This historic Craftsman cottage exemplifies what everyone looks for when they come to Old East Dallas. You don’t expect to find a small town feeling anywhere in a major metropolitan city, but Old East Dallas has it in spaces. Every neighborhood has a unique character. However, in the Swiss Avenue Historic District, neighborliness takes on a whole new meaning.
When my MetroTex Leadership Academy buddy and RE/MAX DFW Associates Realtor, Kate McCoy called to tell me about her latest listing on Bryan Parkway, I hopped in the car and drove over. My heart skipped a beat when I laid eyes on it. This historic Craftsman cottage is right out of a storybook. In fact, the entire neighborhood is picture-perfect.
Although it’s a beauty now, that wasn’t always the case.
In 2001 Ken and Gaye Martin were house hunting after returning from Switzerland. The sophisticated online real estate search system we have today did not exist, so finding a home was a lot more complicated. Somehow Gaye found a list of homes in East Dallas. Thirteen is her lucky number, so she counted that across and down the list, and landed on this house. Off they went to Bryan Parkway to meet the owner.
They were in for quite a surprise. The 1918 historic Craftsman cottage had been empty for 10 years. “The windows were broken, and the front porch was in shambles,” Gaye said. “It looked like a haunted house. But when we walked in, I fell in love with it.”
Ken must be the perfect husband as his response to Gaye was, “If you like it, then I love it!”
The two-story historic Craftsman cottage has 3,059 square feet, four bedrooms, three bathrooms, and everything needed a loving touch when they moved in.
A Sense of Community
As they were installing a fence, people began to come over, and they realized just what a sense of community there was in the neighborhood.
Their front porch project took on special meaning. It spans the entire facade of the house and has short, hollow, brick pillars on either side of the steps, with concrete caps. Gay thought it would be fun to use one as a time capsule. The idea was a resounding success. Neighbors contributed everything from home tour brochures and family photos, to newspaper articles and coins.
The Martins have embraced life here. Not only did they renovate their home and install a garden wonderland, but they also dove into the deep end of community involvements. They joined the neighborhood association and volunteered for the Swiss Avenue Home Tour, even showcasing their beautiful historic Craftsman cottage one year.
They also began to throw legendary parties.
McCoy has been friends with the family for years and gave me a first-hand account of the fun.
“I’ve had years of fun here, “McCoy said. “Impromptu front porch gatherings became unexpected dinners and kitchen get-togethers turned into dance parties on the back patio. The annual pumpkin carving party is a neighborhood favorite, with a potluck dinner and everyone in costume. One year there was a snow party. The entire yard was sprayed and all the kids went sledding. Then there are birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and football games in the upstairs media room. I can still hear the roar coming down the stairs when it was a bad call or a touchdown.”
“This is a house so full of love,” McCoy said. “People come in and out on and endless loop. Kids run up and down the stairs and play hide-and-seek. The garden and front porch offer great hiding spots. It’s truly an old-fashioned neighborhood where everyone stops and sits a spell on the front porch.”
This is the friendliest neighborhood I’ve ever lived in,” Gaye said. “We have street parties, game nights, ice cream socials, and dinner parties, celebrate birthdays and we all have keys to one another’s homes. It’s like a big family here.”
“What I love most about this house is how our family came together here,” Ken said. “We planted every tree on the lot and created the garden together. It’s been a wonderful home. If I could hug it and tell it goodbye, I would.”
Kate McCoy has this historic Craftsman cottage at 6000 Bryan Parkway, listed for $780,000. You are not just getting a beautiful home, you’re also getting a warm, inviting, friendly, front porch community, and years of love.