It is no secret that midcentury modern homes fetch more eyeballs, interest and buyers these days. Discriminating lovers of well-maintained and lovingly updated midcentury moderns are familiar with the name William E. Benson — his name became synonymous with significant Dallas architecture in the fifties and sixties. Truthfully, owning a home with a William E. Benson signature would be a coup in any city.
Benson, who graduated from the University of Illinois in 1947 after a year of graduate work in design, moved to Dallas and hung up his shingle in 1952, quickly making a name for himself. Another home designed by Benson, in collaboration with interior designer Louise Kahn, is 5848 Colhurst. The home is well known as one of the most significant midcentury modern homes in Dallas.
Congruently, during a period of rapid church expansion, Benson designed nearly fifty church projects, from master plans and first units to complete sanctuaries.
And now, the luck of market is upon us. A Bishop Arts District abode Benson designed — 524 N. Manus Drive — has just been listed with Suzanne Warner of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury. Even more, the home has been updated to perfection with a serious effort to maintain Benson’s original midcentury modern aesthetic. Built in 1952, 524 N. Manus Drive home was constructed by a Dallas custom builder who hired personally Benson to design his own private home.
“Builders homes are always more interesting, because they generally take more “risks” on design,” says Suzanne.
You can see the risks yourself: Suzanne is hosting an open house at the home this Sunday, July 22, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The three-bedroom, three-bath (plus powder room) home is listed for $615,000.
The famed architect’s hallmarks are abundant throughout the 2,344 square-foot-home: open spaces that still feel intimate, thanks to the use of floating stone and brick walls. There are vertical panels and glass walls that overlook Zen gardens. The home is open like one expects a midcentury to be open, but it also manages to maintain privacy walls, creating pensive spaces that are fluid, and flow into one another.
The original owner/builder owned the property until 1998, and the sellers purchased it shortly thereafter.
“The house has mainly had only two owners,” says Suzanne. “It is in pristine condition.”
You know the home is special before you even turn your car up the drive. The curb appeal draws eyes away from the steering wheel to the sleek, smooth lines of a perfectly proportioned ranch. The location is the envy of many a neighborhood in Dallas.
“It’s across from a green belt, and it is one of the most beautiful streets coming from any direction, loaded with many well designed, significant homes,” Suzanne said.
When undergoing the restoration, the current owners took great pains to only make updates that were true to the time period the home was built, respecting Benson’s vision.
“The owners were careful to maintain the home’s original aesthetic while making designer upgrades to accommodate modern life,” she said. “The residence is the epitome of midcentury modern chic and has already attracted the most discriminating buyers of architecturally significant homes.”
Warner said the owners have also maintained a six-inch binder to chronicle every update to the home, complete with names of contractors, receipts, and details of what was completed.
“They’ve really poured their heart and souls into this house, and never wanted to put it on the market,” Suzanne said. Alas, work is taking them to California, where they may never find another such an authentic home.
But their attention to detail will bode well for the next owners.
Authentic updates to period homes actually improve and maintain value, and they often sell over market area comp prices. That’s because there are fewer of them —homes such as 524 N. Manus Drive are a rarity.
The updates are breathtaking. The home is dramatic from the very beginning, from the cool exterior of the home rich with juxtaposing angles, sharp lines, sculptures, and a full copper roof.
Once inside, an original large-cut marble stone floor flows from the entryway to the living room. A dining room is centered around a wood-burning fireplace, making it a focal point for entertaining.
The designer kitchen boasts custom oak cabinets, terrazzo countertops, Sub-Zero appliances, a Wolf range, a commercial grade Wolf Vent-a-Hood, and a built-in wine fridge and microwave. The living area benefits from original light oak hardwoods. Designer lighting brightens the home, making it the perfect pallet for your burgeoning art collection, too.
The master closets have been updated by California Closets with translucent doors. These blend seamlessly with the rest of the custom built-ins present throughout the home. The guest bathroom has ample space and a Japanese soaking tub, also indicative of this time period. The other two bathrooms are updated with frameless showers and marble countertops.
And can we talk about the outdoor space? We swear that your blood pressure will drop a few points every time you walk through those Pella sliding doors and out to the backyard, resplendent with cedar and live oak trees that are at least 50 years old. There is more: a Zen garden complete with a goldfish pond and waterfall, a covered patio with ample seating areas, vegetable garden boxes, and a 12 foot horizontally stacked board-on-board fence to keep it all private. There’s even room for a pool!
The owners didn’t just make the home pretty — they thought of practicalities, too. A three-ton Trane HVAC unit with a HEPA filter was installed, and beneath that 100 percent copper roof is a radiant barrier that the new owners will appreciate in the blazing hot Texas summers.
The bonus to owning such a gorgeous, well-maintained home, is the fact that you’re living in a neighborhood that is attracting a lot of attention. The Wynnewood shopping center is undergoing a complete renovation to make it more relevant to the community, as more families have moved into the neighborhood and created the demand for better shopping.
“Just like the Bishop Arts District,” says Suzanne, “this is pocket of homes will continue to attract art and design-oriented buyers, and continue to do nothing but appreciate in value.”