[Editor’s Note: This year has been a decade, right? So many things happened, lots of things were postponed, and houses continued to sell despite it all. While the CandysDirt.com team takes a hot minute this holiday season to recharge the ol’ Energizers, we’re serving up our very favorite stories from 2020. Enjoy!]
Karen: During the holiday break, we are running the homes that made an impact on us in 2020. While this is certainly not the best of historic preservation, it’s indeed the best lesson. We have lost yet another iconic home.
Certainly, historic residential architecture is at the heart of what makes up the character of our city and defines it. We must ask ourselves, would this happen in any great global city? Would it happen, for instance in Paris? The resounding answer is NO. So why do we continue to allow the destruction of what defines Dallas?
When we got the news the iconic Dal-Tile house had been demolished last week, a heavy sigh went up around CandysDirt.com and with resignation, we cranked up “Another One Bites the Dust.”
This scenario is becoming all too common these days. It’s an architectural, historical, and cultural tragedy.
I reached out to our friend David Preziosi who is the Executive Director of Preservation Dallas for a comment.
Dallas has lost too many wonderful historic houses to new development and another one recently fell victim. Preservation Dallas is deeply saddened by the loss of the Brittingham House built in 1967 for the founder of Dal-Tile. Its large multi-parcel lot overlooking White Rock Lake was too good to pass up for new development. The remarkable 12,000 square foot home was leveled after earlier being subdivided and a portion sold off for a new house now under construction. Even though it was built late in the mid-century period, it was an amazing house with characteristics of that time with a low-slung form hugging the land and an interior with large rooms of expansive glass for views of the lake. And of course, it had the most exquisite tile, being the house that Dal-Tile built!
So why does this keep happening? Is it the notion that bigger, and newer is always better? Is it the desire of “I what I want when I want it, and where I want it”? Is it “I just don’t give a damn”? Or is it as simple as a lack of education?
I prefer to think it’s the latter because there are plenty of places to build a giant home in Dallas. It’s simply unnecessary to destroy one as historic, loved, and admired as the Dal-Tile house.
“I have been inside this fabulous property, and I can tell you, with the exception of perhaps the kitchen and de-popcorning the ceiling, there is very little I would change about it.”
‑Candys Dirt reader
We had an event at this beauty in 2018 and everyone that entered the home experienced the proverbial jaw-drop. It was an absolute midcentury-style masterpiece with gorgeous views of White Rock Lake and a two-story rock fireplace, the likes of which I’ve never seen.
This was, with the exception of needing an updated kitchen and bathroom (although everyone loved that pink bathroom) a move-in ready home.
Many people can’t see what once was and cannot imagine the possibilities of what could be. People see things as disposable, and it’s unfortunate. We recycle paper and cardboard and cans, and yet we don’t recycle buildings and homes.
It’s a shame.
— David Preziosi
You can see from the photos, the Dal-Tile house could be a template for what architects and builders are creating brand new, today. The Midcentury Modern style is one that is being copy-catted daily. And you could never rebuild to the quality that originally existed. The materials and craftsmanship cannot be replicated. So this all begs the question: Why tear it down?
Try as we do here at CandysDirt.com to educate and enlighten, people still don’t seem to understand historic properties.
Why are we all drawn to Europe? It’s the architecture. We long for that connection with the past and for the beauty of ageless buildings. They are integral to the culture of any city. They are seldom torn down and replaced without a darned good reason.
So while we wish the new owners well, we also wish they had taken time to familiarize themselves with why this was an iconic property and appreciated the Dal-Tile house for what it was, how much more it could be, and for what it meant to our city.
If you buy a historic property, be a good steward, not just for the preservation of an iconic home, but for the preservation of the fabric of our history.