3756 Armstrong Ave ext2Just moments ago, in Highland Park, O’Neil Ford’s largest creation in Dallas sold to the highest bidder, a couple, at Heritage Auctions’ very well-orchestrated real estate auction of 3756 Armstrong, which we have written about and followed extensively on this blog.

With about 12 bidders in the house, bidding started at $3 million and the estate sold at $4.950 million (including the 10% buyers premium). The buyer was represented by Allie Beth Allman.

The family story behind 3756 Armstrong is the best. Custom built for a young, attractive Dallas couple who took ownership in 1954, it remains an architectural icon that has been named by Preservation Dallas as one of the major Dallas buildings in danger of destruction:

…the Penson House was designed by O’Neil Ford, and built in 1954 for Jack and Nancy Penson. It is one of Ford’s largest residential projects and was designed in one of his favorite styles, Texas Regionalism. The exterior and interior of the 9,800-square-foot home remains very close to the original design with the exception of a second story addition, a master bath expansion, and enclosure of a rear porch.

I caught up with Read Penson Gendler, who happens to be a neighbor, and asked her about her earlier years growing up in this house, and also how she feels about handing the house off to new owners.

“Our family moved in when I was two,” she told me. “My earliest memories are actually at our first home on McFarlin.  I don’t think I realized the significance of the home until much later.”

She says she grew up with other kids who also had large contemporary homes, some of them larger than her’s. But Armstrong was definitely her parents’ dream house.

“They never talked about moving,” says Read, “both said they would go out of that house feet first.”

Her parents did entertain frequently in 3756 Armstrong, deb parties, teen parties, birthday parties and charitable events. And her children — the Penson’s grandchildren — have fond memories, as well, of going to Nan and granddaddy’s house on holidays, most often swimming in that pool and enjoying a barbecue outside. Just regular family time and fun.

Will the three Penson daughters miss it?

Says Read, who has a beautiful house of her own: “whatever we do with it now will be in our own hearts.”

The home is solidly built and can very well be remodeled. But should the unthinkable happen, is she prepared? Here is what she told her sister.

“Yes,” says Read. “I told my sister, in a way, this is our house and always will be the way our parents built it, and how our family lived there. If someone else tears it down, now, then we will have been the only ones — no one else gets to live there.”

3756 Armstrong Avenue

3756 Armstrong Avenue

3756 Armstrong Ave ext2One of my favorite journalists, Alan Peppard, is back and running at the Dallas Morning News. Alan toasted his return with a great piece on 3756 Armstrong Avenue, the Penson House, where we had a wonderful CandysDirt.com VIP party and preview Tuesday evening.

Alan asks the formidable question: why didn’t this major historic property, designed by O’Neil Ford, one of a handful in the city, so incredibly significant, sell?

Across Armstrong is the estate of Jerry Jones. Five lots to the south is Troy Aikman’s new place. Across St. Johns, the nearest house is on the tax rolls at $25 million.

But when the 8,900-square-foot Penson house at 3756 Armstrong was listed for $7.5 million and later $6 million, a buyer did not materialize. A recent appraisal of the property valued the land at $6.1 million.

I just got off the phone with Jonathan Miller, one of the nations’ top real estate appraisers and experts. Jonathan was in Dallas last week for the annual Relocation Appraisers & Consultants conference in Frisco. I asked him if he was seeing more trophy properties going to auction and he said, yes indeed, and we will see more. Because that is what the Penson house is: an architectural wonder, but a trophy property. And the market everywhere is a little soft for them.

Alan spoke to Greg Rohan, president of Dallas-based Heritage Auction, who said a smart buyer could come in, spend $2 million to refresh the home’s interiors, and enjoy an $8 million investment in a sea of $25 million mansions:

When it was listed, a lot of buyers didn’t have the vision or expertise to realize they could buy it for lot value,” says Rohan. “Then they could spend a couple of million dollars to return it to its original splendor.” At lot value plus a full restoration, the cost would have been about $8 million for a sprawling masterpiece on one of Highland Park’s most prized lots.

At that price, it would be $17 million cheaper than the house across the street.

Peppard’s story also yields great insight into the one family that built and owned this house. As we all know by now, it’s the story that makes a home.

So here’s the story and exclusive photos from our event where the Dallas real estate world really lived it up :

Penson House (more…)


If you have any plans for Tuesday night in Dallas, change them, change them right now! This may be your last chance to see the Mothership: interiors, exteriors, and everything in-between one of the city’s most architecturally significant mid century modern works of art, the famous O’ Neil Ford residence at 3756 Armstrong Avenue.

Located on the delicious juncture of two magnificent Highland Park streets, Armstrong and Overhill, the home was a commissioned private residence for Jack and Nancy Penson, highly loved Dallas philanthropists. Mr. and Mrs. Penson’s names are on the Meyerson Symphony Center’s Endowment Wall of Honor, recognition to their longtime support of the orchestra, and a building is named after them at The Hockaday School. Mrs. Penson died in 2012, her husband in 2014.

Come September 27, our very own Heritage Auction Luxury Real Estate will auction the Penson estate to the highest bidder.

Built for extreme privacy on one of Highland Park’s most exclusive streets, almost hidden by trees, mature landscaping surrounds the property. And the lot is a whopping .85 acres, which itself appraised for $6.1 million back in February.

The home has also been listed in the past for $5.9 million, but who knows what the magic price will be?

Realtors will be “protected”: Heritage is offering a 3% commission to the agent that represents the winning bidder, as it always does.

Nothing like getting warmed up for an auction, right? After all, Heritage Luxury Real Estate Auctions is a division of the world’s third largest auction house, Dallas-based Heritage Auction Gallery. Thus the preview event will include an auction to benefit Dallas TITAS, the “Texas International Theatrical Arts Society.” TITAS gives North Texas the best of American and international music, dance, and performance art through a variety of presentations and educational outreach activities.

I am bringing my checkbook in anticipation of this pair of dazzling Gold Cuff Bracelets by Van Cleef & Arpels, gifted by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Nina Straight, her step-sister and maid of honor when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953. These pups are expected to sell for $40,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Contemporary Designer Jewels Auction Sept. 26 in Beverly Hills.Jackie O's cuffs

Kennedy Onassis surprised Straight with the bracelets when she served as Straight’s maid of honor 21 years later.

“They were a gift from Jackie for my wedding to Michael Straight in 1974,” Straight said for an exclusive interview with Heritage Auctions’ Intelligent Collector Magazine. “We were married at St. John’s Cathedral in New York. Jackie gave them to me at the luncheon after the ceremony.”

The cuffs matched a pair Kennedy Onassis often wore. “Jackie loved hers so much that she bought me a pair knowing I would enjoy them equally,” Straight said. “I always viewed myself as Jackie’s ‘Sancho Panza’ or sidekick. We had so much fun. Ours was a very close relationship.”

Not sure those cuffs will be there, but you never know what happens at an auction. That’s part of the excitement!

12 - Aerial


It’s one of the most beautiful lots in Highland Park, and the home upon it was a critically acclaimed Midcentury Modern masterpiece.

Keyword: Was. However, it may very well be again.

On September 27, 2016, the famed Penson house at 3756 Armstrong Parkway sold at auction for a cool $4.95 million. People at the auction spotted a handsome gentleman with white hair. He was Lute Riley of the Honda car dealership fame and he was the buyer. Lute walked out of the house that day smiling broadly, his agent by his side, Allie Beth Allman.

Lute Riley bought a home that had almost a Camelot-like presence in Dallas. I thought of the Penson home, in fact, when I was visiting my daughter’s alma mater, The Hockaday School, Saturday. The home at 3756 Armstrong Parkway was built for Jack and Nancy Penson in 1954 and remained one of architect O’Neil Ford’s largest residential projects. The home was designed in one of his favorite styles, Texas Regionalism. The 9,800-square-foot home survived very close to the original design with the exception of a second story addition, a massive, indulgent master bath expansion (ONYX!), and enclosure of a rear porch. 

The home was 62 years old when it was razed on December 13, 2016. The lot was placed on the market almost immediately for $5.950,000.

It had been named by Preservation Dallas as one of the major Dallas buildings in danger of destruction. And the lot sat for more than two years.

After the first couple of years, Riley proclaimed his desire to sell it by hook or by crook. “MOTIVATED SELLER,” wrote his agent, Allie Beth Allman, in all caps, to whom the Penson home was the gift that kept on giving sales opportunity.

Wonderful building opportunity a gorgeous 0.83 acre lot in Highland Park. Cleared lot situated high on a hill with incredible views of Lakeside Park and Turtle Creek.
Public Driving Directions:SE corner of Armstrong and St. Johns Drive

Well, talk about burying a lead: The property was purchased on March 29, 2019, by… 

3756 Armstrong 


Penson House Demolition 1

On September 27, when the Penson house at 3756 Armstrong Parkway sold at auction, a handsome gentleman with white hair was the buyer. He walked out of the house that day smiling broadly with his agent, Allie Beth Allman.

He was Lute Riley of the Honda car dealership fame. As we told you, he paid $4.95 million, including the buyer’s 10% premium, for a home that had almost a Camelot presence in Dallas. Built for Jack and Nancy Penson in 1954, it is one of architect O’Neil Ford’s largest residential projects, and was designed in one of his favorite styles, Texas Regionalism. The exterior and interior of the 9,800-square-foot home remains very close to the original design with the exception of a second story addition, a massive, indulgent master bath expansion, and enclosure of a rear porch.

The home remains an architectural icon that has been named by Preservation Dallas as one of the major Dallas buildings in danger of destruction.

Sadly, a permit has been pulled to demolish the home.


Photos courtesy of Preservation Dallas

This article has been updated with quotes from the agent representing the property.

It’s “tucked among some 500 trees on a five-acre spread of land worth millions at one of the busiest intersections in one of Dallas’ wealthiest neighborhoods. This Preston Hollow house — feted in this newspaper in 1956, written about in an essential 1988 guidebook to native Texas plants — is now considered a tear-down cluttering up five acres at Walnut Hill Lane and Inwood Road for which the owner, a limited partnership, is asking $6.4 million cash-only.”

Well done, Robert Wilonsky, and welcome to our world of dirt worship.

One of the multiple intentions I had when I started CandysDirt, nee DallasDirt (but we include Fort Worth and Plano-Frisco, too, so Candy), was to create a museum for homes just like 9910 Inwood Road. Or 3756 Armstrong. Or the Mayrath House. 4307 Armstrong. Or  the former home of Trammell and Margaret Crow, now gone and buried under the strong new bones of Andy Beal’s new place. 

Or 5511 Park Lane, once my own home. (more…)

Penson House Demolition 2

The O’Neil Ford-designed Penson House was demolished this week at the behest of owner Lute Riley. The lot at 3756 Armstrong where the midcentury house once stood was just put on the market.

We reported that the O’Neil Ford-designed home of Dallas philanthropists Jack and Nancy Penson was slated to be razed after being purchased at auction by Lucien “Lute” Riley. The Highland Park home, built in 1954 and considered architecturally significant, was felled just this week. We have learned that the lot at 3756 Armstrong is now back on the market for $5.95 million.

At .845 of an acre — or 36,852 square feet — that’s more than $7 million per acre, or approximately $161 per square foot. FOR DIRT.

Like Candy said, from Hondas to Haciendas, except that Riley doesn’t appear to be bothering with the “hacienda” part. The home dirt is listed with Allie Beth Allman, Lute’s agent, and went into MLS today, December 16. This is going to be very interesting, to see if this property sells faster without a home on board. And it certainly could set some new price point highs for dirt in this neck of the woods.


VIP party guest2

Last Wednesday, we were just starting to feel a bit lighter on the scales after a weekend of eating turkey, or whatever your favorite Thanksgiving indulgence happened to be. Heritage Auctions Luxury Real Estate threw open the doors at 3908 Euclid, the Dallas-based auction house’s next big luxury real estate auction that happens NEXT WEEK! The previews begin this Friday through Monday, from 1 to 5 p.m, at the property.

And where did everyone end up after the presentation? In the DREAM GARAGE!

That’s right, you too can grab the steal deal of the century (and the best garage in Texas) for an exquisitely timeless, modern home on one of Highland Park’s most coveted streets designed by Joe McCall, built by Randy Clowdus, and offered for sale by the folks at Heritage along with Martha and McKamy Tiner from Dave Perry-Miller.

Heritage is the world’s third largest auction house and is a leader in luxury real estate auctions after several recent scores, including the successful sale and closing of 3756 Armstrong Avenue, Highland Park’s famed O’Neil Ford house. It is now the only top tier auction company to offer truly luxury properties through auctions. Utilizing a powerful platform from a client base of more than 900,000 members worldwide, Heritage Auctions specializes in marketing and selling luxury real estate valued at $2 million and above throughout the United States, the Caribbean, and in select international destinations. It is an effective alternative to selling high-end properties in a transparent, competitive bidding environment — all within 60 to 90 days.

True to it’s core business, Heritage also offers a benefit auction at each property prior to sale. Through donated paintings and furniture, funds were raised last week for Jubilee Park, a thriving residential neighborhood in Fair Park, with affordable new housing options for low income residents.

Heritage brought in Joe McCall, of Oglesby Greene Architects, who oversaw the construction of 3908 Euclid. The home is one of the most unique in Dallas. There is a six-car garage split in two, four bays decked out as a professional garage for car collectors and aficionados.

3908 Euclid is not like any other home that has been to auction in Dallas. Frankly, it has no flaws. The home was timelessly built to the most exacting standards by the owners, architect and builder. Though the brick appears to be NorthPark brick, it simply matches the same color.

The home will have an undisclosed (but easily attainable) reserve, the listing price is $6,400,000. It is listed with veteran Dave Perry-Miller agent Martha Tiner and her daughter, McKamy. Get thee to this auction for the bargain of a century!

Oh and one more thing you will not find in any other house in Dallas: a waterproof mailbox! Jump for more party photos!