Many in Fort Worth have always referred to the stately house at 5800 Merrymount Road as “The White House,” though it looks more like Tara to me. The property, which just came on the market this week, straddles Westover and the city of Westover Hills, just behind the Westover Hills Police Station, though the estate has its own guard house. With its array of meticulously landscaped terraces and vistas, the grounds feel larger than their 2.5 acre spread. In fact, the estate once extended to over 7 acres.
Built in the 1920s and augmented over time, the home seems from another era. Indeed the house and its owners are both fixed in local legend and history. Guy Waggoner, scion of the legendary ranching family, built the original 3,500-square-foot structure. The F. Kirk Johnsons bought the house in the late 1930s and nearly doubled the square footage, adding the pool and poolhouse. The exact square footage of the vast, six-bedroom , six-and-one-half-bath house is not precisely known.
For nearly 50 years, the Holt Hickmans have owned the property. In 1964, Holt purchased the automotive air-conditioning division of Leonard’s Department Store and founded Lone Star Manufacturing Co. Lone Star became the world’s largest automotive HVAC system company, servicing customers such as Chrysler, Isuzu, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Volvo, KMart, Target, and Montgomery Ward. A gifted entrepreneur, he would eventually found 70 companies. Mr. Hickman was major benefactor in Fort Worth, which he called “the center of the universe.” Honored for his extensive philanthropy, which included substantial gifts to SMU, his alma mater, he would serve on the board of the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau and spearhead efforts to improve and rejuvenate the Fort Worth Stockyards.
As might be expected, rooms are on a grand scale. The living room is the size of a ballroom. Colors and paint finishes may look dated, but the charming Adam-style plaster ceilings definitely deserve to be saved and cherished.
The living room contains one of six fireplaces. Oak floors throughout are in near perfect condition.
At the back of the house is an extensive den, game room, and party room with full bar, which recalls a livelier past.
The kitchen truly is commercial, with its massive, vintage, Vulcan range and seven feet of Stakold refrigerator/ freezers, which look brand new. Though a future owner will probably insist on an update, the floor plan, which is open with an island and ample prep areas, bar, and breakfast room could limit the project to a strictly cosmetic affair.
Behind antique Indian doors is the ground-floor master suite, an addition of the present owners. And what an immense suite it is, almost a house within a house. A large 12-foot-high living area with a fireplace and built-in entertainment center connects to a pair of bedrooms.
The bedrooms are of equal size and mirror image, connected to one another. Both have their own separate bath and large closets.
The double sink vanity may seem odd in a separate bath. In fact, the addition is essentially a living area with double master bedrooms.
An upstairs bedroom with lovely boiserie paneling mask doors that lead to a room beyond. Frankly, quite a bit of maintenance and redecoration need to be done to bring this signature residence up to the standard it merits, and it will require a buyer as formidable as its former owners to take on this Fort Worth treasure.
A caretaker’s cottage lies to the side of the house near a nine-bay, at least 10-car garage at basement level.
The grounds are perhaps the most beautiful and bewitching aspects of the estate. Sprinkled throughout are rather quaint statues — the silent caretakers and current occupants of the property.
Listing agent Martha Williams of Williams Trew is offering 5800 Merrymount Road for $5.75 million.
Eric Prokesh is an interior designer whose work has appeared on HGTV, and in books and publications including D Home, Southern Accents, House Beautiful, and House and Garden. In January 2005, HG named Eric one of the 50 tastemakers in America and D Home has included him as one of Dallas’ Best Designers for 10 years. Having lived most of his life in Dallas, he now calls Fort Worth home and is one of our experts on beautiful Fort Worth Dirt.