It’s July, it’s getting hot, muggy, who’s really working? Take the day off and go to a pool and pretend you are swimming at this house, the famous Dallas White House at the corner of the regal Lanes Strait and Royal.
Last week when President Obama was in Dallas, he should have toured this house and just made an offer: listed with Joan Eleazer of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Real Estate, the asking price is a mere $19,500,000. After all, he will be out of the Washington White House in two years, not that I’m counting, and this place totally upstarts the Bush compound over on Daria. The president was fundraising last week at the home of Marc Robert and Wendy Stanley at 7403 Midbury in JanMar. I love JanMar, but Strait Lane is so much more presidential! And it’s already, I believe, in the no-fly zone!
The Dallas White House is the home of Cathy and Ralph Oats, who started Wellness International Network, have been married to each other forever, and have a large extended family.
And to tell the truth, I think The Dallas White House upstarts the White House in D.C., too. Where to begin?
This elegant, totally gated estate is sited on 3.3 beautifully landscaped acres that have been exquisitely manicured by that landscape genius Harold Leidner. This is one of Harold’s crowning landscape glories! It is at the southwest corner of Strait Lane and Royal. If you are a veteran of the area, you may recall the home was not always this gracious and a near White House replica, though it was the previous owners who named it such. It was, in fact, a bit of a head-scratcher because the original house was red brick!
In 2001, the Oats, who bought the home from Charles and Jane Hanson on January 24, 2001, embarked on so much renovation the home was practically rebuilt. For three years we all saw the construction. From the limestone finish stucco exterior to the reworking of the interior floorplan, which includes antique fireplaces imported from France, absolutely no expense was spared in design or building prowess.
The home is a total of 16,041 square feet with only four super-sized bedrooms, five full baths (they are all enormous) and five half baths. Like Lisa Blue’s home on DeLoache, The Dallas White House was clearly built as an entertainment venue, and the guest flow is impeccable. There is a grand foyer, flanked by a library and formals, a center of the house wine grotto that is accessible from nearly every room, a beautiful home theater with more seating than Champ d’Or, a koi pond that is loaded with huge koi, a series of connected swimming pools that could quality as a tasteful lazy river, tennis court and pavillion, a guest house, an outdoor kitchen, several porticos, a six car plus garage spaced to hold two limos, many foyers, galleries and anterooms and elegance, elegance everywhere. From the moment you drive into those huge gates and over the circuitous green gravel drives, a hush takes over and you know you are in high cotton!
You begin by walking up the steps, through double walnut doors leading to a spacious entry foyer with custom French limestone flooring and a gorgeous staircase that was patterned after one in a Paris museum. The foyer leads to an elegant formal living room and then a warm family room, with two galleries on each side of the residence: north and south. The living room has tall windows viewing the manicured and lush front lawn and gardens, and features an 18th century Louis XV marble fireplace. The living room leads to a lovely library with a 17th century Louis XIII fireplace in limestone and custom walnut cabinets that are beautiful furniture pieces in themselves, and stay with the home. The library and living room are adjacent to the south gallery, which has very rare, imported Garbled Marble flooring and beautiful chandeliers, which leads to the large bar and outside loggia. The custom bar has exquisite cabinetry and walnut walls, a custom burled walnut ceiling, and a 17th century fireplace in limestone. The bar opens to both the back and side terraces, which are wonderful outdoor living areas and can be screened off at the touch of a button as well as BOTH heated and cooled. No worries about 100 degree plus weather in this house, or West Nile! Then there is the spacious, antique brick wine cellar with groin vault ceiling. It is situated next to the heart of the home, the family room, almost dead center. It has a Renaissance-style fireplace in limestone, custom drapery, and walnut coffered ceiling. There is enough room for several seating areas and though you get the impression of being in a cellar, you are still high enough to view the rear grounds.
The breakfast room and kitchen are jaw-dropping. A 15th century carved gothic fireplace in granite anchors the kitchen and surrounds a Viking 6 burner range with gas grill, that sits beside a center island with pure limestone countertops, 2 Asko dishwashers and a double Subzero refrigerator. Adjacent to the kitchen is a large breakfast room. Both the kitchen and the breakfast room feature triple groin fault ceilings and Louis XIV Italian Chandeliers. There is a butler’s pantry with storage and a lined silver closet next to the breakfast area. Then there is the north gallery, which leads to the expansive dining room, with gorgeous windows viewing the front grounds. The gallery has limestone flooring, four Mizner chandeliers, and a French wall mural that can be viewed from the dining room. This gallery leads to the elevator hall as well as a downstairs bedroom suite. The dining room boasts a rare Italian chandelier, an 18th century Louis XIV fireplace, and custom draperies along with two antique carved cornices. The downstairs bedroom, presumably a guest suite, also views the front lawn through soaring windows. It has beautiful lighting, antique cornices, and an extravagant bath with double sinks and onyx counter.
Also located on the first level: a full catering kitchen and laundry area, office with separate security system for staff, and incredible storage, including a walk-in refrigerator. (A walk-in fridge will SO spoil you!) This area leads to the attached 6 car garage, which has 2 stalls long enough for limos.
Back to the foyer, we are going upstairs. Ascending the graceful staircase with its period design iron railing, one is led to the second floor landing that leads to the master suite and additional bedrooms. You enter the master suite through a lovely gallery dripping with Italian chandeliers and sconces, antique cornices, and mirrored wall tables. The bedroom, which is enormous at 25 by 20, has exquisite paneled walls, a late 18th century mock fireplace beautifully carved in oak, and an adjacent sitting room. Her master bath is one of the most opulent I have seen: antique marble fireplace and mirror, custom cabinets with onyx countertops, double, and I do mean double Jacuzzi tub, separate shower, and custom marble floor. The commode and bidet each get their own little closet separate room. Her wardrobe closet is a custom mahogany walk-in room with a lighted shoe closet that is mammoth. Mammoth!
His bath and closet are on the other side of the bedroom, and are no less lavish. He has a double shower and marble flooring designed after a pattern found in Versailles, a custom mahogany shoe closet, a sauna, and a marble topped island in the double tiered closet. I think he has an exercise room in here, too, somewhere.
It’s showtime! There is a theater in the center of the second floor that looks like a 19th century French Opera House with custom velvet seating for 24, which is easily accessible from both the elevator and front staircase, or any bedroom. It features top of the line Paul Labute equipment, a full bar with cabinets, ice machine and refrigerated drawers. The theater bath is in keeping with the 19th century theme, and includes a specially designed French sink.
There are two additional bedroom suites on the second level, each with a wonderful bath. The front guest bedroom views the front grounds and includes a large marble shower, built-in jetted tub, and separate potty room. The back bedroom overlooking the rear grounds has a custom bath that includes a vanity and tub deck created from a 20th century Renaissance cabinet. This room is equipped with twin queen beds and designed for the grandchildren.
Of course, there is an upstairs laundry. And the back staircase that short-cuts down to the kitchen area has a custom hand-painted mural.
The outside living and dining areas are wonderful extensions of the home. As we mentioned, the pool loggia is both heated and cooled and may be enclosed with the remote operated electric screens. It overlooks that gorgeous double pool with water features and the lushly manicured surrounding grounds.
Tennis, anyone? The Oats are extremely health and fitness conscious, hence the outdoor tennis court and adjacent pavilion offer a wonderful opportunity for singles or doubles, and also a perfect entertaining area with outdoor bar and bath.
Then there is the barbecue loggia with fireplace, built-in grill, and oodles of seating. It overlooks the koi pond and views the gazebo, just another wonderful entertaining area.
It occurred to me while touring this home, that you could have five or six parties going on here simultaneously, and the groups might never even meet!
The estate is enclosed by eight privacy walls and has two large gates on Strait Lane. A separate entrance on Royal Lane is great for deliveries and vendors and tucks in additional parking for eight or more cars, with access to the main driveway. Security system — state of the art.
As one walks the acreage, the perfectly manicured gardens and statuary, the multiple water features, the lawns and tennis court, you have no earthly idea you are in the heart of Dallas with the jewels of Preston Royal and fabulous private schools so nearby. Perhaps that is why the property was first christened The Dallas White House: it’s so close to the people, the glitterati of Strait Lane, and yet so far.