Apr 17, 2024 - Home Tour

A history lesson at the arboretum

A library with books on shelves and two sofas facing each other

The library setup of our dreams. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

Past the colorful flowers and the winding paths of the Dallas Arboretum is an easily missed historic house worth a visit.

Why it matters: The DeGolyer House is the reason the 66-acre arboretum exists.

  • The city of Dallas bought the 44-acre estate off White Rock Lake in 1977, paving the way for the site to be converted into the beautiful greenspace it is today.

The big picture: Everette ​​DeGolyer was a petroleum geologist and geophysicist in the first half of the last century. Nell ​​DeGolyer was active in charity work and a supporter of the arts. She was also the first president of the League of Women Voters' Dallas chapter.

  • The couple's legacy lives on in the arboretum.

The fine print: The 21,000 square-foot DeGolyer house was built between 1938 and 1940 to reflect the​​ couple's love of Mexico, the Southwest and hosting people. The house also reflects her love of gardening and music, and his love of rare books.

A framed invitation next to a framed sketch of a house
Nell ​​DeGolyer hoped to enjoy a luncheon with President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He was assassinated on the way to the event. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

Flashback: The house has a framed invitation that Nell ​​DeGolyer received to a luncheon with President John F. Kennedy in 1963. After waiting for hours at the Trade Mart, the crowd learned that the president had been assassinated.

  • Everette died in 1956. After Nell's death in 1972, the estate was gifted to Southern Methodist University. The university later sold it to the city.

The intrigue: Jessica Faselt, an opera singer visiting from Iowa to perform with the Fort Worth Symphony, toured the house last weekend.

  • Faselt did impromptu performances in two of the rooms — a dining area with a band shell-like wall and a sitting area with acoustic paneling on the ceiling — to portray what the ​​DeGolyers envisioned when building out their home.
  • "I saw that Mrs. ​​DeGolyer was a patron of opera and a huge music lover. I felt a connection to that — it [the singing] was in honor of her loving music," Faselt said.

If you go: The house tour is included with admission to the arboretum. Tours take place every hour from 10am-4pm.

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