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Greer Garson's former home gets a facelift
The penthouse with the mansion ambiance
By a Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News
14 September 1997
If civic leader and businesswoman Pat Patterson were named ruler of all she surveyed, she'd control most of Dallas and parts of adjoining counties. Such is the spectacular view from her 3525 Turtle Creek penthouse, the former home of Oscar-winning actress Greer Garson Fogelson. But now that a year-long meticulous renovation is complete, the view on the inside is far more spectacular.
“The temptation would have been to put up a lot of paneling and a lot of woodwork,” says Ms. Patterson, “and that would have totally destroyed what we have here.” What she chose instead was to pare down the space to how it was originally envisioned by the building's architect, noted modernist Howard Meyer. “Bruce Bernbaum was the architect for this project,” says Ms. Patterson. “He's very good. There had been remodeling and some later stuff done that we took out. Bruce brought it back to really good bones.” Exposing and protecting those bones was the work of contractors Tom Kindred and Jeff Kemp.
In what some friends thought of as an aesthetic leap of faith, Ms. Patterson used the space as a backdrop for both her impressive collection of modern and contemporary art and her more traditional pieces from her famous pink mansion on Lakeside Drive.
“The biggest challenge was to take my 18th-century French antiques, incorporate several pieces we bought from Greer's estate, which are 1950s Paris, and make the whole thing look harmonious to a sophisticated eye in 1997,” she explains.
That job fell to interior designer Emily Summers and her assistant Catherine Marcus Rose (granddaughter of Stanley Marcus).
“Everyone brought things to this project,” says Ms. Summers, who will be named one of America's top 101 designers in the November issue of House Beautiful.
A walk through the main garden room, with its views of downtown and the Park Cities through oversized windows, elicits a sensation that few high-rise dwellers know — the feeling of great open space
“Pat was adamant about not closing off the views in any way,” says Ms. Summers.
The only sacrifice in the redesign was a minimal lowering of the 16-foot ceilings to 15-feet to incorporate an array of new lighting. ”To have this kind of house-scale space in a penthouse is wonderful,” says Ms. Patterson.
For those who like a wide open feel, there is an 800-square-foot outdoor terrace with perhaps the best downtown view in the city.
The juxtaposition of contemporary and traditional is manifested in the garden room. A wall featuring 15 symmetrically hung black and white works on paper by Sol Lewitt faces a wall hung with Ms. Patterson's century-old Flora Danica china.
“In the garden room, we've used some of Greer's things and a very pared down minimal look. My old things still look good to me but I'm very comfortable with minimal.” As part of that look, Ms. Patterson brought in some Barcelona chairs by Mies van der Rohe that she purchased from the estate of the late Dallas arts philanthropist Louise Kahn.
Over the original fireplace, a seated woman (who looks suspiciously like a young Greer Garson) by artist David Hockney peers down on one of Mrs. Fogelson's original sofas.
“For the last several years I've been collecting modern and contemporary works on paper,” reports Ms. Patterson. “If there is a theme to the art, it's work by women or about women.” Female artists represented in her collection include Helen Frankenthaler, Susan Rothenberg and Louise Bourgeois.
The main hallway is dominated by Richard Avedon portraits of her daughters, Caroline and Patricia.
“Entertaining is a large part of my life,” says Ms. Patterson.
“I like having lots of people in my life. This is a perfect place for that. It's a great entertaining space.” In the first two weeks of September, more than a dozen parties were held at chez Patterson. Among them was a reception for Dr. Albert W. Niemi Jr., incoming dean of SMU's Cox School of Business. (A former investment banking VP with Goldman, Sachs & Co., Ms. Patterson now heads her own real estate investment firm and is on the board of the Cox School as well as chairman of the public affairs committee for Zale-Lipshy University Hospital.) Although the renovation was a labor of love, Ms. Patterson is happy to at last have a permanent home.
“After one year of frenetic activity,” she says. “I can actually reach out and touch everything I own again.”
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