Every stylish lady needs a refreshing makeover from time to time. Grand historic homes are no exception. When the Swiss Avenue Historic District kicks off its weekend-long 46th Annual Mother’s Day Home Tour, 5007 Swiss Avenue will be unveiling an elegant new look.
Since sharing the vision for historic home preservation is part of the Swiss Avenue Historic District’s mission, it featured the home in last year’s tour to showcase planning and craftsmanship in-progress. This year, tour-goers will get an up-close-and-personal look at the exquisite results.
The sprawling Italianate-style home was built at the top of Swiss Avenue in 1921 for Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Porter Mason. Mr. Mason owned Mason Engineering Company, and his wife was a Dallas arts benefactress who sponsored tours for famous musicians like Ignacio Paderewski, Jascha Heifetz, Van Clyburn, and Sergei Rachmananoff. Legend has it that Rachmananoff once performed in the home’s music room.
In 1983, another set of owners had the house physical moved from the original site at the corner of Swiss Avenue and Oram to its present address. Since 2011, homeowners Brian Shultz and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Odstrcil, have been making their own history in the home.
The couple initially married while on vacation in Istanbul – one of their favorite places in the world. They later hosted an alfresco Turkish-themed wedding at the house for a few hundred family members, friends, and new Swiss Avenue neighbors.
“Since our families did not join us in Turkey, we surprised them by getting legally married here with a dear friend of mine [who’s a] minister officiating,” Shultz said. “Our families were thrilled, [and] It was an awesome event.”
In 2014, the couple welcomed their son Nicholas into the world, and for the past two-and-a-half years, they’ve focused on giving their home its next life.
Shultz began the project by enlisting the services of two historic home preservation specialists – Dallas designer and Swiss Avenue resident Rebecca Browning and contractor James Hammel of Alair Homes. Besides reconfiguring several aspects of the master suite, the mammoth renovation entailed adding 1,000 square feet to the back of the house, which included a spacious new kitchen and great room opening to a terrace overlooking the pool and garden. Atop the new addition, a rooftop deck with a kitchen pavilion was built so the family could enjoy downtown and sunset views.
The construction team converted the former kitchen and breakfast room into a wine cellar, pantry, mud room, and laundry room. In the process of returning the dining room to its original footprint, the team discovered an exposed shiplap ceiling hidden beneath drywall.
“It was in remarkable condition,” Shultz said. “When I saw it, I said, ‘Stop, can I keep that and work with just that?’ To his credit, our carpenter, Justin from J & S Wood Designs, said that if I didn’t, he would be disappointed.”
Though the walls of the Swiss Avenue home can’t talk, they did leave a few messages.
“On a couple of the walls we found the signatures and dates of previous homeowners,” Shultz said. “Our assumption is that they signed the wall when they put it in. Our family elected to do the same so that in another 100 years, should a family elect to remodel, they will see our signatures and hopefully add to them.”
When asked what sold the couple on purchasing a historic home, Shultz concluded, “20 percent awe and 80 percent insanity. Thank God for that combo. We love the mature trees, huge lots, that every home is unique – not only for how it looks but for its story.”
The 46th Annual Swiss Avenue Home Tour is slated for Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, May 12, from noon to 6 p.m. at Savage Park, which is located about halfway down Swiss Avenue between Bryan and Parkmont. Complimentary air-conditioned minibusses will be available to shuttle tour-goers to and from the park and tour homes. On Sunday, a Mother’s Day brunch is scheduled with entertainment by a live jazz ensemble, and brunch attendees are urged to make reservations in advance.
Besides the home tour, the festive two-day event is filled with activities for the entire family – ranging from an open-air art fair, vintage auto display, children’s activity area with a kid-sized railroad, and live entertainment on Swiss Avenue to a speakers’ series, free horse-drawn carriage rides, freshly prepared food, ice-cold beverages, and much more. Click here for ticket information.