One of the Five Best Homes on Swiss Sold – Architect Hal Thomson

5323 Swiss Avenue home designed by Hal Thomson shaded by live oak trees in the Swiss Avenue Historic District of Munger Place neighborhood in Dallas.
This architecturally significant home designed by architect Hal Thomson is prominently sited on one of the best blocks in the original Munger Place Addition at 5323 Swiss Avenue.

5323 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas

Hal Thomson Historic Home on Swiss Avenue – Sold by Douglas Newby

Swiss Avenue is the cradle of Dallas architecture and architecturally significant homes. Architect Hal Thomson, who designed this home in 1914 at 5323 Swiss Avenue, is the godfather of Dallas architects. Many don’t realize the impact and influence the homes on Swiss Avenue and architect Hal Thomson have on the architecture and architects in Dallas. Many consider 5323 Swiss to be one of the best five homes in the Swiss Avenue Historic District and one of the most architecturally significant homes in Dallas. You can scroll through Centennial Pictures of all 100 homes on Swiss Avenue and determine what you think are the best five homes on Swiss Avenue.

After a Grand Tour of Europe, Hal Thomson Made His Mark on Swiss Avenue

Henry B. Thomson (Hal Thomson) was a society architect who after his grand tour of Europe made his mark on Swiss Avenue before he began designing architecturally significant homes in Highland Park. The Aldredge house also on Swiss Avenue and 5323 Swiss Avenue that Douglas Newby recently sold quickly come to mind when one thinks of architect Hal Thomson.

25 Years Ago Douglas Newby First Sold This Hal Thomson-Designed Home

Douglas Newby first sold this Hal Thomson-designed home 25 years ago. At the time, Douglas Newby was the Realtor for the Fraser family, who owned the home at 5323 Swiss Avenue for nearly 50 years. The property had been maintained, but otherwise untouched, accentuating the aesthetic genius of architect Hal Thomson.

New Owner in 1997 Remodeled 5323 Swiss Avenue

After the Fraser family, the next owner of 5323 Swiss Avenue remodeled it, but the home fell into a state of disrepair 20 years later.

In 2020 New Owners Rescued the Home

5323 Swiss - Front With Flowers - IMG_2157 - H.jpg
The new owners in 2020 burnished the exterior of the home.

The home at 5323 Swiss Avenue was sold in 2020 to a new homeowner who rescued this home that had fallen into gentle disrepair and returned its exterior to its original architectural beauty over the next three years. Also, they put the interior of the home in better shape, preparing it for my clients, Elise and John Willding, to purchase and to continue to restore and refine the home.

John and Elise Willding are Perfect New Homeowners for 5323 Swiss Avenue

Douglas Newby with clients who just purchased 5323 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas
John and Elise Willding arriving at 5323 Swiss and celebrating on the day of closing.
Packard is displayed at the Hal Thomson designed Aldredge house during the 50th Anniversary of the Swiss Avenue Home Tour and also used for historic reenactments at the Aldredge house
Joyful clients John and Elise Willding celebrating with Realtor Douglas Newby after just closing on their new architecturally significant home at 5323 Swiss Avenue
Realtor Douglas Newby and new homeowners John and Elise Willding pictured in a celebratory selfie on the day of closing at 5323 Swiss Avenue

Homeowners in Munger Place and on Swiss Avenue have ranged from Dallas’s prominent families, business titans, presidents and CEOs of companies and wildly successful entrepreneurs to young professionals. John Willding is a prominent attorney with a national practice. Elise Willding is a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur. John, along with Elise, has a degree from SMU and an MBA from Harvard. Elise went all the way through Hockaday but has strong ties to Old East Dallas, with her parents owning one of the most important estate properties on West Lawther Drive at White Rock Lake. Her father and his Packard have participated in historic reenactments at the Aldredge house. The profile of John and Elise Willding is similar to many of the homeowners on the street who are dynamic and have a love of significant architecture and a neighborhood that people love living in. This is the reason Swiss Avenue keeps improving.

Why Swiss Avenue Homes are Always Thought of as Mansions

5323 Swiss - Side of House - IMG_2161 - H.jpg
This Hal Thomson-designed historically significant home is also on a prominent block of Swiss Avenue and part of the original Munger Place Addition.

One of the interesting things about Swiss Avenue homes is that even in our current environment of enormous 10,000 to 40,000 square foot new homes, they are thought of as mansions. Many homes on Swiss Avenue are less than 5,000 square feet, but since they are designed by Dallas architects like C.D. HillBertram HillLang and WitchellHal Thomson and others, these homes have a much greater architectural presence than their square footage would suggest. The average size of a new home on a small University Park lot is 5,000 square feet, but those homes almost look like townhouses.

Swiss Avenue Homes Convey Substance and Graciousness

There are two reasons why even the relatively small houses on Swiss Avenue are considered mansions. First, the street has uniform setbacks, uniform heights, similar materials and massing with no front fences or hedgerows. These Swiss Avenue homes are also sited on a beautiful, wide, landscaped boulevard of live oak trees. The wide, elevated front yards create a ribbon of greenspace parallel to the landscaped boulevard that runs the full 10 blocks of the street, creating an atmosphere of opulence. The second reason is that on every block there are a few larger, more substantial homes like the Hal Thomson-designed home at 5323 Swiss. When walking or driving down the street, one’s eye naturally goes from one of the original larger homes to the next larger home. These larger homes, like 5323 Swiss Avenue, also have more elaborate detail, molding and stonework. Some historic homes might remind one of a wedding cake because the front facade has so much architectural exuberance. The home architect Hal Thomson designed at 5323 Swiss Avenue, at first glance, is stately and then as one looks more closely, the fine detail and ornamentation emerge.

Wide Front Verandas and Porches are Elements of Swiss Avenue

Wide expanse of front porch seen in this Hal Thomson architect-designed home at 5323 Swiss Avenue in the Swiss Avenue Historic District of Dallas.
Architect Hal Thomson designs homes with such beautiful proportions that it is easy for one to forget how massive the front porch at 5323 Swiss Avenue as it runs across the entire width of the home.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Swiss Avenue homes is the front and side porches and verandas articulated by stone or brick balustrades that go the entire width of the house and sometimes even wrap around the house. These large front verandas add additional presence to the home and reflect an element of the Prairie style that greatly influenced the design of the homes on Swiss Avenue. These front verandas are well used by Swiss Avenue homeowners when they are entertaining or just enjoying the view filled with trees as they wave at neighbors walking by.

Many Architectural Styles on Swiss Avenue Have Been Influenced by Prairie Style

When Munger Place was created in 1905, Victorian style homes like those found on the Wilson block show below had stopped being designed in Dallas. In this collection of Victorian houses on the Wilson block, the Arnold House was the last one built in 1903. As Victorian homes stopped being designed in Dallas, Prairie style influences dominated Swiss Avenue.

Victorian House on Wilson Block
Here is an example of a Victorian home found in the Wilson block that stopped being designed here in 1903.

Munger Place required architects to design the homes for homeowners and not speculators. These prominent Dallas architects designed homes in Georgian, Mission, EnglishTudorSpanish ColonialItalianate and other styles, but the floor plans were open and they almost all had five-foot finished overhanging soffits and wide front porches indicative of the Prairie style. There is also one classical Prairie style home on the street at 5002 Swiss Avenue that was designed by Charles Erwin Barglebaugh who worked in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Chicago office before he came to Dallas to join the architectural firm of Lang and Witchell.

Architect Hal Thomson Created Architectural Splendor at the Homes He Designed on Swiss Avenue

Front entrance and balconies at historic 5323 Swiss Avenue designed by Hal Thomson in Dallas' Munger Place neighborhood of Swiss Avenue Historic District.
This closeup photograph of the partial front facade of 5323 Swiss Avenue shows architect Hal Thomson’s deft design of elaborate bracketing and ornamentation on the soffits and the fascia and the handsome brickwork that accentuates the front entrance.

The facade of this historic Swiss Avenue home is stately without shouting out at one admiring the home. However, as one starts to take a visual inventory of the home, one sees the square and round fluted columns framing the front door, the carved scrolled brackets holding up the balcony over the front door accentuated by an elegant wrought iron railing, and a thin line of dental molding underlining the balcony. Both the vertical lines of the home and horizontal lines of the home are seen in the shallow five course ornamental corner brickwork that ascends from the veranda to the fascia. The extensive woodwork and trim on the fascia are more elaborate than what one usually sees on the fireplace mantels of expensive homes. The brackets of the soffits have an almost modern early 20th century design. Of course, this historic home is topped with a Ludowici red tile roof.

Architectural Splendor is also Found in 5323 Swiss Avenue

Architectural detail of arched opening of 5323 Swiss Avenue designed by Hal Thomson in Swiss Avenue Historic District of Munger Place neighborhood in Dallas.
Architect Hal Thomson had the ability to design beautiful detail, fluted columns and elaborate millwork that comes across as simple and elegant versus ornate. We see this at 5323 Swiss Avenue in the Swiss Avenue Historic District in Dallas.

Here, at the wide arched passageway at the end of the living room, architect Hal Thomson repeated the square and round fluted columns that frame the front door.

Center Hall Stairs at 5323 Swiss Avenue

Formal entry and grand staircase at this architecturally significant home designed by Hal Thomson at 5323 Swiss Avenue in the Munger Place neighborhood of Swiss Avenue Historic District in Dallas.
The center hall of 5323 Swiss Avenue features the Hal Thomson designed grand staircase that wraps around to the second floor.

Again, we see Hal Thomson use graceful architectural notes to beckon one to ascend the stairs towards the bank of double-hung multi-light windows illuminating the landing that is as large as most formal rooms.

View into Living Room from Entrance Hall in Home Designed by Hal Thomson

Entry room with stone floors looking into living room of this Hal Thomson architect-designed home at 5323 Swiss Avenue in Swiss Avenue Historic District of Dallas.
In the 1990s the buyers who purchased the home from the family who had owned it for 50 years, remodeled 5323 Swiss Avenue which included replacing the hardwood floors in the formal entranceway with stone floors.

One can actually have this view from the corresponding fireplace on the far wall of the formal dining room because architect Hal Thomson designed an open home with wide passageways. From one room, a person can often see into four or five other rooms, all receiving sunlight.

Architecturally Significant Home Sited on a Prominent Block of Swiss Avenue

Architecturally significant home designed by Hal Thomson at 5323 Swiss Avenue on a landscaped boulevard and parkway in the Swiss Avenue Historic District of Dallas.
This Hal Thomson-designed historically significant home is also on a prominent block of Swiss Avenue and part of the original Munger Place Addition.

The best architects are often obsessive about finding the best site for the homes they design. I find it interesting that architect Hal Thomson selected corner lots for five of the homes he designed on Swiss Avenue. A corner lot allowed him to have two facades that are visual from the street. Hal Thomson side facades are just as elegant as the front facades he designed.

5323 Swiss Avenue is on an Extra Large Lot Backed up to Historic Homes on Live Oak

The estate home at 5323 Swiss Avenue is sited on 3/4 of an acre. This architecturally significant home is on as much acreage as most Dallas estate homes. This historically significant home is also on a prominent block of Swiss Avenue that includes the first home built on Swiss Avenue in the Munger Place Addition. This architect-designed home by Hal Thomson reflects the best of Dallas: vibrancy and nature.