Living the high life
If it wasn’t for the 80-inch flat screen TV in the den, Ben Cass and Collin Ice’s home could be mistaken for the set of a 1970s movie. Two vintage Lincoln Continentals are cozy in the garage, vivid abstract paintings line the walls and pink pastel tile covers the guest bathroom.
The Killion Drive residence’s mid-century modern décor isn’t the couple’s only nod to a bygone era. Cass is a retired airline pilot with the passion for preserving the history of the defunct Braniff Airways. Their home is the headquarters of Braniff Airways Foundation, which Cass founded in 2007.
He has bragging rights to the largest Braniff collection in existence, and he has accrued more than 10,000 pieces of memorabilia and 20,000 images that he stores in the house, making it a miniature museum in its own right.
Model airplanes stationed on the den wall, guest bedroom ceiling and kitchen table pay homage to the airline. Six bedroom closets are meticulously organized with flight attendant uniforms designed by fashion icons like Emilio Pucci, Alexander Girard and Roy Halston. One bedroom is dedicated to bookshelves stocked with archives like employee profiles, photographs and airline records.
Cass’ infatuation with the company traces back to when he was a 7-year-old wandering through Love Field. As he waited for his grandmother’s delayed flight to arrive, he was fascinated with the colorful planes sitting at the terminal. He grabbed timetables from the ticket counters that night, and he’s kept the pamphlets for the past 45 years.
“Any person in aviation will tell you something happened to flip that switch, and that’s what it was for me,” Cass says.
He’s memorized dozens of details about the airline’s history that he recites with childlike enthusiasm. Cass is the first to point out that the neighborhood has ties to Braniff.
It isn’t the reason they moved there, but it is an added bonus.
“A lot of the pilots and management personnel bought homes here, because it was a nice part of Dallas,” he says.
They were first-time buyers in 2011 when the couple purchased the house, located near Thomas Jefferson High School. A large garage was the only item on their must-have list, they needed a space to comfortably fit two of Cass’ most prized possessions: his 1978 and ’79 Lincoln Continental Mark Vs.
Relentless in their search for the right fit, they visited 17 homes in one day. Their 14th stop became their No. 1 choice. Designed and constructed by the original homeowners, the property had sat neglected since their death.
The yard’s magnolia trees and grass were brown. Every bedroom’s shag carpet matched the color of the walls. All the flooring needed to be replaced.
They fell in love with it anyway.
“On the outside, it looks much like the house I grew up in Glen Rose — the cedar, the wood, the rock,” Ice says.
Room by room, they remodeled the structure to fit their tastes, and now it’s an amalgamation of their interests. Cass spent hours creating a neon-striped painting that replicated the artwork featured in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” The couple paused the TV show to study the canvas, which hung in the main character’s broadcast studio.
“It’s still modern, and it just ties into the theme,” Ice says. “We spotted it while watching old reruns that we watch every night before bed.”
Ice likes the vintage look, but needed modern conveniences. As a project manager for Verizon, he built his own techie-geek haven, controlling the light switches, water heater and locks via his cellphone.
“I enjoy it,” Ice says. “It gets frustrating sometimes when something doesn’t work when it’s supposed to. I’m also Ben’s geek squad.”
The couple crossed off the last item in their remodeling to-do list in 2014, and the duo has no immediate plans to alter anything in the near future.
Ice jokes he lives in Preston Holler, not Hollow, because of the house’s simplicity in our often-decadent neighborhood.
“We enjoy it very much,” Ice says. “It felt like home almost from the first day. Even with all the cosmetic challenges, it was a sturdy house, and we could see where it’s going.”
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