Monday, October 29, 2012
Swiss Avenue had been Swiss Avenue for half a century when the first house went up in 1905. Most of the houses on this mile-long luxury lane were built by the 1920s, and what I love even more than the wide streets and the islands of grass and big old trees blocking the north-east traffic from the south-west travelers, what I love even more than rooms built out from the second story and hanging over the driveway on stilts—what I love about Swiss Avenue is how it was built with what strikes me as a notably Texan aesthetic. Developer R. S. Munger put no restriction on the style of all these great homes going up side by side. No, he gave his builders the full independence of doing as they pleased: Tudors next to Craftsman next to Revivals of all stripes. He instead put his faith in the fact that everything would mesh so long as he mandated that all houses were sufficiently big (at least two stories) and sufficiently expensive (minimum $10,000). And, this is the part I love, he was right! It is totally cohesive, each grand house unique but the whole stretch of them seamless, the whole historic district like one long park visited over the day by dog walkers and gardeners and roofers and joggers and families pushing strollers until it is late and the dog walkers are out making their second rounds.