1960 Preserved: River Oaks Mod Box Jumps into the Market

It was the star of a Houston Mod open house last November, announced as available in a private sale. But it doesn’t look like anybody bit at the reported $1.9 million asking price, or at a later price closer to $1.8 million. Then last week, this River Oaks time capsule made its debut on MLS with a few spiffier photos and a $1,675,000 price tag. The home was designed by architect M. Arthur Kotch in 1960 for the founders of Cain Chemical. When the Cains moved to New York City 5 years later, it was sold to the family of a co-worker. That family has owned it ever since. Here’s 3,371 sq. ft. of Midcentury, straight up:


What’s inside? 4 mod bedrooms, 3 1/2 mod baths; all on a 9,750-sq.-ft. lot.

Photos: Ben Hill

27 Comment

  • Remember it well. My mother decided owner/builder/architect was antichrist. LOL

  • Mod is one thing but the house would certainly benefit from an updated kitchen.

  • Heck no! That kitchen is wonderful. The only thing it would benefit from is some period correct looking appliances, and it’d be perfect

  • I smell debris coming…

  • soozer—-


  • that house is AMAZING! it’s like a total time capsule and in pristine condition. LOVE that era and LOVE that home. hopefully someone will maintain it and not knock it down for some tired Tuscan tragedy!

  • Looks like it could be from the pages of 1965 Dwell magazine.. Just need to add an uptight individual in a leisure suit with a pipe and a fluffy black dog at his feet.

  • Please no period appropriate appliances… . Burn all of the appliances and solid surfaces in that kitchen (save the cabinets–they are awesome) and replace same with as much shiny stainless and marble as humanly possible. I love shiny stainless and marble, especially in million dollar homes.

  • I would buy it for that Lowrey Genie organ alone. “Lady of Spain I adore you…”

  • For those of you keeping score at home, the over/under on the number of comments before somebody uses the word Tuscan is 6.

  • ok?? and??

  • Don’t get me wrong, I like Mods as much as the next guy with just a little more taste other than that in my own mouth.

    My uncle lived in an awesome Mod on Lake Grapevine and it was the schnizzit. I mean James Bond Goldfinger kind of cool. Pushbutton consoles, floating stair cases, crazy cool furniture, low-slung multi-level on a hill-side spectacular early 60’s chic. His place was really, really cool.

    BUT…some of the Mods I see people fawn over on Swamplot are pretty cool and others are, well, pieces of junk. The one shown on this thread is somewhere between “meh” and “OK.”

    I “get” what most here “get” when it comes to Mods. However, they’re all not THAT awesome and some are downright uncomfortable, potentially impossible to live in if the residents have children or dang near close to unlivable.

    Just sayin….so bring on the pitchforks and torches if you must.

  • And I get what you’re saying, JP. This one looks warmer to me than most.

    Strey Lane would be great for a childless couple if it wasn’t so deteriorated.

  • Looks like it should be the Federal Reserve Bank – Pearland.

  • That shower curtain is wretched. Tie-dyed meets Indian blanket?

  • The kitchen is probably OK, and the cabinets are nice but never again will I have bottom cabinets with DOORS. I am so tired of standing on my head or downright sitting on the floor to dig out my crock pot or turkey roaster, it hurts me to think about it.

    My new country kitchen is going to be all drawers on the bottom and if there was a way to put a drawer under the sink, I’d do that too!

  • the house is appraised at 1.2 are you kidding me? Asking price is 1.6? and even 1.9 at one point?

  • Great house. Could keep the vibe, if not the authenticity, with some sensitive updating. I’d bid $900K.

  • Eric, I agree. River Oaks MCMs *always* go for lot value and get torn down. Sentimental owners think they should get a premium for the good architecture but it never happens. If they really care about the building they should price it at 900k and put a no teardown easement on it. Instead, they will lower the price by 100k every 3 months and 3 years from now it will be a Tuscan villa. (As a point of comparison, 59 Tiel Way, a Kamrath beauty which had a much larger, insanely off the hook lot, bigger, nicer, renovated house, was similarly priced – for 3 years he lowered the price slowly, and eventually was offering it on Ebay for 950 minus commission. No one bit and now, sadly, it is a clay lot that will likely sell in the mid 800s). Another comparitor is the MCM on North BLvd, also priced like this, slowly reduced for 3 years, now at 899k until the listing expired again. People like to admire MCM architecture but they don’t like to pay $1M for it. In Houston, at least.

  • Where was the MCM on North Blvd? Worth a look?

  • @cornudo – the listing expired last week (again). it will be back. Not as strong a MCM aesthetic as this, which prbably helps, but it had some other minor issues as well (notably, a massive flat roof that is nonconforming and a somewhat irregular lot). you can get a glimpse of it on modernhouston dot net, it’s the one priced at 899k. or wait a month and check HAR for 799k LOL.

  • Man. Too high

  • @CAHBF Thanks for the hat tip – I think I ran past it a few months ago and admired the doors! Will look out for it when it comes back on HAR…

  • I look forward to nominating this house for a Best Teardown Swampie next year.

  • The weirdest thing to me is the emphasis on the architect’s alleged “prominence.” Kotch was not exactly notable to my knowledge. No wiki entry, and doesn’t even come up in a google search (except for this listing and efforts to market this property). I’m not saying he is not talented, but by my definition, notable means googla has heard of you. Google has heard of *me* even. I can only imagine the conversation between the realtor and the client on pricing this one.


    Take your standard drawer/door cabinet and turn it upside down under you sink. We keep our dish towels there. It’s great and you don’t have that ridiculously wasteful dead panel.

  • OK Flash, the drawer would then be on the bottom, right? Would the slide still accomodate the drawer to make it upright? Or would it require a ton of re-configuring? Guess it would depend on the mechanics of the unit itself.

    We are still in the planning stage so I’m definitely putting that on my list. The only thing we’ve found the sink cabinet good for is storing all those big heavy liquid filled bottles.