Wednesday, July 6, 2022 Jul 6, 2022
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LUXURY HOMES Dollars in the Details

Architects make their mark on the city.
By SALLY GIDDENS STEPHENSON |

WHEN CHOOSING AN ARCH1-tecl to build a dream home, long-term value is not necessarily what an owner has in mind. Personal preferences, function and even availability often take priority over the bigger picture of profitable resales. However, many architects who’ve made their names known in Dallas have left an impressive legacy of long-term value. If you buy a house designed by Charles Dilbeck, Hal Thomson, O’Neil Ford or Foo-shee and Cheek, chances are you’ll have little trouble selling when you put it on the market some day.

Charles Dilbeck designed hundreds of homes in the 1930s and 1940s,primarily in the Park Cities. He created homes with quirky charm in a wide range of period styles. Dilbeck’s designs include a liberal smattering of architectural detail, from the carved doors and mantels to crooked shutters, diamond inset windows and bas-ketweave brickwork.

A Dilbeck home at 6132 Deloache Ave. recently sold for $585,000, and Karen Fry, an agent with Briggs Freeman, says it attracted much interest-from other architects as well as potential buyers.

“People either loved it or hated it.” Fry says. “I think that’s the sign of good art and good architecture. People have a strong opinion about it.”

While many of the home’s visitors had no idea who Charles Dilbeck was. Fry says none of them missed the details, which in this house were in the angular style of Frank Lloyd Wright and which-along with the prime location-made this property an easy sell.

“Ambience will always bring a premium,” says Briggs Freeman’s Robbie Briggs, himself an architect with a degree earned at Tulane University. “Many architects who left their mark on Dallas knew how to create that ambience with detail and interest.”

Hal Thomson kept busy early in the century in the East Dallas and Lakewood areas. Some of his best work is still standing along Swiss Avenue. The Aldredge House at 5500 Swiss Ave., now the site of many weddings, was built by Thomson in 1917, and 5439 Swiss Ave., a Georgian-Mediterranean mix built in 1916, is still one of the most impressive homes on the street.

O’Neil Ford, a San Antonio architect known for his design of the Trinity University campus, left a lasting imprint on Dallas in the 1950s in partnership with Arch Swank. The two built many homes known both for a simplicity of form and for rich, handmade details. Dallas was slow to accept modern architecture, but the work of Swank and Ford was both accepted and sought after.

A few examples for a drive-by tour: 3831 Windsor Ave., built in 1957, and 4715 Watauga Rd. Although not a “luxury home” per se. Ford’s “The Little Chapel in the Woods,” on the Texas Woman’s University campus in Denton, which was dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt, is well worth the drive.

Perhaps one of the city’s best-known architectural firms, Foo-shee and Cheek, brought its signature Spanish motifs to Highland Park. Marion Fooshee and James Cheek spent years designing Highland Park Shopping Center (completed in 1931 ) but did the bulk of their work in the 1920s. Two of their homes, at 4200 Beverly Dr. (built in 1916) and 4208 Beverly Dr. (built in 1921). are still standing-and holding their value-more than 75 years later.

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