Tag Archives: Fairacres

Embracing Arts + Crafts

November 5, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It’s not often that architect Steven Ginn is asked to tear down half a house, then renovate the remaining half. But the prospect of a crazy complicated project didn’t deter the veteran architect. In fact, he welcomed the challenges of creating a cohesive home for his clients, Rod and Lisa Johnson, in their lovely Fairacres residence. Lisa was the primary collaborator, working with Ginn and master craftsman and contractor Don Stein to create a traditional yet functional home that would embrace their natural surroundings and social lifestyle, keeping sustainability in mind.

From a design perspective, the team was tasked with hatching a house that flowed seamlessly from the existing framework to the new addition. The end result is the stunning 8,000-square- foot home at 6729 Davenport St. Set on over an acre, this English Arts and Crafts beauty fits right in with the historic neighborhood. That was intentional, as Lisa didn’t want something that would be viewed as an eyesore, lessen the curb appeal, or annoy her neighbors in the well-known and well-loved enclave.

Arts and Crafts is more of a movement than a specific style of house. But, generally, it’s understood that the design approach sprung from a rejection of the Industrial Revolution and the dehumanization of art and architecture. Arts and Crafts homes emerged as places to express one’s humanity, commune with others, embrace nature, and honor workmanship. A focus on the hearth and heart of the home is an example of an Arts and Crafts expression. In the Johnson home, the master bedroom fireplace and large outdoor fireplace are examples of this in practice. Additionally, Arts and Crafts homes typically offer multiple places to gather. The Johnson home fully embraces this design element, which makes socializing a breeze.

“I love how the house is big and open with great flow, so that it is so easy to entertain friends and family and so easy to live in day to day,” Lisa says. “I love that it has been a hub for my kids and their friends, partly because of the features that we built in that make it a fun, easy, welcoming place for kids or adults to hang out…things like a media room, exercise room, large built-in couch, game room and (lockable) wine cellar on our lower level, as well as a pool, hot tub, fireplace, outdoor kitchen, and basketball court outside.” 

The home’s multiple porches and balconies are another design feature that’s common in Arts and Crafts homes, as they serve as yet more gathering spaces and help link the indoors and outdoors. For Ginn, the link to the outdoors was integral in the design process. The whole house was designed around two pin oaks, one in the front yard and one in the back. The office, in particular, offers focused views of nature as the doors were designed to line up with the oak in front. According to the architect, “The connection to nature lends itself to a stronger sense of place.” As such, a courtyard was created to allow the tree’s roots to thrive for decades.

Bringing the outdoors in was part of  the Johnsons’ vision as well. “The biggest inspiration was probably our beautiful yard…using the outdoor space better and creating beautiful views.” Lisa is overjoyed with the end result. “I love the big beautiful windows and the way that light floods in through them, even on gloomy days, and I love how each window is a frame for the scenic view of the pretty yard and trees beyond it.”

An appreciation for nature also lent itself to sustainability. The home is heated and cooled by a geothermal pump, which reduces power consumption, and was built with extra hybrid insulation to keep energy costs low. Ginn says he wants the house “to stand the test of time” and inspire the owners to lovingly maintain the home well into the future. An architect always aims to build homes that will be relevant and useful in 30 more years, he says.

With classic features, good bones, and smart design, this Fairacres beauty is destined to be around for generations to come. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


This article was printed in the November/December 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Unblemished Beauty

January 22, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In this continuing series of exploring architectural styles, we’ve covered such diverse genres as Jacobethan Revival, Art Deco, and Victorian, but deciding what the heck to call a home has never been much of an issue.

Until now.

This space was slated for “Spanish Colonial.” Seems simple enough, we thought. But just to be doubly sure in assigning that moniker, we sent the photograph you see here to three different architects and asked them to chime in. We got three different answers, only two of which had the word “Spanish” in them. And none of them were a flat, straightforward “Spanish Colonial.”

So let’s default to an Omaha World-Herald story from 1931 that called this home on North Happy Hollow Boulevard “one of the best examples of Spanish architecture in the middle west.”

A permit was issued in 1928 for the home now owned by George and Christine Greene. It was built—for the then princely sum of $16,000—by noted architect Bert Hene, whose timeless mark was made all throughout Happy Hollow, Fairacres, Dundee, Country Club, and beyond. The space features a handsome library/music room and a 40-foot sunroom with broken marble and a tile.

While this beauty looks like something straight out of Sunset Boulevard (“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”), it is the library that tells one of the home’s most intriguing stories.

The tile-roofed stucco home with arching windows was purchased in 1933 by Dana Van Dusen, a Harvard law school graduate who ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1934. A former city attorney, he was then the general counsel of Metropolitan Utilities District.

On Sept. 29, 1947, a pair of prominent MUD officials were menaced by a former district employee.

A car driven by Personnel Director Earl Frederickson was forced to the curb by another vehicle at 18th and Cuming streets. The disgruntled former employee climbed in Frederickson’s car and threatened him.

A half hour earlier in Happy Hollow, a shot had been fired through a window of the Van Dusen home. The former MUD worker had no gun on him when he was arrested, and none were registered in his name.

The window has long since been repaired, but a bullet hole remains to this day on a shelf in the library…and Christine and George Greene have no plans to repair the blemish that speaks to the quirky history of their stately home.  OmahaHome

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Our Home, Our Way

June 26, 2015 by
Photography by Christopher Tierney and Barry Cohn

The first time that I drove through Fairacres, I fell in love with the neighborhood and instantly knew that my husband, John, and I would one day make our home there. Only a few years later we found the perfect house: a Mid-Century, two-story home that needed a complete renovation.

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The residence came with a gorgeous European crystal chandelier that had been retrofitted for electricity. It became my favorite element in the space and served as something of an inspiration to guide me in the broader design task ahead.

Other major influencers were our art collection and one-of-a-kind, heirloom collection of vintage traveling accessories amassed from many global wanderings. And we both love entertaining, so these multiple themes acted as our starting point. The canvas for much of the work would be a sleek, Parisian motif where white walls are generously accented with moldings as the backdrop for the artwork and surrounding furnishings. Additional crystal chandeliers above streamlined furniture completed the look, one of a timeless European vibe that is at once classic and eclectic in evoking the best of world design.

Carrying on that idea, the entry area is executed in a time-honored diamond pattern of black-and-white marble to accentuate the French doors that we felt were perfect for a sense of the dramatic blending with the understated.

For the living room, we selected a Barbara Barry sofa and chairs that employ natural colors, but in multiple textures so as to add visual interest. The accent tables are a mix of espresso finish, brass, glass faux paint, and antique mirror. When taken together, the surfaces reflect a mash-up of Moroccan, Art Nouveau, and modern classic styles, all framed by an antique secretary and miniature chair that belonged to John’s family.

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Every room needs a statement piece, and ours is an Asian-inspired Indochina Century Furniture cocktail table. Besides being a beautiful object in its own right, it grounds the space and acts as a balancing agent against a nearby masterpiece work by Fernando De Szyszlo, perhaps Peru’s most noted artist.

The adjacent formal dining room was mainly designed to showcase the aforementioned chandelier. The Drexel dining room set came from the Dalliance collection, which is described as a timeless design with hints of glamour. The vintage-inspired, reclaimed wood sofa table showcases the travel theme by housing a collage of art by local artists from their favorite vacation places.

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The black and white kitchen was a major reconstruction; the floor was completely gutted and replaced with our favorite Carrara-honed marble with black granite diamond decorations. The same marble was used in the backsplash, and the counters were done in absolute black granite to complement the butcher block that came with the house. The breakfast nook was updated with black fabric and finished with red, black, and white pillows made and signed by a local artist.

The final touches were the Louis Ghost arm chairs by Philippe Starck. Never afraid of strong statements, the bold accent color here was a vibrantly striking pop of red.

John and I are very pleased with the results, and it’s somehow very strange to write about our place this way for a magazine. After all, we just call it “home.”

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Lisa Tosone

October 1, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When it comes to defining the word ‘family’ in 2014, it is no longer restricted to a nuclear family of a mom, dad, and a kid or two. For many addresses in the Fairacres neighborhood, postal carrier Lisa Tosone has been added to the bunch.

With 30 years at the post office under her mailbag, Tosone knows her way around Omaha and has enjoyed every minute. Since taking her current route in 2009, Fairacres has become her favorite.

Though her days begin inside the Saddle Creek Station, she finds her happy place cruising the streets and spending her lunches among the beautiful greenery.

“People don’t think about landscaping for their postal carrier,” Tosone says, “but I’m the one who truly gets to enjoy it season to season. It’s the perfect job for me.”

An Omaha native, she has a degree in photography and was working at a portrait studio in South Sioux City, Neb., when her brother convinced her to complete the civil service exam. Tosone moved back to Omaha in 1983 and began work at the post office the next year.

Since then she has accumulated many new friends along the way and can’t go anywhere without someone waving ‘hello.’ Just another neighborhood family member saying ‘hi.’ She is even on the email list for the Neighborhood Watch.

“She looks after us, and we look after her,” explains area resident Sue Conine. “We don’t want to lose her.”

She still enjoys taking on small photo projects, whether it’s a portrait in Elmwood Park or creating the perfect shot for her Christmas cards, which are quite popular in the neighborhood. She sends over 200 cards a year. Even though there’s no employee discount for stamps, nothing can stop this mail-delivering powerhouse from spreading a little holiday cheer throughout the ‘hood.

Not even a bilateral knee replacement in February.

Ten short weeks later she was right back on the streets with her eight-hour strolls. Add “through knee replacements” to the post office’s motto of rain, sleet, or snow…and you have Tosone.

Tosone has been retirement-eligible for over three years, but feels she has a few more miles in her, especially when each step and every turn of an ignition brought her closer to posting a major milestone in the world of postage. In July, she was honored with the postal service’s Million Mile Award, which is given to postal employees who drive without an accident for a total of one million miles or 30 years.

With a personal mantra of “When you give good, you get good” in mind, Tosone goes above and beyond the call of duty. And, not surprisingly, she’s something of a mail geek.

“I’m not only a mail carrier,” she chuckles, “but I’m one of our biggest customers. I love to get mail and send mail. I just like everything about it!”