Please stop whatever you are doing right now and take a look at this home. You simply have to see it. It will make your week better, I promise. It will be good for your soul! Built in 1938 for Melville S. Rose, designed by modernist architect Howard Meyer, 4504 Bordeaux came into this world for the huge sum of $12,100. I think having a baby now costs more than that. The home has been lovingly, painstakingly, tenderly restored and nurtured by it’s current owners, who happen to be the home’s second owners. That’s right, just two owners in 76 years!
Homes, as you know, are like lovers. Have too many owners, well, it takes a toll on you and your soul!
The home is in a primo location on a block of Bordeaux in Highland Park, just east of the Dallas North Tollway, that has not seen too many tear-downs. The trees are huge, including a 150 year old thick-trunked Pecan that may think of itself as a Redwood. They create awnings of leaves that keep it cool, simulating the life that thrived here back in the days before chilled air. One of the oldest surviving examples of Meyer’s modernist designs, 4504 Bordeaux is a testament to how quality materials and great design make a home ageless, make her wear well and survive the years with as little intervention as possible.
In the case of 4504 Bordeaux, listed with Jeff Mitchell of Briggs Freeman Sothebys, the first evidence of that came with the home’s original design of the casement windows. Howard Meyer designed them in a single casement design unit, so when the homeowner later decided to turn the screened porch on the east wing into an enclosed sunroom, the window lines remained uniform on the front exterior.
The home is 2884 square feet, but you would never know it. Architecture Forum published the home in February of 1940 and I quote: “it would be difficult to find a less wasteful floor plan.” Indeed! The home opens into a small foyer that holds the staircase, opens into the living room with former porch now turned sun room on the other side. To the left of the entry is a small hallway leading to a full bath, closet and bedroom. In fact, there are precious few hallways taking up space in this home. The living room opens to the sunroom, red and black bar room and dining room. Beyond the dining room is the kitchen and the breakfast room serving as the home’s caboose.
Up stairs the original house had two large bedrooms sharing one large (for 1940) bath with a corner tub. Climbing the wood staircase under the arch, taking note of the detailed notches as the stairs turn, there is another hallway at the top of the stairs leading to the two upstairs bedrooms. The original owner enclosed a second story porch, which is now the master study and master bath. That left the original master bath as bathroom for bedroom #2.
My favorite room has to be the kitchen, with original blue linoleum floors, flawless to boot. It was like a deja vu to the home I grew up in in Westchester, Ill. Something about that linoleum evokes commercials for Lestoil — get it, Less Toil! The 1950’s was the epitome of sticky branding name attempts like this with subliminal undertones. This was a state of the art kitchen in the day, called a “Nev-a-Mar. Get it? You will never mar this kitchen no matter how much you chop chop. Un-mared, it is still a lesson in efficiency — note the angled island to work OR eat on? The laminate may be original to an owner’s upgrade, but it’s not boomerang. That cooktop — state of the art circa 1955. The current owners did spring for a new fridge, dishwasher, and oh yes, a counter top microwave. I am thinking of bringing over my mother’s Amana Radarange circa 1975, but that was still a gleam in the eye of the appliance industry when this kitchen was put together. Note the original Vent hood, called a “Kitch-N-Vent”. I need to ask Skip Woodall of Vent-A-Hood if this was a precursor.
My next favorite room is the bar room. The original owner, Melville Rose, was apparently in the apparel industry and they entertained a lot, so they included a bar room with a built-in sofa in their home plans.
“I don’t know why we had that room,” Mrs. Rose told the seller. “We really didn’t drink that much.”
The bar room also has original linoleum, as does the porch turned sun room.
The home is a mid century museum, though it was built in 1938. In an article written for Modern Dallas Net, seller Mike Renfro writes that when they bought the home in 1994, the phrase “mid-century modern”was not even vogue.
“This was a “mid-century modern” home, though the phrase was not fully in vogue in 1994–and
certainly not in 1938. The mid-century was still a dozen years off for crying out loud, but then,
being ahead of his time was kind of a habit of Mr. Meyer. This was one of his earliest forays
into the designs that would make him noteworthy in architecture.”
And the seller begged them, trusted them not to tear it down. 4504 Bordeaux had been built to be a haven for one family, to shelter them through their ups, downs, turmoils and tremendous times. Ironically, it became a haven again for the second owner who was dedicated to preserving it:
“There would be no scraping. This home had another family to raise. And so it did,
certainly with an infusion of much cash and probably more cursing. It outlasted my marriage
and became a trusted haven of sameness during turmoil. I went to lengths beyond what most
would consider sensible to ensure this one solid anchor would remain intact for the kids
throughout their schooling. Certainly, it wasn’t all for them. The soul of this place had latched
4504 Bordeaux is a home with tremendous soul, in impeccable shape, a blast into the past of a different time.
Before I left, Mike told me how Howard Meyer had incorporated glass blocks into many of his projects, including this one — the glass blocks, original, surrounding the front door. He had been told they were from at Fair Park, possibly something that was dismantled. Likely, those glass blocks in his front entry came from that project. So as far back as 1940, brilliant minds were recycling building products, incorporating them into beautiful new designs and structures.
I hope this home can find a new family that loves it as much as it’s creator and first two owners families have. I truly believe homes have souls. 4504 Bordeaux has spirit!