Homes with history

Step inside 5 storied residences on this year's Swiss Avenue Home Tour


5314 Swiss Ave. Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5521 Swiss Ave., Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5521 Swiss Ave., Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5125 Swiss Ave., Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5125 Swiss Ave., Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5622 Swiss Ave., Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5622 Swiss Ave., Dallas
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric
5007 Swiss Ave
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic District
5007 Swiss Ave
Photo courtesy of Swiss Avenue Historic Distric

One of Dallas' most beloved Mother's Day traditions, the 46th annual Swiss Avenue Historic District Home Tour will open doors to five storied residences over Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-12.

"This weekend-long tribute to Dallas' historic past will feature five of the city's most fabulous early 20th century homes and, on Saturday only, an historic Gothic sanctuary built by noted architect, C.D. Hill," the organization says in a release. "The homes on tour this year represent a diverse variety of the early 20th century's most popular architectural styles, including a romantic Spanish Revival; an Italianate Mediterranean Villa; a pristine Mission Revival; a Prairie Foursquare with unique Georgian influences; and a Progressive Style Prairie Foursquare."

In addition to the home tour, the event will feature an open-air art fair, vintage auto display, children’s activity area with a kid-sized railroad, live entertainment, a speakers’ series, free horse-drawn carriage rides, complimentary air-conditioned mini-coaches, freshly prepared food, ice-cold beverages, and much more. A special Mother's Day brunch will be served in Savage Park with a live jazz ensemble on Sunday. Advance reservations are suggested.

Tickets to the tour are $30 in advance and $35 during the event. Children 12 and under are admitted free. To purchase tickets, visit www.sahd.org or participating local retailers, through 6 pm May 10.

Here's a closer look at the homes on the 2019 tour, with descriptions provided by the organization.

5314 Swiss Ave.
Owners: Drs. Michelle Nichols and Gregory DePrisco
Year Built: 1916

This majestic Mediterranean Villa was built in 1916 by Hal Thomson at a cost of $25,489.61 for E.R. Brown, president of the Magnolia Oil Company, which later became Mobil Oil. Mrs. Brown instructed Thomson that she desired a house resembling an Italian Villa because she felt the style was well suited to the Dallas climate.

The style is a blend of Mediterranean Villa with Georgian elements applied to an asymmetrical façade that is unusual for houses of this period. 

Guests enter under an arched wrought-iron and milk-glass canopy. Inside, the elegant foyer opens onto one of the most impressive stairways in the entire District. 

The home recently underwent an intensive, three-year renovation, including the installation of new Vermont slate roofing; a redesign of the rear landscaping to match original photos from the 1930s; and the addition of a bow window and exterior door in the kitchen to provide better access to the rear garden and expanded views.

5521 Swiss Ave.
Current Owners: Anne and Chris Hamilton
Year Built: 1917

This home sits on one of the most desirable corners in the district, with views overlooking Savage Park. Built in 1917 for Perry Arrington, the president of the First National Bank, at a cost of $32,300, it is a classic Prairie Foursquare – but with an unusual twist. Beneath its low-hipped roof and large, barrel-vaulted dormer, which are typical Prairie elements, is an exterior punctuated with Georgian Period details.

In the mid 1930s, the house was sold to Margaret and Richard Ray Campbell, who frequently entertained in the home, placing it for several decades at the epicenter of Dallas society.

At the entry, classic Doric columns support an arched dormer. Heavy limestone lintels with keystones straddle French doors that open onto a raised terrace.The original portecochere is trimmed with decorative latticework.


 

5521 Swiss Ave. (con't)

Inside, three original Rookwood fireplaces provide evidence of the home’s superior craftsmanship. Other original features
include the hardwood floors, the knobs and hardware on all interior doors, and all downstairs moldings.

The Hamiltons, who purchased the house in 2011, recently commissioned Carol Gantt of Gantt Design to reimagine the kitchen, breakfast room, dining room, upstairs hall bath, and porches.

During the renovations, a cache of letters dated between 1943 and 1944, penned by members of the Campbell family, were discovered when a hole was cut in the guest room ceiling. 

5125 Swiss Ave.
Current Owners: Dr. Elizabeth Polanco and Jeff Bryan
Year Built: 1915

A pristine example of the Mission Revival Style of architecture that originated in California at the turn of
the last century can be found in this home. Built in 1915 by W.A. Green, founder of W.A. Green Department Store in downtown Dallas, the original building cost was budgeted at $9,000 but, by the time it was completed, had ballooned to $14,000.

The house exudes a strong reference to early Spanish Colonial Missions. The most prominent Mission Revival elements are the sculptured parapets, one rising above the entry portico and the other extending from the main roof visor.

 

5125 Swiss Ave. (con't)

The current homeowners restored the home, inside and out, when first purchased in 2001. Then catastrophic water damage from a storm required the owners to move out for three years to allow major restoration work. Contractors took the house down to the studs to make repairs and reconstruct floor to ceiling.

The owners have furnished the home with an eclectic variety of antiques, midcentury modern, vintage, and custom-made pieces, including a massive marble dining room table. All original art work is by Texas artists. 

5622 Swiss Ave.
Current Owners: Jane and Philip Barrett
Year Built: 1919

The classic, red-brick American Foursquare, which this year celebrates its 100th birthday, is an exquisite example of the Prairie Style of architecture that dominated residential design in the US during the early years of the 20th century. It was built in 1919 and purchased by L.M. Prince. It was sold in 1921 to George V. Basham, president of the United Savings Bank of Detroit, which financed many of the homes along Swiss Avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Basham were avid entertainers who hosted parties and social gatherings that were regularly featured in Dallas society pages.

An unusual feature of the home’s exterior is the unique placement of its twin front gables, which give the illusion of piercing through the roof deck on either side of its central shed dormer. This “piercing” effect is repeated in the sturdy, brick pillars supporting the entry that emerge through the portico roof.


 

5622 Swiss Ave. (con't)

The current owners are natives of Great Britain with a refined eye for historic accuracy, who have restored the home to its original appearance by referencing photographs taken in 1924. They removed many inconsistent elements that were added over the years.

The Rookwood Tile fireplace in the living room has been verified as period authentic, as are the vintage 1953 O’Keefe & Merritt stove and the 1950 GE refrigerator which are focal points of the newly remodeled kitchen complete with its original pine floor that the Barretts discovered when removing the outdated floor tiles. 

5007 Swiss Ave.
Current Owners: Dr. Elizabeth Odstrcil and Brian Shultz
Year Built: 1921

Last year, the tour featured the in-progress renovations that were under way at 5700 Swiss Ave. This year, tour-goers can view the results. This elegant, Italianate Style home was built in 1921 at the top of Swiss Avenue for Mr. & Mrs. Wesley Porter Mason. Mr. Mason owned Mason Engineering Company. Mrs. Mason was a Dallas arts benefactress. She sponsored the tours of famous musicians like Ignacio Paderewski, Jascha Heifetz, Van Cliburn, and Sergei Rachmananoff, who is said to have performed in the home’s music room.

In 1983, the entire house was moved to its current address from its original site at the corner of Swiss and Oram. The recent renovations have returned much of the interior to its original configuration, while the rear of the house has been expanded to more successfully expose the first floor to the large backyard and pool area.

5007 Swiss Ave. (con't)

Dallas designer and Swiss Avenue resident Rebecca Browning, who specializes in historic home renovation, did all of the architectural design and drawings. She collaborated with historic-home specialist and contractor James Hammel of Alair Homes to create an additional 1,000 square feet of living space.

The dining room was returned to its original footprint and, during the process, an exposed wood-plank ceiling was discovered beneath the drywall. It was removed, refurbished, and reinstalled.