Of The House
Willie Newbury and William Jenks Lewis
Willam Jenks Lewis
Willie Newbury Lewis
William J. and Willie Newbury Lewis were the home's original owners. Lewis came to Texas from the East Coast at the age of fifteen. By the age of thirty, he was a highly regarded cattleman and owner of the large R.O. Ranch near Clarendon in the Texas Panhandle. In 1912, William married Willie Newbury, a beautiful, young Dallas debutante, and began making plans to build a grand home for her.
Henry B. “Hal” Thomson was chosen as the architect for the Lewis’s home. Originally from
Austin, Thomson attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a master's degree in architecture. In 1907, he returned to Texas to establish his own architecture firm in Dallas.
While Mr. Lewis worked closely with Thomson on many of the home's details, Willie Lewis played an active role in the design of the interiors of the home. She worked with the architect Marion Fooshee, Thomson's partner at the time, in picking out features such as the Caen stone used for the carved mantle in the living room, and also for the entry and exterior trim.
Despite her active involvement in the design of the house, Mrs. Lewis was not happy living in the stately, formal home. She reportedly wanted something smaller and less grand. The couple only lived in the home for approximately a year before selling the house and moving to nearby Gaston Avenue.
The home quickly changed hands twice before being purchased by the Aldredge family in 1921.
Lila Love and Cull Cade Moorman
In 1919, the Lewises sold the home, fully furnished, for $90,000.00 to a prosperous local banker and oilman, Cull Cade Moorman and his wife, Lila Love. The Moorman’s lived here with their only daughter, Mildred, who was born in the house, for just a couple of years before Cull Moorman’s misfortunes as an oil speculator led him into financial hardship, forcing him to sell his home in 1921 to John and Florence Brooks Johnston.
When the Moorman’s moved from the house, probably still smarting from their financial setbacks, they took with them all the high-end custom furnishings commissioned by Willie Lewis. Shortly after that, the Johnstons, who never actually lived in the house, flipped it, unfurnished, to George and Rena Aldredge for $83,000.00, the equivalent of almost $1.4 million today; still a bargain by anyone’s standard.
Nearly a hundred years later, in 2019, the current owners were contacted by Kathryn Garcia, the Moorman’s great-granddaughter. She was living in Wichita Falls with her mother, Kathy Garcia, who was the daughter of Mildred Moorman Bush and the Moorman’s only granddaughter. Kathryn said her mother, Kathy, was still in possession of several original pieces that the Moormans had taken with them when they sold the home. She explained that Kathy was in the end stages of a terminal illness, and it was one of her mother’s final wishes that the furnishings she had inherited, and had always loved, be restored to the house.
Members of the Foundation traveled to Wichita Falls to collect the items and return them to their home. Those original pieces include a set of ornately carved twin black-walnut consoles and the 1917 Mason-Hamlin mahogany baby grand piano (built the same year as the house) in the Living Room; and the Lewises dining table, which is now in the Morning Room. From the Moorman's time at the house, their descendants donated a monogrammed set of sterling-silver flatware and a framed ostrich-plume fan carried by Lila when the Moormans co-hosted the Inaugural Ball for Governor William Petit Hobby at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin.
Lila Love Moorman
Cull Cade Moorman
Rena Munger and George E. Aldredge
George E. and Rena Munger Aldredge and their four children moved into 5500 Swiss in 1921. Mrs. Aldredge's father, Stephen I. Munger, and her uncle, Robert S. Munger, were the developers of Munger Place, which was the first deed-restricted neighborhood in Texas. Stephen oversaw the Improved Cotton Machine Manufacturing Company (later Continental Gin Company), which manufactured a new gin that revolutionized cotton ginning around the world. Robert oversaw the development of Munger Place, the first deed-restricted neighborhood in Texas.
George Aldredge was a successful businessman, serving as chair of the executive committee of the First National Bank and as a director of Texaco. Mrs. Aldredge was very active in cultural affairs. She was a life member of the board of trustees of the Dallas Museum of Art and a charter member of the Founders Garden Club, an affiliate of the Garden Club of America.
In 1927, Mrs. Aldredge added an outdoor swimming pool, a rarity before World War II (the pool was later removed). She also added two rooms to the House to accommodate her interests – an art gallery/theater and a glass conservatory. The gallery gave her a place to display her large art collection and show the films that she made herself.
Mrs. Aldredge lived in the House until 1974, when she donated it to the Dallas County Medical Society Alliance Foundation. Since receiving the house as a gift, the DCMSAF has carefully restored and preserved the House as its home and shared it with other non-profits and members of the community. The House plays an integral role in the activities of the Swiss Avenue Historic District.