Seems like we are walking down Dallas Memory Lane, what with the loss of Margaret Crow.
Does the name Ray and Clare Stern ring a bell? They were a long time Dallas power couple. Ray “Thunder” Stern was a famous wrestler and self-made man. Born in Brooklyn as Walter Bookbinder, he grew up the son of a cab driver and a homemaker in a small flat with one bathroom for eight family members. Later, his wrestling successes brought him fame and fortune. He moved to California and met Joe Gold of Gold’s Gym fame, probably providing his first encouragement at opening his own gyms. Stern was a pioneer in the health club field, and opened America’s first co-ed gym in San Francisco with his second wife, Clare. It was the first health club concept with a nursery so parents could exercise.
But Ray also made his money through real estate. In 1972, he and Clare opened Dallas’ first co-ed fitness club, the Ray & Clare Stern Health Center. Looking at the above ad, I want to remind the Twitter generation that once upon a time, many moons ago, you dialed phone numbers with a two-letter prefix followed by 4 digits. Ray and Clare also developed the charter airline Worldwide Jet, playing off Ray’s love of flying and fostering their mutual love of travel. In Dallas they developed real estate including The Indigo Apartments (formerly Wedgwood Tower) and The Claremont, now known as the Bonaventure Condominiums. When it opened in the early 1980’s, the Claremont, located in North Dallas on Keller Springs and the Tollway, and named after Clare Stern, was one of the most elaborate condominiums in Dallas and the only high rise located north of LBJ. It has sixteen floors. Experts predicted there would be many more clones. But high rise living north of LBJ never took off because the huge real estate recession choked Dallas real estate in the mid to late 80’s. Ray and Clare Stern lived in a huge Preston Trails mansion at 5907 Gladeside Court not too far from the Claremont, and Clare visited the huge Claremont spa daily. At some point the two parted ways. and Clare was looking for homes in Bent Tree North, a younger man at her side. Ray Stern died in March of 2007. At some point in 1997 he married a woman named Debi. The Bonaventure retains much of the glamor and sophistication that Ray and Clare brought to the development, almost a Las Vegas feel. It even has a Venetian Room. The work-out facility at The Bonaventure also puts the gyms at most Dallas condos to shame: this was a true gym with crystal chandeliers, an indoor pool and spa, luxuriously designed by the original workout power couple who had launched many a gym.
The Bonaventure is also extremely affordable! Unit 927 offered by Jo Pressly with Virginia Cook offers 3370 square feet overlooking the huge pool and jogging trail. This unit, which is actually two combined, offers some of the biggest rooms you will find in condo living. There is a huge master and office, 2 full bathrooms, living and dining rooms with wood floors, plus a spacious kitchen with great storage. In fact, because there are two units, there are two kitchens — making one perfect for ethnic or kosher cooking. There are a total of three large bedrooms, four full baths, two living areas, two dining areas, and a gameroom large enough to hold a pool table. Yes, you get all this for only $739,000. There’s also a private parking garage for two cars, exterior tennis courts and plenty of room to roam greenspace: the Bonaventure is set on 7.5 acres. Oh mam, you don’t get that in Uptown! There are other units in the building slightly larger listed at $1.2. Might not be a bad time to take a look at this building. With all the exciting changes coming to the new Midtown development at Valley View Mall, and the completion (FINALLY!) of LBJ Freeway, this part of Dallas will be craving more high rise, multi-family living, and the Bonaventure remains the original, the first, the glamorous collaboration of Ray and Clare Stern. (Sorry Debi.) Look at the view! Oh yes: Heritage Auction handled the sale of Ray and Clare Stern’s Dallas Estate: The top lot of the offering was a stunning French gilt wood and marble pier table with gilt bronze mounts, from an unknown Parisian maker, circa 1840, which sold for $38,838. The other top highlights include a pair of monumental French Napoleon III style bronze, gilt bronze and marble figural 13-light Torcheres ($29,875); a French gilt bronze and gilt wood cabinet and mirror with tortoiseshell and brass inlay ($19,120) and a French Napoleon III carved gilt wood mirror ($11,353) My my, the Sterns had great taste and knew how to live!