New Owners Plan to Demolish E.G. Hamilton-Designed Midcentury Modern in Highland Park

 

3616 Crescent

Originally built in 1963 for the Hexter family, E.G. Hamilton — the architect who helped found OmniPlan, the same firm that brought us NorthPark Center — designed 3616 Crescent Ave. in Highland Park to be a trend-setting home that took full advantage of the lot. The merit award-winning home is known for its excellent use of light and lines, with large rooms that make entertaining a breeze.

Mil Bodron of bodron+fruit poured time and talent into the home’s remodel, which successfully expanded the space while maintaining the character of Hamilton’s original design. It’s an incredible accomplishment in architecturally sensitive renovation.

Too bad it appears to be all for naught, as the new owners bought the home for almost $5 million only to secure permits for its razing.

Hamilton’s use of continuous planes delineating interior and exterior rooms and creating light, eye-pleasing spaces is on full display in all 6,827 square feet, as is his abundant use of St. Joe brickworks and squared brick flooring. The original home was expanded and made even better in 1999 and 2008, when the extraordinary bodron+fruit (Svend Fruit and Mil Bodron are principles & the designers) managed updates and major additions. Those include a downstairs master suite, an updated kitchen, a sleek upstairs media room and a 20 yard swimming pool. The home has been highlighted in the 1999 AIA Guide to Dallas Architecture.

Before you start comparing this midcentury modern by a well-known architect to another one that met the same fate — the O’Neil Ford-designed Penson house on Armstrong — know that they are completely different in just about every way. While the demolition of the Penson house is a tragedy, it was in rather unfavorable condition. This home, however, received the deft touch of a firm that was entrusted with one of Dallas’ greatest modern homes — the award-winning Philip Johnson-designed estate on Strait Lane.

3616 Crescent 5 3616 Crescent 4

According to neighbors, the buyers of 3616 Crescent have allegedly justified the demolition of the home on claims of mildew.

CandysDirt.com hosted a party at this beautiful example of midcentury modern architecture in 2015 in which Bodron himself pointed out the trend toward teardowns, grateful that the former owners of 3616 Crescent had made the difficult but intelligent decision to expand and preserve the home:

“This lot is so large and rare in Highland Park,” said Mil, “that unfortunately it’s tempting to tear down the home and rebuild on it.”

Apparently he was right. We’re heartbroken to see that his prediction, despite his labors, has come to pass.

3616 Crescent 2

40 Comment

  • I already see next year’s (not so) April Fools column…Highland Park Enacts Ordinance Outlawing Buyers Purchasing Homes They Intend to Live In. Every sale comes with a demolition permit and a bulldozer waiting on the lawn.

  • Although the Penson house was a disappointment, it just doesn’t compare to my feelings about the fate of this home. Its updating was utterly perfect, so this is just devastating to my historical sensibilities. Thanks for the post.

  • mm

    It’s just sad that there is a lack of understanding and appreciation for keeping a classic intact. Why buy a home like this just to tear it down? There is plenty of land in Dallas and there are plenty of homes that SHOULD be torn down, this is not one of them however.

  • Money can buy houses, but it can’t buy class.

  • Unbelievable. Just unbelievable. I’m not against tear downs or preservation for the sake of keeping an old structure, but this is insane. I can remember gazing upon this beauty when it appeared in the pages of Met Home some years ago. This is a truly great modern home- along w/ the former Penson home & former 3711 Lexington home by Scott Lyons are/were great homes to be cherished. And I’m more of a classicist! The new owners who demolish these significant homes should have the b*££s to say they are architecture & historical preservation dullards instead of hiding behind excuses that they are beyond repair or suffer from “mildew”. Even worse would be for this lot to then sit empty & weeded because plans have changed. I’m looking at you Tim Headington. Destroying that beautiful Italiante home to use as a staging ground for your new home next door. 1/2 acre & acre lots are uncommon and Crescent is a great street, but better lots are available. Like right now! On the market. Empty & ready to build! Miramar alone has one acre lot & two 1/2 lots w/ actual tear downs listed. With creek frontage! Please rich people of Dallas- use common sense. Consult an architectural historian & preserve some of the history of Dallas & HP. It’s not that hard.

  • Gil Besing bought this home to tear down. I think we owe him the privilege of hearing from all of us.

  • Watch it be a soulless mega mansion with the intent to project the owners wealth and status. Who cares, people will only remember you for the house you tore down.

  • What a Tragedy! Hope the new owners will listen to the outcry and save this treasure!

  • 3616 Crescent Ave, not Court.

  • Weighing in as one of the original occupants of this home… It is both a great personal loss and a significant hit to the living legacy of one of Dallas’ great architects. I am convinced that growing up as a child in this home greatly influenced my awareness of, and appreciation for, the relationship of the built environment to human development. It probably is the reason I became an urban planner (after first deciding that I didn’t have the temperament to practice architecture). Almost forty years after leaving it, I still have dreams at night that are set at 3616 Crescent. Those can’t be torn down.

    • mm

      I am so happy that you have fond memories of this classic home. When I toured it, I felt so at ease. I love every bit of this house, and it’s wonderful to see how much its design influenced you.

      • Thank you, Joanna, for this article and your comments about our old house. As another original occupant, I feel the loss of this home keenly. I didn’t have a sense of its architectural significance while I was growing up there, but It’s some consolation to know that others recognized the accomplishment of E.G. Hamilton. It became a labor of love for him and for my parents.

    • So very glad that this home still lives and breathes in your dreams and memories. It deserves to live on.

  • why are people so stupid?

  • Why don’t homeowners who know the architectural value and significance of their homes have them protected in the event they have to sell?!?

  • Those who know me well, know my love for great architecture. A great piece of architecture is a timeless, classic work of art. If I had the money, I would have outbid them, just to preserve this home. THIS breaks my heart. #crazypeople #moneywinsagain #eghamiltonartpiecewilldie

    • Apparently the ability to understand and appreciate culture and the ability to make money are as mutually exclusive as they have ever been.

  • Will this destruction motivate the Town of Highland Park to protect its architectural and cultural heritage? Not if recent history is any guide. According to their way of thinking, private property rights include the right to destroy–the public interest be damned. Why are historic protection and preservation any different from zoning restrictions and building codes? They both adversely impact individual “rights” for the sake of the community at large. They both impose burdens on property owners and purchasers of real estate that limit what they can do with “their” property. They both impose positive obligations on those who own real estate. There is no logical difference, and certainly no legal difference. Is it just because that’s the way we have always done it? If so, it is time for a change in the interest of the public. And this applies as well to Dallas, and every one of its surrounding communities.

  • Let me take a wild guess….another car dealer.

  • For a few years we lived in apartments (that’s roughing it for rich people) while we searched for the perfect home. When we found this one we knew we’d found the perfect home. We lived there in the 80’s-90’s It is a very classy home, couldn’t be better spaces for contemporary furniture, large paintings and sculptures. It’s a shame it out classed the new buyers. I’m excited to see what they build though. I wonder if the new architects feel intimidated or remorse for what they’re doing. At the least the new architects should let their new client know that it’s not going to be as good as the one that’s there now.

  • Why didnt I buy it!

  • Absolutely insane. What a waste.

  • I think that having visited Holly and Louis Hexter’s home as a child made me long for clean lines and beautiful architecture that interacts with light. Perhaps that is one of the many reasons that I chose to live in Copenhagen, Denmark for the last 40 years. The Hexters and the Ruperts on Gillon, who had a more tradtionally designed home but full of Scandinavian Modern mid-century furniture influenced me. I live in a flat in Copenhagen in public housing where I have lived for 27 years. The flat was built in 1948 and I am the second occupant. When we moved in 27 years ago, it was re-papered and painted. The wood floors were sanded and lacquered. I have slowly found furniture that fits the style at flea markets and used furniture shops. It is my home, not a museum. But it is a pleasure to live in surroundings which are not sparse but where the lines are clean and one feels the light bouncing off the walls and the furniture. I even have my Pollyanna crystals hanging in the window. A true child of October, 1957, I found a tag that fell off my wooden sideboard recently when I was cleaning and googled the designer and the factory. I bought it for 75 dollars 20 years ago and paid more to get it moved here than I paid for it. I was astounded at the price. Let’s just say that if I need money, which I don’t, then I know what to sell. Happy to be living in Copenhagen where I can ride a bike or take Public transport every day. I got the University Library to buy a book about Homes in the Park Cities that I saw at the Highland Park Library. Let’s hope the City Council enacts some legislation before all the homes in that fat book are torn down and replaced by Ugly McMansions. I still dream about the Hexters’ home, too! What would our lives be like if we did not have good things to dream about?

  • As I’ve said several times on this blog, it’s easy to protect these structures. If a seller does not wish to see a home demolished, all the seller must do is add a deed restriction or covenant prohibiting demolition. Of course, doing such would likely reduce the selling price. Good, bad, or indifferent, the reality is that money trumps all.

  • It appears that some people have a lot more money than sense! Who are they trying to impress, when they build a build a cookie cutter McMansion the size of an apartment building? Only thier own egos!

  • I’ve learned there is nothing common about common sense.