Bonnie and Jeffrey Whitman noticed each other from time to time growing up in Preston Hollow. But Bonnie went to Greenhill, and Jeffrey went to Hillcrest…still, they kept crossing paths through various youth groups and, finally, romance bloomed when they were 16.

Well, almost.

“I was too forward on the first date and she never went out with me again,” Jeffrey admits with a rueful shake of his head. “Until… .”

Six years later. After graduating from the University of Miami, Bonnie decided to come home and attend law school at SMU. And she happened to run into this third-year medical school student from her old neighborhood.

“We were engaged by the end of my first semester in law school,” laughs Bonnie, who then “took a sabbatical” while the couple settled and started their family.

Today, the couple has three daughters: Andrea, 16; Allison, 14; and Dana, 9, who was born with a birth defect that left her in need of around-the-clock care and physical therapy. After struggling to keep their youngest at home as long as possible, the couple made the wrenching decision to let her go into convalescent care when she was 4. In a way, this decision led them to the house on Hillcrest.

Although the official reason to track down a new house was that they “wanted a pool,” the Whitmans acknowledge that the memories of Dana in their former traditional “North Dallas-style” home were hard to take.

“I think making a change was part of it…,” Jeffrey says. “So we started spending every weekend looking at houses in the neighborhood. We wanted to stay here, it’s where we’re comfortable, where we both grew up.”

Jeffrey says he remembers when their home today and the one next door went up – “I understand they were built for twin sisters” – but he doesn’t recall either home ever being on the market, nor did he have any reason to suspect his dream home was waiting just inside one of those front doors. Until he walked in that day.

“I can’t really put my finger on it. The mixture of metal, stone and wood…the use of light everywhere. It was love at first sight. I’ve never really lived in a house before where I felt: I belong here. And that’s how I felt in this house.”

It doesn’t hurt that the home is a showcase for art, which the couple likes to collect on their travels, or that it has a huge gourmet kitchen and Jeffrey has “always been a frustrated chef.”

The final grace note is the woodsy, creekside view across the back of the home, a reminder of the terrain that both remember from their childhood in Preston Hollow.

“It was fun growing up in the neighborhood and seeing how it changed,” says Jeffrey, giving Maggie the Maltese a pat. “Everybody went to the Preston Royal Theater – it was 50 cents – but we all saw the Sound of Music at the Inwood…that was a balcony theater, which was a big deal. And I remember when they widened Royal to connect with Central Expressway – everything north of there was just farmland and riding stables.

“One of my favorite memories is going over to Turtle Creek…it was a kinder, gentler time, none of the houses that backed up to it had their property fenced off, and my brother and I would go back there in the ‘jungle’ and swashbuckle around and look for duck eggs.

“We thought we were real adventurers.”

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