dallas neighborhoods cultivated my interest in 1177 Lausanne Avenue. This significant home has had a great impact on me and my understanding of Dallas as I am sure it will for you too.
Mayor Starke Taylor Created the Southern Dallas Task Force in the Mid-1980s
For 100 years, Oak Cliff had been ignored by the city of Dallas. In the mid-1980s, Mayor Starke Taylor created the Southern Dallas Task Force chaired by now Judge Eric Moye. I was on the North Oak Cliff Committee chaired by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (who was also a classmate of mine in the SMU master’s program in public administration). Kessler Park was an Oak Cliff neighborhood that always maintained its grandiosity and dignity. This Dallas neighborhood expressed why all of the Oak Cliff neighborhoods would have a surge in renovation and popularity. The home at 1177 Lausanne Avenue showed the elegance of the Oak Cliff Dallas neighborhood of Kessler Park.
Dallas Restoration House of the Year Award Brought Citywide Attention to North Oak Cliff
During the same time period, the Dallas Restoration House of the Year Award was the first award in the country to evaluate restoration to live in. Leadership from the Kessler Park neighborhood and the Oak Cliff Conservation League nominated Oak Cliff homes for this award. This gave the selection committee of the Restoration House of the Year Award, made up of design and business leaders, the opportunity to see homes in Oak Cliff neighborhoods they probably would not have seen otherwise as they visited and reviewed the nominations in Kessler Park and the Oak Cliff neighborhoods. This selection committee was comprised of the Dallas AIA President, Dallas ASID President, a bank president, a magazine editor, and president of a preservation organization. When this distinguished selection committee would visit 1177 Lausanne Avenue, this home always brought “oohs and ahhs.”
An Oak Cliff home won the restoration award in 1984, a Craftsman bungalow in neighboring Winnetka Heights. The Oak Cliff neighborhood leaders said at the award ceremony that this was the first time a mayor and four television stations had been in Oak Cliff at the same time.
A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas featured Kessler Park and 1177 Lausanne Avenue
In 1985, when I was on the board of directors of the Historic Preservation League (now Preservation Dallas), I pitched the idea of writing and publishing a book on the older neighborhoods of Dallas. The Historic Preservation League Board said it was a great idea as long as I wrote the book, raised the money to produce it and oversaw the design and production of the book. I agreed and they made me chair of the Neighborhood Book Committee. To complete the fundraising, I also joined donors Fox and Jacobs and the King Foundation as one of the major underwriters of the book. This book, A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas, was written and published when there were few defined neighborhoods and no neighborhood street sign toppers. My thought at the time and now has always been that if you are trying to generate interest in a Dallas neighborhood, it first needs to be well defined. Kessler Park was one of the neighborhoods I researched and wrote about as the jewel of Oak Cliff. I coordinated with the photographer for the book, David Buffington, to capture 1177 Lausanne Avenue to illuminate the importance of Kessler Park.
On March 2, 1986, to help celebrate the Texas Sesquicentennial, A Guide to the Older Neighborhoods of Dallas was unveiled. It quickly became a Dallas best-selling nonfiction book as Dallas was eager to learn about the history and homes of early Dallas neighborhoods.
Dallas 50 Significant Homes Commemorated the 50th Anniversary of AIA Dallas in 1997
Here is another example of when one offers a well-received idea, they are made the chair of the project. In this case, I suggested the Dallas Chapter AIA identify 50 significant homes built over the last 100 years of the 20th century to celebrate their 50th anniversary and bring attention to the great architecture of Dallas. This project did bring a whole new awareness to Dallas architecture. I invited a selection committee made up of eight presidents of cultural and design organizations in Dallas, which included the African-American Museum, Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, DMA, AIA, ASID, Greater Dallas Planning Council, Dallas Architecture Forum and Dallas Architecture Foundation, with Margaret McDermott as the honorary chair, who hosted the selection committee for their final determinations. They each appointed several knowledgeable people to nominate homes, helping create an architectural survey of Dallas. I distinctly recall how quickly the 50 Significant Homes Committee was able to select 1177 Lausanne Avenue as one of the significant homes.
3201 Wendover Represents the Best of an Era
If you were just going to see one home on the Preservation Dallas Tour of Homes, then 3201 Wendover is the home to see. And there is so much to see, learn, and discover.
Texas Modern Architectural Style is Beautifully Expressed at 3201 Wendover
This 1939 architecturally significant home reflects the best elements of the Texas Modern style created by architects Arch Swank and O’Neil Ford. In this home you will see the indigenous qualities of early Texas homes and how they are applied in this almost 10-acre site in the heart of Lakewood.
Architects O’Neil Ford and Arch Swank Designed 3201 Wendover
Architect O’Neil Ford, the early protégé of architect David Williams, designed 3201 Wendover Road with architect Arch Swank when they were architectural partners. Both Arch Swank and O’Neil Ford are two of the most important 20th century modernists in Dallas.
A Hidden 10-Acre Site in the Heart of Lakewood Adds to the Magic of 3201 Wendover Road
Two architecturally significant homes that have always been linked in my mind are the Crespi Estate and 3201 Wendover. They are of completely different styles and scale. The original 10,000 square foot Crespi Estate was built in 1939 by nationally famous architect Maurice Fatio in a French style on 20 acres. The same year prominent Dallas architects Arch Swank and O’Neil Ford designed the 4,500-square-foot home at 3201 Wendover Road on 10 acres. In the middle of what is now Mayflower Estates for the Crespi Estate or the middle of Lakewood for 3201 Wendover, the effect was the same. These homes only came into sight after traveling down a long winding private drive which was part of the magic. After the subsequent owners of both houses sold off or reacquired land, both of these architecturally significant homes are now sited on approximately 10 acres. While hidden away, both homes were used extensively for vibrant entertaining. The Crespi Estate was visited by the international set. The home at 3201 Wendover was visited by the Dallas artist and intellectual set.
3201 Wendover Was a Historic Home Expected to be Torn Down
Whenever a historic home, like the Crespi Estate or 3201 Wendover, is sited on 5, 10 or 20 acres, the common expectation is that the home will be torn down. Both the Crespi Estate and 3201 Wendover were saved and preserved.
My Relationship and Interaction With 3201 Wendover Makes Me Even More Excited About Revisiting It on the 50th Anniversary Home Tour
My first introduction to this Texas Modern home was when I chaired the Dallas AIA 50 Significant Homes project. This home was nominated for many reasons, including its impact on the neighborhood and city, its architectural style, and the fact that O’Neil Ford and Arch Swank designed it. When the selected 50 Significant Homes were announced at a reception at the Crespi Estate, Arch Swank was the honored architect of the evening. Arch Swank and O’Neil Ford were also both great friends of Margaret McDermott, honorary chair of the project.
As part of this 50 Significant Home project, I worked closely with an architectural photographer to photograph each of the significant homes. Many of the photographs of 3201 Wendover were taken in large 4 x 5 transparencies in the late 1990s, showing the home in its original condition, which you can see in the Architecturally Significant Homes section of my website. It was an incredible pleasure to photograph this home. Photographing a home always helps me understand the home – both the detail and the architectural theme of the home.
I Recommended Using Deed Restrictions to Preserve 3201 Wendover
My second involvement with the house came when Alan Bromberg, a law professor at SMU and the son of the original owners, invited me to the home to discuss how best to preserve this significant home. I recommended deed restrictions that I had successfully used previously, when a homeowner did not want their home to be torn down or badly modified in the future. Alan Bromberg researched the idea of deed restrictions and came up with deed restrictions even more elaborate than what I proposed. My experience has been that deed restrictions reduce the number of potential buyers, but they do not reduce the final sales price. This is because the most committed buyers are the buyers who love the home, its style and architecture, and would never tear down the home anyway. In this case, a couple with a long interest in preservation purchased the home. They beautifully renovated the home, expanded the acreage and further landscaped the site. On the 50th Anniversary Home Tour you will have the rare opportunity to see an architectural masterpiece from an earlier era beautifully made current.
6243 La Vista Reminds Us of the First Historic Preservation League Swiss Avenue Home Tour
Significant home tours started with the Historic Preservation League’s first Swiss Avenue Mother’s Day Home Tour in 1973. Now, Preservation Dallas has selected a Swiss Avenue Historic District home for its 50th Anniversary Home Tour. When Swiss Avenue was first zoned a historic district, the district still allowed new duplexes to be built and new homes to be deliberately modern if they complied with a point system. Points were awarded for such things as using brick on the façade, planting trees, complying with a preferred height and setbacks.
Only after the neighboring homes in Munger Place became the first historic district with single-family zoning and with strict historic design requirements for each home, did the Swiss Avenue homeowners request their zoning to be changed to require single-family historic design criteria. I have fond memories of working on several Swiss Avenue home tours, sometimes helping organize the tours, other times at the front door introducing the home to the hundreds of people who went through the home. While I have not been involved with homes on La Vista, visiting this home will at least allow you to see the beautiful renovation that has taken place over the last 50 years on Swiss Avenue.
5612 Reiger Avenue in Junius Heights Celebrates a Neighborhood that Became a National Success
Many do not know about Junius Heights or merely think of it as a nice neighborhood of historic Craftsman bungalows. Seeing 5612 Reiger Avenue on the Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour will provide much more depth and understanding of Dallas neighborhoods and the evolution of Dallas. My involvement with this neighborhood and home came when I served as the Physical Development Chair of the East Dallas Community Design Committee. The EDCDC was a City of Dallas supporting committee comprised of five neighborhood areas, one being Junius Heights. My major focus was initiating and implementing the single-family rezoning of 100 blocks of 2,000 homes that had been zoned MF2 (multifamily zoning). The majority of houses had been divided up into apartment units while the owners were waiting for these deteriorated structures to be torn down for new apartments. New apartments were not going to be built because apartment builders did not want to build new apartments in a slum. The owners of 5612 Reiger Avenue joined the majority of other property owners who signed a petition that specifically stated that the property owners would like their specific property and every property in the 100-block area of what is now Munger Place, Junius Heights and Peak’s Suburban to become rezoned single-family. The City Council passed this single-family rezoning. Subsequently, I was invited to a Junius Heights homeowner meeting to speak about the merits of making Junius Heights an historic district, which it has become.
Junius Heights Was Developed by Joe Kendall, the Grandfather of Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
My second involvement with the Junius Heights neighborhood came with my friendship with Betsy Hailey (Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey), the author of A Woman of Independent Means. Betsy’s grandfather, Joe Kendall, was the real estate developer and promoter for whom Betsy’s daughter Kendall is named after. Joe Kendall was also instrumental in turning the Belmont Addition into a successful development. However, it was with Junius Heights that Betsy first told me about her grandfather. She explained that Joe Kendall had several hundred lots in Junius Heights surveyed and marked so when the starting gun went off, eager buyers could rush to one of the lots and claim one to purchase, in the spirit of the Oklahoma land rush. I find it fascinating Dallas is such a young city that its original stories are linked to people that are still alive and contributing to Dallas.
3535 West Lawther Drive Designed by Frank Welch and as an Homage to Architect David Williams
Is it not amazing that a modern home built in 1997 might tell us more about historic architecture and architects than most historic homes? There are many reasons to visit this architecturally significant home on the Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour. You will have a chance to see the brilliant work of late architect Frank Welch, one of Dallas’s most beloved architects. Of all Frank Welch’s work rooted in the Texas Modern tradition, influenced from working in the office of architect O’Neil Ford, this White Rock Lake home is the best homage to David Williams, Frank Welch and Arch Swank and their early work from the 1930s.
This White Rock Lake home at 3535 West Lawther Drive has always been one of my favorites since it was shown to me by Frank Welch when I was chairing the AIA 50 Significant Home project. Frank and I discussed several of his projects, but he was particularly fond of this home and said the egg crate balconies and screen porches were an homage to the 1933 David Williams-designed home at 3805 McFarlin and the Arch Swank and O’Neil Ford designed home at 3201 Wendover, which is also on the tour. However, the importance of the home goes way beyond reflecting details and concepts of early Texas Modern homes. This modern home reinterpreted how we think about homes located at White Rock Lake. It is a modern home on a smaller lot than many of the White Rock Lake estate homes, but is more hidden from the street. The extra privacy does not impair the beautiful views of White Rock Lake. Frank Welch also designed a very personal program to reflect the homeowner’s desire to host chamber music and organ concerts. One could almost say 3535 West Lawther Drive was the home that kicked off the resurgence of White Rock Lake’s residential popularity.
The Patron Home on the Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour is the Aldredge House at 5500 Swiss Avenue Designed by Architect Hal Thomson
When one thinks of Dallas’s most famous early architects, Hal Thomson, the Aldredge home at 5500 Swiss Avenue always come to mind. Its majesty continues to enthrall. Its detail and grace is hard to imagine ever again being recreated. You will enjoy seeing this home as a patron on the Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour.
Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour Will Shine More Light on Architecturally Significant Homes
I have written about and photographed several of these homes on the Preservation Dallas 50th Anniversary Home Tour. This 50th Anniversary Home Tour on April 15th will bring special attention to the great architecture in Dallas, the evolution of Dallas neighborhoods, and the importance of preservation.