John and Debbie Tolleson List Volk Estates Mansion Where a Presidential Library Was Funded

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We have a new Hot Property, a $39 million estate that is the newest luxury listing in town. It is certainly the most expensive property on the market in the Park Cities, and the sale will set soaring new records. There are guest and green houses, a pool, two spas, tennis and volleyball courts, a putting green and a Party Pavilion where a Presidential Library was essentially funded. The home is NOT listed in MLS. But it is one of the most timelessly classic homes you will ever experience.

It is better than any mansion I have seen in North Texas. Any. It takes your breath away, changes your life, really, with the incredible attention to detail and the evolution of the house over one of the largest lots in the Park Cities. For as beautiful, spacious, and gracious as 6767 Hunters Glen Drive is, it casts a unique warmth, vibrance, even a whimsy seldom seen in homes of this size and stature. The home is being marketed by Dave Perry-Miller and Ryan Streiff.

The home is sited splendidly: the current owners, John and Debbie Tolleson, bought the original property in 1991 from the the ex-wife of Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Mike Myers, chairman and CEO of the Dallas-based Myers Financial Corporation and president of Myers Development Corporation. In 1993 they bought the property next door, incorporating the acreage into the extensive five-year remodel of the original, circa 1946 home on the first lot. The estate that resulted from the marriage of the two lots follows the winding contour of Hunters Glen Drive.

There is architectural history, old and new, technology — two retractable roof covers! — surprises, nooks, and crannies. There is a door off the master closet — hers, of course — that leads to the balcony overlooking the great room,which features an antique hand-forged chandelier that actor Errol Flynn swung from in the 1935 movie The Three Musketeers!

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Back to that closet door: it has a hidden key pad, and only the house manager and Mrs. Tolleson have the code.

The detail is the most scrupulous I have seen, and I have seen it all! From the custom masonry crafted from imported, hand-selected stone on site by a gifted Russian artisan (who later tragically drowned in White Rock Lake), to the antique millwork above the great room fireplace created by an understudy protege of the great Grinling Gibbons, a 17th century Dutch-British sculptor and woodcarver, the home evokes classic design. Gibbons is best known for his work in England, including Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral and other London churches, then Petworth House and many other English country houses. Every balustrade on the three main house staircases is custom. The ceiling in the study features criss-crossed beams centered with gold medallions. From the soaking tub in the master bath, mistress side, designed with padded shoulder rests on each end, to the HVAC vents in the floors custom designed by Cole Smith, it took not just one or two but an entire village of Type A, OCD designers and artisans to pore over every micro inch of the house and instill a branded design into every fiber. Jump for way more…

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There are even custom-designed fireplace tools with ember tongs — tools men used before matches to light their pipes with coal embers. They are an element of Cole Smith’s custom-designed hardware that coordinates from the doors to every touch of hardware to the light fixtures on the walls. The windows and doors are of Honduran mahogany, and most feature custom pocket screens that let in fresh air.

Really, 6767 Hunters Glen is Cole Smith’s Opus.  Every bit of metal in the estate is custom-designed and hand forged by Cole himself. That means every door handle, stopper, door knob, window handle, hinge, and drawer pull. The windows open by turning a custom “Lobster Claw” bronze handle. The handles on the abundant French doors are also custom “Lobster Claws.” All the air vents are custom-created grates of varying shapes and sizes, each to complement the room it’s in. Most of the estate’s chandeliers were also hand-forged and designed by Cole, and then wired to electrify.

Speaking of lights, the replacement value of the outdoor tree lights is easily in excess of more than a million dollars on the 2.8 acre estate.

But the crowning glory may well be the solarium, with its coated rotating metal panels. Custom designed by Cole himself, each metal leaf opens and slides out while rotating to completely cover the sunroof should the Texas sun get too bright. Then, like a flower, the leaves retract as they fold back in, one tucking under the other, at the push of a button. (Each leaf is connected to the other by a slim chain.)

Really, the best way to tell you about this house is to take you on a tour. Grab a bottle, not a glass, and experience the 16,748-square-foot marvel of main house and secondary structures that is 6767 Hunters Glen Drive in University Park.

You enter off a circular cobblestone driveway on Hunters Glen through a single antique entry door. The stone floors here and in the adjacent dining room are “First Cut 18th Century Italian Cathedral Stone” chiseled and then imported from an urban villa in Italy. Neighbors, by the way, include Nancy Perot Mulford, Mary Clare Finney, Nancy Dedman, and Gerald Ford, who lives across the street. The home is designed so a party of 300 to 400 could exit this way, bypassing the main house, coming directly from the Party Pavilion. As we said, the Tollesons bought the home in 1991, seven years before Mr. Tolleson, a financial services entrepreneur, sold his First USA for $7.2 billion to Columbus, Ohio-based Banc One. In eight years, First USA had become the nation’s third-largest credit card issuer, and it doubled Bank One’s card-holder base to nearly 32 million after the sale.

The grand, arched-front foyer leads to the Great Room, which was designed around a massive 18th century gold mantel top mirror that will be sold with the home. This is the piece crafted by the Gibbons understudy. The soaring beamed ceiling in this room is created of cut wood planks, all hand-carved to, as Cole Smith so aptly puts it, “create a sense of movement.” The walls are completely stone.  This room is the heart of the home, and was added onto the original estate by the Myers. A large wood-topped bar connects this room to the family rooms and kitchen.

To the left of the foyer is the mahogany-coated study with custom fireplace, and to the right is dining room. There is a hallway leading to the main staircase, one of three, that ends at a large formal powder room. In this room is full evidence of the Tolleson personality and verve that makes this home so unique, so full of love: Mrs. Tolleson chose to place a painting by their daughter in front of the sink, moving the traditional mirror to the side. Everywhere, too, is evidence of her favorite color: lavender.

Through a large butler’s pantry is the kitchen — large, efficient, and stocked with Class A appliances including a commercial-grade Viking — but not over-sized. Like everything Cole Smith creates, scale is carefully minded. There is a small basement mini-kitchen below the main kitchen accessible from the port-cochere entrance, that serves as a break and relaxation room for the staff. This could also be a secondary wine and storm cellar.

From the kitchen wing we have the family room, music room, media room, and breakfast area. Off the breakfast area is the incredible solarium. About the media room: the ceiling is partially opaque for light play, but also has a motorized, retractable roof cover for optimum movie-viewing black-out.

What’s interesting about this home versus the Beal-Hicks-Crespi estate is the scale and warmth of every room. The media room, for example, is near the kitchen. You can tell this is a room that has been well loved by family.

But where does that family sleep? Upstairs.

The master bedroom is perched over the main living area of the house, north of the Great Room. This is a master suite with a capital M: there is a sitting room, a screened-in balcony where one can observe and enjoy the breath of the entire property to the tip of the putting green. This charming sitting porch opens to a balcony that runs the girth of the Great Room and connects to the back bedroom suite.  There is another hand-chiseled stone fireplace. A staircase from the master takes you up to a third-floor exercise room and wrapping room, perfect for hiding surprise gifts. Upstairs in the exercise room bathroom is a dry sauna.

Of course, you will get your exercise in this home naturally, given the square footage, the grounds, and staircases. There is an elevator for the infirm and suitcases. Should you need a perk in the Master Suite, a coffee bar is conveniently located near the huge his-and-hers closets and marble-clad bathroom, with that magnificent soaking tub.

The home has four bedrooms in the main house, all on the second level, including the master. Each ancillary bedroom is also a suite. There are two in the front of the house with dressing areas, built-in storage, and baths. There is one to the rear of the second floor which is more like an apartment featuring a cool third story loft bedroom accessible via staircase, and connecting to the master via that side balcony. On the other side of this room, separated by an exterior wall, is a two-bedroom, one-bath garage apartment (this over the essentially four-car garage) that includes a kitchen and could be easily assessed from the main house with a few tweaks. This would bring the total main house bedroom space to at least five, possibly six. The current owners use this lovely space to house staff and overflow guests.

Speaking of garages: the main garage is accessed off the kitchen, through a stone-lined, double-gated porte cochere, and could easily house three large cars plus a Harley or e-bike. There is a 220 voltage outlet for a Tesla. The garage is a kingdom unto itself with that two-bedroom, 720-square-foot apartment above, a huge laundry facility where all the estate linens are processed, a half bath, wet area, and counter storage spanning the entire back. The floor is also coated and cushioned. There is a secondary two-car garage built to house a stretch limousine on the eastern edge of the property, the East Garage.

That completes the Main House: 11,551 square feet. Now it’s time to step outside, onto the grounds, and experience more amazement.

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The Main House is virtually nestled by the resort-like amenities that surround it. To the far western edge of the lot is the lit tennis court. A few steps away is a tennis kitchen. There is a bathroom for this area in the garage. Beyond a manicured back yard that flows out of the informal living areas and the solarium is the 670-square-foot guest house: one large bedroom, one bath, another custom fireplace. This guest house is also equipped with an emergency generator which makes it double as a safe spot during power outages.6767HuntersGlen396H (1)

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Next to the guest house is Mrs. Tolleson’s private garden, where she raises seasonal vegetables and herbsThere is also a second spa here with fountain, perhaps for guests’ use, surrounded by beautiful statues of two children, a girl and a boy. In fact, antique sculptures from Europe are placed all around the grounds of the estate.

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Let me not forget the family’s private outdoor kitchen and grilling area, complete with outdoor television, nestled to the family room and accessible from the solarium.

Now to walk the grounds and enjoy what is probably Armstrong-Berger’s Dallas homage to an English Garden. The estate stretches to the east with a gentle downward terraced slope. First there is the pool and cabana with sitting and dining room, kitchen and bar, full shower bath, and a loft area featuring a live Ficus tree with vines intertwining with Cole Smith’s metal vine sculptures. On the bar are two brightly colored, possibly Portuguese ceramic busts that again bring whimsy fun to the lavishness: Lucy and Ethyl.

Next is the terraced and covered outdoor entertainment pavilion, the formal, complete with fire-pit, bar, and outdoor kitchen. The lawn is heavenly green and restful chairs are carefully placed to evoke a resort-like feel: is this the Greenbrier or University Park? Pinch me!

The eastern edge of the estate was laid out with a 220-square-foot English greenhouse, cornered by four ceramic columns that are green Faubert-style planters. Across from this greenhouse is the property’s palace for entertaining, what is affectionately called The Party Pavilion. In reality, it is more like an English country drawing room. Or even a ballroom. The 2,594-square-foot room is anchored by massive custom fireplaces at either end, and the flooring is stone. But acoustical engineers were called in to design the space to facilitate conversation and control the “bounce.” In other words, this space is as easy on the ears as it is the eyes. This is the space where critical donor meetings were held to help fund the George W. Bush library. John Tolleson, a trustee of SMU, entertained George W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation donors here to help fund the library at SMU. Below the entertainment area, complete with scullery (housing warming drawers and cooled cold drink storage) is a walk-in wine cellar and two powder rooms — one formal, one casual. This is also the home of a full commercial kitchen that could service a large restaurant: Hobart, Viking, grill, exhaust, safety floor mats, concrete floor, stainless counters and storage, and a full elevator plus stairs to move food up on carts. Word is more than 300 have been feted from this kitchen.

About the home’s vast entertainment capabilities: this portion was designed so a tent could be placed between the Greenhouse and the Party Pavilion smoothly and elegantly covering the terraced gardens. Guests can meander freely through the gardens to the Greenhouse, and back to the main pavilion. A total sound system is wired in every structure and covers the entire property. There are also triple layers of exterior security cameras everywhere.

Nestled between the Greenhouse and the East (limo) Garage is a sand volleyball court.

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Since there is still plenty of acreage, the Tollesons installed a playground for grandchildren. But the very eastern edge of the estate holds a high powered CEO’s biggest fantasy: a private putting green. This one was designed with a small babbling brook running through it, spanning the northern portion of the property. Natural soothing water sounds take you right out of University Park. Nestling the brook is a thicket of trees, most native, including one that is said to be at least one hundred years old, that serve as a buffer to the street, which is still yards away. There is a charming, lit stepping stone path through this thicket that is almost like walking through the woods. Yes, woods, in the middle of University Park. I can only imagine the delight this “forest” has brought to generations of children.

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Then there is the limo or “East Garage”, two huge bays with 700 square feet of air conditioned storage above. This is where many of the Cole Smith custom designed candelabras and candles are stored, along with the holiday decor this home is noted for.

And that, my friends is the Tolleson estate.

Yes, this is a lavish estate, one of the five most lavish in the Park Cities. The total square footage is north of 16,000. It is a rare opportunity to own almost 3 acres in University Park on one of the most desireable streets in North Texas. But glancing back at the home from the far reach of the putting green, I could sense that unlike so many grand estates built by billionaires where budgets were no higher than the sky, this one actually has a spirit, a feeling of fun and love, of family and purpose. It’s the reason why we house our families in the first place. And this is a home created of classic design and rock solid craftsmanship. Though it was created in the 1990’s, the style is truly timeless.

Now another lucky family can enjoy it for years to come, more happy children and grandchildren meandering through those in-town woods.6767HuntersGlen418H

 

 

 

11 Comment

  • The home is exquisite, but the staging does not do it justice.

    • mm

      I have to disagree! It’s just the right amount of opulence and color to show off the details and livability of this home, which is what buyers in this price range are looking for.

      The Tollesons have great taste!

      • Joanna, I have to disagree with you. Nothing opulent is displayed in these photos. Individual pieces are fabulous. The way they are combined is a hot mess. JoJo is correct-house is an exquisite masterpiece, decor is dreadful.
        The designer responsible for this should be sent out of town quickly and never return.

      • The Tolleson’s probably do have great taste which is why this staging is not right. I’m sure they would never have those bright, coral modern chairs, the fluffy, white carpet with the lavender furniture, or the flimsy, inexpensive bedding in the bedroom shown. Would have been better to show this empty and have potential buyers tour with their own designer for inspiration. Staging should enhance the space, not take away from it.

        • mm

          Who are these Design Police! I am sorry, but I just loved the interiors of this home. They spell WARMTH and LOVE. Why can we not let the homeowner display a little bit of herself? Why not display a daughter’s paintings on the walls, I do! And I love all of Mrs. T’s lavender — Bernadette Schaeffler has brought some into my humble abode. We do not need a stager, we do not need to clear the house, we just need to enjoy the fact that some people have the confidence to veer away from the “rules” of blah blah blah so called “expert” interior design. And someone loves color and vibrance!

  • great article~ beautiful photos and descriptions,but…. You skipped right over us as neighbors/friends to Debbie and John

  • So where are the remaining bits of the original 1946 home? I looked really hard, but all the overly puffed up interiors are so overwhelming, that I’m thinking that this home’s history was completely stripped out. Nothing makes sense in this house! I’m with Doug, it’s a hot mess, especially in the public areas. The interior design and the interior architecture are at odds with each other. The furnishings are way too competitive. That’s my NOT so humble opinion.

    I wish real estate groups would upload floor plans along with their photos. That is the only way one can get a sense of how the home flows. Especially in this case. It would help to know how the rooms relate to each other. Perhaps this isn’t done for security reasons. Sigh.

  • I grew up here….I got married here…it’s a home not a house..