Why are we drawn to homes like this flawless historic Federal? It’s simple. Historic architecture resonates on a profoundly organic level because it’s so familiar.
Architects have always looked to classic European architecture for inspiration.
The Federal style evolved from Georgian architecture, which was the dominant style of the English colonies. It is originally derived from the era of the four British monarchs named, of course, George.
Nothing denotes classic American architecture more than Federal-style, however. It was the preferred architectural style of the early Republic for both government buildings and grand estates. So it’s not surprising that we feel instantly at home when we see these beautiful classic houses.
When Highland Park was being built, it was a novel concept to have an entirely residential neighborhood. The railroad brought business, investment, and prosperity. Streetcars were the mode of transportation, and Highland Park was a streetcar suburb. It’s where the movers and shakers lived then and now. It’s always been a sought-after neighborhood, and that’s down to the planners. They knew what they were doing.
We are lucky indeed to have some of those original estates left in Highland Park, and this historic Federal home is one of the best examples I’ve seen in a long time.
It was built for one of the most notable railway executives of the Southwest, J.L Lancaster, and his wife Elinor. Lancaster was known for rebuilding the Texas & Pacific Railway. He was a man of foresight and influence, a respected civic leader, and his home was a testament to his prominent place in society.
The best records we have indicate the architects were Coburn & Fowler, who must have loved this commission because they pulled out all the stops, including the addition of a ballroom in the attic space. It was the site of the Dallas Cotillion for years.
Another amusing anecdote I found on the Lancaster family was about their daughter’s wedding, which took place in the living room. Mr. and Mrs. Anton Korn sang the bridal chorus from Lohengrin. For you architecture buffs, Anton Korn was one of the most influential architects to design homes in the Park Cities. This is one of those homes where you wish the walls could talk.
It’s charming that the formals were done in a historic Federal interior style as well. It offers a real feeling of stepping back into history when you enter.
The present owners have lived here for more than 20 years and gone the distance with restoration and updates, vital for any historic home. The sunroom, in particular, is a beautiful example of appropriate restoration. Detroit manufacturer Pewabic Pottery perfectly replicated the tile floor.
I’ve mentioned the ballroom, which is, as Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s listing agents Ralph Randall and Madeleine Jobst told me, one big WOW factor. It has a huge living area, a kitchen, a bedroom that’s being used as an office now, and a Pinterest-worthy bathroom. There is even a stage so the kids can put on plays or puppet shows.
It’s interesting to me that estate homes built in the 1920s are so relevant to life today. They always had plenty of room, gracious entertaining areas, private spaces, and quarters, which are essential today with college kids at home.
This historic Federal has 7,034 square feet, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a powder bath, that fabulous attic room, and a full basement. Why would you ever leave home?
The house is located in the second installment of the Town of Highland Park and is only one of three on the block — all original. Lancaster chose the spot well as it’s close to Hackberry Creek with multiple trails where, yes, people still ride their horses. It’s Texas, after all.