You have seen this house. You have seen the horse bust on the wooden picket gate, the white-washed, slurried brick, and the thick mane of overgrown wisteria that made you want to go home and give your plants super food.
(Perhaps you have even snipped off a stem?)
You have gazed at it when you were on Preston Road northbound, the red light grounding you long enough to take in the four corners at University. But I guarantee you, Santa Clause could be on one of those corners in August and you would not see him. The only thing you or anyone ever sees is 4100 University. The home is one of the few remaining original Dilbeck duplexes in UP. It is like a little country cottage camouflaged by rich shrubbery that, even before I knew what a Dilbeck was, drew me into a love affair with this house.
Several years ago, my friend and Preston Hollow neighbor Malee Rauscher Helm bought 4100 University and raised her children there. She used the 4,000 square foot plus duplex as a four bedroom single family home, adding an elevator for her precious daughter, Maran. She touched nothing else. The dutch doors, stained glass accents, hardwood flooring, wood fireplaces, plaster walls, & high, beamed ceilings of pecky cypress were the essence of the charm, and she knew it. All she did was decoupage the elevator door. She kept the original stove — don’t touch that stove! — and the original old ironing board built into the wall. She may have improved the small backhouse behind the garage for extra living space: hello, Airbnb! And she may have let the wisteria take over the front courtyard for added privacy. She knew instinctively what to touch and what to leave — and that included the charm of Charles Dilbeck.
Malee is one of those unique people with a flair for design and the innate ability to fashion the most mundane objects into beauty. For example, she’s been collecting rocks since she was a small child. Her collections have taken wing literally to butterflies, eggs, and chickens – anything involved in the process of creation. Her home, therefore, became a museum of her many collections, including antique textiles gathered from travels across the world. Throughout her home you will find more than 250 different types of textiles, hailing from India, China, Afghanistan, Thailand, and South America.
Some fabrics cover chairs, while beaded upholstery blends in with Kuba cloths from Mali in West Africa. You might find intricately buttoned cloths from Kenya somewhere, wedding saris from India tossed over a chair with embroidered Chinese textiles, and ecclesiastical vestments from Italy and France framed on the walls. Her most unusual piece to this point is a horsehair vest from England, said to be used by knights under their armor.
Can you fathom what 4100 University looked like under the reign of Malee?
Now the neat, two-story residence can be another homeowner’s palette. To give you even more vision of this most unique home, we are going to let Dallas writer Jane Rozelle take over:
4100 University was designed by renowned architect, Charles Dilbeck, the ultimate trailblazer of Texas style ranch homes and pioneer of the Euro-eclectic style that has over time, established an esteemed cool factor. His innovative homes peppered throughout Dallas-Fort Worth have manifested their own map of covetable landmarks.
The charming bungalow-like home was built in 1937 — a rather culturally significant year — Ronald Reagan had his acting debut, The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was first opened, the National Basketball League was formed, and Walt Disney premiered “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” This film strikes a particularly paralleled chord, as 4100 University appears to be derived straight from Disney’s sketches themselves.
Tucked in a pocket at the corner of University and Preston Road, the cottage exudes a whimsical mystique. It is obvious that if this place could talk, it would have stories a plenty. You can almost feel the love and laughter upon arrival. A floral utopia festoons the outer walls at first glance. As you wander past the stately horse bust bedecking the entry gate, you are met with a courtyard of the most magical kind: ivy cascading the white brick walls, a bronze bird cage perched by the window, tree branches weaving in and out of each other, peppered with bright green and purple blooms, and a stone walkway, leading you to the front door.
Step inside the house and the inimitable Dilbeck charm shines through as brightly as the sun-kissed windows: Dutch doors, stained glass accents, hardwood flooring, wood fireplaces, plaster ornamentation, and high, beamed ceilings, which give the home a very open feel. With carefully curated renovations done throughout the years, the downstairs kitchen and bathroom have kept the original tiling. A functional elevator rests in the middle of the house, adorned with a colorful decoupage door. Take the elevator upstairs to another two-bed/two-bath. Note this story can also stand alone with a separate staircase entrance that can be accessed from the front courtyard, making this an ideal spot for either a single family or used as a duplex.
This enchanting estate embodies a rural aesthetic yet offers the advantages of Park Cities living with bustling retail and restaurants within walking distance — a very rare opportunity for the urban dweller. Listed at $1,395,000. For more details, contact Jackie Helm Collins at ebbyhalliday.com.