The Light Box
By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Jeremy Enlow
This foursquare house on the Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place tour is framed by history and illuminated with innovations
As established residents of Fort Worth’s Ryan Place, Brian and Margaret Holland already were enchanted by the neighborhood when they first toured the 1911 Prairie-style foursquare on Elizabeth Boulevard.
The home, with its four floors of possibilities shrouded by age and some curious updates, overwhelmed them at first. But the couple — he’s a Realtor/musician/serial entrepreneur; she earned a law degree before becoming a physician — know what determination buttressed by a good team can manifest. The historical significance of the first house built on one of Fort Worth’s most historic streets inspired the couple to consult with architect Brandon Allen and his wife and partner, interior designer Anissa Allen, renovation expert Terri West and contractor Matt Awbrey about its viability as their forever home.
The bones of what is known as a “Prairie Box” proved solid, and proposed solutions to its befuddled layout promised long sightlines and rivers of light. Bitten by the possibilities bug, the Hollands closed on the home in February 2020.
Central to their restoration dilemma: how to make the centenarian shine bright without rubbing out its past. Brandon’s penchant for practical solutions and innovation opened the home to light, flow and modern living while making seamless connections to historical features.
The footprint of the first floor is essentially unchanged, but removing walls that boxed in a central staircase; reducing the size of the opening between the foyer and living room; and shape-shifting the kitchen allowed the spirit of the house to soar.
Similarly, Anissa’s eye for clean lines, soft neutrals, flashes of brass and statement light fixtures found compatibility with family heirlooms and new pieces. Modern leather wingbacks and an expansive sectional define comfort in the family room, which is wide open to the kitchen. There, form meets function in the space reconfigured for the Hollands, who enjoy cooking with their young daughters. Oversize pendants illuminate an expansive quartz island and join wall sconces in bouncing warm light off a handmade subway tile wall that emulates the historic brick of the home’s exterior and echoes the ripples in the original window glass. Thoughtful placement of the island, cooktop and fridge allows for movement between workspaces that is uninterrupted by traffic. Eliminating a butler’s pantry opened the room to more windows.
Walking through the home, Brian says Anissa and Brandon have honored the home’s history while transforming it for the Hollands’ lifestyle. An upstairs parlor awaits finishing touches, and completion of a basement music lounge is yet to come, but the Hollands are happy to share their forever home on this year’s Candlelight Christmas in Ryan Place homes tour.
“What we imagined from the first,” Brian says, “was a house that would become a backdrop for our girls’ memories.”
That future is shining bright.