Saturday, April 13, 2024 Apr 13, 2024
71° F Dallas, TX
Advertisement
Hot Properties

Hot Property: A Stately East Kessler Estate with the Best Views Around

Called Villa Vista, the 99-year-old mansion overlooks the Trinity River and downtown Dallas.
|
View Gallery
Image
There’s an “element of grandeur” to 1707 Rio Vista Dr. that you just can’t find in other historic homes around Dallas, listing agent Jason Saucedo says. Niall Morga Media
Advertisement

Hot Property: A Stately East Kessler Estate with the Best Views Around

{{ oneIndex }} / {{ images.length }}

Advertisement

Thanks to our flat prairieland, there aren’t many peaks in Dallas. But sitting atop one of the tallest is 1707 Rio Vista Dr. The stately, red-roofed mansion towers over its sprawling grounds. Surrounded by mid-century modern abodes, its historic charm hearkens, staunchly, to Dallas’ early days.

Built in 1925, the blond-bricked, 5,727-square-foot house sprawls across an acre lot, which includes a huge lawn, pool, English garden, three-car garage, and guest suite. Much of the house’s architecture was designed to frame the views and allow in a breeze—there are windows throughout, several terraces, and a rooftop patio. It was also “made to be entertained in,” says listing agent Jason Saucedo, with large formal spaces, plenty of parking and guest rooms, and the sweeping grounds and gardens. 

Saucedo has been “slowly but surely” uncovering the history of the East Kessler property. Because Dallas is so young, “we don’t have a lot of history, he says. “So, to have something that has a little bit more of a storyline to it is always interesting.” 

The house’s original resident was Charles Moore, the longtime owner of Austin Bridge Company, now Austin Industries. The company built bridges in just about every Texas county, Saucedo says, several of which are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Locally, one of its most iconic bridges is the triple underpass near Dealey Plaza, which was known as the “Gateway to Dallas” when it was unveiled in 1936. 

His home on Rio Vista was built in 1925. Originally, the property was about 44 acres, “a family farm within the city limits, which is kind of cool,” Saucedo says. Overlooking the Trinity River and the city in the distance, the estate was called Villa Vista. “It has an unimpeded view of downtown, but really an unimpeded, 360-panoramic view of the entire horizon.” 

Its architect was Bertram Charles Hill. The Brit moved to Dallas in 1905. Besides a brief stint back in England during World War I, he spent the rest of his life in Dallas. The architect designed many of the imposing mansions on Swiss Avenue, like the palatial 5907 Swiss, a blond-bricked Italian Renaissance-style house that will be featured on this year’s Swiss Avenue Home Tour. He was known for blending architectural styles, as is evident at 1707 Rio Vista Dr. The house “skirts in between a few different styles,” Saucedo says. It’s part Arts & Crafts, a late 19th-century artistic movement that architecturally features elements like natural and local materials, open floor plans, exposed exterior rafters, prominent fireplaces, and an emphasis on hand-done details, which can be seen on Villa Vista. But the house also has touches of Spanish, thanks to its tile roof. The gables, front chimney, and archways are all Tudor Revival, which was popular at the time. 

In its 99-year-old life, Villa Vista has had just four different owners. At some point in its history, most of its acreage was sold off, leaving the estate with just one acre. But unlike many East Kessler homes, which are built into the side of hills and therefore have little yard space, this property’s acre is “usable” on mostly flat ground, Saucedo says. The current owner bought the property around 20 years ago for $1 million. “At the time, [that] was a huge number for Kessler Park.” 

Over the years, the house has also undergone several renovations. In the 1990s, a previous owner refurbished the interiors. The “wet areas,” like the kitchen and bathrooms, were updated. The current owner added period lighting to bring in more character and put in effort fixing up the exteriors. He finished the garage, built the pool, added some gates and fencing, and restored the English garden. Despite these changes, much of the home is still original to Hill’s design.

However, while the architecture is significant, that isn’t what makes the property singular in Dallas, Saucedo says. After all, you can find other grand estates with similar details in the city—just look at Hill’s Swiss Avenue houses. 

“But to have all of that, plus these unmatched views, which [you] just don’t get Dallas, unless you’re living in a high rise,” says Saucedo, “how do you put a price on that?”

Scroll through the gallery to see inside.

Author

Catherine Wendlandt

Catherine Wendlandt

View Profile
Catherine Wendlandt is the online associate editor for D Magazine’s Living and Home and Garden blogs, where she covers all…

Related Articles

Image
Hot Properties

Hot Property: This Preston Hollow Modern Has Limestone as Old as Dinosaurs

Designed by Todd Hamilton, the mansion features lots of organic elements, including a shell stone only found in Texas.
Image
Hot Properties

Hot Property: A Mid-Century Modern That Even the New York Times Had to Notice

Architect John Barthel designed the unconventional property near Lake Highlands as his personal home back in the 1950s.
Advertisement