That old house

The O'Brien homestead, which is a duplex split up- and downstairs — Courtesy Photo

By Bruce Felps

East Dallas contains an abundance of older houses. If they were cars, they’d be classified as antiques or, in some cases, relics.

Mine would be “ruins.”

Junius Heights resident and head of the neighborhood crime watch program Suzanne O’Brien and her husband own such a house on Victor Street. They’ve worked and contracted out renovations on the 1906 — 1922 according to Dallas Country Appraisal District records that don’t account for a long-ago fire — and transformed the house into a beauty.

In O’Brien’s e-mailed words:

The house had great bones when we bought it over a decade ago, but since it had been a rental for some time, I think some stuff, such as [light] fixtures were mined out of it and replaced with some pretty cheesy crud. There were these hideous ‘80s brass lamps that we replaced with something Frank Lloyd Wright would be proud of.  The place had never seen a sander on the outside of it to rid the old paint. Many walls had no plaster/sheetrock. The kitchen ceiling was plywood squares — not even kidding — and there was little to no landscaping left, with weeds being hip high in the back. I put in a patio — by myself — in the back where the weeds once lived. What sold me were the two balconies and the solidness of the structure and French doors and hardwoods.

The smallest bath, added on in 1927, per the date on the sink, had a very creative, but butt-ugly, PVC surround attached to the ceiling in which to use as a shower rod around the tub.  We … replaced it with an antique bronze faucet and shower surround.

It’s now in the running for the Remodels Contest 2011: Whole House competition operated by This Old House magazine.

Head over to the website, rate the renovation job on the ruler below the photo and description, and help the O’Briens and the neighborhood claim a little national recognition.


  1. TOM

    Hey Bruce – I went and rated the house you wrote about. As I was looking though the other houses, I noticed a funny.

    Go to picture #5 and look at their “salt water heated poo”.

    You don’t have to post this comment, just sending you some humor on your busy day!! Thanks for taking the time to do the East Dallas Times!

  2. Hi:
    I’ve been in my house 51 years this month. It was built in 1947, never was taken care of & was a rental property for some time but in 1960 it was heaven compared to the duplexes we had lived in prior to buying it. Of course, we replaced everything eventually, including wiring, plumbing, hot water heater and the floor furnace twice and that’s coming up again.
    Just finished another $$$$$$ worth of sewer & drain repair under the house.
    But I still love the house. The backyard used to be lovely, but has resumed some of the jungle look so loved by birds and Mother Nature. I still garden some, but limited. It is still pleasant and more than that, it is home. I love old houses too.

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