By Karen Muncy
In a city where the word “preservation” is still a red flag to many developers, the Dallas Historic Preservation league’s annual awards for well-restored residences are a much-needed shot in the arm for those who would rather fix up than tear down. This year, for the first time, there are two winners – very different in scope and style, but similar in their positive impact on their respective neighborhoods. Dallas Restoration House of the Year honors went to Rachel and Richard Davis for their thoughtful modification of a Mediterranean Mission-style home on Swiss Avenue, and to John Cox for a spirited reworking of a Perry Heights bungalow.
As befits the historic character of Old East Dallas, the Davis home was primarily a face-lift project; architectural elements added to the front and rear facades were carefully appropriate to the period and style of both house and neighborhood, and even a thoroughly redone kitchen features new cabinetry designed to match existing casework. Cox’s home is less restoration than adaptive reuse. The tile-roofed Spanish-style house is at the corner of a noisy, high-traffic intersection, so Cox remodeled to redirect the focus to a semi-tropical backyard sheltered from the street by the L-shape of the structure. It qualified for first-place honors in “retaining the original intent” and because “the structure was not significant architecturally, but its neighborhood is,” explains Dallas realtor Doug Newby, chairman of the judging committee. The winners are deliberately not historically “pure” homes, he notes.
The point of Dallas Restoration House of the Year Award is not to promote textbook restoration, but to recognize homes that are typical of their neighborhoods and that exemplify neighborhood goals. They are houses to live in.