By: Malcolm Mayhew
By: Courtney Dabney
Fort Worth, Texas takes to the air to look at 10 amazing homes in Fort Worth and the surrounding area.
Aerial photos by Brian Dunaway, Epic Helicopters
Visitors to the area’s most elegant homes get one perspective when they pass by or visit at ground level. The view from the air gives another perspective entirely.
What all the homes on the following pages share are that they are more than 10,000 square feet under roof or under air-conditioning. All homeowners gave us permission to photograph their homes from the air. They answered a simple questionnaire about the house and what they considered to be its unique features. As you will see, some waxed eloquently and others were more reserved.
We ruled out houses that have been featured in the magazine in recent years.
We searched appraisal district records in Tarrant County and the surrounding counties for possible sites. Along the way, we turned up some interesting numbers. In Fort Worth, there are 37 homes above 10,000 square feet. Colleyville has 22, Westover Hills 21, Westlake 18 and Arlington 12. In Southlake, all homes on our top 25 list were above 10,000. Four houses in unincorporated Tarrant County met the criteria, two in Dalworthington Gardens, four in Mansfield, two in Hood County and one in unincorporated Johnson County.
Once we had permission, Brian Dunaway of Epic Helicopters took to the air, and the results are what you see on the following pages. These images are © Epic Helicopters.
Owners: Victor A. Torres Sr. and Gloria U. Torres
Owner Occupation: Retired but still involved in real estate investments
SIZE: 10,495 square feet
Year Built: 2008
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 15 rooms, six bedrooms and seven baths
This two-story house is built on a three-story frame, meaning that the interior spaces are tall. There is an elevator in the house as well as a theater room. The home includes a two-story library and office filled with carvings and features a spiral staircase and bridge on the second floor that connects the two sides of the room.
The marble in the home’s kitchen is emerald in color with a pearl white vein running through it.
There are seven fireplaces, including one in the living room that Gloria describes as “awesome.” It is cathedral-like in appearance and similar to the altar in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in downtown Fort Worth. That was not by design, but it is pleasing to the couple.
There’s even a fireplace in the wine cellar on the lower floor. Lighted insets in the walls contain images of Europe, and Gloria says that when she turns the lights on it makes her feel as if she actually is in Italy. Other lighting fixtures include candelabras. The swimming pool features a cave with a waterfall.
Neighborhood: House is on 80 acres in Johnson County.
Owners: Michael and Angela Erinakes
Owner Occupation: President and CEO, MAAD Hunter Venture Capital Group Inc.
SIZE: 21,000 square feet
Year Built: Three years in construction, it was completed in December 2011.
NUMBER OF ROOMS: Five bedrooms, eight bathrooms
IN ADDITION TO THE bedrooms AND bathrooms, there are and three separate laundry rooms, a workout room, a trophy room with 27-foot ceilings with three large trees inside and massive fake rock cliffs featuring a variety of animals from around the world, a kids’ entertainment room and a separate playroom for children.
The infinity edge pool is surrounded by tons of real mossy rock (it took more than 50 large semi-trucks to deliver it all) and is 11-feet deep in areas with two built-in slides. There are nine large propane fire pits and more than 50 lights that change 15 different LED colors and patterns. There are nine different waterfalls as well as a swim-through tunnel and lots of caverns to hide out in. It holds about 220,000 gallons of water.
And then there is the man cave. That’s a wooden barn that is around 12,000 square feet upstairs and downstairs and designed to look like an old city with a garage, a hotel, a bank and café. The city also has a streetlight and old gas pumps and memorabilia. The upstairs is getting a full bowling alley and also an indoor archery range.
And then there are the lakes — one of about five acres and another of about nine acres. Both are stocked with fish and are fully landscaped.
Recent uses of the property have been intimate parties for charities and organizations including one for the Chisholm Trail 100 Club from Johnson County, an organization that provides a life insurance policy for more than 1,200 fire, police and EMS first responders.
Owners: Christopher and Karen Fraser
OwnerS' OccupationS: Chris is a corporate director. Karen is a pediatric physician assistant.
SIZE: 10,430 square feet
Year Built: 2009
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 18 rooms (excluding bathrooms), six bedrooms, six bathrooms and three half-baths
This house is situated on three and a half acres on a ridge with vista views and a view of downtown Fort Worth. It has a multi-level pool with a swim-up bar, a cabana, a sauna and an outdoor shower.
Large windows bring the outdoors inside to the 12-foot ceilings. Large wood beams warm the 25-foot cathedral ceiling in the family room. There’s an 8-foot tall 18th century French fireplace with a 12-foot long 18th century French tapestry gracefully draped above it. There’s a bar/billiard room and a game room. A 20-foot shuffleboard table and the pool table spark competition.
An outdoor shower off the master bath is not only invigorating but calming as you convene with nature the first thing in the morning.
Karen is personally fond of sipping her coffee and reading a book in the cabana overlooking Fort Worth and idyllic green pastures and vistas.
The multi-level pool is great for hosting Fort Worth Country Day classmates and teammates for burgers. A hundred students can spread out and enjoy themselves playing Can Jam and Frisbee after a dip.
A two-bedroom guest suite and verandas make pleasant accommodations for guests.
Owners: Betsy and Marc Rowland
Owner occupation: CEO FTS International
SIZE: Approximately 10,000 square feet under roof
Year Built: 2009
NUMBER OF ROOMS: Four bedrooms, four full baths and two half baths
Betsy Rowland says that when she and her husband were first shown the property in Montserrat, they were both struck by the presence of cows in the fields of the adjacent Markum Ranch. It felt great to be in the country.
Then they opened the front door into a vast hall. The rooms were “staged,” she says, but they have enjoyed filling them with great art, oriental rugs and furniture. There is a dedicated study, an entertainment room, a bar room and an upstairs studio. The detached pool house has its own bedroom and a full bath.
They eliminated the bocce court outside the family room and started a garden. Last summer was tough, she says, but this year is a success with giant 10-feet tall sunflowers and vegetables.
At any time, they have at least five dogs around so they decided to buy the open acre next to their house. They built a stone fence that complements existing ones, dug a water well, installed irrigation for the border landscaping and sod and installed more than 25 mature trees to create their own park.
Neighborhood: River Crest
Owner: Dan Lowrance
SIZE: 12,000 square feet plus
Year Built: 2010
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 24 rooms including seven baths
This house sits on a high point of land, and all major rooms feature bluff-top views. The grounds are meticulously landscaped, and the back lawn overlooks Old Westover and the Trinity River. It features a European-style swimming pool, a bluff-top spa, an outdoor fireplace and sitting area, a fire pit and sitting area and a rose garden.
Privacy for a terraced side garden is provided by a row of magnolia trees that stretches from the front of the house to the bluff at the rear of the property.
Of special note is the fan-shaped Old English architectural design.
The patio entertains well, even for major fundraisers such as the Presbyterian Night Shelter, A Wish With Wings and various TCU events including KinderFrogs.
Neighborhood: Westover Hills
Owners: Susie and Lee Finley
OWNER Occupation: Owner of Brand FX Body Co.
SIZE: 15,000 square feet
YEAR BUILT: 2010
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 25 rooms and 12 bathrooms
This four-level house was positioned to take advantage of breathtaking views from all rooms. The house is soft contemporary with granite floors throughout. The great room looks out over a 40-foot negative edge pool.
A large circular bar sits beside the living reef aquarium. Beside the bar, there is a large automated sliding door that opens onto the loggia, enabling the covered loggia to become part of the house. The loggia includes a fireplace with a full outdoor kitchen that also has a pizza oven. A large formal kitchen sits next to the family room with catering kitchen that joins. A beautiful room with a wall of water hosts a separate Japanese Teppanyanki cooking table that overlooks a koi pond. An elevator goes to all floors.
The dining room joins the entry with a large staircase. The bottom floor has a wine bistro looking into an all-glass wine cellar. Guestrooms, three fireplaces — 11 in all in the house — and a covered putting green complete the lower level. The master bedroom has a hair salon/spa, a secret garden with a hot tub, a sitting area, wet bar and three fireplaces.
The third level has a sports bar with pool table, a theater, a study, a walk-in cigar humidor and an outdoor patio. The top floor has views of downtown Fort Worth, a seating area with a wet bar, fireplace and outdoor deck. The garage can hold 11 cars and has an adjoining car wash and a separate dog wash.
Owners: John and Tyler Kuelbs
Owner OCcupation: Entrepreneur/Investor
SIZE: 14,000 square feet under roof/11,000 air-conditioned space
Year Built: 2002
NUMBER OF ROOMS: Six bedrooms, seven full baths and three half baths
Tyler has a degree in interior design and helped design every aspect of the house, based on her travels in Europe. The house is located on 15 acres on one of the highest points in Southlake, and the elevation and location make downtown Dallas clearly visible from the home’s balcony.
The Old World feel picked up from Tyler’s travels comes through in the walls of the home. Most of the exterior walls on the ground floor are 16 inches thick — similar to older buildings throughout Europe. That means that the windows are recessed both inside and outside to create the European effect.
The home is large, but the interior spaces are scaled down and cozy. Guests tell the Kuelbs that the house does not feel big.
Mixing the East with the West, the Kuelbs consulted a Feng Shui master during the design process and were able to incorporate many of those elements into the home.
The couple also raises mini Herefords.
Neighborhood: Mira Vista
Owners: Steven and Jeri Pedro
Owners’ occupations: Dermatologist/Psychotherapist
SIZE: About 10,000 square feet under roof
Year Built: 2004
NUMBER OF ROOMS: 21 rooms (areas) plus cabana with kitchen/living area and full bath; four bedrooms with four full baths and two half baths
The Pedros say the first remark they hear when people enter the home for the first time is “The view is beautiful!”
The west side of the house is mostly all glass that allows them to view the beautiful sunsets and watch the amazing rain storms move in. The pool/cabana area includes a waterfall that provides the sounds of a tropical paradise. The home is situated on a one-plus acre sloping lot that provides privacy and peace in the midst of the Mira Vista neighborhood.
The house is three-story, designed to accommodate the sloping lot with an open concept designed for entertaining. There’s a stainless steel and granite wall above the eye-level fireplace on the first floor, striking dual-colored patterned concrete floors on the first floor and a marble and granite floor medallion to feature the staircase between the first and third floors.
There is a caterer’s kitchen complete with range, refrigerator, sink and dishwasher in order to maintain privacy while entertaining. That makes four full kitchens, if you count the one in the attached full apartment and the cabana. The apartment has the same views as the house with an optional separate entrance that accommodates guests’ privacy.
The house has lots of floor-to-ceiling bay and inverted bay windows to maximize the view and bring the outdoors in.
Neighborhood: Mira Vista
Owners: Robert and Katherine Chu
Owners’ Occupations: Optometrists
SIZE: Approximately 13,000 square feet under roof. House is in final stages of construction.
Year Built: 2012
NUMBER OF ROOMS: Not disclosed
This house is for wine-lovers with a two-story, glass-enclosed wine wall with a capacity of more than 1,000 bottles. The great room has 24-foot ceilings. The in-home theater seats 15 people.
The house links indoor and outdoor space with 30-foot NanaWall doors. And there is plenty to link — there are approximately 3,000 square feet of covered patio space. The floating pool in the backyard has 12 water features with a view of the Lake Benbrook dam and Texas sunsets. It also features a 360-degree infinity edge spa.
Architectural design was by world-renowned architect Tom Benedict of West Palm Beach, Fla., who studied under Addison Mizner, considered the father of Floridian architecture.
It is a Control4 Smart home with fully automated Web control.
Neighborhood: Westover Hills
Owner: H. Paul Dorman
OWNER Occupation: Chairman, CEO and Founder of Healthpoint Biotherapeutics/A Pharmaceutical Business
SIZE: 14,000-15,000 square feet
Year Built: 1966. Major remodeling still in progress.
NUMBER OF ROOMS: Approximately 18 rooms total when complete, including five bedrooms and seven bathrooms
This house was designed by nationally acclaimed architect A. Quincy Jones, dean of the School of Architecture at UCLA as well as an active architect. Hollywood designer William Haines was hired to complete the interior of the house and design custom furniture. It was built by Eddie Childs, a prominent Fort Worth businessman and a prior owner of the Texas Rangers. It also was the site of Historic Fort Worth’s 2010 Designer Showhouse.
There was an addition to the house later, but it did not match the original style and has been torn out to make room for the theater room and game room that could also be an additional bedroom for a future owner or need. The original kitchen has been doubled in size. And the renovation retains as much as possible of the original dining room and formal living room.
The new construction on the outside of the home features the same Texas limestone as used in the original construction — and from the same quarry. The 12-car garage is, Dorman says, “more of a man cave thing as well as for the cars.” There is a dedicated wine room with a connecting closet for cold fur storage and a safe room. There’s an outdoor kitchen, and in a later phase there will be a large cabana added.
By: Malcolm Mayhew
By: Courtney Dabney