Power Houses

A celebrity home tour of Dallas' rich, famous--and all too often tasteless--movers and fakers

The wizened tax clerks, armed with Section 31.01G of the Texas State Property Tax Code, promptly informed Shelton that failure to receive a bill was not a bona fide excuse for waiving penalties, interest, and legal fees--especially considering the Joneses had always paid these taxes in the past and Gene the Beauty Queen had apparently notified the other taxing authorities, like the schools and city, of their change of address.

Mr. Shelton was on a mission for his client, however, and would not be deterred. (After all, a dollar's a dollar, and you can buy a yard or two of imported drapery fabric for $7,000.)Though Jones dutifully wrote a check in July 1995 for the full amount owed--all penalties included--Shelton wrote a letter to the tax clerks' boss on August 10 requesting a full rebate of the $7,066.13. The letter went from the tax office to the county auditor's office, then to the county's tax-collection attorney, who informed Shelton on September 8 that the answer was no.

At that point, Jones--who wisely did not want to take this to court for all those nonmillionaire Cowboy fans to see--dropped it.

And this year, he paid his 1995 taxes on time.

These are Jerral Jones' Power Row neighbors. Clements, the former governor, lives at 4800 Preston Rd. (4) on 7.5 acres. His estate includes a two-story, 1914 house with 11,000 square feet of living space; servants' quarters; greenhouse; tennis court; pool; and "recreation building." All of which is on the tax rolls for $9 million.

Harlan Crow, son of mega-real-estate developer Trammell Crow and heir to his dad's business, is next to Clements at 4700 Preston Rd. (5). He has 7.7 acres, an 8,590-square-foot main house built in 1918 and two guesthouses, a greenhouse, spa, and servants' quarters. His estate is on the rolls for $9 million, too.

Harlan's dad, Trammell, and mom, Margaret, are just a few acres away at 4500 Preston Rd. (6). The parents have servants' quarters, a pool, cabana, and "three miscellaneous back buildings," which give you some indication of the size of these places. The senior Crow's estate covers six acres and is worth $6.5 million. Oddly enough, the two-story, 7,613-square-foot house alone is on the rolls for $74,000. Maybe Trammell told the appraiser that he and Margaret live in one of those "miscellaneous back buildings."

Moving north into the rarified bowels of the Park Cities, we come to very busy Lovers Lane, which seems an unlikely place for a quiet, dignified fashion legend to live out his twilight years. But Marcus' home at 3941 Lovers Lane (7) isn't actually on Lovers Lane. Located just a few blocks east of Preston Road, Marcus' home and two others are tucked away on a tiny cul-de-sac south of the main road--blink and you'll miss the turnoff. The Marcus two-story, red-brick home is farthest from Lovers on a lush piece of heavily wooded property that--like its owner--is immaculately groomed. The front yard consists of a circular driveway with landscaped island, a carpet of vivid green grass, and two striking sculptures, all of which face the woods, not Lovers. The $1 million property is the most modestly elegant, Upper East Side-in-temperament property we've seen in Dallas.

Decherd, chairman of A.H. Belo Corporation, owner of The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV Channel 8, has apparently been through a Mary 4 royal-trappings purge of his own. In 1989, Decherd built himself a mini-chateau on two acres at 9639 Hollow Way, currently on the tax rolls for $2.3 million. The 10,106-square-foot house pretty much had it all--including an enormous front lawn, an Oxford-looking façade, and a $50,000 cabana by the pool--but Decherd apparently wanted less. So he moved to a less chichi neighborhood south of Lovers in Greenway Park (8) to a more-comfortable-looking, 45-year-old house worth $936,690. He has four fewer bathrooms, one less fireplace, and 3,600 fewer square feet. On the other hand, his new home is far more people-friendly--at the other house, no one would dare drop by for a cup of sugar, but at 5520 Drane Drive, you could easily film a 1996 version of My Three Sons. It's a modest setup with no unsightly security gates. We are impressed.

Once we learned that former school-board member Dan Peavy supposedly had been covertly taped by an angry neighbor who's been battling with Peavy over some issues of territory, these two homes were too good to pass up. And once you get a gander at these two properties, it becomes clear why there's neighbor problems. If Harman had his way, he'd probably live on an island, accessible only by plane. His house is locked up so tight Steven Seagal would have a tough time visiting. It's a little bitty thing of 2,560 square feet, according to tax-appraisal records, but it sits on 6.5 acres at 9845 Kingsman Drive (9) in tacky Far East Dallas, and the only entrance we could find is locked up tight with a serious gate, a thick wall of bamboo, and a fat "Keep Out" sign. According to the records, though, there's a lake back there with a boat dock, a horse stall, a gazebo, and a "storm cellar"--a high-tech communications bunker?--all for only $316,890. Peavy, on the other hand, let's it all hang out--he backs up to Harman with 1.3 acres, and they sit naked for all the world to see at 2440 Peavy Rd. (10). His place--perfectly nice-looking but somewhat undesirable seeing as how it sits on an insanely busy street and, according to Peavy, has a neighbor with a thing for listening in on your phone calls--is valued at $153,790 and is up for sale. Chump change for legal fees.

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