Story courtesy of Historic Tyler Inc.
One of the most unique houses included in Historic Tyler On Tour 2013, set for March 23 to 24, often is referred to as the one with “higgledy-wiggledy” or crazy brick.
The brick is actually clinker (sometimes called klinker) and is derived from the sound made when banged together, being heavier than regular bricks. Originally, kiln workers discarded any product such as these that had discolored or become distorted during firing.
But in America in the 1920s, leaders of the Arts and Crafts design movement rediscovered its possibilities for creative and dramatic architectural detailing.
Devotees of this style rebelled “against the takeover of soulless, machine-made uniformity.” The use of these unusual building blocks, sometimes combined with natural chunks of stone, became a signature of homes by Pasadena, Calif., architects Greene and Greene.
In 1931, Tyler oilman Albert Pfaff and his wife, Grace, bought this lot from Carolina Bergfeld and chose W.R. Massey to build their unusual house. Architecturally, it is part Storybook with its irregular and twisted masonry, and part Country French with flush dormers, yet generally considered Tudor Revival.
To the left of the entry hallway is a concave, curved wall with a step-down to the living room. Across the ceiling, original dark beams, with painted symbols reminiscent of traditional European folk art, dominate this intimate space.
The natural stone fireplace surround reflects the irregular pattern of the home’s exterior clinker brick. A step-up leads into the dining room, which is lighted by the original wrought-iron Pfaff family chandelier.
The Pfaffs sold this home in 1951 to local jeweler Morris C. Gordon and his wife, Dorothy. “Bubby,” as Gordon was known to his friends, had moved from Florida in 1939, establishing Gordon’s Jewelers on the Square in downtown Tyler.
Mary and Pete Dericks, current owners, in 2010 were planning to buy a home in Tyler and decided they wanted to live in the Azalea District.
The downstairs bedroom has been converted to a den/office for the Dericks. Upstairs are two bedrooms and baths. The kitchen, which is downstairs, has been updated. Furnishings throughout the home are traditional, combined with antiques.
The Dericks enjoy the uniqueness of their Azalea District home, explaining that it is really easy to describe just which house is theirs.