There is something about a historic Tudor. Owners hang onto them as long as they can. That’s why this charming beauty in the Swiss Avenue Historic District has belonged to only five families in 97 years.
As you’ve seen me write, many times, it’s a testament to a home’s livability when it seldom changes owners.
This historic Tudor was built in 1923. Digging through the archives, it appears Mr. and Mrs. J.F. Rhodes were the first owners and lived there until the late 1930s. Mr. and Mrs. James P. Ward purchased it around 1939. By 1941, Mrs. C. J. Prashaw was the owner. If my detective work is correct, she remarried a gentleman named Otto Janousek, and this family held onto the house until the late ‘90s. It ended up in an estate sale and was purchased by Douglas Edwards.
Edwards had some major restorations and improvements done in the early part of the 2000s. The walls in the living and dining rooms were taken down to rewire the historic Tudor. The renovators photographed the molding, found a style similar to the original, and flawlessly recreated the walls. Original sconces were found in the attic and put back into their position.
When Gregory and Susan Sommers bought this historic Tudor from Edwards in 2016, they immediately got to work. They spent nine months designing and renovating the kitchen and bathrooms because, as we all know, time marches on and those areas don’t age well in most circumstances. But they did so much more that buyers and preservationists alike will appreciate.
One of the most striking features of the house is the collection of casement windows with purple transoms. The zinc lattice for the diamond-cut glass was bent but not completely broken in the 2012 hailstorm, and the transoms were damaged.
The Sommers found Tom Clark, a noted historic window expert, who repaired the windows. In researching replacements for the unusual purple glass, he located a glass company executive that recognized the style. He must be a dedicated preservationist, as he sent sheets of it to the Sommers at no charge!
The unbroken glass was reformed into the den and first-floor bedroom windows. The living room is a mix of original and new glass. The purple transoms were covered with Lexan to protect them against future hailstorms.
The Sommers sent me their notes, which indicate the original plaster fireplace was supposed to be temporary. However, the Great Depression tabled that project. The Sommers decided to remedy the situation once and for all.
The fireplace and mantel were replaced in 2019. The original plaster faux fireplace had cracked and sustained some water damage before the addition of the chimney caps. The plaster extended over a foot from the wall and did not seem to fit the style of the home. Upon reading Mr. Edwards’ notes indicating the fireplace was to be a temporary solution, we decided the house had waited long enough and designed a fireplace that was true to the time of the building of the house and one that would last forever.
The tile common to the area was either Batchelder or Rookwood, and many homes in the Swiss Avenue Historic District have original tile from one of these two manufacturers. Batchelder is no longer in business, so we turned to Rookwood to complete the fireplace. Rookwood has an extensive library of original designs created throughout the years. We took inspiration from these, the Tudor style of the house, and the 1912 catalog tile designs that they still produce. Our color choices came from Pantone colors from the early 1920s. Most of the color choices were current glazes used at Rookwood, but some were retired colors that they re-created for this project. The tiles and colors used existed when the house was built, meaning this could have been installed in 1923! Note the RP logo (Rookwood) tile at the lower right of the fireplace
The Sommers are perfect examples of what it means to be preservationists. They went above and beyond to return this home to its former glory and update the 2,443-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom, historic Tudor to modern standards.
“This property is like opening a storybook, Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s listing agent Elizabeth Mast said. “With enchanting architecture and character, blended with modern-day amenities, and located on one of the most desirable streets in East Dallas, I would say a fairytale!”
I completely agree.
Mast has 6317 Bryan Parkway listed for $722,500.
Open House: Sunday, September 13, 1 to 3 p.m.