Classic Swiss Avenue Prairie-Style Opens Doors For Mother’s Day Home Tour

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It’s practically an institution in Dallas, an event that brings together families to enjoy one of the city’s favorite neighborhoods. Of course, I’m talking about the Swiss Avenue Historic District Mother’s Day Home Tour, which is a two-day event on Mother’s Day Weekend (May 7-8) with a jazz brunch, an art fair, a free speaker series at the Aldredge House, and plenty of time to stroll down the picturesque streets of this standard-bearing neighborhood. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the tour. Brunch is $25 per person.

This year’s tour features some phenomenal homes that really speak to the diversity of architecture in the neighborhood. Not only can you enjoy the classic Prairie-style and Arts & Crafts architecture for which the neighborhood is known, but this year’s tour includes stops at a fabulous Dutch colonial revival and a stand-out two-story manor.

While we can easily fall in love with just about every home in the area, we have a soft spot for 4937 Swiss Avenue, which is owned by Lee and Bryan Jones. This home has gone through such a thoughtful and tremendous restoration that you just have to see to believe! We caught up with the homeowners to see how they’re getting ready for this annual spectacle, and what tour goers have to look forward to when scoping their lovely abode!

Stay tuned to the blog next week as we will be giving away tickets to this fabulous event! What room or design element of your home will stand out to home tour goers?

Lee Jones: Probably the kitchen and the enclosed porch on the back, which overlooks the lap pool and rear porch.

CD: Is there any feature or finish in your home that tour goers shouldn’t miss?

Jones: Most people love the flow and the light in the house. We have many light fixtures which are original to the house, and most of the other lights are antiques from the early twentieth century. The sunroom is a departure from the decoration in the rest of the house. The room possesses its original wall mounted fans (in working order), and two pieces of parlor furniture original to the house. These were a gift from J.D. Padgitt’s descendants.

CD: If you had to choose one spot — inside or outside — on your property where you could spend all day, where would it be and why?

Jones: I love stretching out in the front parlor on my sofa to read. The light in this room is wonderful, and I can see both the street out front and my backyard (through the dining room).

CD: What are you doing to prepare for the home tour?

Jones: Picking up! We still have two sons at home, and all of us are readers and/or doodlers who tend to leave stacks of books and papers about. I’m also refreshing the front perennial garden, which I designed for pollinators.

CD: What construction or renovation have you completed since you moved in? In what ways have you put your fingerprint on your home?

Jones: Prairie architecture was the modern architecture of the early twentieth century. We wanted to create a home where the historical architecture and fixtures were preserved or restored and also harmonized with today’s art and furnishings.

When we purchased the J.D. Padgitt house in late 2011, the interior was a 1980s version of Williamsburg Colonial. Each room was a different color from merlot to painter’s tape blue, with the picture mouldings picked out in white. The windows were shrouded in heavy draperies, which concealed the distinctive divided lights and woodwork so characteristic of this style of architecture. The original mantel had been faux finished to a dark brown and then gilded. The kitchen was the original footprint with four doors, one on each wall. One pantry had been converted to a half bath, and one of the other pantries had been combined with what was originally a screened breakfast porch (long ago enclosed). The only access to the spectacular lap pool and rear porch was through a narrow back door.

We painted the entire house in shades of white, except for some bedrooms (not on tour). We replumbed the original bathrooms, but kept the original bathtubs and sinks (and one toilet, now in the downstairs half bath) and installed tile which replicates the original tile.

In 2014-15, we rebuilt the “working” part of the house. We removed the back staircase and relocated the half bath to the remaining cavity. The pantry that had been a half bath since the 1970s-80s was consolidated into the kitchen. We widened the opening from the kitchen to the original breakfast room (now functioning as a butler’s pantry). We combined the two other original pantries to create a utility/mudroom, and restored the wall that originally existed between the pantries and the breakfast porch. The pocket door between these two spaces is the original leaded glass door which led from the original breakfast room to the breakfast porch. We rebuilt the breakfast porch, bricked the exterior to match the rest of the house, and installed windows and French doors to match those of the west sunroom. Finally, for flooring in this room we installed hand-cut ceramic tile in a pattern used in the 1910s.

We also updated landscaping and hardscaping in the back yard.

CD: Is there any history behind your home? Your neighborhood? Care to share?

Jones: Candy, I can’t begin to summarize the history of Swiss Avenue! As you know the entire neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places and is Dallas’ first designated historic district. J.D. Padgitt, the original owner of 4937 Swiss, was the owner of a saddlery and leather business famous throughout the Southwest and Latin America. He was active in civic affairs in Dallas, and patented a medical saddle bag for use by the British and American Army in World War I. Because of his war work, Mr. Padgitt received death threats from German sympathizers, which he ignored. The threats culminated in saboteurs posing as coal delivery men dropping explosives through the coal chute in the basement. They were spotted and caught a few blocks away; the explosives didn’t go off. The house remained in the Padgitt family until the 1950s. We are the fifth owners, and we know the descendants of the first owners!

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Joanna England

If Executive Editor Joanna England could house hunt forever, she absolutely would. Instead she covers the North Texas housing market and the economy for While she started out with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Joanna's work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News as well as several local media outlets. When she's not knitting or hooping, or enjoying White Rock Lake, she's behind the lens of her camera. She lives in East Dallas with her husband, son, and their furry and feathered menagerie.

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