By Donovan Westover
When I received an inquiry questioning O’Neil Ford’s involvement with the Newberger House at 7115 Brookshire Circle, my first thought was there is not a documented Ford design in the Hillcrest Havens neighborhood. However, upon hearing the homeowner, Julie Lloyd, compare the building materials to that of a Ford design she recently visited, my curiosity was roused. I looked at a street view and sure enough, soft Mexican brick and beautiful lines were abundant on this 1966 design. I had to know more. While we were talking I discovered the architect was Lyle Rowley, and that is where the magic began.
One part of my job is getting to see the best of the best when it comes to Dallas’ significant, historic homes. One reward is getting to know these homes and the stewards who cherish them. I told Julie I was able to uncover a fair amount of material concerning the house and the Newbergers, and invited myself over to present it to her. Julie is proud and Donovan is nosy … it was a match made in heaven.
Arriving at the house and looking at it straight on, there appears to be a plinth of Mexican brick supporting a massively wide A-frame glass hangar, which rises from behind it. This is where I began fantasizing about all the natural light inside. Large beams protrude from the plinth, supporting as well as disguising the porte cochere and entry porch cover. Walking up to the house you begin to experience the layers you do not see from the street, and soon recognize the advanced engineering used to construct the home. Of note is that the entire front A-frame wall, disguised by a courtyard privacy wall, is glass, and you begin to get a preview of what is to come.
I am welcomed in and do not need to get far to notice: 1. The multiple materials used for the terra cotta floors, battened walls, planked cathedral ceilings, interior brick walls, ceiling beams, etc. I smile as I realize where Julie got O’Neil Ford from. 2. The decorating. All that natural light is fully optimized, turning the house into a giant display case for eclectic vignettes. Did I mentioned Julie is a principal at Thompkins Lloyd Interiors? This is going to be fun!
Julie tours me around, and the entire house is perfection from proportion to composition to complementary styling that both honors the structural minimalism while creating enchantingly filled rooms within rooms. I understood the Newberger House is one of only a couple dozen waterfront lots in the neighborhood, but I was not prepared for the oasis that lie beyond the large and really deep (12 feet!) swimming pool, which is hugged by the house, and a full-blown greenhouse in which the Newbergers cultivated prized orchids. There is a lake, there are fountains on multiple levels of water, there is an island, and best of all, there is a hammock. I wish there were a box of Gallo.
Walking back up to the house from the water’s edge, I realize the plinth may command the front of the lot, but the massive hangar anchors the back. The views both up to and out of the house are breathtaking.
I sit down with Julie and a couple of her associates and discuss the Newbergers and previous residents. Morris Newberger owned Dallas Scrap Bailing Corporation and eventually dabbled in real estate. He and wife, Janet, were notable in the Jewish community, which was prominent in the area. Mr. Newberger presided over the Jewish Foundation of Greater Dallas and Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, as well as co-founded Temple Shalon, while Mrs. Newberger presided over the National Council of Jewish Women. The celebrations this house has seen in its 50-year lifespan!
Then we discuss architect and builder, Lyle Rowley, who designed the house for the Newbergers. Rowley designed and built in many styles, but Usonian seemed to be his forte. Rowley, along with Jack Wilson, founded Ju-Nel Homes in 1958, naming the company after his wife, Julie, and Wilson’s wife, Nelda. Rowley and Wilson began their careers working for architect Howard Meyer and contributed to 3525 Turtle Creek (1957) and Temple Emanu-El (1957). Ju-Nel Homes handled both the design and construction of dozens of East Dallas homes that are coveted to this day. Rowley left Ju-Nel Homes in 1963 to go out on his own, and the Newberger House was one of his last residential designs.
Rowley’s (and Ju-Nel’s) preference for topographical, old-tree-growth lots is evident across his work. As was bringing the outdoors inside through oversized glass walls on this, and many of his more modest Ju-Nel collaborations.
Alas, my reward was fulfilled and it was time to go. I looked back one more time thinking to myself, “Self, that was an amazing experience that needs to be shared.”
Julie and Preservation Dallas are proud to share this distinctive home, along with six others, on Saturday, Oct. 29. More information on attending and ticket purchase is available here.