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.

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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 rear3756 Armstrong in Highland Park goes to auction tomorrow at 2 p.m. They say it was not because they got so very many bidders registered on the Highland Park estate, but because of the incredible quality of the bidders, who have said they want a shot at buying the architecturally significant Penson home that the reserve has been lifted.

“We had a very easily attainable reserve,” says Nate Schar, Director, Luxury Real Estate, Heritage Auctions. “The property is owned by an estate that is being finalized, and the sellers saw it only as an insurance policy against an unlikely series of catastrophic events leading up to auction day, like a financial market crash.”

Based on the incredible interest generated about the estate, from the many stories, and the qualifications of those bidders, the sellers are confident in Heritage’s ability to capture true market value, says Nate.

So that reserve is gone. Adios! The auction takes place at the Armstrong Avenue estate tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. selling to the highest bidder.  (It is NOT TOO LATE to sign up.) The auctioneer will open the bidding and determine the starting number. And things will roll from there.

The home has been listed, as we told you, at a high of $7.5 and then later reduced to the current appraisal of $6.1 million for the land. That means the 8900 square feet of living space created by the grandfather of Texas Modernism is basically FREE.

 Agents tell me they believe the master bath alone holds one million dollars in marble. If you are a mid-century aficionado, this home is your Mothership.

 

Surrounded by trophy properties, such as the estate of Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, and other Dallas movers and shakers, many wonder why this trophy home with so much architectural significance has not yet sold on the open market. In fact, it is one of a handful of O’Neil Ford creations in our city.

“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 Greg Rohan, president of Dallas-based Heritage Auctions. “Then they could spend a couple of million dollars to return it to its original splendor.”

At lot value plus a full restoration, you could end up spending $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.

Thinking of picking up a historical Highland Park bargain? Then get thee to the auction. (more…)