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A LOVE AFFAIR WITH A HOUSE

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A LOVE AFFAIR WITH A HOUSE

by Tumbleweed Smith

Our house sits on the edge of a canyon. Just beyond is a mountain, the home of Scenic Mountain State Park. The house is situated such that at the summer equinox, a stream of sunlight comes down our entrance walkway and sends a shaft of light exactly in the center of the front door. In the fall, the bright gold of sunset drifts through the trees, creating dark shadows on the green grass. It truly has a magical feel to it.

We moved into the house on November 2, 1971 and the house has always been special to us. We are the second owners of the house. Dr. Milton Talbot, who was our pediatrician, commissioned the house, which was completed in 1960. Milton was president of the Big Spring Little Theater, and I was involved with that group. Occasionally he would have a theater board meeting in his house. The first time I was in the house I couldn't believe a place like this existed in Big Spring. I fell instantly in love with it. I was a bachelor then, fairly new in town and wasn't making much money.

The house was designed by Harwell Harris, who Frank Lloyd Wright called "the only other great architect besides myself." Harris put the front door as close to the center of the house as possible, utilizing a long walkway to the entrance door, often with a garden or lily pond beside it. Other design elements in Harris's homes are floor to ceiling sliding glass doors in all the rooms, wide overhanging eaves all around the house, indirect lighting throughout the house and built in furniture.

Years passed. I got married, became a father and got busy with my career. The Talbots moved to Austin and the house stood vacant for a year. Apparently nobody wanted a California-style house with a Japanese garden. In 1971 my wife and I were considering building a house. We looked at land east of town where a friend had seven acres of land for sale. I put a check in my pocket and we went there to buy it. But we learned that the land had a gas line running beneath it and we decided not to buy the property. Instead, we went straight to the realtor's office and made a down payment on the Talbot house. It was a big financial move for us and we worked hard to get the house paid for in five years. Our two sons grew up playing in the canyon. It has two caves, Lemon Cave and Rabbit Ears, which provided many adventures for young boys. They would leave in the morning and come back only for meals. Our deck hovers dramatically over the drop-off of land. The sliding glass doors bring the outside in and the house is perfectly adapted to its setting. It sits below street level and juniper cedar lines the driveway. Oak, pecan and elm trees surround the house. A lacebark elm sits in a tree well off the dining room. Its graceful leaves and branches add much to the view at mealtimes.

Since seventy percent of the outside walls are glass doors, there is a constantly changing show of light and shadow. I take many pictures of the house because I see new angles and views daily. RANCH HOUSE, an architectural publication, did an article on the house. I feel so lucky to be living in a home that we love. The Talbots loved it, too, and their children often inquire about it or come by to see it.

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