I finally spoke this afternoon with Debbi Head, spokesperson for the Texas Historical Commission, who says the state's historic preservation agency was stunned to receive at the end of July Mark and Patty Lovvorn's request to demolish the 70-year-old Marcus House. "This came as a real surprise to us," she tells Unfair Park, "and not a very pleasant one at that." Officials at the agency are especially dumbfounded because, as mentioned earlier, it was the Lovvorns who got the THC to designate the house as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark several years ago. "It boggles my mind," Head says. It is a sentiment shared by the members of the Marcus family with whom Unfair Park spoke this afternoon.
Late this afternoon we received Mark and Patty Lovvorn's letter to the THC, dated July 28, in which they inform the commission of their desire to demolish the house. The reason: "After much careful thought and consideration, we have determined that it is not economically feasible for us to continue to occupy the above described structure as a personal residence. It is our intent, therefore, to remove the Structure by demolition within 180 days from the date of this notice, in order to build a more energy efficient new home on the property and to occupy the new home as our permanent residence." They say they "considered all possible renovation possibilities, but have concluded that none is a viable alternative for us."
Unfair Park also obtained today a handful documents concerning the house -- chief among them, a history of the 10 Nonesuch Road written by Marcus himself in 1994. It's spread over two documents, beginning here and concluding here. Marcus writes about meeting and courting Frank Lloyd Wright and about how Nonesuch Road got its name. He also lists myriad dignitaries who strolled through its hallways: "From the very beginning," he wrote, "our home was used as an entertainment spot for visiting dignitaries who came to the store as part of our large Neiman Marcus Fortnight festivities." It is a most impressive guest list.
"We gave formal dinners at our home for 30 to 60 people, and over a 20-year interval," Marcus wrote, he and his late wife Billie entertained the likes of Grace Kelly ("before she became the Princess of Monaco"); Christian Dior, Estee Lauder and Yves St. Laurent among countless fashion-world icons; Lyndon Johnson when he was a congressman and again President; Nelson Rockefeller; Andy Williams; and Jerry Lewis, who once called "a square dance party" for legendary French designer Jacques Fath. And there are plenty more bold-faced names where those came from. --Robert Wilonsky