History ran deep in Jack and Kate LaGere’s 1928 Park Cities Tudor. For Kate, an art history major, the home’s past ran even deeper.
Though the couple wasn’t purposely house hunting when they spotted the “For Sale” sign in the yard, they had discussed purchasing a historic home and knew exactly what they wanted. Aside from a nearby elementary school and park for their three young children, the LaGeres envisioned their historic dream home as a place they could preserve and restore to accommodate their art collection and family’s modern lifestyle.
Since the Tudor was across the street from Kate’s old elementary school, the location was ideal. After seeing the sprawling interior of the house and engaging their imaginations, they checked preservation and restoration off their wish list and embarked on their journey.
“I loved the Tudor style, but [the interior] had never been remodeled, except for the kitchen in the 1970s, and [the house] didn’t have central air conditioning,” Kate said. “It still had the original doors, windows, and plaster walls. It had beautiful bones though, so [we] saw the potential.”
While the LaGeres preserved the home’s historic façade and original hardwoods on the first floor, they opted to take the remainder of the interior down to the studs. But as layers of decades were peeled away, the couple dug up more old bones.
The Time Capsule
On the first day of construction, Kate took her friend on a walk-through, so she could see the original interior. In the process, the two discovered a treasure trove of family relics buried beneath the walls’ surface.
“[My friend] noticed items stuck to the wall on the second floor that had been hidden behind the wooden fireplace mantel, [which] was already removed,” Kate said. “Everything was dusty, but we discovered it was old letters and photos. We started looking closer and found things in the floorboards and behind walls.”
Tucked away in another area of the house, Kate found a dozen prints entitled 12 Moments in American History that Humble Oil Company printed in the 1960s.
Connecting The Dots
Finding these pieces of history was Kate’s first step toward identifying the home’s history. In researching the property, she learned that Commander Hudson built the house in 1928 and only two families had lived there prior to her household. The Boyce family originally owned the house from about 1930 to 1958, and the Carter family purchased it from them. Between locating members of both families and simply doing the math, Kate traced 12 Moments in American History to the Carter family and remaining items to the Boyce family.
The Art of History
Kate and Jack mostly accumulated their historic art collection while traveling – like four post-World War II lottery posters from Normandy, France. But two of their most prized pieces came from within their home. While the now-framed 12 Moments in American History hangs in the dining room, the time capsule hangs in the foyer as the centerpiece to the house. Items in the vast display range from old Juicy Fruit gum wrappers, No. 2 pencils, bullets, and scissors to a sealed letter to the Virgin Mary, love letter to an unknown lady named Mildred, soil from a tomb of a Dominican saint, rosaries, and Boyce family photos.
Besides becoming friends with Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s daughter, two members of the Boyce family traveled to Dallas from out of state just to see the newly restored house and the time capsule containing their family mementos.
“Both [were] so moved when seeing it,” Kate concluded. “We sat and talked for an hour about family stories in the house.”