By David Preziosi, Preservation Dallas
You’ve probably passed by this house a thousand times and wondered what it was like inside. The 1965 Shwiff house commands the corner of Yamini and Chicot with its series of white segmental-arched vaulted clerestory roofs reaching out in all directions.
The house is a standout, and not just because of the distinctive roofline, though it is one of the home’s main hallmarks.
The cantilevered triple segmental-arched entry roof beckons you in and shields the entry with black terrazzo and stone – the perfect complement to the bright-pink front door. Step inside and the foyer is equally dramatic with a Zen-like space complete with a bubbling fountain and white terrazzo floors with arched brass insets. And just as your heart rate has returned to normal, the great room takes your breath away. The gleaming expanse of terrazzo and warm woods opens itself up to you, and then you notice the ceiling is the obverse of the roof’s segmental arches! With all this beauty, you may need to calm down in the lush conversation pit with its enormous stone fireplace. Better yet, go chill in the resort-style back yard and have a ten-minute vacation.
Morris Shwiff, who owned the Century Lumber Company and later became a real estate investor, purchased a vacant lot on the corner of Chicot and Yamini in 1961 located in the Eudora Addition. Schwiff selected Dallas architect Elton Leon Eaves – who generally went by Leon – to design the five-bedroom home with exuberant roof detailing.
According to Eaves’ son, the designer never attended college or had any formal architectural training but developed his drawing and design skills while working for architects as a draftsman. Eaves opened his own firm about 1962, setting up business in the Preston Forest Shopping Center, but practiced in Dallas for only about four years. He then moved east to Kaufman and Van Zandt counties before settling in Austin.
The Dallas Morning News carried an article in December 1965 – likely while the home was under construction – explaining the upscale residential real estate market in Dallas during this period. “Dallas is noted for its merchant subdivisions in which one developer subdivides the land, sells lots to a small group of four to eight builders and then promotes the entire subdivision and all the houses in it.” Shwiff purchased his lot directly from the developer, so he was planning a custom-built home. And what an extraordinary custom home he built!
Ready to see inside?
Tickets are still available to the Preservation Dallas Fall Architectural Tour: Modern Marvels.
Update: According to David Preziosi of Preservation Dallas, one home on the tour, the Palm Springs-style Crownrich House, sustained significant damage from the storm and was pulled from the lineup.
IF YOU GO:
Preservation Dallas Fall Architectural Tour: “Modern Masterpieces”
When: October 26
Tickets: $40 for Preservation Dallas members, $50 for the public — click here to purchase