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Oak Court – A Mid Century Modern Dallas
Landmark Preserved

By Hardy Haberman
I remember driving by a gated house on Park Lane as a teenager and wondering
who would live in such -an ultra-modern house.  I was fascinated by the clean lines
and grillwork that shaded the entire front of the home.  If it weren’t for the gate,
I would have stopped and gotten a closer look.

Apparently I was not alone. As a boy, John Eagle rode his bicycle past the home
many times and told himself that one day he would own a home like that.
Today, he and his wife Jennifer  live in that ultra modern home, called Oak Court,
and after an extensive renovation the building sparkles as a significant architectural
work tucked into the wooded environs of North Dallas.
Designed by Edward Durell Stone in the mid 1950’s, the house resembles the US
Embassy Stone was building in New Delhi at the same time.  Typical of Stones work his
clean International Style was often accented with slightly schizophrenic elements, like
a carved rococo fireplace and elaborate crystal chandeliers.  The dining room was
floored in polished white marble, floating in an indoor lagoon, an iconic touch but a
maintenance problem.  Because of odd touches like these, not many of his homes
have been enthusiastically renovated or preserved, but the Oak Court house is a
happy exception.

Working with architect, Russell Buchanan and a design team, the current owners
aimed to honor the openness and purity of architectural forms of the original design
while addressing the needs of a 21st century family.  

On the first floor, they were able to restore the indoor water lagoon of the dining room
which had been eliminated by a previous owner.  Buchanan explained that through
state-of-the-art technology, the water is electronically purified and maintained at the
same temperature as the air in the room to prevent condensation and possible
damage to artwork or walls.

The rococo fireplace and chandeliers were also removed and a new museum-quality
lighting system was added.  All electronic systems were wired to one location, freeing
the home from numerous wall switches, thermostats, speakers and security pads.
A sensitive reorganization of spaces took place on the second floor where servants’
quarters were eliminated and reconfigured and a library and study were
incorporated into the design.  To connect the original open-air terrace to the new
outdoor pool, an innovative perforated stainless steel spiral staircase was added,
an homage to the original bris soleil screens of the main house.
Because of their diligent work, National Trust for Historic Preservation presented Oak
Court in Dallas,its prestigious National Preservation Honor Award. The project was one
of 21 national award winners honored by the National Trust during its week-long 2008
National Preservation Conference in Tulsa, OK.

“Modernism is an increasingly important component of preservation,” says Richard
Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “Oak Court reminds us
that good design and beauty are timeless.  By faithfully respecting Stone’s original
work, the owners have set an extraordinary model for others to follow in preserving
the architectural landmarks of the modernist era.”

Co-nominees honored for Oak Court’s Honor Award are: Buchanan Architecture, John
and Jennifer Eagle (Owners), Sebastian and Associates (General Contractor),
Cadwallader Design (Interior Design) and Mesa Design Group (Landscape Design).
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