When the organizing team behind last year’s Swiss Avenue Home Tour began planning the annual neighborhood event’s grand post-pandemic return, there were plenty of unknowns, says current tour co-chair Charlotte Kerr. It had, after all, been two years since they had an in-person event.
Despite the hot early May weekend, almost 5,000 people showed up to tour seven historic properties across two days. “It gave us a lot of optimism going into this year,” says Kerr.
Now, the Swiss Avenue Home Tour is back once again on May 13 and 14, celebrating its golden anniversary with aplomb. It will open six historic homes and the Aldredge House to the public.
Nearly 120 years ago, the elite of early Dallas picked a plot of land and built a series of mansions and sprawling estates over a 2.5 mile stretch. Their goal was to establish the city’s first suburban neighborhood: Swiss Avenue. Over the next few decades, more of the burgeoning city’s beau monde moved in, building homes for themselves and their children. But by the 1970s, Swiss Avenue had fallen into disrepair and many homes were in danger of being torn down. So, amongst other things, the residents came together to put on the Swiss Avenue Home Tour by opening their historic properties for the general public to ogle, enjoy, and hopefully preserve.
Taking place on Mother’s Day weekend each year, the tour grew in popularity over the decades until the pandemic brought it to a halt. After a two-year hiatus, the Swiss Avenue Historic District cautiously brought the event back in person in 2022.
“We were just kind of getting our feet back wet in the tour last year,” marketing chair Alex Gandara-Morgan. But for the 50th anniversary of the first tour, they’re ready to dive back in completely.
This year’s tour will open six houses on Swiss Avenue, La Vista, and Bryan Parkway, all of which range in architectural styles and eras built. The event will also include guided tours of the Aldredge House at 5500 Swiss Ave. The only museum house in the district, the 106-year-old French Eclectic property was under construction last year, Kerr says.
To get from stop to stop, visitors can walk, take the air-conditioned van, or hitch a horse-and-carriage ride. “Those are fan [favorites] and they will be back,” Gandara-Morgan says.
In addition to the houses, Kerr and Gandara-Morgan say the organizing team wanted to plan something special at each home. So, they’re bringing back the tour’s auto show.
In the past, they parked vintage cars nearby as an amenity for dads and husbands who might not be as interested in touring the houses. “Like, this is something cool for him,” Kerr says. But “it had gone by the wayside in years past.” For this year’s show, they pulled vehicles from local classic car clubs, like the Model T Club, Classic Car Club of America, and more.
They specifically wanted pre-war cars, she says. “It’s like we are giving our guests a glimpse of what it was [like] back in the day when these homes were first built.”
What you need to know about the Swiss Avenue Home Tour before you go:
When should I come?
The Swiss Avenue Home Tour is expecting more than 6,000 visitors across the two-day event this year. It takes about 20 minutes to walk through each house, but you could be waiting half that time just to get into the property. To beat the crowds, Kerr and Gandara-Morgan recommend coming at an off-hour. Mornings are busy, Kerr says, and people like to come after brunch or church on Sunday. So, “mid-day Saturday is the best time to come,” Gandara-Morgan says.
What should I wear?
It’s early May, so the weather could be blazing hot or a little chilly, Gandara-Morgan says. Check the temperature before you leave, but don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be doing a lot of walking. “Because even though you can take the carriages or the coach, you’re still walking through many homes,” he says.
There will be a “really cool range” of six cars, from a motor buggy to a 1930s Rolls Royce, parked outside each home. The cars’ owners will be there, too, ready to talk about the vehicles’ restoration process and other interesting details.
As always, Savage Park will be tour central. Bands will play throughout the weekend, and there will be a children’s play area and brunch on Sunday. The artisan fair will be under one tent this year, too.
“This is a community event and we want you to not just come into the homes but stay all day,” Gandara-Morgan says. “We’re just really excited about seeing everyone again and having people come and experience our neighborhood.”
Get your tickets online for $30 before May 5, when advance sales close. If you miss that window, you can still come, but the tickets will be $35 at the door, Kerr and Gandara-Morgan say. Kids are free. There’s street parking up and down the district, but there will also be overflow parking at Munger Place Church.
To get a sneak peek of the homes on this year’s tour, and to learn more about them, scroll through the gallery.