|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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