Beverly Frantz has loved the Rollingwood neighborhood since long before she even lived there.
In the early 1960s, rearing a young family with her husband, Ronnie, she watched as the addition was platted and the distinctive “storybook ranch” homes for which Rollingwood is known began to blossom on lots.
New job assignments took the Frantz family away from Oklahoma City, however, and during the '60s they relocated several times.
But in 1972, they landed right back where they started. And Beverly Frantz knew just where she wanted her family to live.
“When we came back to Oklahoma City, I wanted a home in Rollingwood,” she recalled in the living room of the house her late husband bought on impulse “at midnight” as he drove through the neighborhood that had captured their hearts a decade earlier.
“When he came home and told me where it was, I knew I liked it,” she said.
One of the four Frantz children who moved into the Kingston Road home in the summer of '72 was Ron Frantz Jr., a rising ninth-grader.
Frantz said he discovered in the pages of The Daily Oklahoman a syndicated home design column written by Tishomingo native Hiawatha T. Estes, whose description of “Garden View” homes like his sparked in Frantz a fascination that grew into a career in architecture.
As the University of Oklahoma's Wick Cary Professor in the College of Architecture, Frantz said that he considers himself a “preservation architect” with a mission to “promote high-quality existing neighborhoods.”
Homes in Rollingwood are “filled with original materials” that are “too expensive or impossible to replicate” in new construction, Frantz said.
In homes like the “rustic ranch” or “storybook ranch” designs in Rollingwood, Belle Isle and The Village, “it's worth it to restore original features,” he said.
Frantz pointed out some of those features evident in his mother's home — including diamond-pane windows, exposed rafter tails, “used brick” as a main construction material, the combination of both vertical and horizontal siding, and low roof lines around much of the house.
“I can't tell you how many times I had kids climbing on my roof,” with easy access from the hip-high eaves, Beverly Frantz said.
In addition to characteristic exterior details, Rollingwood's ranch homes were laid out in a way that's common today — but in the 1950s and 1960s was head-turning.
The kitchen was situated at the front of the house, allowing an easy view of kids playing in the yard or a deliveryman pulling up. The Frantzes' combined living-dining room is also common in modern floor plans but was at the time innovative.
Finish details — the ones Ron Frantz points out as so expensive to replicate in new construction — include built-in bookcases, crown molding, wainscoting and solid wood doors throughout the 2,300 square-foot house.
With three bedrooms downstairs and one upstairs, living space is generous.
Nate Clair, president of the Rollingwood Neighborhood Association, said he bought his Rollingwood home in April 2012, “looking for an older, established neighborhood with mature trees and unique homes.”
Today, Rollingwood comprises 672 homes and what Clair characterized as an “active” inflow of new families.
The neighborhood's welcome committee has made plans to meet six new families this month, Clair said.
When the Rollingwood Neighborhood Association needed a speaker to promote the unusual and irreplaceable features of homes in the addition, Beverly Frantz knew whom to recruit.
After Ron Frantz spoke to residents, “we got all excited about these properties,” Beverly Frantz said, “and people have started doing restorations. So many people are excited about doing work on their houses.”
It reminded her of the summer of 1972, when she and her family went to work fixing up their dream house. Perhaps at midnight, Ronnie Frantz didn't notice that the place needed a good coat of paint.
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