Dallas wealthy once owned area ranches

Long before gated communities and sprawling estate homes defined the landscape of Westlake, the area was a playground for some of the most high-profile residents of Dallas.

Nearly 80 years ago, the unspoiled area of the Cross Timbers property captured the fancy of Ted Dealey, former publisher of The Dallas Morning News, who bought a large tract of land for a family ranch to hunt, fish and ride horses.

A decade later, Dallas attorney and businessman J. Glenn Turner bought a few hundred acres near the Dealey ranch.

The Dealey ranch, named 220 Ranch in recognition of its 220-acre holding, and Turner's property, named Circle T Ranch, are cornerstones of Westlake's history.

"I think what really drew them here was the land, the trees and rolling terrain," said Kelly Bradley, a former president of the Westlake Historical Preservation Society and wife of former Westlake Mayor Scott Bradley. The Bradleys still own the Dealey home.

By 1956, the year Westlake incorporated as a municipality, Circle T Ranch's land holding had grown to 2,300 acres. Turner was instrumental in helping create the town, according to the WHPS' book, "The Little Town That Could."

With more acquisitions, the ranch grew to 2,500 acres with numerous barns, houses, a racetrack, a boathouse and a 55-acre lake.

A Cold War-era bomb shelter was installed to provide protection in the event of a nuclear explosion.

"The Circle T Ranch became a famous working ranch which any visiting dignitary to Dallas insisted on seeing," according to the book. "Thus the ranch was always in use, not only for the Turner family, but as a site for numerous society functions. The Pan-American Livestock Exhibition was welcomed annually with a party for those visiting from South America."

The ranch remained in the Turner family until the 1970s, when it was sold to Nelson Bunker Hunt, son of Texas oil billionaire H.L. Hunt, who was believed to be the richest man in the world when he died in 1974.

Nelson, who lost his fortune trying to gain control of the world silver market, used the ranch to breed and train champion race horses.

After Hunt declared bankruptcy, Circle T Ranch was bought by H. Ross Perot Jr. in 1993.

After further land acquisitions, Perot's Hillwood development company transformed the ranch and other holdings into AllianceTexas, a sprawling, mixed-use, master-planned community that is home to Alliance Airport, various corporate headquarters, retail centers and residential neighborhoods.

In 1938 Dealey hired famed Dallas architect Charles Dilbeck to design a home that would blend Spanish, Italian and Texas ranch styles into a showplace.

Ownership changed several times over the years.

The house was in a rundown state when the Bradleys purchased it along with 130 acres in 1977 and renamed it Paigebrooke Farm, in honor of daughters Paige and Brooke.

In 1998 the Bradleys sold the property to Fidelity Investments for a regional corporate headquarters complex. Rather than lose the house, the Bradleys moved it 2 miles west to an 18-acre tract where it was fully restored.

The property and home are now for sale for $4.9 million.