This is huge news, and a big shot in the arm for our real estate market, especially at the higher luxury end.

A significant Dallas estate has sold and closed. Details are still pouring in, but sources tell me that the magnificent Preston Hollow mansion belonging to Lisa Blue Baron, a woman I cannot speak of more highly, sold Friday for just under $19 million.  

You know the place: it’s the Robert A.M. Stern designed palatial estate on the southwest corner of Preston Road and Deloache in the honeypot of Preston Hollow. The home is a sprawling 15,254 square feet on 8.98 acres. We first reported that the house was on the market in May of 2014, and were likely the first to do so.

Lisa had told me that deciding to sell her beloved home, which she built with her late husband, Fred Baron, who she lost to cancer in October, 2008, was a really tough decision.

“Building it was a labor of love,” she told me. “Fred loved and appreciated architecture and good art. I rely on others for good taste. Me, I could live anywhere, even in a trailer!”

The home is beyond exquisite. Her white master bedroom remains etched in the memory cells of my brain, one of my favorite rooms of all times. And yet the home, for being so large and elegant, is one of the warmest places you could ever walk into. The home has been featured in Architectural Digest:

As Baron remembers it, they were standing among the creepers and weeds, noting the derelict vegetation, the scarcity of salvageable trees and the ample evidence that the neighborhood kids had made the place their own—more than ready to retreat, in other words—when Stern started to make his case. “Bob told us, You have just got to buy this property.'”

Lisa interviewed the city’s tip top agents when she finally decided to sell, and chose Erin Mathews at Allie Beth Allman & Associates, who has hung in there for four years now while the home has been marketed, while prices have been lowered at least twice, through a few offers, and through countless showings.

What a huge coup for Erin! The buyer was brought by Gina Cerullo of Compass, who cannot comment on the sale because of an NDA she has signed. Word on the street is that the buyer may be James Dondero.

The estate was first listed at $37.5 when it debuted. The price was lowered to $33 million in 2015, then to $24.5, evidently the magic number.   

Erin Mathews’ website describes the property best. A few of my own notes: the powder rooms are definitely his and her’s, almost like powder rooms you’d find in  a country club, with large dressing rooms. The home is on a private lake, and Robert A.M. Stern also designed the George W. Bush Presidential Center because of this house. It is the only home he has designed in Texas, and one of the few in the world.The home was built on the estate of the Pollock family, whose home had a large swimming pool that was one of the first in Dallas. For years, the Pollock home was a vital social center for the local Jewish community. In light of that, Lisa and Fred always gave their home a tradition of loaning the house nearly every week for charitable events. It was also often loaded with national and local Democratic candidates and fundraisers. President Obama has stayed at the house. When Bill Clinton was president, he would jettison to the Baron estate directly after landing in Dallas. Photos of Bill and Hillary are all over the house! It is rumored that one time presidential candidate John Edwards also enjoyed hospitality at 5950 Deloache:

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Peter Marino

Our Monday Morning Millionaire at  8891 Jourdan Way is the most beautiful Preston Hollow French Renaissance estate you’ve ever seen. And it also has an unmatched architectural pedigree. It was designed by renowned architect Peter Marino, who brings an unprecedented level of elegance and luxury to everything he touches. (more…)

Baron house (5)It was a bit difficult last week for us to write about and focus on homes, the beautiful homes we love to feature here on CandysDirt.com. When I delivered my taxes my check to my CPA Monday, there was a wild criminal car chase and news crews gathered at Medical City: one pregnant woman dead. Then came the senseless explosions in the town where I was educated, my precious B Town. My eyes have been wandering to any news I can grab on the Boston Marathon ever since. Then my brain tried to wrap itself around the news that a Justice of the Peace and his sickly wife somehow managed to blow away two solid lawmen and an innocent woman who was a nurse and mother in Kaufman County, Texas. Then a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, explodes — no, detonates, killing we still do not know how many and basically wiping out a charming town that had been a poster child for quiet, laid-back ranch living. Then Boston was on lockdown — followed by street gunfights, until they nabbed the alleged bomber. We were thrilled and relieved and yet still sad, because last week hundreds of people did not start out their Monday knowing they’d be maimed or homeless or worse — dead.

So it seemed frivolous to go on with our regularly scheduled program. There are some amazing homes in Dallas coming forth on the market. But even I, the most vainly self-confessed narcissist when it comes to beautiful homes, had to stop and think: when you are faced with such loss of security and loved ones, what’s the point of having a $16 million home or a waterpark in your backyard? What does it all mean in the grand scheme of life that we play on this rapidly-deteriorating planet?

photo by Hailey Ashmore

photo by Hailey Ashmore

Then I thought about Lisa Blue Baron. A couple weeks ago, she filled her Preston Hollow mansion with a truly impressive group of people who were all devoted to helping others find shelter. Lisa also happens to be a top philanthropist who focuses on uplifting the homeless community in Dallas. All of which is so very ironic: she lives in a 16,000 square foot home.

A reception at her home honored Communities Foundation of Texas, The Bridge, Family Gateway, Dallas Furniture Bank, SoupMobile, DISD Homeless Education Program, Frazier Revitalization Inc., Under 1 Roof, Family Place and Genesis Women’s Shelter.

“This is why I get up every morning,” Baron said. “Being able to give back to organizations that do so much for the homeless community in Dallas gives me so much joy. You are my heroes. Thank you for your dedication and hard work on behalf of those in the community who need us.”

Then I spoke with Lisa one cold, wet morning. The fires were crackling in her fireplaces, the ponies in the backyard were in the barn. Every single corner of her huge home had a warm touch that made the dreary weather become not so important.

“This home, all of it, was a labor of love for my husband,” she told me. “He loved and appreciated architecture and good art. I rely on others for good taste. Me, I could live anywhere, even in a trailer!”

A glitter cookie project

A glitter cookie project

Baron house (1)

Children have changed the Baron house!

Lisa Blue is probably one of Dallas’ most well-known female attorneys.  Barons recently named her one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. The South Texas Law School graduate was once a teacher and a counseling psychologist, that was before she graduated from law school in 1980. 1980 was also the year she married her late husband Fred Baron, a founder of the Baron & Budd law firm in Dallas. Lisa worked as an assistant district attorney in Dallas for awhile, then joined her husband’s firm in 1985. Together, Lisa and Fred made a considerable fortune as plaintiff’s attorneys trying toxic tort and asbestos suits on a contingency basis. Fred died in October, 2008, leaving his wife and three young children as well as two children from a previous marriage.

The joy, she told me, was in watching Fred have fun during the building process.

“He picked everything out,” she told me. The house took almost four years to build. The architect was Robert A.M. Stern, who also designed the Bush Library which will be opening in Dallas later this week, and Stern’s firm also did the interior design.

“Gerald Turner really liked our architects,” says Lisa, “so he pushed Stern to design the library.”

The home was not built for children, but there are a slew of them there now, with whole rooms that were once meant for cocktails turned into playrooms. The home boasts almost 16,000 square feet, but it is really just a three bedroom home.

“We built this home as a community house,” says Lisa.

From the very beginning, the Baron home was built with charitable fund-raising in mind. The drive-up is designed for easy valet-parking access off DeLoache. There are his and her powder rooms. Come fall, a giant tent is erected in the backyard that stays up until spring.  In an average year, there are 25 to 35 events at her house, including events for a variety of  charities. Always mindful of how blessed they were, Lisa and Fred started the Baron and Blue Foundation in 2002 to help the homeless.

“We usually give $500,000 to $1 million a year,” says Lisa, “distributed to about 30 various institutions.”

Her big ticket items right now: politics, legal aid, and homelessness. Fluent in three Romance languages, French, Spanish and Italian, Lisa works as a Spanish translator for Legal Aid in the divorce clinic. Her daughters are taking Chinese.

I want to spend 50 percent of my life doing philanthropy and 50 percent practicing law, she said; she loves to make money to contribute to politics or causes. For Lisa Baron, her big, beautiful home is really a symbol of humility and humanity. She tells me how large the valet bill was for her husband’s funeral — she kept the bill on her dressing table for months to remind her how much he was loved. And she has no intentions of selling the estate.

“I want this home to be known as the home that helped other people’s lives to be better,” says Lisa. “I want to make it about someone else. If I can help end homelessness with this huge home, well that will be more than wonderful.”