The Caruth Homeplace, 6-acre hill-top property and historic home on Caruth Haven Lane in North Dallas, was recently awarded the Sense of Place Award by Preservation Dallas at The Preservation Achievement Awards. The award ceremony, held in early May, commemorated Dallas’ most outstanding developments in historic preservation. The Sense of Place Award recognizes a project for its significant importance to the community as a whole.
“Caruth Homeplace has had a tremendous impact on our city. The preservation of this place has ensured it remains a treasured asset for the city and its citizens for generations to come,” said Katherine Seale, Executive Director- Preservation Dallas.
In 2000, Mabel Caruth made it possible for CFT to acquire the old Caruth Homeplace. Since that time CFT has worked to restore the homeplace and to honor the Caruth family legacy. After CFT acquired the Homeplace, it pursued a plan that would preserve the house, tell the Caruth family story, have a low impact on the neighborhood, and provide revenue for ongoing operating costs by leasing office space to other charitable foundations.
Concurrently, CFT is also recognizing the re-installation of its historical marker status by the Texas Historical Commission. Texas Historical markers are chosen for the appropriate treatment of a historic property through preservation, rehabilitation, restoration or reconstruction. This choice always depends on a variety of factors, including the property’s historic significance, physical condition, proposed use and intended interpretation. In 1962, Caruth Homeplace was granted a historical marker by the Texas Historical Commission. Following the completion of the recent renovation the historical marker was re-installed.
“Everyone at CFT is honored to see Caruth Homeplace receive such a prestigious award and have its historical marker re-installed. CFT has worked diligently to preserve and advance the Caruth family legacy and to demonstrate that a historic house can be adapted for appropriate modern use,” said Brent Christopher, president and chief executive of Communities Foundation of Texas.
THE CARUTH FAMILY’S LEGACY OF PHILANTHROPY
In 1911, William Walter Caruth, Sr. donated much of the land for the Southern Methodist University campus in Dallas. Watching the rapid growth of a city his grandfather and father helped build stirred W.W. (“Will”) Caruth, Jr.’s later interests in helping it thrive. In 1951, he began to carry on the Caruth family’s history of investing in the community.
As his wealth accrued – he eschewed expensive cars and other luxuries because he believed it was better to give money away to those who needed it – Will Caruth developed an important relationship with Communities Foundation of Texas and in 1974, he established the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at CFT. Today, it’s the largest fund managed independently by CFT and is dedicated to supporting innovative approaches for transformative change in public safety, education, and medical research in Dallas.
Over the decades, local newspapers wrote about the countless gifts given by Will and his longtime wife, Mabel. The list is virtually endless, imprinting the Caruth name on at least as many philanthropic ventures as real estate developments in Dallas.
Will died in 1990, and shortly before her death in 2000, Mabel Caruth made it possible for CFT to acquire the old Caruth Homeplace, as well as to build and endow the foundation's headquarters at Caruth Haven Lane and Central Expressway, adjacent to the Homeplace. She wanted her gift to further the work of CFT, to leverage every new gift and to compound the philanthropic vision of future generations.
In 2008, she generously bequeathed an additional $20 million through her estate to support the discretionary grantmaking of CFT– another part of a rich continuum fulfilling the Caruth tradition of giving one’s self and one’s wealth to the place where she lived and its people.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF A HISTORIC HOME
Built in 1872 as a Folk Victorian structure by William Barr Caruth and his wife, Mattie, the Caruth Homeplace original plantation home was transformed in 1938 into a neo-classical Colonial Revival house, complete with ionic columns across a long front porch. Interest in Colonial Revival architecture swept across United States the first half of the 20th century, including in Dallas ’ neighboring Park Cities, where some Colonial homes still remain.
The newly completed restoration of Caruth Homeplace, overseen by noted restoration architect Nancy McCoy of the firm Quimby McCoy, includes 12,000 square feet of renovated and constructed space on the property and maintains the integrity of its 1938
Colonial renovation, with some distinctive flourishes remaining from the original Victorian main house. Specific rooms in the main house will be used to tell the Caruth family story. In addition, Caruth Homeplace includes the original 1850s farm house, smokehouse, formal gardens and a cemetery which is the final resting ground of several Caruth family members and pets.
CFT hired Masterplan, a planning consulting firm headed by Willie Cothrum, to prepare for rezoning the property from residential to commercial. The Dallas City Council approved zoning changes which now allow the Homeplace to provide office space for the two foundation tenants.
“The plan allowed the main house and historic outbuildings to continue in use and gave the opportunity to tell the story of the Caruth family, which occupied the house for almost 150 years,” said Linda Pitts Custard, a former CFT trustee and chairwoman of the building committee. “The history of the Caruth family is intertwined with that of Dallas. CFT is proud to share this part of our city’s history to help current and future generations celebrate the contributions of the Caruth family to the North Texas area.”
Architecturally and culturally, the Homeplace stands as one of the most historic properties in DallasCounty, and it’s recognized by the American Institute of Architects Guide to Dallas Architecture as one of the Dallas’ most significant buildings. The renovation and repurposing of Caruth Homeplace continues the story of the Caruth Family and the remarkable way in which they converted their financial gain into one of the nation’s largest philanthropic endowments.
A NEW HOME FOR TWO FOUNDATIONS
Making a home for other charitable foundations within the Caruth Homeplace is a fitting continuation of the Caruth family’s legendary philanthropy. The Hoblitzelle Foundation works from the second floor of the main house and the Summerlee Foundation offices out of the Summer House, a 3,000 square foot new structure behind the main house which features architecture that blends seamlessly with the restored property.
“These two private foundation tenants are committed to improving the community much as the Caruth family demonstrated by their philanthropy through years. Communities Foundation of Texas is looking forward to the collaborations that will be fostered by having three foundations housed so close together,” said Brent Christopher, president and chief executive of Communities Foundation of Texas.
Since its founding in 1953, Communities Foundation of Texas has grown to become one of the nation’s largest community foundations. Through its work, the foundation enhances the experience and impact of charitable giving. It serves as a hub for collaboration between donors, nonprofits and other funding organizations to stimulate creative solutions to key community challenges. This is accomplished through a variety of donor-advised, designated and discretionary funds. The foundation professionally manages almost 900 component funds and has awarded over $1 billion in charitable grants.