A 107-year-old East Dallas home, once called “The House of the Future,” has been named a historic landmark, according to the Dallas Landmark Commission.
With the designation, work can begin to restore the Bianchi House on Reiger and North Carroll avenues.
Italian sculptor Didaco Bianchi commissioned the home in 1912, when it was built by architectural firm Lang and Witchell. The residence earned the name “The House of the Future” at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park for its advanced ventilation, plumbing and other innovations — like closets in every room.
Richard Leggio bought the home in 1984 and worked to preserve it until it was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1995. The designation confirmed the home’s historic importance but did not include protections against demolition or inappropriate modifications, said Norman Alston, an architect who is helping oversee the preservation.
Construction on the Bianchi House is slated to begin in four to six weeks, starting with the roof, Alston said. In 2013, a fire blazed through the attic and charred the home’s interior. Since then, only a blue tarp has protected the inside from water infiltration.
Work is also underway to enclose the porch, which became somewhat of a homeless encampment after the fire. Following the blaze, Leggio vanished and the house fell into disrepair. It is unclear why Leggio disappeared, but when stories about the house began to spread, he re-emerged years later and said he was ready to sell, the Dallas Morning News reported.
New owners Liz and Michael Gibson plan to repair the home’s historic features, including the exterior facade, ornate plaster columns, intricate crown molding, colorful kitchen tile and intact fireplace. The siblings also plan to add a tile ceiling that was included in the original design but never installed, Alston said.
The entry room, living room and dining room will be remodeled to match the original, but the Gibsons want to modernize the kitchen and add a back bedroom that will be consistent with preservation criteria, Alston said.
“It will likely be in a back corner away from street frontage,” he said. “It will have a minimal impact on the visual aspects of the house.”
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