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That House on White Rock Lake

Spotlight on Community

Back in the Sixties

My family moved to East Dallas in the Sixties. Back then, Casa Linda was spread out over four very busy corners and most of the stores were small mom & pop concerns. I remember back-to-school shopping at The Cinderella Shop and Colbert-Volks.

I saw many movie classics for the first time at the Casa Linda Theater. Taking my sister to The Sound of Music on a Saturday afternoon had been OK, but when Mom made me take her to Butch Cassidy on a Friday night I thought I would die. Friday night was date night and all the cool kids were there, holding hands, two-by-two.

Our family loved driving around White Rock Lake in our Baby Blue Pontiac Catalina. It's seat belts were a new-fangled option. I'd sit in the backseat, but instead of looking at the lake, I would stare at the beautiful homes overlooking the water. I tried to imagine what it would be like to live in one of the huge mansions gracing the gentle hills above the lake. My parents loved H.L.Hunt's version of Mount Vernon, but I kind of liked that house made out of great big stones. It had a steep roof and a perfectly perched pool.

Visiting That House

I still enjoy riding around White Rock Lake and I still like that house made with great big stones. In fact, over the years, Mid-Century Modern has become one of my favorite architectural styles. Perhaps my love for it originated with all those trips around the lake.

So, imagine my joy when Preservation Dallas' March InTown Outing offered an opportunity to visit this icon of my childhood. I was over the moon.

The home is as extraordinary as I had imagined. A huge porte-cochère dominates the front of the house and gigantic sculpted doors open into a Frank-Lloyd-Wright-style entry. The ceiling and walls of the vestibule hug close, while the cavernous living room opens up to a remarkable view of White Rock Lake.

This house is a sixties time-capsule on a grand scale, built by the original owners of Dal-Tile. I wandered the dual master suites gawking at impressive built-in features in expansive closets and tiny mirrored medicine cabinets on bathroom walls. Everywhere you look is some delicious porcelain tile or natural stone chosen from the best Dal-Tile had to offer. This place is all about hard surfaces - gorgeous hard surfaces.

I'm sorry! All we had was a phone to take pictures and the day's light was receding, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. By the time we reached the massive trophy room, Bill and I were discussing what it would take to bring this treasure back to it's glory. Bill considered the magnificent spaces barn-like and wondered why anyone would want to, but it made perfect sense to me. The house might be showing its age a little, but it's just begging for someone to come in and return it to its heyday. I can imagine it as both a happy family home or a retro-bachelor pad. It doesn't matter, just so someone saves as much of its delicious history as possible. It would be a sin to replace this Mid-Century Masterpiece with a Modern Day McMasion.

Preservation Dallas members and guests had the run of the house. We visited the gym, a huge spa room and even the basement where the gargantuan equipment buzzed on with quiet efficiency. I'm only guessing, but I doubt many of the skyscrapers in downtown Dallas have as impressive a foundation, basement and equipment room as this wonder of 60's architecture.

Near the front door we chatted with Natalie Westbrook who has the home listed. The one-of-a-kind, 3.3 acre estate is offered at just under seven million. Natalie reminds us in her brochure that the magnificent mid-century masterpiece sits on the largest single and contiguous lakefront lot in the Cloisters. It is my sincere hope someone will recognize this miraculous time machine for the opportunity that it is. I want it restored it to it's former glory, so in the years to come, I can continue to drive around White Rock lake and love that house made out of great big stones.

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