By Donovan Westover
Special Contributor, Preservation Dallas
I have always been curious about this house on White Rock Lake. Everybody is. The heavily treed lot in the exclusive Cloisters enclave is more than three acres and gracefully bows to afford sweeping waterfront views from most every window of the house. When I say most, I mean the majority of a 12,000-square-foot masterpiece that is peppered with floor-to-ceiling windows to take full advantage of the environment. It’s really like no other house in Dallas, given it’s prime lakefront location and the heritage of it’s tile titan owner, Robert M. Brittingham, founder of Dal-Tile, now a division of Mohawk Industries and the largest manufacturer and distributor of tile and tile products in North America. We are talking wall tile, floor tile, granite, marble, mosaics, stone and allied products used in the installation of these products. Robert M. Brittingham created thousands of jobs everywhere, but especially in Dallas, where he strategically located his firm. He has beautified thousands of homes, inside and out, since the company was founded in 1947.
We love tile but quite frankly, we love 4606 Chapel Hill even more. Come see why:
“Dal-Tile, originally Dallas Ceramic Company, is now the largest in the world in its industry based on the same business model and plan developed by my dad, ” says Bobby Brittingham, Robert’s son. “Dad was also an All-American football player at UCLA. He studied engineering in college and did Navy ROTC. He served in the Pacific during World War II, receiving his commission as PT Boat Captain quicker than any officer in the Navy at that time.”
Bobby Brittingham says his father was keen on big scenery, and the water, all of which led him to personally selecting the location for his residence at White Rock Lake.
“His background is clearly and totally reflected in the construction of 4606 Chapel Hill,” says Bobby.
The Dal-Tile house was built in 1967, commissioned by Robert. By the size, quality and finish out of the five-bedroom, six-bathroom home, I would imagine architect Gilbert Greenman was given a fairly unlimited budget, zero budget when it came to tile, stone or rock. The library of natural materials throughout the entire house are all underlined by the most exquisite terrazzo floors, as it should be in the house that tile built. Much like the Cloisters neighborhood, this residence has a topography which takes you up and down into large scale rooms with tasty common denominators such as massive stone walls and fireplaces, hardwood wall coverings, and carved wood features that invite you to explore, all while being hugged by views that are “on fleek” … do the kids still say on fleek?
The views and rich materials begin in the formal areas, where they welcome, and then they grow, persuading you through the plentitude of hallways (galleries, really), bedrooms, bathrooms and closets. It is as though each room is its own vignette of stone inlaid terrazzo, wood burling and rock walls, all bathed in natural light, with super high ceilings conducive of that natural light. The large flexible spaces would provide for a distinctive restoration, or create the most magnificent contemporary lakeside residence simply as is.
I, of course, and all of CandysDirt world, prefer the former.
There was a swimming pool, which has been filled, the ladder is still remaining. I can say any movie or television production seeking a sixties-type filming backdrop would latch onto this house like mortar. Though her show ended in 1961, this is Loretta Young’s world, halls and stone stairways to come sweeping through with her full-skirted dress swirling around her. Speaking of swirling, can you imagine popping open a bottle of bubbly in Mrs. Brittingham’s portion of the master suite pink jacuzzi tub? The his and her’s in this home not only refers to the master bathrooms and closets, but also, um, the bedrooms themselves. Thus Mrs. Brittingham could enjoy a solo pink sink in her bathroom! Fantastic idea. Mr. Brittingham could have a mahogany lazy Susan in his bath. The two master bedrooms each have stone floors and shoe molding and are connected by a locking door, much like that in connecting hotel rooms.
What we have here, is the key to a successful marriage: privacy and never-ending stone!
We suggest a very dry martini in Mr. Brittingham’s portion of the master wing.
With a simple call to my Real Estate broker friend, Natalie Westbrook, you can visit, explore (do check out the full commercial basement, where we are told the owner once considered having a shooting range, that’s how long it is) and easily imagine yourself steward to many, many rooms to call your own at 4606 Chapel Hill. Ditto the acres of stone and tile, none of which have moved a molecule for more than 50 years. How you could while away the hours with friends and family inside this natural conversation piece? How fortunate the next owners will be: the House that Tile Built, Chapter Two. Asking price: $6,995,000.
Give Natalie a call to begin the dialogue.