Details of Dilbeck
Details of Dilbeck
In the not so distant past, Charles Dilbeck was one of the best-known residential architects practicing in Dallas. In a career that ran from 1932 to 1970, he designed the Geisler Residence, originally called the Lobello House.
This 8,800-square-foot residence, a 1962 Charles Dilbeck design, was constructed with a pier and beam foundation and exterior materials of California driftwood stone and pecky cypress wood trim. When the Geisler residence tragically burned down in 2016, owners Mike and Stacy Geisler reached out almost immediately to Droese Raney Architects to assist them in the reconstruction of their architecturally significant home.
When Droese Raney was brought on, and knowing the task ahead, the architects made quick work of pulling dimensions and taking tons of photographs of what was left of the residence.
“It was really fortunate that we had done that, because I came one morning for a site visit to take some dimensions, and in true demo-contractor fashion, half the house was gone when I got there. It was a frightening moment. I just prayed that I had enough photographs and dimensions,” said Lance Raney, AIA, a principal with Droese Raney.
During this process, Droese Raney contacted the University of Texas, which maintains the Charles Stevens Dilbeck collection, an archive of architectural drawings and specifications of some of Dilbeck’s significant designs. Luckily, the collection had six sheets of original construction documents that helped confirm many of the dimensions taken before the house was demolished down to the foundation.
Additionally, the daughter of Sam Lobello Jr., the original owner, found spiral-bound pictures of the home in her father’s office. These photographs, showing the original condition of the house, provided clarity and confirmation of some of the conclusions and assumptions Droese Raney made on site.
The rebuilding of the Geisler Residence proved challenging because of the importance of making an exact replica of the original home. The determination to match materials nearly identical to the original home required research and months of sourcing.
Droese Raney spent about three months hand-combing through pecky cypress looking for wood with just the right size holes. All the stone was removed from the house and organized by elevation in order to reinstall it exactly as it was. Employees contacted showrooms for missing door hardware such as the Schlage Rondell knob on the beautifully ornate entry doors.
“The knobs are new and painstakingly replicated,” Raney said. “They had these beautiful Schlage, big Rondell knobs. One was missing, and it had been missing from the previous owner. So we were able to source a replacement from 1960 or something. There was a pretty cool little hunt for that.”
The sheer size and Dilbeck-designed eclecticism contribute to many fascinating details in the project. Walking up to the home, a visitor would likely notice the heavy, dentil-style facia trim at the overhangs.
This trim “is four to five pieces and is a beautiful square dentil molding that is built up, really heavy, really masculine [and] combined with the low overhangs, you really feel the presence of the fascia,” Raney said.
In addition to taking photographs and dimensions before the demo contractor came in, two-foot sections of the trim profiles were cut from the home and later used to make new knives for the trim profiles. Ultimately, it was a father-son team of trim carpenters, with the project from the beginning, who were very attentive to re-creating and fabricating these profiles exactly as they were before.
This project, which evolved from tragedy, ultimately turned into a success story. It has been a combined effort, from the passionate owners, to the dedicated architects, to the many construction workers who worked diligently to see this vision through.
PROJECT DESIGN TEAM
Owners: Michael & Stacy Geisler
Architecture & Interiors: Droese Raney Architecture
General Contractor: Maplehill Residential LLC
Landscape Architecture: MESA
MEP Engineer: Arjo Engineers Inc.
Structural Engineer: Stenstrom-Schneider Inc.
Learn more about the project on the home’s Facebook page at facebook.com/thephoenixdallas/.
Janet Spees, Assoc. AIA is a project manager at Merriman Anderson Architects.