Before the temperatures turned downward and the wet stuff broke records this past week, Fall was appearing to be so very friendly. Taking full advantage of the beautiful weather, the Dallas Arboretum held an anniversary luncheon to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the legendary DeGolyer House that became “the home of the Dallas Arboretum.” Here’s a report from the field about the oilman Everette DeGolyer, his family and his magnificent estate that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places:
The historic DeGolyer House at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden celebrated its 75th anniversary on Monday, November 9, with a book signing, a luncheon and plenty of DeGolyer relatives to reflect on this historic home.
The morning began with Dr. Houston Mount signing his book, “Oilfield Revolutionary: The Career of Everette Lee DeGolyer.” Dr. Mount is an expert on Mr. DeGolyer’s business endeavors.
At the luncheon, Dallas Arboretum President/CEO Mary Brinegar welcomed 115 guests, many of whom were DeGolyer docents, family members and others connected with the family and the House. She introduced former Dallas Arboretum Board Chairman Brian Shivers, who served as the emcee and a speaker. Shivers has had a connection with the Dallas Arboretum for nearly three decades.
Shivers introduced Dallas Park and Recreation Board Chair Sid Stahl, chair of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board during the 1970s when the City of Dallas bought the DeGolyer Estate from SMU. His talk, entitled “The DeGolyer Estate and How it Became the Home of the Dallas Arboretum,” was fascinating. A negotiator by profession, Stahl told about the early history of negotiations and what some of the early plans for the property was. There was talk about it being an artist center, a museum and even a conference center.
Shivers spoke next about “The DeGolyer Estate and the Early Days of the Arboretum.” As an expert on the Dallas Arboretum’s history, he laid out the timeline of the early history*.
Next, Peter Flagg Maxson, a DeGolyer grandson, spoke on “De and Nell’s Dallas Hacienda” reminiscing on playing on the 44-acre property with his cousins and relatives along with other stories of this summer home. Maxson is the resident DeGolyer family historian and has spoken to the DeGolyer docents since 1979. He was also very involved in the process of what the City of Dallas was going to do with the House and negotiated with other family members to return original family furniture once the City agreed to make the House a museum.
Here’s a brief history of the DeGolyers and their House:
The DeGolyer House is home of the late Everette L. DeGolyer (1886-1956) and Nell Goodrich DeGolyer (1887-1972). The architects of the Spanish Colonial Revival style home were Denman Scott and Burton Schutt. The 21,000-square-foot building has 13 rooms and seven baths. At that time, the 44 acres cost $33,000, and the construction of the house was $125,000. The landscape artist was Arthur Berger. The home was originally called “Rancho Encinal” because of the many live oak trees on the property.
Mr. DeGolyer was a petroleum geologist and oilman who is recognized as the founder of the field of applied petroleum geophysics. He became president of Amerada Corporations (became Amerada-Hess, now the Hess Corporation) and was an investor in the Geophysical Services, Inc. (now Texas Instruments). He was also the founder of Core Laboratories, and founded DeGolyer and MacNaughton in 1939. The company is still regarded as the leading consulting petroleum firm in the world. He was the owner of Saturday Review of Literature magazine.
The DeGolyers had four children and 16 grandchildren. All children are deceased, and 12 grandchildren are still alive.
After the luncheon, the attendees visited the DeGolyer House where the docents presented the DeGolyer family with a silver plated tray that will remain in the House. Guests walked to the newly opened Val Late Garden of Memories, which sits in front of the DeGolyer House because of her love of the home and her many visits there. Dallas Arboretum’s Vice President of Gardens Dave Forehand told about that garden. Finally, guests toasted the 75th anniversary in the DeGolyer Library.
A special thank you to the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University and John Slate, Archivist for the City of Dallas, who helped make this historical collection possible. A special thank you to the event committee Debbie Henderson, Charlotte Gibbons, Cheryl Miller, Marti Rossi and Bettie Vandivort.
For those interested in seeing the DeGolyer House lavishly decorated for the holidays, from Friday, November 27, to Sunday, January 3, The Artistry of Nativity exhibition returns with 300 crèches from around the world. In addition to the Ray Harrington Collection, the collection of George Dvorsky’s will be showcased. The DeGolyer House is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with guided tours, and on Wednesday evenings during the holiday season, it is open from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Restaurant DeGolyer stays open for dinner from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on these Wednesday evenings with advance reservations (contact Susan Armanovs at 214.515.6511 or [email protected]).
* Timeline: The DeGolyer House becomes location for the Dallas Arboretum:
- 1972: Upon Mrs. DeGolyer’s death in 1972, part of the extensive library collection and the property were donated to Southern Methodist University.
- 1977: Lacking a clear use for the house, it was sold to the City of Dallas for a little more than $1,075,000—less than half of the appraised value.
- 1978: The City of Dallas officially designated the DeGolyer Estate as the location for the Dallas Arboretum.
- 1979: The DeGolyer Estate is named to the National Register of Historic Places. The first docent training and tour activity begins in the mansion. Since then, docents have given tours to guests from all states and countries around the globe.
- 1982: The City of Dallas and DABS signed a 25-year contract to combine the DeGolyer House and Camp House estates and operate it as the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.
- 1984: The Dallas Arboretum opened to the public.
- 2010: The Dallas Arboretum began a renovation process of the house after significant study and a master plan including fixing many structural issues. The public areas of the DeGolyer House are refurbished including the library, living room, breakfast room and sitting room.
** Photos provided by the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden