Turning Back the Holiday Clock on Swiss Avenue: The Lantern Walk

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By Hank Tatum 
Special Contributor

The Swiss Avenue Historic District continues to be one of the most popular residential neighborhoods for home buyers in search of homes reflecting Dallas’ rich traditions and colorful past. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the imposing mansions that still stand along the tree-lined boulevard of Swiss Avenue.

And nowhere are the traditions of the neighborhood more meticulously preserved than in the 102-year-old Aldredge House, where the third annual Lantern Walk will give guests a chance to learn about the holiday season on Swiss Avenue in the early 1900s.

Lantern Walk 2018: How decorated tables look back in earlier days.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, The Friends of Aldredge House will provide guided tours of five Swiss Avenue homes that have been beautifully decorated in both traditional and modern styles for the season. Included on the tour will be the Aldredge House, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the historic Stellmacher House on LaVista, which has been lovingly maintained by Wayne Noble and Barry Jones.

The Stellmacher house at 6243 LaVista is named for one of the early owners, Willetta Stellmacher, a former showgirl and vaudeville performer who was friends with such notable stars as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Lawrence Welk. The colorful history of the home has made it one of the most popular on the Lantern Walk tour.

Also on the tour are impressive homes at 5731 Swiss Avenue, 5020 Swiss Avenue, and 6241 LaVista.  In addition to the guided tours, guests will be treated to drinks and hors d’oeuvres at each of the homes.

The Lantern Walk will start off at Aldredge House, 5500 Swiss Avenue, and continue from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Costumed docents will take people to each of the homes where they will tell stories about both Christian and Jewish holiday seasonal celebrations on Swiss Avenue around the time of World War I.

Tickets are $65 for members of the Friends of Aldredge House and $70 for non-members. Valet parking at the Aldredge House is free and trolley transportation also will be provided for the tours.

Tickets will be available for purchase via Paypal at friendsofaldredgehouse.org. Guests also can buy tickets at the door at Aldredge House, but due to the popularity of Lantern Walk, it is recommended they be purchased in advance.

The Friends of Aldredge House holds a full calendar of educational events on Swiss Avenue geared toward learning more about the history of the home and neighborhood and the importance of preservation in Dallas.

Among other programs, FOAH has sponsored lectures about famed 20th-century architect Hal Thomson who designed the Aldredge House and many prominent mansions on Swiss Avenue and in the Park Cities. The organization also has living history performances on the first Saturday of each month, bringing back to life the family that built the Aldredge House.

The Friends of Aldredge House was formed in 2016 to provide financial support for the transformation of the home into one of Dallas’ first historic house museums.

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