Musings

What Makes A Home Important?

4209 Bordeaux

An early-twentieth-century classic estate on Bordeaux.

DALLAS IS AS FILLED WITH IMPORTANT HOUSES as it is figureheads. Yet, in recent years, we’ve lost more significant properties than ever. Perhaps the elusive definition is lost? Important homes don’t have to be multi-mega million dollar estates. They could simply play a role in the fabric of our community. I can simply drive by a house and ascribe its importance. And I believe 80% of this market can, too.

It’s a wow factor. You can always identify a well-designed house. It reaches out to you.

Still, I’m asked…What makes a house important? Look at the pedigree. Who owned it? Who designed the home? Does it have architectural grace—a symmetry or an interpretation of masterful works in Europe? A modernist’s elegant lines? The setting, site planning, materials and the craft of construction all matter. Thoughtful design is crucial. Did the architect contribute significantly — locally or nationally? Was the home continually maintained and meticulously updated in a manner that supports the integrity of the initial vision? Is it a landmark? Does the house warrant its location? All of these aspects contribute to the importance of the home, but that’s not all. The history behind a home is the tipping point. But sadly, that’s evaporating.

History is everything. Virginia McAlester will tell you that. Her books are invaluable.

What if you own an important home and want to steward it responsibly, to enable it to live on? If you want the house to follow tradition and be handed down, then it needs to be sensitively modernized and maintained. Update every 10 years with the latest bathrooms and kitchen. People make the mistake of getting too comfortable in their houses. If it goes on too long, alas, it becomes a teardown.

When a house is beyond saving? I advise replacing it with something at least as important and thoughtful. The take-away? Recognize importance. Preserve sensitively. Replace responsibly.

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Ralph Randall