Sunday, July 6, 2014

Swiss Avenue Mother's Day Home Tour 2014 Part 1

I love, love, love this event!!  If you're not familiar with Swiss Avenue in Dallas let me give you some information!

The following is from the website:
"At the turn of the last century, Robert S. Munger, a successful cotton-gin manufacturer and forward-thinking real-estate developer from an influential Dallas family, had a pioneering vision.  And a unique plan.  In a city where zoning had yet to be practiced, on any scale, Munger conceived the idea of building a planned, upscale residential community, just east of downtown.  His development, Munger Place, was the first deed-restricted neighborhood in Texas.  And at its heart, he would build an exclusive enclave of grand and stately homes along Swiss Avenue, stretching from Fitzhugh Avenue at the east, to La Vista Drive at the west.  
Swiss Avenue became the first paved street in the entire city of Dallas.  The surfacing material selected was bois d’arc block (horseapple tree wood), known for its extreme density and durability.  A trolley line was installed to provide residents with convenient transportation to the downtown business and shopping districts, and a railway spur track was laid in what is now the alleyway between Swiss and Gaston, allowing residents who were well-heeled enough to own private rail cars to simply board at the rear of their homes and travel to anyplace the rails could transport them.  

Munger’s building restrictions stipulated that the homes on Swiss Avenue had to be at least two stories in height, the exteriors constructed of brick or masonry, they were not permitted to face a side street, and each residence had to cost at least $10,000 to build, a hefty sum at the time.  No home could be constructed ‘on spec’, all houses had to be built and occupied by their intended residents.  
Prominent Dallas families embraced the concept, they hired nationally renowned architects to design and build their showplaces.  These included Bertram Hill, Lang & Witchell, Charles Bulger, Hal Thomson, Marion Fooshee, C.P. Sites, Marshall Barnett, and W.H. Reeves, among others.  
In 1973, Swiss Avenue was designated as Dallas’ first historic district.  On March 28, 1974, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is an official Dallas Landmark District.

Today, Swiss Avenue stands as the finest example of an early 20th Century neighborhood in the entire Southwest.  Its eclectic mix of homes, spanning its 2 ½ mile stretch, represent virtually every popular residential design style of the day, including Mediterranean, Spanish, Spanish Revival, Georgian, Mission, Prairie, Carftsman, Neoclassical, Italian Renaissance, Tudor and Colonial Revival.  It has evolved from one man’s unique experiment in planned urban development to become a living testament to America’s architectural diversity."

So off we went on the tour!

House number one!

This prairie school design was built in 1914 for 16,000.  It was built for Texas rancher, Thomas W. Newsome by architect C.P, Sites.  Four years later it was sold to Mentor B. Terrill founder of the nationally known Terrill School for Boys, which later became St. Mark's School Of Texas.  Through the years the home served as a halfway house for recovering alcoholics and as a boarding school for blind boys.  Today it is a single family residence.

My favorite part of the house has to be the beveled glass transom windows on the first and second stories.  When you walk in through double doors there are two rooms.  On the left is the winter parlor with it's original rock wood fireplace.  On the right is a summer parlor.

In the rooms are detailed mouldings which is not true to the prairie style nor are the Grecian columns that were added in the 40's. Unfortunately we were unable to go upstairs. We were bummed.

Along the way there were classic cars on display.

This gorgeous house turned 100 this year!

It wasn't on tour but they did offer a photo op spot!  Here's my sister and I sweaty and gross.  Ha!

We also passed by the infamous 4949 Swiss.

Designed by noted architect, W.R. Reeves, the mansion was built in 1918 for $25,000 by “saddle baron” John R Tenison. Later it was owned by the William W. Caruth family,  a name still  prominent in Dallas land development and real estate.

The impressive 7,000 sq. ft. Prairie-style home – which has a third-floor ballroom where Maddie Caruth had her debutante ball – achieved most of its fame and notoriety when it was owned by the John Logan family from 1949 to 2004. The home was purchased by the Logans for $17,500, a discounted price because it already needed repairs. 

"Back in her day, Logan daughter Mary Ellen was a blond beauty and fashion model who was named by Life Magazine as “The Most Beautiful Woman in America” and posed for an elegant art-deco statue on Fair Park’s Esplanade. Mary Ellen Logan Bendtsen – the daughter of a Sanger-Harris men’s clothing salesman – also was an accomplished  pianist and held court in the music room at 4949 Swiss. Her husband was said to be a Danish Baron, also a pianist, and some remember “dueling pianos” between husband and wife on occasion. Mary Ellen also entertained at the Adolphus Hotel – President Harry Truman was in her audience one evening – as well as other Dallas supper clubs and country clubs. As you might guess, invitations to the beautiful mansion on Swiss were prized."

Sadly in Mary Ellen's elderly years she "befriended" by two swindlers who (on her death bed) had her make them her sole beneficiaries 
Thus ensued a battle between her daughter and these two con men.

In the end the daughter won and the house sat empty and was then sold. 

The whole house needed restoration.  I hope eventually it will be put back on tour!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Old House Dreams

Wow I can't believe it's been over a month since I posted anything.  I really thought it had only been about two weeks.  I've been one busy lady.  The living room is coming together and looking pretty dang awesome!

I wanted to tell you about a blog I've come across called

I could seriously sit at the computer all day and look through it.  Here is what Kelly says about her blog:

"My name is Kelly, the owner of Old House Dreams. This is a blog featuring old homes I find for sale across the nation.
I’ve been fascinated with houses since I was a teenager. I was the girl that grabbed real estate magazines to cut out my favorites, adding them to my scrapbook of nonsense. As an adult I bombarded my moms email with houses that neither of us could ever buy, just enjoyed looking at.
In 2009 I started Old House Dreamer (later changed to Old House Dreams) to share my finds. 15+/- hours a week are spent searching every state. I like to stick with houses that are about 70% original but will post some, including remuddles, as long as it retains some charm. I no longer accept house submissions, sorry.
I hope this site inspires those that are thinking about buying an old house to take the plunge, help those that are restoring or to day dream about what could be."     

She also has this site very well organized.  There's even a way to create a favorites list!
Please, check it out!  If you're a lover of old houses you will love this blog!
Here's a recent house posted today!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Living Room Dirt

The living room is coming along.  I now have all of the sheetrock down on the walls and ceiling.  I knew it would be messy but I just didn't know how messy.  

In my first post I explained that normally when a house had shiplap boards they were not really made to be seen.  A muslin/cheesecloth type material was nailed with little tacks onto the wall then wallpapered over.  This wallpaper looks like actually someone painted over it.  I'm just going to guess in the 50's or 60's.

Whomp whomp...I found past electrical outlets that left big holes.  

The trash cans were filled many many times.  I'm sure the trash men are cursing my name.

Where there use to be a window

How the wallpaper looked after the sheetrock was down.  In a few places it looked like someone had applied tape over it.

This is what the back looks like

It looks like some type of water damage maybe?

I knew taking down the sheetrock and wallpaper would be the worst on the ceiling but it's one of those things that you know is going to be bad but you're praying it won't be.

So you make your teenage son go first:

The sheetrock itself wasn't as bad. But when the wallpaper was pulled down about 50 years worth of dirt came down too.

It was this really fine black dirt.  The kind that you sweep and sweep and it's still there.  I had to get out the shop vac and do it that way.

The ceiling is in very good condition.  There are spots that have some gaps so I applied Great Stuff to those. 

Primer!  I'm painting the walls white and I'm going to just polyurethane the ceiling.

To fill in the holes I sprayed Great Stuff again and then used wood filler.

I'm almost done painting now!  I can't wait to get my furniture back where it goes. Another project that I can't believe I actually did.  Words cannot describe how disgusting the dirt was.  My daughter wouldn't even go in the living room.  Ha   Final painting pictures coming soon!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Making some headway in the living room!

More like making a total mess. My son is helping some of course him being grounded has worked in my favor. Amazing how fast teenagers work when you tell them they can have their phone back sooner if they help.

Here are some updated pictures. I'm actually trying to post this from my phone because I'm still having computer issues.

Pretty awesome condition considering it's 104 years old.

This is the old wallpaper. 

One of the strangest things I've come across so far. I'm not sure what happened here. The wood itself is in excellent condition. It's like this section was a replacement. On the other side is the bathroom. I think this is where another window had been and they sealed it off when the bathroom was put in. But why the wood looks like that I don't know.

Little piece of the original wallpaper.

An example of the mess we're living with.

Hopefully by the next post my computer will be fixed!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Laundry Room Overhaul

After living here two years and doing countless other projects like painting the entire exterior I couldn't wait to get my hands on the laundry room.  On the exterior of the laundry room wall was the last part of the exterior to paint. I called it "our hidden shame".  

The outside:
See beautifullness to the right and ugliness to the left?

On the right is original siding and the left is 80's masonite siding.

First up I had to re-paint this mess and add insulation



Next up and I couldn't wait for this: tear out this horrible 80's, rotting, ant infected masonite siding:

My plans were:
Remove siding
Replace light fixture
Replace the two cheap windows with one vintage window (craigslist find $20)
Replace the door jamb and add replace french door with a vintage door (local salvage shop $75)
Add a stained glass vintage window to the left of the door (craigslist $25)

On the other side of the wall is the laundry room. The plan in there was:
Replace 80's paneling
Re-paint ceiling and walls
Make-over window from laundry room to living room.
Re-place ugly bi-fold door with a vintage screen door (craigslist $30)

Buh bye ugly cheap windows:

They weren't leaving without putting up a fight though:

Rotting door jamb

Rotting masonite siding.

Nasty going down, pretty going up!

Here's my beautiful window!

Framing it out

View from inside

Finger nail injury.  The drill slipped and cracked my nail.  It took months for that to grow out.

We got it in!

We had to replace the door jamb.  Look how disgusting it was.

And a partially rotted sub floor..

My husband had to help with that part.  We cleaned it out then added more wood.

New threshold and our pretty new door jamb installed!

Our vintage door.  I stripped it down to bare wood then re-painted.


I stripped all the hardware

The window is in, rotting door jamb replaced, hardware re-painted and door hung!

Our vintage window.  I stripped it too.

50's blue under those handles.  I used stripper and went down to bare wood.