photo courtesy of Robert W. Hart

Fort Worth and Dallas real estate moola has helped Glenn Close achieve the dream of her lifetime: Albert Nobbs, an independent film that was heavily financed by Crescent Real Estate Equities CEO John Goff and his darling wife, Cami, is in line for some Oscar gold after it was nominated for three Academy Awards this morning!  The star, writer and producer Glenn Close was nominated for Best Actress, her co-star Janet McTeer was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The film was also nominated for Best Makeup, which it should win hands-down for turning the beautiful Glenn into a man! Remember when Glenn came to Dallas in October 2010 seeking funding for this film at the home of John and Teresa Amend. She told me then she knew it would be the performance of a lifetime.  You MUST go see the film this weekend when it opens in Fort Worth-Dallas, and let me know what you think!

Note I say Fort Worth Dallas, which I’ve had to re-type a few times. That is because the photo you see here was taken in Fort Worth when we previewed Albert Nobbs. That’s my husband with Glenn, who is married to his cousin David. As usual, I put my foot in my mouth when I was standing behind a lovely woman and I said, “the mayor of Fort Worth should be here”. The woman turned to me and said, “I am the Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price. How are ya?”  

Albert Nobbs is the tale of a woman posing as a man in 19th-century Ireland, and it is an amazing, incredible story of humanity: how cruel we can be, how we will do anything including totally losing our sense of self in order to survive. Last night we were treated to a private premiere of the movie in Fort Worth thanks to power couple Cami and John Goff. John is chairman and CEO of Crescent Real Estate Equities, which owns the Residences at the Ritz Carlton in Dallas, one of my favorite Dallas high rises.

In October of 2010, Glenn Close, the star of the movie, was in town with Dallas-born film producer Bonnie Curtis (Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Minority Report) seeking financing for an indie film they were planning called Albert Nobbs. Those meetings took place at the spectacular home of John and Teresa Amend, who own Mt. Vernon on White Rock Lake, now listed with Allie Beth Allman for $29.5 million. John and his wonderful sons are in commercial real estate. Another power real estate couple drove over from Fort Worth that night, John and Cami Goff, and stepped up to the plate to be the main financiers for Nobbs.

Last night, we learned that Goff does movie financing the “Fort Worth” way: he asked Glenn’s husband, David Shaw, who happens to be my husband’s cousin, to match the funds he put into the flick. Guess they call that having some skin in the game! The Goffs also visited the movie set while in production in Ireland. So, as a thank you to North Texas and well, yes, Fort Worth, the producers brought the finished project back to Fort Worth  for last night’s first, invitation-only, red-carpet screening at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. It was star central with Glenn, Bonnie Curtis, and director Rodrigo Garcia, and some cast members as well as the glitterai of DFW including the Amend family, Dave Perry-Miller, Gene and Jerry Jones, David and Anne Sutherland, Blake and Brooke Hortenstine, Dean Fearing, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, and Porter Farrell, partner in Presido Pictures.

The movie opens Jan. 27 at three theatres here in North Texas, including the Angelika in Dallas. Glenn and Bonnie hope that North Texas shows Hollywood how much we love movies by supporting it — trust me, this is not a movie you want to see, you MUST see it. I do not want to give away the story, but in a way, there is a real estate theme trickling below the surface. The main character, Albert Nobbs, dreams of buying a certain piece of real estate as his (her?) ticket out of poverty.

“The agent,” he (she) says, ” assured me it will increase in value.”

Yes, even in 19th century Ireland!



UPDATE: Confirmed with Allie Beth Allman. She is listing Mt. Vernon (not yet in MLS) at a sales price of $29,500,000.

Breaking news. This is NOT CONFIRMED yet with Pierce or Allie Beth, but I’ve been burning the phone lines asking. I just saw a press release come across my screen indicating that Allie Beth is once again listing Mount Vernon, the beautiful, stately, historic Dallas estate on White Rock Lake built by oilman and Dallas icon H.L. Hunt and owned by John and Teresa Amend.

On the market AGAIN you say? Yes, there is quite a bit of scuttlebutt not only to the estate, but the sales history. Flash back to 2008 when the Dallas Morning News first reported that the Hunt estate was up for sale. Think asking price was $50 millionish. ( no kidding!) The News was told that it would be listed by Eleanor Mowery Sheets. Then, the News had to recant that story because, as it turns out, Mt. Vernon was NOT listed with EMS. (The Sheets’ PR agent at the time, Keith Nix, told me Nicky Sheets had told him it was their “hip pocket”. But they were having all those tax issues, etc. etc. please let’s not go there.) Here is the link to the recant but it won’t go anywhere because of the DMN paywall. Then last April, 2010, we heard that Mt. Vernon was listed with Allie Beth for $32.5 million, making it the most expensive house on the market at the time and ever in Dallas.

Well, it was on the market, but then it was off. The reason was quite simple as Teresa Amend told me herself: she wanted the home for their son’s wedding. We were so happy for that wedding because last fall, the Amends generously handed Mt. Vernon over to Glenn Close for a magnificent event to raise funds for what will be her signature work, Albert Nobbs, a feature film adaptation of George Moore’s  Irish short story of the same name.  (Full disclosure: Glenn is related to us through marriage.) Glenn said when she played the role of Albert off Broadway twenty years ago, she felt a connection that never left her. The story, she said, blind-sided her, and it will blind-side everyone who sees it.

“It’s a story about what people do to survive,” she told me, “About what faces we put on to survive… and there’s an element of redemption.”

Nobbs will start rolling in November in Dublin, Ireland, and also stars Amanda Seyfried and Orlando Bloom. The bulk of the funding for this movie came from Dallas, and it all started right there at Mt. Vernon.

While there may only may be a handful of Dallas rich who could afford to buy Mt. Vernon, I suspect it might be an out-of town billionaire moving to Texas for our economy and lack of a state income tax. The home also beats out Troy Aikman’s $24 million Highland Park wonder at being the priciest piece of dirt in town. My guestimate: $28 million. Never mind that DCAD has it appraised around $11 million: John Amend is in real estate!

The Press release:

January, 1938, legendary oilman H.L. Hunt moved into the neoclassical Georgian home built in 1930. Additions during the six epochal decades of the Hunt family included air conditioning, one of Dallas’ first residential swimming pools, pool house, tennis courts, guest house and garage. Ever the visionaries, the Hunts planted specimen live oak and pecan trees, that continue to provide grace and splendor to the property all these years later.

Current owners John and Teresa Amend began total and meticulous renovation of the main house and outbuildings in 2000, completing the extensive project in 2002. With the vision of creating an unmatched versatile site for entertaining on any scale, a new two story guest house and showroom garage were also built. And in 2004, a spectacular bowling center was added on the grounds.

The warm and inviting fourteen room manor comprises approximately 10,500 square feet plus a 2,700 square foot basement with controlled wine storage, large laundry area, and an expansive storage area, served by the mansion’s elevator.

A few feet north of the main house, the charming 4,200 square foot two-story guest house has a media room, separate wine tasting and dining room on the first level, four bedrooms with baths and full kitchen on the second floor.

Adjacent to the guest house, is a 5,000 square foot air conditioned showroom garage and event venue. Styled as a carriage house and designed with cathedral ceilings, this event center features scored, stained and buffed concrete floors, with capacity for 16 vehicles or seated dining for 250 guests as well as two collapsible and removable NCAA glass basketball goals. Upon completion of the estate renovation in 2002, the Dallas Historical Society hosted a black tie seated dinner in the new carriage house, where members of the Hunt family shared their memories of Dallas’ most famous home.

West of the main house, a wide stone walkway leads past the lighted tennis courts to a 1,200 square foot pool house. The shared patio has an outdoor kitchen with grill, large fireplace and professional wood fired Renato pizza oven.

Next to the pool house is the incredible 5,000 square foot bowling center, among the largest, private professionally equipped centers in the nation. Built with guidance from the Brunswick Corporation, this fabulous entertainment venue has four regulation lanes, state of the art automatic pin setters and electronic scoring, multiple flat screen televisions, and a digital photo-booth. Additional amenities include two Enomatic four bottle Argon gas wine dispensers and a Touchtunes digital jukebox, currently with over 500,000 songs available through a concert hall quality sound system – two firsts in private residential installations. Over 400 events have been held in this popular and unique venue.

Following its inaugural opening event in 2004, Dallas retail legend Neiman Marcus sought permission to feature the unique bowling facility as the exceptionally exclusive and highly publicized “His and Hers” gift in their famed Christmas catalog. Neiman Marcus then chose Mt. Vernon as the host site for its spectacular Christmas Wish Book launch event.

The pool area, with an expansive limestone deck, is another fabulous picturesque setting for entertaining or relaxing. Bordering the pool site are a putting green, limestone fireplace and a romantic gazebo.

“The original Mount Vernon in Virginia is the most popular historic estate in the United States,” said Ms. Allman. “This larger replica is among Dallas’ and Texas’ preeminent estates – and rightfully so. Many tales from the nation’s mythological oil industry originated within these walls.”

The current owners’ enduring commitment to tradition and quality means that essential elements of the original structure remain, including foot-thick concrete walls, marble fireplaces and murals, while daily comfort is assured with technology and amenities for the next century. With its majestic unobstructed view of landmark White Rock Lake, the setting and tradition are irreplaceable.

My daughter and son-in-law in Mt. Vernon's bowling alley