New Tenants for the Bishop’s Mansion

The former mansion of the Catholic Bishop of Dallas-Fort Worth is undergoing another change. The house, at 4946 Swiss Avenue, was built for Bishop Joseph Lynch in 1914. It was recently purchased by Randy and Ann West who are redoing it as their home.

The mansion served as virtual headquarters for the Catholic diocese until Bishop Lynch’s death in 1954. His successor, Bishop Thomas Gorman, lived on Forest Avenue in a replica of his previous home in Reno, Nevada. He still lives there after his retirement in 1969.

The present head of the diocese, Bishop Thomas Tschoepe, lives in a 2-room apartment in the chancery office at 3915 Lemmon. When asked about photographs of his current address, a spokesman for Bishop Tschoepe relayed that the bishop was “a simple man, undesirous of publicity.” Neither Bishop Gorman nor Bishop Tschoepe ever used the house for any purpose.

After Bishop Lynch’s death, the historical building took on different duties. In 1955, a group of Cistercian priests, refugees from Hungary, occupied the house. They moved out in 1957 when they built their monastery in Irving at the University of Dallas. The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, a group of nuns, used the house from 1958 to 1967. Since then, caretakers from the chancery have lived in it just to keep it up and to deter vandalism.

Extensive improvements are planned for the house. The Wests already have removed the walls of the confessional and have converted it, with the adjoining room, into a living room. The chapel on the second floor has been turned into a master bedroom/sitting room. The nuns’ room next to the chapel is now “a huge bathroom,” West says. Sinks installed when the mission sisters lived there, one in each bedroom cubicle, have been removed. Additional plans call for changing the sacristy into the dining room and eliminating the butler’s pantry to enlarge the kitchen. Randy and Ann, with the help of the Swiss Avenue Historical Society, are planning the restoration of the exterior. The Wests, incidentally, are Baptists.

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