Sometimes you get lucky, and an original midcentury modern Arch Swank-designed home falls into your lap. This seldom happens, because they tend to stay in the same families for years, and Swank didn’t build a lot of personal residences. To find one, you have to get creative or have an innovative pal helping you. That’s what happened to Dallas Realtor John Weber.
“It’s the craziest story,” Weber said. “A friend of mine was looking for a house, and he saw 6216 Town Hill Lane. It wasn’t for sale, so he wrote the owners a letter. They responded and said they were not moving at the time, but they’d be downsizing in a few years. Although he’d already purchased a home, he followed up with them a few years later. They were ready to sell. I was in between houses, and he said he thought it was perfect for me.”
Weber really was lucky. He purchased a custom midcentury modern Arch Swank home, built in 1957, from the original owners. And they just happened to be related to Swank. You can bet Swank pulled out all the stops because we all know how judgy relatives are, so everything had better be just right!
If you don’t know who Arch Swank is, let’s give you a brief primer.
Swank was a protégé of architect O’Neil Ford, and they partnered from 1937 to 1941. He was a man ahead of his time, concerned with environmental and social responsibility. He regularly challenged the Dallas establishment in the 1940s and 1950s on issues ranging from eliminating racially divided entrances at Parkland Hospital to saving Turtle Creek from becoming a highway. Can you imagine?
His many accomplishments with Ford include the Little Chapel in the Woods in Denton, San Jose Ranch on St. Joseph’s Island for Sid Richardson Jr., and the restoration of La Villita in San Antonio. Swank also designed the semiconductor complex for Texas Instruments in Richardson and the Preston Center branch of Neiman Marcus. These projects are the proverbial tip of the iceberg in one of the most innovative architectural careers of the century.
He began an individual practice in 1952, and if you’re one of the lucky individuals that own a Swank-designed residence, you have the benefit of living in a home that is not only built with creativity, but also with a sensitivity to both environment and materials. In other words, Swank was a midcentury modernist in the best sense.
Weber walked into a time capsule. The house was completely original with the exception of a few updated appliances. He went to work. Remember, he’s part of the dashing duo that leads the Hickman + Weber Group at Ebby Halliday Realtors. When it comes to real estate, he’s seen it all, knows exactly what to do, and how to do it. So, when he purchased the midcentury modern Arch Swank home in 2011, he hired More Design + Build and gutted it to the studs.
Don’t panic, my midcentury enthusiasts. No architectural slights happened during the process. Indeed, the new specs were taken from the original 1957 construction documents and simply upgraded. Those plans are hanging in the house so people can see them. Of course, some reconfiguring, as well as a master bath and closet addition went into the mix, but you can see the stunning results fall in line with Swank’s sensibilities.
“The family room was small, so we took out the master and expanded it to make the big dining room,” Weber said.
The original formal living room became the master bedroom. The house was originally four bedrooms. Weber turned one into a gym, but it could easily be turned back into a bedroom. The house is now 2,161 square feet with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
Once the house was complete, Weber turned his attention to the backyard. With the help of Riverbend Sandler Pools and landscape architect David R. Andrew, an outdoor oasis was created. It’s where he spends most of his time when the weather is nice, and we’ve heard tales of great parties being thrown here. Seriously, can you imagine a better entertaining space?
“I moved to this neighborhood because of this house,” Weber said. “I didn’t even think about the neighborhood, but it’s amazing, and I’m really going to miss it. We have great neighbors. A new generation is coming in and raising their kids, and there is enormous energy.”
If you like the idea of owning a midcentury modern Arch Swank, move fast. Remember, he built so few residences that interest in this one is high. The first open house drew 67 people —phenomenal. Weber has the house listed for only $795,000. There’s another open house scheduled at the end of the month, but if you’re interested, don’t wait long to give him a call.
Open house: Sunday, Jan. 28, 2-4 p.m.
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying music at The University of Miami. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap. Find Karen at www.eubankstaging.com