A University Park Georgian Estate with a Storied Past

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University Park Georgian estate

When you think of Dallas, you think big. Big hair, big business, and obviously, big estates. But I don’t think anything can prepare you for this University Park Georgian estate.

I know I wasn’t prepared. I almost fell off my chair when Alex Perry at Allie Beth Allman, emailed me Monday. He just listed one of the most prestigious homes in Dallas — the famous Cullen F. Thomas estate.

Not only is this a historic property, but it also sits on almost two acres in the middle of University Park in Volk Estates. It has also been superbly updated and looks like it was built last year and not in 1927. English architect Bertram Hill designed this home for Cullen F. Thomas.

You need to know the history of this unusual neighborhood filled with estate properties, and of this home.

University Park Georgian estate
The Cullen F. Thomas home before the exterior was painted.
(Photograph by Steve Clicque)

The large estate concept for University Park was introduced in the 1920s. Leonard W. Volk, a respected Dallas retailer, developed the area that we know as Volk Estates. The development, originally called Brookside, was a neighborhood that Volk was creating where wealthy families could build estates on large scenic lots.

Among the promotional literature in 1926 was a brochure titled “Own Your Own Estate.” The copy was reprinted in one of our favorite resources, Great American Suburbs Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas by Virginia McAlester, Cecil Willis, and Prudence Mackintosh.

The enchanting music of birds singing in the tops of lofty trees: a carpet of green beneath a canopy of blue above…room to expand, to see, to think—away from dust, clatter and noise of traffic, yet within twenty minutes of the business district of Dallas…Note the location, completeness of improvements, and ideally perfect environment. One is moved to exclaim, ‘Ah this is the spot for my home—for here I can be happy.’

University Park Georgian estate

As I mentioned, the architect for this splendid University Park Georgian estate was Englishman Bertram Hill. Hill arrived in Dallas in 1918 and built some of the most beautiful homes in the city, including five on Swiss Avenue. He was highly sought after by wealthy families at the time, so it’s not surprising Thomas would choose Hill to build his dream home. Thomas was an attorney who also served as the U.S. Commissioner General during the Texas Centennial Exposition.

I’m going to defer back to McAlester’s book because there is no better description than that of a legendary preservationist.

… this three-story residence featured a massive curved portico with both mezzanine and rooftop balconies. On the ground level, impressive arrays of arched windows with heavy stone trim flank the portico. Like the centered gable, curved porticos were rarely found in Neoclassical residences in Dallas. Hill successfully combined these two elements in the Thomas house to create an impressive Georgian estate….

I found an amusing Dallas Morning News article from 1949 when this was still a four-acre estate. Mrs. Cullen and her son were still living here at that time. They sued the University Park Zoning Board of Adjustment, asking for a court order allowing them to build a 17 foot by 42 foot swimming pool.

That’s a big pool!

University Park Georgian estate
University Park Georgian estate

Stepping back into the present, several notable families have owned this 12,957-square-foot University Park Georgian estate, including Carl and Jimmy Westcott. Over the years, each family has made appropriate updates.

Most notably in 2009, Bill Manning did a substantial remodel. As you can now see, this is a thoroughly sleek and modern home with four luxurious bedroom suites in the main house and one in the two-story cabana.

Yes, this is a family home! The present owners have turned the pool house into an in-home Montessori classroom.
University Park Georgian estate
University Park Georgian estate
University Park Georgian estate

As befits an estate property, there are private gardens and courtyards, tennis courts with a covered viewing terrace, a putting green, an in-ground trampoline, and a fire pit. The entire estate is gated, lending even more privacy to this University Park Georgian estate.

Perry has 6601 Hunters Glen listed for $22.5 million. As fast as estate properties are changing hands in Dallas, I would not be surprised if he has several offers by the weekend. However, until the ink is dry on the contract, you may have an opportunity to own a magnificent University Park Georgian estate!

Remember what that historic brochure copy said.

“Ah, this is the spot for my home — for here I can be happy.”

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Karen Eubank

Karen is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for over 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying for his masters at The New England Conservatory of Music. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap.

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