The forecast called for showers and thunderstorms, but the sun shone brightly as residents spent Mother’s Day weekend taking a peek inside some of the most elegant historic homes in East Dallas.
The Swiss Avenue Mother’s Day Home Tour kicked off Saturday with carriage rides, live music, food trucks, and lines around the block to check out six historic homes.
Celebrated on this year’s tour was 6017 Swiss Avenue, owned by Gary and Vanessa Hoffman. The home turns 100 years old this year, and the Hoffmans showed off their remodeling work and vintage decor, treating guests to a centennial birthday cake.
“The turnout both days was incredible even with the rain Sunday,” Vanessa Hoffman told CandysDirt.com. “We had such gracious guests and the 100-year celebration each day at our house really made it special. We had an amazing tour committee that was so responsive to the homeowners’ needs. Gary and I are so proud to have participated in the 50th year of the Swiss Avenue Mother’s Day Home Tour.”
While attendees got to see luxury living up close, they also were treated to a visual tour of Dallas’ history.
At the turn of the last century, Robert S. Munger, a cotton-gin manufacturer and real estate developer, had a pioneering vision and a unique plan, according to the Swiss Avenue Mother’s Day Home Tour guide.
“In a city where zoning had yet to be practiced on any scale, Munger conceived the idea of building an unplanned, upscale residential community just east of downtown,” the article states. “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 LaVista Drive at the west.”
Swiss Avenue was the first paved street in the entire city of Dallas, and in 1973, the area became Dallas’ first historic district.
Homes on Tour
In addition to the Hoffmans’ prairie-style home on Swiss Avenue, tour-goers got to look around the following homes on tour:
- 6243 LaVista Drive — The 1925 Jacobethan Revival home features Tudor arches, carved brick detailing, and balustrades. The entire home was restored and is known as the “crown jewel of Swiss Avenue. It once was home to Las Vegas showgirl Willetta Stellmacher, who dated Frank Sinatra. The living room features a Renaissance-style fireplace, quarter-sawn oak floors, and diamond-paned stained-glass windows.
- 5314 Swiss Ave. — The Mediterranean villa with Georgian elements was built in 1916 and originally owned by oil tycoon E.R. Brown. Unique features include Vermont slate roofing, terrace balustrades, Spanish Cedar shutters, and 18 fluted columns with architecturally-correct Greek Erectheum capitals.
- 5421 Swiss Ave. — James and Louise Finley showed off their 1916 Italian Renaissance home, featuring major renovations in the kitchen, exterior living area, and a garage apartment. Pristine landscaping surrounds the home and complements a flat, symmetrical facade clad in soft, pastel-tinted stucco.
- 6015 Bryan Parkway — The 1915 Craftsman is legendary because a group of Swiss Avenue Historic District residents linked arms in front of the home in the early 2000s to thwart a demolition truck while Preservation Dallas obtained a temporary restraining order, halting a teardown. The rear of the house, which was added years after the original construction, was built in the spirit of many of the original 1915 period details.
- 6311 Bryan Parkway — While most of the homes in the Swiss Avenue Historic District were built in the early 1900s, a few lots sat vacant. Graham Construction built this stately family residence in the federal, or “Adam style,” a design deliberately selected to complement the existing historic architecture of the surrounding homes, according to the tour guide.
A Walk in The Park
Dorothy and Wallace Savage Park was abuzz all day Saturday with guests dining on lobster quesadillas from Cousins Maine Lobster and juicy burgers from Hunky’s Hamburger Man. Emporium Pies served up dessert. There were even treats for the many four-legged friends joining the fun.
Hollywood Feed store managers Kenneth Pierson from Shreveport, La., and Shea Thompson from the local Lakewood shop, said they loved being in the midst of the excitement as they handed out gift bags of dog treats.
“It’s a great day with beautiful weather,” Thompson said. “We love getting to see the homes and appreciate the history.”
Vendors set up shop for an art fair, and car enthusiasts enjoyed a vintage auto display. Guests traveled around Swiss Avenue, Bryan Parkway, and LaVista Drive in horse-drawn carriages.
Tours of the historic Aldredge House were hosted every 30 minutes with a wait list longer than a line for T-shirts at a Taylor Swift concert. That might be an exaggeration.
The Aldredge House turned 100 in 2017 and is recognized as the best-preserved residential early 20th-Century Dallas architecture, according to a brochure distributed to tour guests.