Erin and Billy Young have resided in their Lakewood dream home for only two years, but the foundation was laid, figuratively speaking, way back in the early ’30s. It was then that Stanley Marcus’s father gave him and his young family six and a half acres immediately across from his own home in Lakewood.

This was a beautiful property, covered even then with incredibly gorgeous trees. A dedicated “modernist” when it came to architecture, Mr. Marcus interviewed several prominent architects and finally decided on none other than Frank Lloyd Wright to build a modest home for him in this natural, secluded setting.

In his book, “MINDING THE STORE,” Mr. Marcus describes in detail the nightmarish relationship that developed between him and the egotistical architect. Before a finger could be lifted on construction, he and Mr. Wright parted ways. He did build a home of modern design on his acreage, but it was designed by local architect Roscoe DeWitt.

The natural beauty of the land was respected, and the many trees must have breathed a collective sigh of relief when they were spared. Years later, Mr. Marcus sold the house and surrounding acreage to Mark Lavvorn, who subdivided part of it into three large lots.

Enter the Youngs, who, after living in a Lakewood condo, a Park Cities rental, and a Lakewood home they’d refurbished, were thinking about finding — or building — their dream home. When they heard about the availability of land in the old Stanley Marcus property, they decided the timing was right.

A house had already been built on one lot, and Billy and Erin went to check it out. It was then that Erin looked across the way and exclaimed, “Oh! I really like that lot over THERE!”

They both were captivated by the amazing old trees. Here was an opportunity to build exactly the home they wanted — on exactly the lot they wanted. They spoke to Mr. Lavvorn about purchasing almost one acre of land adjacent to the old Marcus home and building their own custom home there. This would be their first experience building “from scratch.”

The couple turned to Margaret Faith of Regal Renovations, who had overseen the renovation on their first home. Erin knew she wanted a traditional two-story, family home clad in brick or stucco, and she drove for miles through the Park Cities and Lakewood in search of the perfect exterior style. To give their new home old-house charm, they chose weathered brick, as well as period touches like the copper lanterns at the front door.

The Youngs wanted the suggestion of an old house inside as well, so they decided on 10-foot ceilings downstairs, 9 feet above. Instead of many small rooms, they desired large living areas with an openness conducive to entertaining. Since they’re both from Mississippi, they also wanted the Southern feel of a screened-in porch out back. With its natural wood planks overhead and its rustic ceiling fans (not to mention that view!), their screened porch makes a lovely and relaxing dining spot in the fall and spring.

“We don’t use it as much as anticipated,” says Erin, “because in Dallas it gets pretty hot. But we have enjoyed it.”

That’s fortunate, because a family as busy as this one can use a place to relax. Along with Erin and Billy, a lawyer whose office is conveniently located downtown, there are Will, 10; Kathleen, just-turned 8; and Kirby, 4. Already they’re flying in different directions for soccer, basketball, baseball, piano and ballet, and Erin predicts their days will be increasingly hectic as time goes on.

As for Erin, she’s got her hands full with the kids — and the house, of course, which took much of her time as it was coming together. (For about a year, while plans were being drawn up and construction completed, they lived in a rental house.) She enlisted the help of interior designer Barbara Floyd, but even now there is still some decorating to do.

Erin’s strong color sense and easy style, not to mention her many hours of experimentation, have brought a feeling of both lightness and warmth to this comfortable home. Even with all the Southern charm that graces their home and landscape, Erin and Billy couldn’t resist adding another personal touch, this time from the Far East.

The Youngs felt their dream house would not be complete without a lovely Koi pond gracing the entrance. Yes, there’s a story: Billy’s parents lived in Japan around 1955-56; his dad was an officer in the Navy. While living there, his mother fell in love with Japanese architecture, and when they returned to America, they built not one but two Koi ponds. Of Billy’s four sisters and one brother, three have grown up to carry on the tradition.

Of course, the landscape is still dominated by those huge, enduring trees. They are what drew the owners, and Stanley Marcus before them, to this secluded place. This is perhaps what they love about it most of all.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.