Two East Dallas siblings have purchased the Bianchi “House of the Future” in Peak’s Historic Addition, and hope to restore to the memorable home at the corner of Reiger and Carroll.
“I was just drawn to it. It was an emotional decision,” says Liz Gibson, who purchased the home with her brother, Michael.
Italian sculptor Didaco Bianchi commissioned the home in 1912, when it was built by architectural firm Lang and Witchell, the minds behind Music Hall at Fair Park. Bianchi was a partner in the Southwest Architectural Cement Stone Company, which created artistic stone inlays for buildings all over Texas, and the mission revival home is adorned with cement detailing. Sadly, a stroke killed Bianchi just two years after moving in, but his widow lived in the home until she died in the 1979.
The home earned the name “The House of the Future” at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park for its advanced ventilation, plumbing and such innovations as a closet in every room.
Richard Leggio bought the home in 1984, working to preserve it until it was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1995. But then Leggio disappeared, and the home fell into disrepair. An attic fire destroyed much of the home, and Robert Wilonsky called it Airbnb for the homeless. Preservation Dallas placed the home on its list of most endangered buildings in 2016.
Last year, Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties worked with the city to prevent further damage, and began raising funds for historic properties such as the Bianchi House.
In August of this year, after moving into the neighborhood, Liz Gibson purchased the home with her brother. “I thought it was so unique. It was a blended style I had never seen before,” she says.
Gibson, who runs a roofing company, has plans to completely restore the home, moving into it herself or having her mother live there. “We want to keep it for as long as possible.”
In the quest to restore the home, Preservation Dallas was able to unearth the original architectural plans, but because of the extensive damage and the historic designation, Gibson knows it will be a complex project that may take a couple years to complete.
This week, Preservation Dallas hosted an open house where members were able to walk through the home, noting the ornate plaster columns, intricate crown molding, colorful kitchen tile, intact fireplace and inlays of fish, pottery and other figures on the kitchen chimney.
There were also old photo albums, a golf club and a dysfunctional rifle scattered about the house. Check out the pictures below.
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