virginia and seth

Do you know why white stucco was so important to architects for new homes after World War II?  What negative effect did the Federal Housing Administration have on the design of homes?  What was one of the inspirations for the ranch home?  How did owners of a Victorian home show they had a certain amount of wealth?

All these topics and many more were discussed when renowned Dallas author Virginia Savage McAlester visited with the real estate agents of Williams Trew Real Estate in Fort Worth.  McAlester is the author of A Field Guide to American Houses, the preeminent book for anyone and everyone who wants to know about styles of homes.

(more…)

The Mission-style home at 5703 Swiss has been owned by the family of Virginia Savage McAlester for generations.

The 1917 Mission revival-style home at 5703 Swiss has been owned by the family of Virginia Savage McAlester for generations.

It’s a time-honored tradition now in its 42nd year, and it’s one of the best way to ogle at some real, historic, graceful house candy! Truly, the Swiss Avenue Historic District’s Mother’s Day Home Tour is the only opportunity you’ll get all year to witness the grandeur of the oldest historic district in Dallas from the other side of the window panes.

This year’s tour, scheduled for Mother’s Day weekend (that’s this weekend, y’all!) has some amazing homes on the schedule, including the 1908 residence of architect Collett Munger, as well as the Harris-Savage house, the home of historian, preservationist, and author Virginia Savage McAlester, this year’s Honorary Chair. Her book A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America’s Domestic Architecture, is a hallowed tome here at CandysDirt.com.

The tour includes a total of six historic homes and an English garden at 6005 Swiss, as well as the Von Erich family estate at 4918 Swiss. The Von Erich’s, Dallas’ first family of wrestling, had an interesting and tragic history best recorded by Texas Monthly‘s “Six Brothers” story by John Spong in 2005.

4918 Swiss was once the home of the Von Erich family.

4918 Swiss was once the home of the Von Erich family.

Jump for more photos of the tour homes, and info on how you can win a pair of tickets to the tour!

(more…)

One of the many houses in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Photo: Swiss Avenue Historic District

One of the many architecturally significant houses in the Swiss Avenue Historic District. Photo: Swiss Avenue Historic District

In the late 1960s and 1970s, the preservation climate in Dallas was almost nonexistent. Historic buildings were routinely razed on a whim and the city lost quite a few prominent structures, like the Commonwealth National Bank in 1969, the Melba Theater around 1971, the Southland Hotel in 1971, and the Hotel Jefferson in 1975.

The Swiss Avenue area, now one of Dallas’ most treasured neighborhoods, was almost destroyed by high-rise development and disinvestment. But in 1973, homeowners banded together to protect the area and through historic district status and many years of investment by property owners, created the first historic district in Dallas, and what is now the “crown jewel of East Dallas.”

The Swiss Avenue Historic District is truly a success story and one that blazed a trail for other future historic districts in Dallas to follow,” said David Preziosi, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas. “It stands as the finest example of an early 20th-century planned neighborhood with an eclectic mix of houses representing virtually every popular residential design style of the day.”

Those efforts, along with 12 projects, organizations, and individuals, were recently honored at Preservation Dallas’ 16th annual Preservation Achievement Awards. The awards recognize the most outstanding developments in historic preservation and individuals or groups who are committed to preserving Dallas’ history. They help continue the organization’s efforts to educate and advocate for the preservation and revitalization of the city’s significant historic buildings and places.

(more…)