Dilbeck Does Dallas

New home tour offers rare glimpse at 1930s architect who shaped Dallas

New home tour offers rare glimpse at 1930s architect who shaped Dallas

5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house entry
5106 Milam St. will be on the Dilbeck house tour on April 3. Photo © Mike Hamtil
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house woodwork
Storybook touches are a hallmark of Dilbeck's. Photo © Mike Hamtil
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house fireplace
The original fireplace, now wired for gas. Photo © Mike Hamtil
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house bookcases
There is a pair of unique bookcases. Photo © Mike Hamtil
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house nook
A cozy dining nook. Photo © Mike Hamtil
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house entry
The front door is a nod to the 1930s style. Photo © Mike Hamtil
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house entry
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house woodwork
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house fireplace
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house bookcases
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house nook
5106 Milam Charles Dilbeck house entry

Architect Charles Stevens Dilbeck put his personal stamp on Dallas by designing several homes in the 1930s with his noteworthy signatures: rooms that feel more expansive than they are, cupolas, turrets, rounded chimneys, and other storybook touches.

Now there’s a brand-new home tour set to take place on April 3 that gives curious architecture buffs a glimpse inside five of the Dilbeck-designed homes in Dallas’ Cochran Heights.

But why now?

According to artist and resident Erika Huddleston, the neighborhood is celebrating its new Texas Historical Commission marker signifying the splendid collection of Dilbecks that Cochran Heights holds.

The marker, which is on Henderson Avenue next to Consignment Heaven and Nick Brock Antiques, will have a formal unveiling at 1 pm on April 3, with Preservation Dallas director David Preziosi and City of Dallas Parks and Recreation director Willis Winters. The unveiling will be followed by the home tour from 2 to 4 pm. Tickets are available on the Cochran Heights Neighborhood Association website for $15 in advance or $20 the day of the tour.

“These Cochran Heights Dilbeck homes have not been open to the public before, so this tour is a rare opportunity to peer into 1930s Dallas architecture and see how the homes have been adapted to 21st century living,” Huddleston adds. “I hope that the Texas Historical Commission’s marker will encourage developers and homeowners to restore and rework old homes as a continuation of our history rather than tear them down and replace them.”

Leading up to the tour, Preservation Dallas hosted a sneak peak of one of homes, 5215 Milam St. The home, a 1936 Dilbeck that was completely restored to LEED standards, won a 2015 Preservation Dallas Achievement Award.

Neighbor Michael Hamtil, Dallas Morning News photo editor and owner of 5106 Milam St., shared some splendid details discovered in his Dilbeck house during renovation. “As residents, what we like most about the house are the unique, original details. On the inside, particularly the large fireplace (now gas), breakfast nook, faux ceiling beams, unique trim work, large windows for natural light, and stars around the ceiling in the kitchen,” he says.

“On the outside, the drive-up appeal of the split-level, combined with the interesting woodwork and colors, exude charm.”

While renovating, Hamtil discovered what is presumed to be the phone number of Charles Dilbeck’s office, handwritten in pencil on the inside of the wall sheathing boards in the original garage. Perhaps a half dozen names and phone numbers were written there, all still remaining, and some arithmetic.

With nothing else to go on, he presumes it was scrawls of the builders, who needed to make calls (and do math) while the house was being constructed. The writings are now covered in drywall.

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A version of this story originally was published on Candy's Dirt.