The house was a quirky fieldstone-and-timber manor built in 1936 by prolific Dallas architect Charles Dilbeck. While Dilbeck was popular in his day, his work has achieved greater local appreciation in recent years. (Partly due to the successful transformation of an old Dilbeck motorlodge in North Oak Cliff into the trendy Belmont Hotel.)
The architect designed several hundred homes around Dallas, most of them full of romantic and eclectic details such as dormers, turrets and look-out porches. He typically worked with rustic materials such as brick and reclaimed wood. This house he crafted on Shenandoah Street is one of four sitting at the intersection with Douglas Avenue; they’re popularly known as the “Four Sisters.
The foyer is framed in rustic timber beams and houses a staircase built from reclaimed railroad ties. In the living room, a massive 6-foot-tall fireplace has a wood mantel hand-carved (attributed to Peter Mansbendel) with lionhead brackets. It is believed the heavy, ornate andirons are also original (attributed to Henry Potter). One of the real charms of the house is in its eccentric ceilings. The painted-white study — originally a breakfast room — has an elaborate ribbed ceiling design that resembles wood, but is made of plaster. The dining room’s carved-wood ceiling (Mansbendel) is heavily coffered in a style more befitting a castle. (Not an uncommon feature in Dilbeck’s idiosyncratic designs.) There is a faint grapevine pattern stenciled on the paneled base planks. The heavily carved baroque style front doors are also attributed to Mansbendel.