THE WILSON HOUSE
In 1899 Henrietta Frichot Wilson and her husband Frederick Wilson built the Wilson House on Swiss Avenue for their family. They had acquired the entire city block from Henrietta’s uncle, Jacob Nussbaumer, and built six more houses on their land, now known as the Wilson Block Historic District.
Henrietta Frichot Wilson’s family had been members of the utopian La Reunion colony that established itself just west of Dallas in the 1850s. After the colony failed, many of the la Reunion families moved to east Dallas. Frederick Wilson was a businessman in the cattle trade, originally from Canada. The Wilsons had two children – their daughter Irma, who passed away as a young woman in 1918, and their son Laurence, who lived in the house until 1977.
The Wilson House is both the centerpiece and the namesake of the Wilson Block Historic District and is now home to Preservation Dallas.
About the Architecture
The Wilson House exemplifies the elegance of Queen Anne architecture, which dominated American house design from about 1880 until 1910. The Wilson House has an asymmetrical façade and a front porch that wraps around one side of the house. Areas of patterned wooden shingles decorate the gables and walls. The Wilson House also has a turret – an element found in only the most elaborate Queen Anne designs and on no other houses on the Wilson Block. The exterior of the turret is covered with wood shingles cut in a fish-scale pattern.
The Wilson House also is the only house on the block that was built with a Servant’s Quarters and a Carriage House; both of those buildings survive and also were restored by the Meadows Foundation. The Carriage House now serves as the location for many of Preservation Dallas’ education programs.
* photo by Steve Clicque