Did you notice we named the big house? Did you also notice that East Dallas has been a hotspot for some of the biggest people?
We all know Mount Vernon on White Rock Lake, the DeGolyer estate and the once-splendid Belle Nora on Garland Road. Then there’s Glenwick, destroyed by fire after a brief life at the Scientology Center in Dallas.
But nothing is more mysterious than the Buckner House. This is the Great Mediterranean on the right side of North Buckner and it’s on sale as you head to I-30.
The Buckner House was built in 1925.Remember, this year the great gatsby published. It was the height of the Roaring 20s, and if you were rich and smart, the house you designed was a showcase.
Mediterranean architecture was at the forefront of this era. It embodies taste and wealth and is the style of choice for those who have both. Mediterranean style is also an enduring style. Think Miami’s Villa Vizcaya and the Biltmore – still standing, still cool.
This summer, our photographer Mimi Perez and I were invited to visit The Buckner House. It’s 5,733 square feet and has a fantastic cupola where I drink a nice sparkling wine every night. The views are breathtaking and the windows in the home are beautiful. There are stained glass and mason jar windows, as well as ornate four-leaf windows overlooking the front lawn.
The grand saloon has fantastic ceiling beams and a balcony railing on the second floor overlooks the activities below. If you close your eyes, you can imagine those 1920s parties with the ladies in flowy dresses, the guys in tuxedos, and a raccoon coat or two draped over the benches. There’s even a pool that’s long been filled, but can you imagine it? You know there has to be a slimming dip here.
Based on my in-depth research, I found this to be a party house for decades. It was purchased by Lee C. Harrison, president of Dallas Prairie Oil & Gas. His daughter went to Hockaday, so you know there’s a lot of school parties, BBQ, tea and balls – and probably more skinny dips.
John Maxwell owned The Buckner House in the early 1950s.
“He’s friends with Tom Hughes,” Bruce Mike Hill of Mike Hill Flower told me. From 1962 to 1993, Hughes was the much-loved producer and managing director of Dallas Summer Musicals. He was responsible for bringing in celebrities such as Carol Burnett, Yul Brinner, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn and Liberace.
“Some of the stars stayed in the house while they were working in the concert hall,” McCann said. Great way to avoid paparazzi.
One of the most interesting things you will find on the exterior of a home is the face. Human faces were carved into the stones on the pillars, and a face hung high in one corner of the house. The former staff quarters also have an interesting feel, with a top hat design on the linoleum.
So what does it matter?
The house hit the market with little fanfare a few months ago. I suspect the reason is twofold. For one, it’s over four acres and could attract buyers we conservationists deem inappropriate.
Second, the house has been vacant for about 15 years. Obviously, it needs love, but that’s where the education factor comes into play and finds the right buyer. Of course, I turned to architect Norman Alston, president of the Dallas Preservation Commission, for insight.
People say they can’t fix something because they don’t know how to fix it. I often hear that something can’t be fixed, or that the cost is too high and not worth it. If you are not in the business of restoration and preservation, you should not assess recoverability.
No matter how something looks, it’s almost always the case with residential structures, it’s never too far off to recover. If it doesn’t burn, it may be salvageable. Buildings are far more resilient than people think.
One of the situations I’ve come across where existing buildings are allowed to deteriorate is that a lot of people don’t see that. You have to envision a building like before. There is a different approach to restoring historic buildings economically. You must have skills and understand technology. We have to look at something and say it has value.
You bring it back and you will have something bigger than the new property. That’s why they make a TV show about fixing old houses! Time is not an indicator of salvage. In Europe, people salvage. They will not tear down. It is difficult for us to make appropriate decisions about existing buildings. Take the Baker Hotel at Mineral Wells, for example. It has been vacant for decades. It was finally restored to its former glory and turned the mine into a destination once again.
It’s easy to find someone telling you to demolish a building or house, but I think we’re finally seeing a cultural awakening to the value of cool architecture from the past.
In fact, it’s a cool building with an extraordinary history. When it was built, the Linda House was called Reinhardt, and there were only about a hundred people in the entire area. It didn’t even become part of Dallas until 1945. The area is full of rolling hills and landscapes, with untapped potential. This is a great location for an important home.
“I’ve always noticed the Buckner House because it’s unlike any other house in Dallas,” David Griffin said. “Even at the age of six, I thought it was the coolest house.”
Griffin is best known as the founder of David Griffin & Company Realtors, who has always had a keen eye for real estate. His father used to own the Shamrock Hotel on Buckner and Interstate 30, so the family would drive down Buckner Avenue two or three times a week to see him and pass the unforgettable estate.
“From a maturity perspective, the house has the same presence as the iconic shot in the movie ‘Giant,’ when Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor arrive in Riata because it’s completely unlike any other house in Dallas,” Griffin said. “Our own Gatsbys built houses like this, but very few survived. When people create extraordinary things, they become part of who we are, where we’ve been and the dreams of people of that era. “
So you see, someone who knows and respects not only the history of Dallas and the story of this house, but also the property tax benefits that conservation comes with, has the privilege and opportunity to love it back to that magnificent estate, This is how important it used to be.
Stephanie Connery of Brent King Group Owns the Buckner House at 1425 N. Buckner Blvd. Sold for $3.45 million.