Why is preservation important? That’s a question that can be answered differently depending on where you live, what you do, and your personal taste. To me, I think preserving historic architecture allows a city a shared sense of history, as well as a barrier from becoming homogenous.
For Mark Doty, a staff member with the city of Dallas Historic Preservation office and author of Lost Dallas, a city’s past is written in its streets and buildings, its neighborhoods and its public spaces. They stand as everyday monuments to the people who lived and worked within them every day.
Doty took some time out of his very busy schedule to share his thoughts on the significance of 10 Nonesuch Road, the famed estate of retail magnate Stanley Marcus, and how the Lovvorn family’s work can serve as an example of how preservation isn’t a fixed equation. Jump to read more …
CandysDirt.com: In 2008, the Lovvorns set off a huge citywide debate over historic preservation when they set out to demolish 10 Nonesuch Road in order to build a more energy efficient home in its place. What were your thoughts on the proposal?
Mark Doty: At first I was disappointed that the property owners were seeking demolition, which is why the city of Dallas initiated historic designation over the owner’s objection in order to at least begin the conversation with the owners about the value in landmark designation. Through the initiation process, the Lovvorns understood the constraints and benefits to designation and our office was able to work with them to craft a document that protected the main facades of the historic structure, but also gave them flexibility on the rear and the interior to make any changes they deemed appropriate for their lifestyle.
However, what this particular discussion did was to highlight again the fact that there are many structures and entire neighborhoods within the city that have no protection. The preservation community at large should take a more proactive approach to starting a conversation with either property owners or neighborhoods to have these buildings or neighborhoods protected or to reach an understanding to not object when they are threatened with demolition or inappropriate changes.
The entire community was lucky that the Lovvorns were open to other suggestions besides tearing the structure down. They should certainly be commended for their hard work and patience.
CD: As author of Lost Dallas, I am sure you are thrilled that the Lovvorns chose to renovate the Stanley Marcus estate instead of demolish it. Can you tell us your thoughts on the home’s historic significance?
Doty: To say the least I was thrilled! This is a home that was one of the first International Style residential structures built in Dallas and one that is associated with a Dallas icon, Stanley Marcus. I mean, Grace Kelly, Eleanor Roosevelt, not to mention scores of fashion royalty spent time in this house. So the significance goes far beyond the physical. It is a cultural touchstone and really speaks to Dallas’ place in fashion history.
CD: We’ve posted photos of the interior of 10 Nonesuch Road, showing that the renovations not only preserved much of the home’s character, but added modern amenities and earth-friendly features. Do you see this home as being a model for how a historic structure can meet modern demands without losing its soul?
Doty: Absolutely. I think there is such a rush these days to build things as quickly and cheaply as possible that there is a lost opportunity to take a step back, truly review what makes an historic structure special or unique and then make changes that increase a structure’s value and function without sacrificing its history or heritage.
CD: The Lovvorns and W2 Studio spared no expense to preserve 10 Nonesuch Road. What is your favorite feature of the home after its renovation?
Doty: Unfortunately, I have not been able to view the house since the renovation was completed. However, I may try to sneak into one of the open houses to see it for myself! [Editor’s Note: Someone get this guy a private tour!]