You don’t see homes designed by Dallas midcentury architect Arch Swank come on the market very often because they tend to stay in the family for generations, but if our research serves us right, we found a previously undiscovered Swank home on Eastlawn Drive in Northwest Dallas. This four-bedroom, three-bath home with 3,571-square-feet in Northway Hills is listed by Brandon Stewart of David Griffin & Company for $695,000.
When we took a look at the 1953-built midcentury modern home, our Spidey Senses started tingling when we get the notion an architect had a hand in this home. A deep search of the address pulled up the University of Texas’ collection of 323 Swank projects and blueprints, including this address for a Robert L. Solender residence.
Solender was vice president and general manager of the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald until 1975 when he retired from the paper to found his own real estate brokerage and development company. The veteran newspaperman and his wife Ellen, who was a distinguished professor emeritus of law at SMU and vice president of the Dallas chapter of the League of Women Voters, sought one of the most preeminent Dallas architects to put his touch on this elegant, contemporary home for their growing family.
We reached out to listing agent Brandon Stewart, a former architect himself and midcentury home specialist, and he spoke to the sellers who had the blueprints and graciously shared them with us. What a find!
According to the blueprints, Swank’s firm drew up plans in April 1961 for an addition/alteration to the Northwest Dallas home of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Solender. From what we can tell Swank called for moving existing windows and removing some walls in a bedroom to make way for an impressive side patio that would connect to the existing backyard with a mature Live Oak and brick walkway. On the new brick terrace, they’d build a square Redwood bench surrounding a tall shady tree and add shrubs along the patio border for privacy.
While the Redwood bench seems to have come and gone, the midcentury modern home remains in stately elegance. The spacious living area with fireplace and cedar ceiling beams looks onto the entry courtyard and its art centerpiece: a sculptural wall by an artist named Eric Vance, Brandon the listing agent tells us.
The galley kitchen is another design treat with custom cabinetry, a stained glass window, stainless steel backsplash, and stainless appliances including a gas cooktop, double oven, built-in microwave, built-in refrigerator/freezer, and dishwasher. It opens to the second living area that has a wall of windows facing the front patio.
The master suite has soaring ceilings, lots of space, and an attached study with built-in bookcases and clerestory windows for natural light.
Maybe this is a superfluous detail, maybe not. But before they even brought in Swank’s firm, the Solenders were clearly proud of the gorgeous home, which Ellen reported to the couple’s 1955 Oberlin alumni magazine: “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Solender (Ellen Karelsen. ’44), have moved to a new home at 10405 Eastlawn St., Dallas, Texas. They have two children. Elizabeth and Jefferson, and are expecting a third.” That detail just helps round out the couple’s fondness for this home, which now we’re fond of, too.
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Have insight? Click on the second blueprint image to open a large PDF and help us decipher the mystery in the comments!