The Wall Street Journal

A Home Built to Be a Live-In Museum and Expansive Library


After their house burned down, David Montague and his wife decided to rebuild a home tailored to their needs, where they could display their art, access their books and entertain up to 100 people. David gives us a tour of their modern home in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo: Rob Alcaraz/The Wall Street Journal

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- It's a very modern design.
In some ways it's like going to
the museum or a little gallery,
but it's also very much a family home.
Hi, I'm David welcome to our house, come on in.
The home is about 6,000 square feet,
it has four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms.
We lost a home on this piece of property
to a catastrophic fire in October of 2014.
So then we engaged with an architect.
The home is designed with a couple of purposes in mind,
we do a lot of collecting of art
and we also do a lot of entertaining
and we thought the two functions worked well together.
This is the gallery,
I think of it as really the backbone
of the design in the home.
One of the really nice pieces in the gallery
and you can only get it with this kind of space,
is this large bird here.
It's an African piece.
When we saw this piece after we'd already started
the design of the house,
we knew this is the place that it needs to be
because it's gonna be the piece
you're gonna see from the street.
Even in our family spaces we like to display art.
Over here we have a Karel Appel lithograph,
and then over here we kinda
have one of our odd little mixes.
We have a Mireau lithograph and we have combined Mireau
with this bronze ship that is a piece of African tribal art.
We love it, I don't know that it makes sense
to anybody else but for us it works great.
(gentle music)
The house is designed with these long axes
that run all the way through the house.
This is one of my favorite,
as you come through the front door and turn to your right
you come into and you get this long vista
that goes all the way down the length of the house
and you pass through a couple of living spaces
and into our dining room.
The art was specifically selected to fit in that space
to draw your eyes and to draw you into the space in here.
And between the dining room and that area
is this living room library.
I love to read, I love to accumulate books,
I like to collect.
I wanted a room for about 4,000 books,
the two levels accommodate that.
This is the second floor area of the library.
For me, some of my favorite books are up here.
And the stuff that I'm proudest about
is my fur trade and mountain man stuff.
I started buying some of the first editions
of the accounts of some of these mountain men
and so that was really the inspiration
for this particular piece of art over here.
And what we have here is the continental divide,
basically the Rocky Mountains running from Canada
all the way down to Mexico below the fireplace.
This is the Rio Grande River,
running right down through here.
We have a vacation home in Taos,
which would be somewhere along here.
Then you've got the Arkansas and I could bore you to death
describing different features of the geography of that.
The house that was here originally was one story,
and we were like you gotta have
a second story on this house
because of this magnificent view that's out here.
Now one of the building elements that we had,
that we added, is this wood.
This is a Japanese technique, and this wood,
where the wood is charred to a certain point,
and there's a certain irony in having it here
because we lost the house that was here originally
to a fire and it just seemed fitting
to add some burned wood to the new house,
yet it's a beautiful element in the design.
Another quick feature, we have this outdoor stairway,
which has a very practical application,
but it was real important to us, surviving a fire,
we wanted multiple ways to get out of the house.
Every time you walk through the house
you get a different look into another room
that you've never seen before,
so there's always some new discovery.
And we really enjoy having folks come to our home,
be our guests, so I wanna thank you for coming here today.
I hope the tour has been interesting for you,
it has certainly been interesting for me
and I'll look forward to seeing you come again, thank you.

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