“All I can say is that I am enormously impressed – particularly by your enviable ability to produce such an incredibly ‘appetizing’ Arts and Crafts feel to your buildings. This is such a rare gift in today’s soulless world and, for me, was best demonstrated in your Highland Park house. I have rarely come across something so utterly appealing…”
Yours most sincerely,
The above excerpt is from a 2008 letter written at Clarence House by Prince Charles to award-winning American architect Scott Merrill (Merrill Pastor & Colgan Architects). The letter followed the Prince of Wales’ review of Merrill’s portfolio at the urging of his trusted advisor Leon Krier. (Krier contributed to the site plan of Seaside, Florida, where Merrill served as town architect for a number of years.) The house which Prince Charles references: 3509 Crescent Avenue in Old Highland Park.
Listed by the Perry-Miller Streiff Group for the first time since its completion in 2001, the distinctive property at 3509 Crescent Avenue is now available for sale, priced at $4,990,000. In addition to the 4,671-square-foot (per tax rolls) main house, a 730-squarefoot (also per tax rolls) guest quarters above the three-car garage and a separate cabana bath are on the south side of the pool. The design aesthetic of the smaller structure complements that of the larger.
HRH is a lifelong student of architecture, and in 1992 established The Prince of Wales’s Institute of Architecture (now called The Prince’s Foundation). He was so stirred by Merrill’s designs, that after congratulating the architect on his remarkable body of work, he suggested one day they collaborate in the U.K. Merrill has also been recognized by winning the Seaside Prize, the Arthur Ross Award of the ICAA, and, most recently, the Driehaus Prize.
The vision for 3509 Crescent Avenue began with the current owners. The husband grew up in Highland Park and developed his eye for well-designed 1920’s English residential architecture while bicycling as a boy to Bradfield and the Village. He desired one day a home that would fit seamlessly into the neighborhood with authenticity but no pretension.
Through their ownership of a beach house in Seaside, the couple already knew Merrill.
The honeymoon cottages and the chapel he designed there received national AIA awards. After receiving a monograph of British architect C.F.A. Voysey’s work from the architects of Seaside (Duany Plater-Zyberk), the couple approached Merrill. They asked if he could meld the clever design of Voysey with the symmetries found in the work of another talented British architect, Edwin Lutyens. Merrill accepted the challenge and converted that vison into three-dimensional reality.
They searched for the right lot for five years. It was ultimately Dave Perry-Miller – also an avid fan of British architecture and fellow member of Preservation Dallas – who found a perfect half-acre lot for them in Old Highland Park. Fast forward 18 years, these specific blocks have become some of the most sought-after real estate in Dallas, based on the pedestrian-friendly locale. The Katy Trail is a block away as is the Knox-Travis corridor, home to some of Dallas’ most popular restaurants and shops.
At the start of the project, the couple brought in Warren Hill Johnson, the landscape architect responsible for the site and planting design for some of the most notable gardens within the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society. He made the home’s swimming pool
look more like a large reflecting pond by incorporating grass “decks,” and he created hisand-hers gardens that reflect the individualistic personalities of the couple.
Merrill has stated that, of any house he has designed in his three decades of practice, the landscape and hardscape of the Crescent home are the most sympathetic to its architecture. The result is a truly unique and significant property that has inspired not only the letter from Prince Charles, but is also one of the very few “new” houses featured in The Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas (McAlester/Winters/Mackintosh) as a home that truly complements Highland Park’s century-old history.