A Pedigreed John Staub Mansion in Shadyside Goes on the Market for Just Under $7 Million



As with the curving private lane it fronts, a 1939 home in understated, gated Shadyside splays slightly on a pie-shaped lot (top). The stately front screens the grounds on the back side, a deliberate design by Houston architect John Staub for original clients A.J. Wray and wife Margaret, daughter of J.S. Cullinan — founder of the company that became Texaco. Writing about the property in his monograph on the architect’s “country houses,” Rice architectural historian Stephen Fox notes how the home’s pivot-point entry bay is light on windows and flanked by 2 wings with far more iron grill and veranda flourishes out back — for a focused view of private grounds with reflecting pond (above). Is the home’s styling “Regency-inspired,” Louisiana-Creole-derived, or an example of Latin Colonial Regionalism? Feel free to mull it over as you survey the property on 1.3 acres across from Rice University’s Main St. main gate, just south of the Museum District. Home to oil heirs and a former Texas governor, the well-groomed and rather proper property made its market debut Monday, asking $6.9 million.



Much of the home is one room deep — make that one really big room deep. The entry hall, however, opens into an adjacent library that still sports its original wooden paneling. A bay window ensures the back yard view gets center stage:


Exterior doors hidden in the draperies (above) lead to garden-view verandas of brick that extend past the formal living room . . .


and formal dining room, which also has a vine-covered arcade above the room’s front windows that face the street. Floor plans indicate there’s an adjacent butler’s pantry en route . . .


to the updated kitchen with skinny island, perky floor tiles, and a breakfast room, through the arch:


HCAD records refer to a 1987 renovation of the home and outline the property’s chain of ownership: The home appears to have stayed in the Wray family until 1988, when it was purchased by Mark White and his wife Linda, following the governor’s 1983-1987 term. The Shadyside property has changed hands twice since their 1998 departure from the neighborhood.


The floor plan downstairs includes a repurposed coat room off the entry hall that added some primp space to 1 of 2 half-baths in the 7,823-sq.-ft. home. Elsewhere, there are are an additional 7 full bathrooms, a game room, an “extra room,” and a guest house. 


The second floor currently includes a sitting room and several bedrooms that seem to have have earned suite status. Here, for example, is the master suite . . .


the “Garden Room” guest suite . . .


and the garden variety guest suite (below). (The listing mentions a total of 5 or 6 bedrooms.)


Outside, trees left in a somewhat natural state dapple the groomed lawns and manicured landscaping found closer to the home, where the fountains within a brick-ringed reflection pool further ripple any watery imagery.


Quarterly maintenance fees in the enclave community run $855. Home tours have featured the 75-yr.-old property; it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Properties since 1993.

Find Your Way Around the Wray House

27 Comment

  • If it was new construction on the same lot, it would have gone for $15 million.

  • Why not just rip it down and put in some townhouses? Or even a highrise? Because, I suppose, Shadyside has some of them there ‘deed restrictions’.

  • It’s sooooooo beautiful. I want the whole thing to be mine, furnishings included. Think the the sellers will trade me for my 1200SF home in Willowbend? Maybe if I mention that my dog’s name is Remington? Eh?

  • @commonsense, what is your point? Just trolling preservations per usual? If my aunt was a man she’d be my uncle.

  • My point being new is always better than old and more valuable (at least in Houston) and that preservation artificially keeps the prices down.

  • What a great Staub designed masterpiece. Shadyside is my favorite Houston neighborhood. Yes, Rice tore down Cullinan’s home in Shadyside years ago, it was a gorgeous Jacobean manse, that he left to the school–Rice has a toxic history of being left things they subsequently destroy (no that tin Menil barnacle isn’t one of them)–I love the Creole look of the Wray House, this style looks so prefect in the lush Houston climate–when I was a kid you could hop the gate and walk thru here, but now they have security and they frown on non residents of the enclave walking thru (tho I hop the fence still on occasion)–really the most perfectly realized of Houston affluent neighborhoods–it’s completely deed restricted, so one commenters dream of bulldozing the neighborhood for a Beverly Park alas won’t come to fruition–awww:(

  • Ha, new construction in Shadyside?? Unlikely…you’d be pressed to find a tighter group of homeowners in Houston. Plus the criminal element you’d bring into the neighborhood (i.e. construction workers) would make you the village pariah. Also speaking of “desirable new construction” in the neighborhood, how long as 1604 North Blvd been on the market?

  • its fun to read bitter messages, gisgo you’re going to get far in life hating those that have what you don’t… i’m sure they take 2 seconds to read to pathetic messages… then forget you exist

  • Shannon, what makes you think Rice tore down the Cullinan house, and not Oveta Culp Hobby, the actual owner at the time?

  • Looked at homes in this area. Couldn’t get over the fact they were 2-4x the price of what I could get in Courtlandt Pl which is where I’d much rather be…

  • @commonsense, that is an excellent observation, you should post more often

  • The story I read had the house being left to Rice, Rice making the decision that it was just too big to maintain and tearing it down, where it remained an empty lot for years–the house was actually called Shadyside–anyway maybe the article was wrong and it was actually Mrs Hobby that tore it down–as for Rice, they were left the West Mansion next to NASA and pretty much left it to ruin–I guess you’ll say that was Mr West’s fault as well–if you have evidence that Olveta Culp Hobby tore down the Cullinan House please share, I’d like to get the story right, I mean, right?

  • Seriously Cody???! Cortlandt Place over Shadyside??–hmmm, you could either live on top of the Spur and back up to crack houses or you could live in an enclave that had private security, abuts the gorgeous alley of live oaks in the park, prestigious and equally gorgeous Rice and Southampton?? Tough choice–there is a myriad of reasons why Shadyside is priced at a level much higher than Cortlandt Place. It’s kinda like saying you prefer Swiss Avenue to Highland Park–sure the houses are nice in Swiss but really who wouldn’t rather live in the bubble?

  • Yes, Oveta Culp Hobby owned Cullinan’s house “Shadyside.” It was designed by a St. Louis firm but I don’t remember the firm’s name. She actually got into a nasty fight about the deed restrictions with her neighbors and it went all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. She wanted to build a high rise hotel on the land she owned in the Shadyside area. When she lost, she tore down the Cullinan house and moved to River Oaks. The Cullinan lot was vacant until the mid-90s, when two Mediterranean-style houses were built there. Rice was bequeathed the H.C. Wiess house at the corner of Sunset and Main by the Wiess family and it did sit unused and deteriorating for a time, but Rice later restored it and made it into the current President’s house. The only other architecturally significant loss in the Shadyside area that comes to mind is that Anthony Petrello tore down the Hudspeth house at 18? Sunset by Dallas architect Frank Welch so that he could have a bigger back lot for entertaining.

  • A brief correction: Yes, the Welch house at 18 Sunset was last owned by the Hudspeths, but it was originally built for E. Ghent Graves, MD, and his family.

  • Granted Shadyside is nicer and more pedigreed, but Courtlandt Place has a more flavorful history, and it hardly backs up to crack houses! The only questionable property adjacent to Courtlandt is the old free clinic, which everyone knows will be townhomes some day.

  • @laughingatyou – I’m pretty sure that it’s called “sarcasm.”

  • Fox, Stephen. _Campus Guide: Rice University, An Architectural Tour_, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001. p. 195

    confirms the architect for the Cullinan house (James P. Jamieson) and that Mrs. Hobby demolished it. She was a Rice trustee at the time but there is no connection to Rice beyond that. The house never belonged to Rice.

  • That’s really great to know and be educated, I guess maybe I confused it with the Weiss House that was given to Rice and they allowed to deteriorate before finally fixing it up into the grand Presidents House it is today–Well Mrs Hobby was formidable, still it’s a shame she was so petty and tore the grand house down–and yes, I was being sarcastic, Cordtlandt Place isn’t in that bad an area (but hardly the same kind of area as Shadyside thus the signifacant price difference)–this is such a gorgeous neighborhood, I grew up and live not far from it, but hardly in it–I’m happy that it still looks like a neighborhood out of the Great Gastby–the person who buys this house is very lucky indeed.

  • “commonsense” is a common troll. Don’t feed it. It’s not worth it. It is vile.

  • Hobby’s property was actually owned by the Houston Post when it was transferred to Rice. Rice has owned a number of properties in Shadyside over the years. I heard that the 2 Sunset property, the Wiess house, was in pretty bad shape when Rice received it,and then it was used as a student house for some time.

  • Shannon: I like being in Montrose. But yeah, if that isn’t your gig I could see how you’d think the location sucks. And thanks for saying that Courtlandt Pl backs up to crack houses… My house actually backs up to Courtlandt Pl. (so I can look over my fence and see how the ‘other half’ lives :) and I don’t find it to be a crack house. Most of the homes on Hawthorne that Courtlandt backs up to are old historic homes — the ones you always say you want saved.
    I like Courtlandt Pl because it’s right where I like to be in Montrose. Very walkable to everything. a few minutes walk to light rail, a few minutes walk to all the lower westheimer happenings, a fwe minutes walk to all the Montrose Blv. happenings. And a sub 5 minute drive to most other places I’d want to go.

  • I went back and read some of the discussion on HAIF about Shadyside and Mrs. Hobby, and yes, it’s true, after the house was razed the land was given to Rice. Presumably Rice sold it to the builders of the new houses after a time; with strict deed restrictions requiring single-family homes and with the land being not really accessible from campus they could do little else. I don’t know what condition the Wiess house was in when Rice got it but it’s true that it was in bad shape for a while. It was never used for student housing but they did have some Facilities personnel living there as caretakers for a time (I knew one of them pretty well.) I know that at one time the desire was to sell the Wiess house but there may have been conditions in the bequest or other considerations that prevented it. The possibility of re-purposing the on-campus President’s House also may have been attractive in Rice’s decision to restore the Wiess house, as was also the presidential transition which happened about that time. I don’t know if they still do but at one time Rice owned quite a bit of rental property adjoining the campus in Southgate and over toward and into the Village.

  • Cortlandt Place is a beautiful neighborhood, it had gorgeous houses and the area around it is fine, Cody. We both more or less look over our fences at very affluent enclaves we aspire to live one day-lol

  • Has**** gorgeous homes

  • If you are willing to look 1 mile east from this one, you can get another John Staub for only 900k (see 3302 South MacGregor on HAR).

  • John Staub designed one of the Harris County Court building and I won’t want to live there either:)—-seriously though, it’s awesome RT is making a comeback in a major way–that Staub house has had really poor renavations as I recall, so it may take a lot of money to bring it back to what Staub envisioned—we shall see –maybe for 400000, not 900000