PaperCity Magazine

December 2016 - Dallas

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D rive one-hour west on I-30 from Dallas, and you'll run into Weatherford, Texas, population 25,000. You may know it already as the birthplace of Rodgers and Hammerstein muse Mary Martin, who was best known for her portrayal of Peter Pan on Broadway. Her son, Larry Hagman — aka J.R. Ewing — was also born and reared, here. More recently, though, Weatherford has drawn attention for another fascinating hometown character: a raven-hued 19th-century house owned by Dallas couple Richard and Chad Bettinger. More than 60 Queen Anne- and Victorian-era homes still stand in Weatherford — but you can't miss this one. "It's the only black house in town," says Richard, a fine art photographer and outside sales rep for David Sutherland showroom. Chad is the studio director for Newlon Collection, known for its artisan wallpapers depicting Richard's images and available at Sutherland and through The unexpectedly edgy throwback of a house seems a good fit for the couple: Richard has a penchant for wearing black cowboy hats and boots; Chad's dark, bushy beard is both retro and hipster. For their engagement, the pair borrowed 19th-century men's clothing and top hats, and had a photographer capture them in sepia, looped arm in arm in their parlor. Nicknamed the Black House for its dark- as-pitch paint job, the couple's weekend retreat has captured Weatherford's imagination, along with readers of Richard's popular Facebook page, where he's chronicled the ongoing transformation for almost three years. Some Weatherford residents posted comments on the Chamber of Commerce's website, suspicious of the house's brooding exterior and drawn blinds. Still, most consider it mysteriously elegant. Curiosity seekers snap selfies on the porch or knock on the door, wanting to know more. Hundreds of children descend on the house at Halloween, and it was part of last year's Candlelight Tour of Homes. The town is warming to the unconven- tional house: Recently, an elderly couple flagged down Richard, who was gardening in the front yard. He was expecting a tongue lashing but instead won praise — they told him the house was not only beautiful, but it brought them joy each day when they drive past. Designers have embraced the Black House's esoteric countenance, with Elizabeth Robertson and Ann and David Sutherland making the pilgrimage from Dallas to Weatherford to see it. The house has served as backdrop for Neiman Marcus and Kim Dawson Agency fashion shoots, and it's lured photographers and models from New York, Los Angeles, and Spain. Chad first came up with the idea to paint the house's exterior and trim coal black after researching Scandinavian design blogs, which had a number of similarly painted Victorians. "They were striking," says Chad. "And Richard was brave enough to try it." Richard liked the idea because the garden's greenery and flowers would pop against the ebony background, setting a mood. "The house has its own presence," he says. "At night, it's darker than the sky, so all you see is the silhouette." W eatherford was still the Wild West in 1874 when the Black House was built by the town postmaster. Native American attacks against settlers were prevalent. Today, 75 From left, Chad and Richard Bettinger with Coco, on the porch of the 19th-century Black House. Dark-as-pitch exterior paint is Behr Limousine Leather.

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