I had the best Mother’s Day ever at the Swiss Avenue Historic District’s Mother’s Day Home Tour. We rambled through four of the eight homes on tour, skipping Aldredge House only because I can get in any time and have been there for many a Dallas County Medical Alliance meeting.
But here is one home that was not on tour, and very easily could have been been. In fact, it was in the Swiss Avenue Women’s Guild Holiday Home Tour 2003. There are 207 homes in this district, and most are some of the finest examples of early 20th century architecture in the country. 5323 Swiss is one of them. Considered by many to be the crown Georgian jewel of The Swiss Avenue Historic District, 5323 Swiss Avenue is a most unique estate. Like peeling back a beautiful flower, you go inside the home and discover more and more and more wonders. It has been beautifully cared for, updated and maintained. I had the pleasure of visiting the home this past December, along with my mother-in-law, for a Preservation Dallas event. It is not only elegant, historic and luxurious, it is period true inside: both the main house and the carriage house were designed by architect Hal Thompson in 1916.
5323 Swiss has so much going for it, a few words just won’t do it justice. Go ahead, grab a flute of champagne or, maybe a bottle. One of the major things this home has going now is a significant price reduction of $400,500. Like almost half a million! Originally listed for $3,400,000, the home is now available at $2,999,500. Listed with Kay Weeks and Hillary Dean at Ebby Halliday. This new pricing is quite remarkable because the home is enormous — 7 bedrooms plus a Murphy bed, 8 baths, three powder rooms — and you have easily a million in marble and Texas limestone alone. I recall touring it with designer extraordinaire Margaret Chambers and her husband, who know of such things, and they told me — there is a large fortune of materials in this home!
And there are not one but TWO media rooms!
Walk into a typical Swiss floorplan, foyer flanked by gracious formals, dining on left, living on right. Off the living room is the porch or solarium, which if memory serves me has the original hand-laid floor tiles. They were installed piece by piece, and you can actually see where pattern repeats skipped.The ceiling and wall moldings are ornate, with Wedgewood in the wall fleur de lis. You have formal window treatments, elegant leaded crystal chandeliers, multiple fireplaces (five total) and solid hardwood floors like many Swiss Avenue homes.
But the owners, Suzanne and Dave Palmlund, added so much more to this home, In fact, they are old hats at historic renovation, having remodelled 5007 Swiss before this home. Suzanne is a founder of “The Swiss Avenue Women’s Guild;” the organization was created to connect the residents of historical Swiss Avenue. David, who is originally from New York state, is currently a director of Stanton Chase International and a founder of American Home Shield, one of the nation’s largest home warranty companies. He took the company from concept to initial public offering.
The downstairs includes a huge Butler’s pantry between the dining room and kitchen, and fully remodeled kitchen decked with high end designer appliances in PRISTINE condition, triple sink, and custom cabinetry including a custom marble-topped island/eating table. Granite is just everywhere. Across from the kitchen is my favorite room in all of Dallas: a wine hall. This is another marble wonder of a room lined with wine coolers, the Hall of Wine, with barrel glass-tiled ceiling and enough room for 800 bottles, windows overlooking the stunning pool and patio. It’s bright enough to actually see the bottles! There is a family room and crafts room with full bath, a murphy bed, and access to the three car garage.
There are two staircases to the upstairs, including the servant’s stairs — Swiss Avenue homes are so Downton Abbey, probably why I love them — but this home is firmly rooted in the 21st century with an elevator. Upstairs are three bedrooms all with baths, a study, the over-the-top master bathroom, huge closets and what everyone really needs: a private theater off the master bedroom. I think I asked the owner of the home, who is an interior designer, why she wanted to place it there. I mean, it makes sense but I just never would have thought of that location. She told me they loved to watch movies so much, with this location you could watch and then just roll into bed. Brilliant. The fireplace in the guest room is from the Adolphus hotel in Dallas.
Because, as I said, there is another media room, much larger, out in the guest house/office.
No worries that you are hogging the lot. It’s huge: 120 by 283 deep, so there is still some green space despite the structures and gigantic pool.
So, the home does not end with the main house, oh no. The Palmlunds built a home within a home right behind this 11,261 square foot home. You can walk across the second story deck (or enter from the patio downstairs) to the Carriage House, which I think should be capitalized, elegant as it is. It features two bedrooms, two baths, it’s own (quite large) laundry area, living area, a full kitchen and a custom hand carved wooden bar. The living area has French doors opening to the motor court, making it a perfect spot for parties.
But wait, go get another bottle of wine, there is more. Beyond the Carriage House is the 3795 square foot pool house, gazebo and, outside, a country club sized swimming pool, built in 2004 by Randall Hall. The pool house is really a conference center and office in your backyard, with a private entrance. There are also, here, guest quarters, a kitchen, and yet another living area (seven total, maybe eight, lost count) plus the piece de resistance, the 20 seat theater with massage seats that once you sink into, you will never, ever leave until they just yank you out. The theater is soundproofed and flanked by mahogany-paneled rooms. On the way up, you are surrounded by walls, floors and stairs covered in Texas fossil limestone. So much limestone is in there I tried and yes, heard my own echo. Cannot walk up stairs — never fear: there’s an elevator. Another elevator.
Here’s who needs this home: me. Seriously, someone who loves Lakewood/East Dallas, wants an historic property, entertains out the wahzoo, but needs a sophisticated home office.
I don’t know, this home leaves me breathless. Just from walking it! I’m very bullish on Swiss Avenue because I really do think the surrounding areas are changing — Uptown East as they call it. But Swiss Avenue will also have my heart for its boulevard-type layout, the broad sidewalks, the plethora of historical homes that line it. Swiss Avenue was the first paved street in Dallas. And it came about because of a developer’s dream. At the turn of the last century, Robert S. Munger, a successful cotton-gin,manufacturer and real estate developer, had a vision. Dallas had no zoning at at time –Houston still doesn’t, by the way. He wanted to create a high end, upscale residential community just east of downtown Dallas. He built grand and stately homes that were snapped up by the leading and affluent residents of the time. No specs were allowed — the affluent buyers hired the best architects in town: Bertram Hill, Lang & Witchell, Charles Bulger, Hal Thompson, Marion Fooshee, C.P. Stites, Marshall Barnett and W.H. Reeves. His building restrictions were fierce: at least two stories in height, exteriors of brick or masonry, no residence could face a side street, and each had to cost at least $10,000 to build.
$10,000 to build a home in 1920. That was high cotton! Think of this the next time you go down Swiss Avenue and tell me with a straight face that real estate doesn’t appreciate!