With its intricate plaster façade and extensive brick work, it’s easy to see why the house at the corner of Carroll and Reiger would become iconic in our neighborhood. Now it’s neighbors who are leading the charge to save the property after the home’s owner left it to deteriorate.
“[We] are working with the city to care for the house in the coming couple months, which includes tarping the exposed fire access hole and maintaining it to code, hopefully more in future,” says Lisa Marie Gala, founder of DEEP (Dallas Endowment for Endangered Properties), a newly launched endeavor aimed at raising funds to preserve our city’s most storied properties.
The home was commissioned by Italian sculptor Didaco Bianchi and his wife, Ida, back in 1912 and built by architectural firm Lang & Witchell, the pair behind Music Hall at Fair Park. As a partner in the Southwest Architectural Cement Stone Company, which created artistic stone inlays for buildings all over Texas, it makes sense that Bianchi’s home would be studded with unique adornments. While he died of a stroke just two years after moving in, his widow would stay in the home until her death in the 1970s.
The home featured innovations that made it cutting edge in its time, including a closet in every room, modern plumbing and an advanced ventilation system. Those novelties earned it a spot in the “Houses of the Future” showcase at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition at Fair Park.
Current owner Richard Leggio bought the home in 1984, and quickly became a force in the neighborhood, pushing for historic protections on Reiger Avenue. In 1995, he helped the Bianchi house secure a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. His work in the community eventually earned him a seat on the city Plan Commission.
But then Leggio disappeared.
After letting the Bianchi house fall into disrepair in recent years, neighbors complained about the state of the property. City code officials tried in vain to reach Leggio, who hasn’t been seen in more than two years, the Dallas Morning News reports. Some say he moved out of state, others speculate that he is hiding out from his responsibilities. Preservation Dallas listed it as one of the city’s “most endangered properties” in 2016.
With the house seemingly abandoned, neighbors have stepped in the try to save it from crumbling to pieces. DEEP hoped to host a work day at the property last weekend, but is still working with the city to establish its right to work on the house.
“The time frame for a work day on the house is now going to be more like end of April,” Gala says.
To keep up with progress at the Bianchi house, or support restoration efforts, follow DEEP on Facebook.