We all do it. Walking or driving the neighborhood, with its plethora of unique architectural styles, your mind starts to imagine what might be inside. Exposed beams? Original flooring? Those of us who can’t get enough HGTV can’t help but wonder.
If you have always wanted to see inside some of East Dallas’ more iconic homes, this is your lucky month. Three home tours — Lakewood, Junius Heights and Vickery Place — provide a peek inside a wide swath of home styles, from new construction to classic craftsman. This is the month to let your nosy-neighbor flag fly.
Not only do the home tours support nonprofits ranging from local schools to homeless pets, they also bring the community together. Organizers agree that the events double as an opportunity to get to know neighbors, in addition to learning about East Dallas’ architectural history.
Saturday, Nov. 5, noon-4 p.m.
It was 1911 when the first 500 plots sprouted up, creating Vickery Place. Neighbors love that it’s within walking distance of hotspots like Knox-Henderson and Lower Greenville but still offers a tight-knit neighborhood feel.
“There’s a real sense of community here,” says Debbie Simurda, chair of the home tour. “When you’re out walking your dogs, people say hello to each other.”
It’s also a neighborhood dedicated to preserving its character, which is why residents fought to establish a conservation district in 2006. By regulating setbacks, height and other design details, they ensure that the craftsman, Tudor and colonial styles that make the neighborhood unique will forever be part of its landscape.
It was these designs that artists Ann McCann set out to capture as a new offering at this year’s home tour.
“It was tricky because it was not my usual,” McCann says, explaining that she prefers more free-form contemporary impressionist painting. The houses were all angles, so she put aside the oil paints in favor of pen and watercolor.
“In some ways it’s almost the opposite,” she says. “In oils, you start dark and then add your lights. In watercolor, you have to protect the white space because you can’t get it back.”
It took her nearly eight hours to paint each of the six homes, which will be on display during the tour, and then presented to the homeowners as a thank you. Money raised during the Vickery Place Home Tour will benefit the SPCA of Texas, Robert E. Lee Elementary School PTA and neighborhood improvements, including new sidewalks.
“We did our first home tour five years ago in honor of our centennial anniversary,” Simurda says. “We want to show how much the neighborhood has changed.”
Editor’s Note: A reader pointed out the tour took place from 1999-2001 under different leadership, and was reborn in 2011 for the centennial celebration.
Vickery Place Home Tour
Cost: $20 in advance (online) or $25 the day of the tour at 5555 Vickery, 5520 Richards or 5219 Goodwin
Tickets and more: vickeryplace.com
Sunday, Nov. 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
With its historic district designation, Junius Heights will remain one of East Dallas’ most charming neighborhoods for generations. Most of its 700 cottage-inspired homes were built from 1906 into the 1940s, many by East Dallas forefather Junius Peak (read more about him on page 26).
But the home at 1523 Abrams was a different story. Its design began as a Frank Lloyd Wright architectural plan printed in Ladies Home Journal. At the turn of the century, the famed architect would advertise designs like “A Fire Proof House for $5,000” or “A Home in a Prairie Town,” complete with blueprints.
It was 1907 when Dr. John J. Trible and his wife, Bessie, selected one of Wright’s “Two Homes for Servantless Families” design for their property that then sat on Tremont Street. He practiced in the Wilson Building downtown, while she was an editor at The Dallas Journal and a clerk at The Dallas Morning News. They liked the quiet neighborhood that at the time bordered a cornfield, which is why Bessie Trible vehemently, although unsuccessfully, fought efforts to bring a streetcar down their serene street.
Donned in a French crepe charmeuse gown with a fishtail train, the Tribles’ daughter Irene married Earl Metcalfe on the property in 1913. The couple moved into the home right after the wedding. In the 1960s, the city built Abrams Parkway, changing the home’s address from Tremont to Abrams. With its original floors, woodwork and lighting, it’s one of six properties you can see on the Junius Heights Home Tour.
The day also includes an arts and crafts fair and raffle at the Lakewood Library. “This year we also are featuring Woodrow Wilson High School and collaborating with them as they celebrate their 60th anniversary of the annual spring musical with an alumni reunion of past participants,” says organizer Bill Williams, adding that a musical performance takes place at 3 p.m. at the high school’s auditorium (bring your home tour ticket).
Proceeds from the day’s events benefit William Lipscomb Elementary School as well as neighborhood improvements. The neighborhood hopes to add painted street numbers, solar-powered streetlights and gardens in the triangle parks along Abrams.
Junius Heights Home Tour
Cost: $15 in advance (tickets at Whole Foods or Buzz Brews) or $20 at any home the day of the tour.
Tickets and more: juniusheights.org
Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12-13, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
As soon as Tony Ruggeri saw the real estate listing for 6935 Lakeshore, he told his wife, Ashley, “I want this house.”
The young couple had a 9-month-old son and had just finished remodeling a home on Kenwood. Tony had wanted to stay put for a while, but he knew the circa 1927 Dutch colonial house on the market was uncommon, “even in this neighborhood.” Not to mention that, originally, it was the home of Lee Kraft, part of the Dines and Kraft team that developed much of southern Lakewood as well as the Lakewood and Skillman Live Oak shopping centers.
“We figured it was probably built well if it was built for the boss,” Tony says. And indeed it was. “For this kind of project, for a house that’s almost 100 years old, there weren’t a lot of issues we came across.”
The Lee Kraft home is one of six featured in this year’s Lakewood Home Festival, marking the 40th anniversary of the home tour, which raises money to benefit neighborhood public schools.
Tony works for a company that develops master-planned communities. He was immersed in a research project of local and national historic neighborhoods when they bought the Lakeshore home. Like every year, the tour features a range of architectural and decorative styles.
Dutch colonial was one of the many architectural styles Dines and Kraft welcomed into their development. That’s why Lakewood “doesn’t seem sterile like some parts of Dallas,” Tony says.
“Most of the diversity in architecture you see in old neighborhoods is because people have torn down homes,” he says. “The fact that Dines and Kraft developed this neighborhood with the intent of bringing different architecture styles together is what make it unique.”
The Ruggeris updated the home from top to bottom. They replaced the downstairs patio with an office and the upstairs balcony with an expanded master bath and closet, then added a fourth bedroom and an upstairs laundry room. For the most part, though, the bones of the home remain in tact, and its charming characteristics — detailed trim, arched doorways, a curved staircase — have been restored and enhanced.
The stained glass windows and broken tile floor, which are common elements in Lakewood homes of that era, no matter their architectural style, meld with Ashley’s colorful and cozy décor. Her pink accents, including the home’s front door, complement the pink in the kitchen windows’ stained glass tulips. Photos of the couple’s large Italian and Middle Eastern families are the focal point in the front room.
Right after the Ruggeris moved in, as design firm The Burke Company was drawing up plans, Ashley asked of one bedroom, “Can we hold off on paint?” Another baby was on the way — a girl, they later discovered. The Ruggeris will welcome their third child in December, but this one isn’t going to be accompanied by a new house, they laugh. They’ve settled in to their new-old space.
“Coming home is a reminder that, if you do it right,” Tony says, “100 years later, it still looks beautiful.” —Keri Mitchell
Lakewood Home Tour
Cost: $15 in advance or $20 at the door ($30 for candlelight tour Saturday, Nov. 12, 7-9 p.m.)
Tickets and more: lecpta.org/lakewoodhomefestival
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