The Wednesday Home Edit: The Dixon House
Putting the 'grand' in grandmillennial
Going back through the family archives to learn more about this home had been on my to-do list for quite some time. Going back through the family archives in general has been an unchecked item on the list. We won’t talk about how long I’ve been holding onto the rolled-up family tree and little ‘World Book of…’ paperback. (Sorry, Mom. I’ll give them back, I swear.)
Naturally, fabulous wallpaper takes priority in any archival study I’m going to undertake. This is a house that went out of the family before I was born, so I never saw the inside. Alas. The pictures just make me sadder about that.
My grandmother and her second husband lived in this Oakwood home from about the mid-1970s through the early 80s. These were my grandmother’s peak decorating years. My mom and aunts have always been full of stories about this house. If you’re local, it’s on the west side of Far Hills, tucked back in that gorgeous leafy neighborhood full of rolling hills.
Back in my freelancing days, I covered a Dayton Philharmonic Designer Showhouse that was in the same neighborhood and learned a lot about the area’s history. The showhouse was High Acres, the former estate of the Rike family. Although we now think of this neighborhood as being very close to downtown, back in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the homes here were considered country estates. High Acres was a retreat for a family whose primary residence was in Dayton. (This family owned the former Rike’s Department Store downtown.) Living within the City of Dayton myself, it seems crazy to think of having a second home five miles away, but I've never tried the distance on horseback nor by carriage.
The Dixon house was built in 1925 in the Dutch Colonial Revival style, a style which was becoming common during that time period. Quite a few houses in the Oakwood area date to the 1920s. People began to flee Dayton proper due to a major flood in 1913. My neighborhood, Walnut Hills, was one of the first to grow out of this exodus, followed by border suburbs like Oakwood. The houses went from country estates to full-time residences.
When my grandmother lived in the house, the exterior (aside from the addition, pictured in the gallery below at top left) was redbrick, but unfortunately, it was all painted grey at some point in the intervening 45 years. I had originally planned to share a photo of the exterior as it is now, but time hasn’t necessarily improved it. It’s not in disrepair or anything, but it’s sad to see it as a boring grey house with an incongruously modern pool.
I wondered if I’d be able to find photos of the rooms because ‘no one took pictures of their living room before social media.’ Not no one, guys. Enter, my grandmother (pictured in November at her 90th birthday party and in a newspaper clipping I just had to share).
Of course the Queen of the Sweetheart Ball was taking living room photos in 1977. I’ve rounded up what I could find in the gallery below.
The thing people didn’t do before social media was remember every single company where they purchased their decor items. No one was tagging these companies for more exposure. I was able to determine that the upstairs hallway (middle row, right) was papered in Laura Ashley Cherubs. The conservatory (middle row, center) also is likely Laura Ashley, but due to 45-year-old photo quality, it’s hard to know for sure. (Vintage wallpaper experts, feel free to tap ‘reply.’)
I assumed a slew of contractors did most of this work, but when I asked my grandmother, she said the wallpaper was a DIY effort between her and my great-grandmother. An affinity for DIY, crystal light fixtures and pink paint (middle row, left) are apparently genetic.
Most of the stories my mom and her sisters tell about the house involve them scaring each other or possible hauntings. Clearly either a major perk of living in an old house or the biggest drawback. (It’s a major perk.) My aunt, who’s the youngest of the family, also used to jump down the laundry chute. I was terrified of our own laundry chute as a kid, so hats off to her for surviving the escapade.
I hope you enjoyed taking a look back in time with me! Have a great Wednesday!