I drive by Coram Deo regularly, just to stare at it. I’ve seen a lot of stately homes all over the world, but this one continues to fascinate me.
Coram Deo was built for Donald and Mary Catherine Huffines in 2005. Yes, the same Don Huffines who was a Texas state senator and runs Huffines Communities with his twin brother, Phillip. The Huffines named their home Coram Deo, which means “in the presence of God” in Latin.
If you are not familiar with the architectural style, it’s because we seldom see a Richardsonian Romanesque mansion today. It’s an expensive style to build, so it’s generally seen in large public buildings. The Trinity Church in Boston, The American Museum of Natural History in New York, and our own Old Red Courthouse are all excellent examples of the style named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson.
Because this is a style that offers a strong sense of stability, permanency, and individuality, it was not long before it became popular among the titans of industry in the late 1800s. The Cupples House in Saint Louis, Missouri, or the James J. Hill estate in St. Paul, Minneapolis, could well have been the inspiration for Coram Deo.
Warren Wilke, who is now a Director with GSR Andrade Architects, designed the mansion. I think it’s one of the most incredible things he’s ever done, and he’s done a lot. Wilke has designed homes for Hollywood stars, multi-family housing, and planned community developments. He also created another fantastic place I stumbled across, Adriatica Village, in McKinney. It’s built to look like a Croatian fishing village, complete with cobblestone streets. This man has a vision for a lifestyle and sees it through. Coram Deo is a perfect example of this.
The façade is, of course, what makes you stop and stare. Wrapped in granite with turrets, balusters, and arches, it’s a fantasyland of architectural details.
The interior is just as dramatic as the exterior with more arches, massive staircases, and a huge fireplace. I’ve been lucky enough to tour this home, and I can tell you I don’t think any photograph can capture the impact it has when you enter that extraordinary front door.
The public rooms unfold in true Richardsonian Romanesque style with the dramatic foyer opening into the great room, formal living, and dining rooms. They are visually separated by that massive limestone fireplace. The great room lives up to the name with a beamed 14-foot ceiling and an 18-foot high barrel vault with transom windows. It is without qualification, a statement room.
The details in the house are spectacular. But I want to emphasize this is a home designed not just for entertainment. The Huffines raised five children here, and it’s a dream house for a family. It offers an enormous amount of privacy with plenty of secluded corners where you can think, study, or simply reflect on your day.
At 13,984 square feet with seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, three powder baths, a home office, a media room, and wine cellar, you’d think it might be a bit overwhelming. It’s not, and that is what I found so special about Coram Deo. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it’s cozy. That could be down to seven fireplaces, which always make a room feel intimate, but I credit Wilke with understanding the lifestyle of his clients.
If you are concerned about sustainability, don’t worry. Coram Deo has a geothermal heating and cooling system. There are 15 different programmable cooling zones, and Low E double-pane, windows, and doors, to name just a few features.
The landscaping beautifully enhances this home. I doubt any resort could hold a candle to what you find in this backyard. The lower patio wraps around a beach entry swimming pool with a grotto at the end. Of course, there are three different 10-foot waterfalls and a spa surrounded by eight Richardson style columns and arches made of granite. The upper patio features another enormous pool with a 13-foot-tall rock structure, three waterfalls, and a slide. What a place to grow up!
Coram Deo is one of those homes that has become iconic in Dallas. It represents the best in design, construction, and livability. I can’t wait to see who will be the next lucky homeowner.
Allie Beth Allman’s Doris Jacobs has the Richardsonian Romanesque mansion at 3619 Crescent Avenue, listed for $8.795 million.
Karen Eubank is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager and writer for over 25 years. Karen teaches the popular Staging to Sell class and is the creator of the online course, The Beginners Guide to Buying Wholesale. Her love of all dogs, international travel, good chocolate, great champagne, and historic homes knows no bounds. Her father was a spy, so she keeps secrets very well