The homeowners featured in the October Advocate CliffDweller story on the upcoming OOCCL Fall Home Tour had such interesting stories about how they came to live in their homes, and one of my favorites was Paul vonHeeder’s story of how he discovered some of the history of 1920 W. Colorado after he moved in.
VonHeeder is a friend and former colleague of the grandson of the original owner — William Lynch, who was president of Texas Power & Light at the time the home, designed by architect David R. Williams, was built — but vonHeeder had no idea that his friend and his new home were linked:
"We were talking one day — he’s a documentary filmmaker in Austin — and I was talking to him because he was coming up here and we wanted to get together. He asked me about our former home, and I said, ‘We don’t live there anymore. We live on Colorado."
"I think it hit us both as the same time. I recalled in the book ["David R. Williams: Pioneer Architect"] that the owner’s original name was Lynch, and [my friend’s] last name is Lynch. He told me, ‘When we come up there, I’m going to bring my dad by.’ His dad had lived in the house until he was 9. It was wonderful. It was one of those crazy things."
When William Lynch’s son came to the house, he told vonHeeder that when he lived on Colorado, nothing else was around the house. For fun, he would explore the creek and play ball behind the house — because it was an open field. He also told vonHeeder that in the ’40s, the Lynch family was trying to determine whether Dallas would grow north or west, and they decided north, so they moved to to the Park Cities.
It was in University Park, at 3805 McFarlin, where architect David Williams culminated both his residential work and his work in Dallas. It was built in 1932 for University Park Mayor Elbert Williams (there certainly are a lot of Williams or Williamses in this post; as an aside, vonHeeder’s partner is Bill Nelson, which is likely short for William). That was right before the Great Depression took hold, "when everything went to hell and commissions dried up," vonHeeder says. David Williams was later hired by U.S. government to go down to San Antonio and restore La Villita, the original settlement on the San Antonio River, vonHeeder says.