“O” Alert: Devonshire Retreat With Pool, Spa, Koi Pond, and an Orchid Room

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Casa Verde

An “O” House is a home so fabulous you have to drop whatever you are doing or holding, including your nail file, to look!

Don’t know if the name Fox & Jacobs rings a bell with y’all, but this team built out a whole lot of Dallas and surrounding suburbs from about 1947 to the 1990’s. Two young builders, Ike Jacobs and Dave Fox, sought to “make a killing” building homes and become the General Motors of the housing industry. They certainly put a trademark on the North Texas housing market, and influenced a $2,095,000 home in Devonshire: Casa Verde.

Ike Jacobs was born in Navasota, Texas, in 1919, but grew in South Dallas where his parents owned a dry goods store on Second Avenue, according to a 1978 story in D Magazine. That area is today’s Fair Park, a neighborhood populated by Jewish families at the turn of the century. Ike eventually ended up in Highland Park when his parents opened a second store on Knox Street. Ike Jacobs graduated from Highland Park in 1937, worked his way through A&M by waiting on tables, and later joined the army.

David G. Fox was the father of Dave Fox, Jr., (the “Fox” in Fox & Jacobs) who had been transferred to Dallas in 1937. He liked it so much he stayed here after the war. Ike Jacobs met David G. Fox through friends, and asked him to help back Ike and his brother in home building. At this time, the Veterans Administration was handing out mortgage guarantees for returning veterans, meaning big profits for builders. Fox senior also wanted a job for his son, Dave Fox, Jr., just graduating from SMU after flying B-29’s in the Pacific. With the elder Fox backing him, Ike Jacobs built a few homes in Carrollton. When David G. Fox died, his son, Dave, came back to Dallas to take over the family business.

And that’s how the company was born.

Some of Fox & Jacob’s very first homes were just north of Love Field, off Marsh Lane: two-bedroom, one-bath brick veneer houses with carports that sold for $11,300. The next part of town they developed was off Fisher Road, north of Mockingbird Lane, a series of streets named after race tracks: Pimlico, Santa Anita, Hialeah.

It was 1954. Fox & Jacobs built 40 houses on those streets, Dave Fox moved into one of them, and the duo sold them all without a lick of advertising. Fox & Jacobs came to be known as a solid builder for the bustling middle class. The homes ranged in the — gulp — $12,000 to $50,000 price range. By the time I was looking at Fox & Jacobs homes in Carrollton, Texas, in the early 1980’s, prices had jumped up to $70,000 plus. 

5535 Hanover is a far cry from a Fox & Jacobs home.

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Rather, it was built by the son of one of the famous duo, Dave Fox’s kid Kevin, who grew up in that Fisher Road development his dad built in the fifties. A renown landscape architect, Kevin now lives in Florida where he is building homes, like his dad. It is a most unusual home, a far cry from the post World War II brick veneers on a slab with carport that must have influenced Kevin’s life as much as architects like Frank Welch and Charles Dilbeck. Or at least influenced the round (yes, ROUND) driveway that defines this home as unique from the moment you enter the property.

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5535 Hanover is a sprawling, one-story flowing hacienda mated to a Hawaiian patio home designed to let the fresh ocean air breeze flow through the house. (Even if said breeze comes from Inwood Road.) The orchid room lends even more of an Hawaiian flavor. Every room is connected to the outdoors with careful site planning and maximum light penetration in the right spots, with huge sliding French doors and windows.

The home is a refreshing change from the usual bevy of newly constructed transitionals. In fact, it is a refreshing change from the usual of ANY home. So complex, I had to diagram the home in my notebook with a rough floor plan to comprehend it.

First of all, the construction materials: all the stone is fossilized limestone and flagstone. Indeed, on the white wisteria-covered walkway to the front door you can see the fossils in the stone, even count them.  Ever the builder, Fox repurposed a lot of the stone and materials from Devonshire homes that were torn down around him. Every ceiling in the home is raised. Walls are all museum-finish smooth, even in the powder room. There are no HVAC grills in the house: air flows through diffused vent slots, an entire HVAC air system designed to absorb moisture and prevent system sweating.

The original home was built in 1942 a few years before Kevin’s father and Ike Jacobs partner began building their first specs a couple miles away. In 1985 the home was remodeled, but 2004 is when the real magic took place. Kevin re-made the home, starting from what was essentially scratch. He used landscaping abundantly, almost superfluously, in the bedding gardens but also in-between spaces. Concrete was reduced or eliminated: instead, cobblestone patios and walkways abound. Plumbing and lighting were replaced, and green features utilized including a commercial grade gas generator as well as solar panels and double windows.

The entrance to the home is a hacienda-type walkway to the double front door defined by the landscaping. Inside, terrazzo floors lead the path of discovery to the rest of the house. The entry opens to an exterior, open-air corridor from the front door to the fire pit patio, master bedroom and orchid house.

To the left is a square koi pond that is accessible through sliding glass doors from both the foyer and dining room. It absolutely beckons you to come out and enjoy via huge stepping stones and a cedar deck. In fact, you can step over it to the front yard. The koi also borders the dining room for ten with fireplace, with large sliding glass doors that could be left open for a truly al fresco meal with waterfall music.

Then there is the music room, a study, two bedrooms and bathroom in this wing. The floors are scraped, bleached hardwood. From the music room, you step out to an open patio with outdoor fireplace that is clearly an exterior sitting room. This patio connects to the pool and outdoor cooking area.

I think of the home as a rectangle with a hall running through the middle. The kitchen is in the middle of the “west wing”, refreshingly shut off from the formal areas, but connected to the outdoor patio via a sliding French door. There are Silestone counters and aggregate floors, the sinks (there are two) and appliances are stainless steel, the wood cabinets light wood, a six burner stainless Viking range, two stainless Viking ovens, two Bosch dishwashers, and large island. The kitchen opens both to the pool areas (for entertaining) and the dining room. Next is the living room, which also opens to the patio, fully overlooking the granite, salt water heated pool. You have at least two outdoor living areas in this expansive side patio, all open and connected to interior rooms.

But you can never have enough outdoor living areas, at least not in Kevin Foxes’ mind.

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So now to the eastern wing of the house, and we find yet another patio, this one more of a courtyard centered by a huge fire pit. Off this courtyard is the master bedroom, which hugs the interior of the home, with a master spa bath and duo walk-in closets. The large master shower is of universal design with no stepping ledge; the unique sinks are unusually-shaped stainless steel vessels on a granite counter.

From the fire-pit courtyard, you can proceed to the orchid house, measuring 16 by 34, which can be used as a greenhouse, or even an additional entertainment room. There are solar panels and the windows are heat-sensitive, opening for orchid-perfect temperature control. Also off this courtyard is the separate hot tub.

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The house has room for four to ten cars, with a two-car garage on the west wing, and a tandem two-car garage on the east currently in use as an office (it is heated and air cooled). This really is a perfect home for a collector of autos or eggs:  there is a coop behind the tandem garage that could house chickens, plants, or an unruly child — temporarily, of course!

You probably think we have covered 6,000 plus square feet, yes? No way. The home is 3675 square feet. That’s it, but feels like 5,000. There are three bedrooms, two full baths, one half bath, large laundry room, all on .45 lush acres in the heart of Devonshire. Because of solid, well-insulated building and fresh air flow, utilities are very low in this home. There are three HVAC units and a generator. And there are thoughtful touches everywhere, from the hand-picked stones to the lush, exotic landscaping to covering the outdoor grill with a chimney and Ventahood. I can see this as an empty nester’s dream come true, when life reverts back to all the fun that started that nest in the first place. You’ve got the pools, hot-tub, koi pond and an Orchid Room. This is a home for romance– like Valentines Day all year round!

The house was named Casa Verde by the listing agents, Allie Beth Allman & Associates Brenda Sandoz and Gailya Silhan, because of the proliferation of gardens

“It has the feel of Palm Springs,” says Brenda Sandoz, “it’s a half acre estate in Devonshire.”      

“We call it “Casa Verde” as the indoor-outdoor experience is magnificent with pond, pool, orchid house, outdoor fireplace and dining, and a fire pit,” says Gailya. 

And gardens surround.  

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One Comment

  • This is an amazing house. Doesn’t feel like the Devonshire I used to live in, or even Dallas, for that matter. Very tranquil with all of the light, water features and outdoor spaces.