Why is it that some architecturally and historically significant homes stand the test of time, as if they were ageless vessels of grace?
A case study might well be 4209 Bordeaux — primo Highland Park dirt, a Tudor mansion that goes light on the steepness of the pitched gable roofs, got a bit playful (but not obsessive) with masonry on the chimneys, embellished doorways, grouped windows, but used a light hand on decorative half-timbering — all hallmarks of great Tudor design.
Perhaps it has to do, too, with those who have had a hand in the home’s upbringing. This one was designed by Dallas master architect Hal Thomson, and has had a succession of improvements by reputable craftsmen all done sensitively, tastefully, with respect to the original vision of Thomson.
“It’s more a Tudor-inspired design,” says Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s listing agent Ralph Randall. “It doesn’t have the heavy cross timbers you usually see. The home is mainly a beautiful, classic red brick with a Tudor influence, which I think has really helped keep it clean over the test of time. It’s a horizontal house that gets natural light from all sides.”
Like we say about so many of his designs, the home looks as if it were custom made for the large 140- by 195-foot lot.
Hal Thomson’s arrival on the Dallas architecture scene could not have been better timed. Munger Place had been platted in 1905, and Highland Park in 1907. The establishment of these two neighborhoods marked the beginning of Dallas’s golden era of homebuilding. Thomson opened his office in 1908 and went on to play a prominent role in the development of the city’s architectural style. There are about three dozen of his homes still left in Dallas, and in our opinion, this is one of his finest.
It’s always fun to dig up the history of homes such as 4209 Bordeaux. You may know by now that one of our favorite resources is the wonderful book Great American Suburbs The Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas by Virginia Savage McAlester, Willis Cecil Winters, and Prudence Mackintosh. They are the triple treats of historical information on Dallas. You know when a house is featured in this book, it must be extraordinary. The authors had the following to say about this Hal Thomson creation:
Thomson’s gracious Tudor houses were often located on spacious lots on many of the best streets in the Park Cities. The residence at 4209 Bordeaux (Thomson & Swain) built in 1925 for James R. Bower, the president of an auto rental business and cab company, is one such house: a sprawling picturesque English manse, superbly conceived and detailed, and rendered in a rich palette of materials. The home’s spatial volumes and gables were wrapped in undifferentiated brick planes virtually devoid of the standard menu of Tudor details. The architect utilized taut planar surfaces to achieve a strikingly modern interpretation of the Tudor style. The house bears a close likeness to the work of the great English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, whose Daneshill of 1903 anticipated the broad, flat masonry gables of the Bower home.
Bower was a prominent Dallas leader and had interests in a variety of businesses, including the Munger Automobile Company, which seems to have been the largest Cadillac distributor in the city. He was also President of Grandstaff Auto Painting Company, the Murko Oil and Royalty Company, and a president of the City Club in 1918. So, it’s predictable he’d have chosen the extremely popular Hal Thomson as the architect for the family home. Snagging the right architect was a sign of success, just like driving a Cadillac! The Bowers lived in this Hal Thomson Tudor until J.R.’s death in 1948. By all reports, this home was the scene of many parties. If you think you entertain often, you’d think again after reading the society pages of the Dallas Morning News in the 1930s.
This magnificent Hal Thomson Tudor passed into the hands of the J. Hub Hill family for almost 30 years. Part of the reason why some of these significant homes are still with us today is that they don’t turn over often. But that also speaks to their livability; homes this smooth are not parted with except when absolutely necessary.
Of course, times change and tastes change, but a Hal Thomson Tudor is always coveted, especially when it’s been updated. The first major renovation and expansion happened in 1999, under the watchful eye of one of Dallas’ premier home builders, Tommy Ford Construction.
In 2015 the home was further updated to well over 8,000 square feet by Collins Interiors and contractor Clay Snelling. Don’t let the square footage overwhelm: for all its square footage, this home is not in the least vacuous. The great thing about Hal Thomson’s homes is they were designed to be flexible, to adapt — a large part of what makes them timeless, classic and coveted. Look, for example, at the master bath.
“Rarely is a Tudor-inspired home described as light, bright and crisp, as this one is,” Randall said. “However, in this case, the original footprint and sensitive subsequent additions have completely preserved the architect’s original intentions, allowing for a transverse flow of natural light in virtually every room of the house.”
This is a phenomenal opportunity to own a piece of Dallas history that’s move-in ready, on one of our area’s most desirable streets.
Randall has this magnificent Hal Thomson Tudor at 4209 Bordeaux listed for $ 6.89 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!