Drawing property of UT Alexander Architectural Archives

By Donovan Westover
Special Contributor

The 1935 Walton House has always perched on the center of its vast Bluffview Estates lot, the landscape and grounds cascading down around it with a natural flow. Carol and James Walton selected a huge lot in Bluffview for their impressive 1930s home. At the time, Walton owned and ran City Wrecking and Trading Co., an early Dallas architectural demolition and salvage company.  He later expanded into supplying steel building products. It leads me to wonder if Charles Dilbeck did not use City Wrecking for his rustic architectural elements.  It would make sense.

Photography by Carolyn Brown

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Chateau Des Grotteaux at 6941 Gaston Avenue has a very colorful history.

By Donovan Westover
Special Contributor

For years, I have observed my friend restore the castle exterior and grounds at Chateau Des Grotteaux with such precision, that when I heard he was selling his super iconic Lakewood home, I did a spit take with my morning commute bourbon. Most drivers-by are familiar with the French Normandy style home’s turret and slate roof poking above the stone wall, while ducking below the tree canopy along Gaston Avenue.  The 1928 house, being constructed by builder Edwin Cox, was intended as a speculative residence for the Pasadena neighborhood which boasted “Pasadena Perfect Homes.”  However, the house was purchased prior to completion by R.L.Thornton after seeing it advertised in a State Fair of Texas brochure.  Thornton brought in Dallas’ only landscape architect at the time to lay the footing for the grounds.  There is lots of history associated with the “House of the Cave” including the cave itself, which went to White Rock Lake, and as folklore has it, was used to transport liquor during prohibition.

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Ward House (2004) on Farquhar Lane – Patron Tour House sponsored by Becky Frey Real Estate Group (Photos: Charles Davis Smith, AIA)

By Donovan Westover
Special Contributor

We are honored to attribute an entire Preservation Dallas home tour to Frank Welch on October 28.  I was fortunate to meet Frank many many moons ago and develop an alliance with him, as everybody in his life did.  What’s not to like?  He was intriguing, he did not pass up a drink, he had linguistic flair (he cussed, like me) and I enjoyed his colorful observations.  In his later years, I recollect shuttling him around for a project when Frank dropped another classic:

“I have the worst vision, but I can tell you that house is Goddamn ugly.”

Linguistic.

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Prairie-Style

Photography: Shoot2Sell

By Donovan Westover
Special Contributor

Prior to the 2016 holidays, I had the opportunity to visit the 1974 Mitchell House at 2717 Conflans Road in Irving. I owe Allie Beth Allman listing agent, Richard Waite a huge apology for my glacial progress as the holidays and life got in the way. As fate would have it, a substantial price drop ($895,000 to $749,000) gives me a second wind to write about this iconic Prairie-style home.

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mayrath house

Original Geneva cabinets are just one of the Midcentury Modern wonders in the iconic Mayrath house, located at 10707 Lennox Ln. in Northwest Dallas near the Straight Lane estates.

For all of its progress toward becoming a world-class city, Dallas still has a lot to learn about the value of historic architecture.

We are tear-down happy. The list of demolished Dallas buildings with significant historic and architectural value would go on for pages. But here are a few recent examples:

We might have another situation happening now. The Mayrath house at 10707 Lennox Ln. is a Midcentury Modern gem. It was designed by Dallas architect and homebuilder Truett A. Bishop in 1956, and is largely unchanged since then.

Photo: Michael Amonett

Photo: Michael Amonett

A Dallas Times Herald article from Sept. 23, 1957, titled Not a Splinter of Wood Used In Outstanding Home in Dallas, describes the Mayrath House like this:

Wood, the most frequently used material in homes, is completely shunned in the home of one Dallas family. There isn’t so much as a splinter of wood in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Martin Mayrath, 10707 Lennox Lane…Built on columns of steel, the two story house is constructed with aluminum, glass, concrete and Austin stone. It may look like a country club at first glance, but it is a luxury home—one that probably is not equaled in the vast Southwest.

In terms of architectural value, this Northwest Dallas home near Royal Lane and Inwood Road is priceless. But it was listed Jan. 18 by Sharon Quist with Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate for $2.5 million, which is just the lot value.

That means the iconic Mayrath house and all its Midcentury significance is likely to face the wrecking ball, probably replaced by another generic McMansion or faux château.

When discussing this possible fate for the Mayrath house, a friend commented, “That is so Dallas.” But it doesn’t have to be. This home is worth saving.

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