As a new member of the CandysDirt.com team and a Lifestylist® who loves history and architecture, I was so excited to be included in this CandysDirt.com staff meeting and to have the opportunity to tour one of Dallas most significant modernist homes at 3616 Crescent.
Staff meetings are open to all in the real estate industry in Dallas as well as buyers and sellers who want to learn more about what we do. (We drink champagne while we listen!) It’s a great opportunity to meet new people and to learn about what makes Dallas such a special place to live, all inside a really great listing.
Learning about 3616 Crescent was the perfect way to finish up a spectacular year. Broker Emily Price Carrigan gave tours of the home and pointed out some of the features that make this place so special — knowing the stories behind the improvements that have been made to the home make it even more fascinating, and she had some great stories to tell!
We were then treated to a very special presentation by Mil Bodron of bodron+fruit, two of the most talented designers and architects in Dallas who have worked to preserve and update the work of architects such as Bud Oglesby, Howard Meyer, O’Neil Ford, Edward Larrabee Barnes, and even Frank Lloyd Wright. They understand midcentury modern architecture and design, and the work they did on this home is a beautiful example.
3616 Crescent was designed in 1963 by E.G. Hamilton, who was also an architect of NorthPark Center. You can see the similarities in the architecture. The way the home plays with light and uses it to illuminate various areas in the home is perfection, and bodron+fruit made sure this was kept in place during the renovations they did on the home in 1999 and 2008. Original components of the home including the highly coveted St. Joe Brick exposed walls and the original windows which make this home something that can never be replaced.
Mil Bodron told us about Crescent’s interior design history. First of all, the home was built by a member of the Hexter family, as in Hexter-Fair Title, this in 1963. The home had many owners. During the 1970’s, owners painted over the exposed St. Joe bricks in the living room (ouch) and added a — hang on — vinyl floored sun room porch to the rear of the home.
While you are trying to wrap your head around that vinyl porch image on Hamilton’s work, let me tell you what we learned about St. Joe brick. Founded in 1891, the family-owned brick maker has been in continuous operation for 120 years. Located 40 miles north of New Orleans, the brick plant is the oldest family brick manufacturer east of the Mississippi River. Why is this brick so special and so often specified by designers and architects? It’s one of the few that uses the soft-mud process of making brick in which the clay is formed into individual bricks in a wooden mould as was done in the early colonial period. That process yields a brick so unique in its color and texture characteristics, with mottled colors. St. Joe brick has been used extensively by the Bell Telephone System, Rice University of Houston, and Texas Instruments of Dallas.
But people and their designers often think a coat of paint will cure anything. Thus one of the owners of 3616 Crescent (I believe the one who added the V-word porch) PAINTED the exposed brick wall in the living room. During the renovation commissioned by Laurence Lebowitz and Naomi Aberly, who now own and are selling the Philip Johnson house on Strait Lane, Bodron&Fruit had to figure out how to get the paint off the brick without ruining it. After all, clay bricks are soft. They couldn’t sandblast, they couldn’t turpentine. What they did was find an amazingly talented bricklayer who was able to take the bricks down, one at a time, and then TURN them so the painted side was to the back, towards the wall’s hollow core. He then re-layed the brick wall, using the original bricks and matching mortar. That was but one example of the detailed restoration that took place in this circa ’63 house. Original metal windows were not replaced, but glass doors were. The HVAC systems were brought up to today’s standards and duct work was hidden below cabinetry. Since the original home was not a mammoth, Bodron said they kept the original kitchen size, added more storage to the breakfast room, and made the Butlery uber functional by putting the laundry in there as well as second kitchen potential. He then enlarged the garage wing, got rid of the vinyl porch, and created a natural hallway to a new master bedroom and bath wing.
The original upstairs master became a media room.
How brilliant is that scullery. How many of you can say you have one of those in your home? It’s an old idea that is quickly gaining popularity in new home construction, and you learned about it first here!
We are so glad that so many owners understood how special this home is and renovated it instead of tearing it down. Mil Bodron had one more little tidbit for us: past owners of 3616 Crescent were going to tear it down to build a new dream home. We believe these were the same people who did the V-thing.
“This lot is so large and rare in Highland Park,” said Mil, “that unfortunately it’s tempting to tear down the home and rebuild on it.”
Another veteran Dallas real estate agent came to the rescue: David Nichols, of Allie Beth Allman. He skillfully found a better lot for these people, so he could then sell and save 3616 Crescent, deliver it into the art-saving hands of Laurence Lebowitz and Naomi Aberly.
BTW: If you would like to be invited to our NEXT Staff Meeting, email us at CandysDirt (info@CandysDirt.com) and we’ll get you on the list. If 3616 Crescent is where you want to call home in 2016 visit the Emily Price Carrigan website. More photos from this event and of this beautiful home can be found on the Lisa Stewart Photography website.
We’re making a list, checking it twice…