Lakewood Home Tour Features O’Neil Ford Texas Modern

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O’Neil Ford’s Texas Modern at 3201 Wendover is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photography courtesy of Jennifer McNeil Baker

 

Frankly, we don’t know how they do it. Heading into their 40th year, the organizers of the Lakewood Home Tour always find proud homeowners willing to share their gorgeous and often architecturally significant houses with the public. In doing so they have raised millions of dollars since 1976, all benefitting local schools. This year, six homes ranging from brand new builds to historic architectural icons are on the annual tour that takes place this weekend. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at one of those icons, 3201 Wendover.

Stay tuned: We’ll be giving away two pairs of tickets to this year’s Lakewood Home Festival Tour later this week!

If you live in Lakewood, you’ll know it as the house behind the LOLA — the Lakewood Outdoor Learning Area, a program at Lakewood Elementary School. Every child in the neighborhood knows they are not to cross the creek behind the LOLA to the private 10-acre property and the Texas Modern built by  O’Neil Ford, and his partner, Arch Swank in 1939 for Juanita and Alfred Bromberg. But everyone longs to cross the creek and  discover what’s on the other side, so this is a great opportunity to finally see it.

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Mrs. Bromberg died in 1999, and her children were dedicated to finding just the right buyer — someone who would ensure it remained intact and be good stewards.

Dan Patterson was living on Swiss Avenue at the time with his wife, who happened to be the president of Preservation Dallas, and their two small children. They were looking for more room to raise the family when the Wendover property was listed.

“We toured the house,” Patterson said. “There was a hole in the roof, and there had been deferred maintenance for years, but I loved the land and my wife loved the house. We put in an offer a bit above asking price and didn’t hear a thing for over a month. Finally, our Realtor called and said the Bromberg’s children would like to meet. They spent two hours with us asking about our vision for the house and then accepted our offer. They wanted someone that would love the house and they knew we’d honor both the home and the land.”

And that’s exactly what they did. A four-year, meticulous renovation began, helmed by another renowned architect Frank Welch. He ensured the renovations and updates enhanced the home without detracting from the character, with creature comforts like air conditioning and heating added. Ford and Swank built the 5,500-square-foot home with ventilation in mind and created two exposures in every room, so there was no existing central air or heat. The home was cooled with attic fans and heated by seven fireplaces, hand crafted by Fords brother Lynn.

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The delicate beading detail on the living room fireplace replicates the design on one of Mrs. Bromberg’s favorite bracelets.

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The leaf design of Mrs. Brombergs china pattern was created on the dining room fireplace surround. The Pattersons were given the china as a gift.

Each fireplace has a story. The living room surround was designed after a bracelet Mrs. Bromberg loved and the dining room fireplace was created to match her Wedgewood china pattern. Another fireplace was a team effort by University of North Texas students.

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“Ford offered UNT art students a prize to design panels that his brother Lynn could craft for the fireplaces,” Patterson said. “They picked the best designs, had them made in nickel and copper and added them around the fireplace in the master sitting room.”

The largest change in the home was taking an outdoor dining area and creating a family gallery and breakfast area. The result is so seamless — you would never guess the room was not part of the original home.

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Staying true to the homes heritage in the kitchen was a challenge. The blue tile was chipped and damaged from years of use. A trip to Dal-Tile to have custom tile made resulted in an astonishing bit of luck.

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“They called us after we’d left and said they’d found a matching tile from the 1960s in their warehouse and we could have it all.”

There are four bedrooms and five bathrooms in the house with clever built-ins everywhere. An original telephone seating area is on the second floor and of course plenty of screened porches and balconies, a Ford trademark.

“The front screened porch is a really special place and is where most of the entertaining is done,” Patterson said. Although this is truly a home built for parties — and there are many — the serenity it provides is what Patterson says he loves most. And with 10 acres, lovingly restored from an overgrown tangle to a myriad of trails, and meadows, with the help of noted landscape architect David Rolston, it’s a meditative wonderland.

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Originally the Metzler Dairy Farm, the Wendover property was considered to be in the suburbs when the Brombergs built it in 1939.

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A swimming pool, entertainment pavilion, and exercise room have been added to the property.

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A bust of O’Neil Ford gazes from the grounds to the home.

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Ten acres of trails,meadows, and forests create a serene sanctuary.

The Lakewood Home Festival and Home Tour is this weekend November 11-13. Tickets can be purchased here.

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