Southampton House of 48,762 Cubic Zirconias

SOUTHAMPTON HOUSE OF 48,762 CUBIC ZIRCONIAS Give him another 18 months to finish it, Dr. Anthony Walter tells reporter Kate Murphy, and he’ll open the Grand Hall in his Southampton home to the public for tours. A few church groups have already seen it: “‘People are just astounded.’ Indeed, it’s hard not to gape at a gilt and mirrored hall so boisterously baroque that you half expect Marie Antoinette to appear and offer you cake. Lighted by sparkling chandeliers, the hall is 100 feet by 25 feet, with a soaring 22-foot-high coffered ceiling in gilt and lacquer. The walls are embellished with gilt cherubs, roses, feathers, foliage and birds. Enormous and richly hued paintings in elaborate jeweled frames depict romantic, mythological and biblical scenes. . . . Dr. Walter said he tried to interest curators at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in his project, perhaps to make it a satellite decorative arts museum, but ‘they could care less.’ One of the museum’s curators, Emily Neff, said she had visited his home but wasn’t able to spend much time there and thus had no comment. He said their reaction was understandable, given that the museum’s collection includes abstract art, which he disdains. ‘I am a huge threat because what I have done renders everything they have junk,’ he said beneath the glinting chandeliers in his great hall. ‘I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant but the reaction of people who come in here tells me the power of it.’” [New York Times; slide show]

13 Comment

  • OK,kind of speechless here. It seems a bit gauche for my taste, but even with that, it seems well done. But I wouldn’t want to go to the museum and see that.

  • I won’t say what I think because I’m afraid he might use his “power” against me ;-)
    But it doesn’t matter what I think. To each his own. He certainly is dedicated.

  • It reminds of other unique Houston homes like the Orange Show, and the Beer Can House, and the Flower Man’s House.

  • Scott Bodenheimer (hi, Scott!) is quite right. This is the same sort of devoted, focused, pure, and highly personal effort found in places like the Orange Show, the Beer Can House, the Palais Ideal du Facteur Cheval and other places where an individual has made it his or her mission to create an environment honoring muse or passion. Is this place gauche? Yes. Is it stupendous? Also yes. Would I live there? No. Do I salute Dr. Walter? Enthusiastically. Good for him.

  • Address? I gotta see this one, at least from the outside!

  • I think it looks pretty cool. For those who have visited Barcelona, its almost impossible not to appreciate the structures Antoni Gaudi created in the city. Yet, at the time, many found his works abhorrent. So, to each his own I suppose. But I encourage things like this. If projects like this continue, maybe Houstons reputation could once and for all no longer by synonymous with traffic jams and concrete jungles.

  • I think it’s amazing. Scott is right, it’s like the Orange show house inits purity. It’s also fascinating. Would I want to live there? If I were the doctor’s wife, I would love it. It’s his Taj Mahal.

  • At first glance it might seem “gauche” to someone who likes simplicity. But each room has the logic of a painting – you feel you are definitely inside an artist’s vision, not just excessive gilding.

    It’s like a Baroque retablio.

  • I am not opposed to it, and I see the passion in it. I just couldn’t live in it and I might get a little nauseuous visiting it. Too much to see in so little space makes my head spin.

  • If you must drive by:

    I think I drove by this house the other day and didn’t notice anything unusual.

  • The Cubic Zirconia Extravaganza is NOT, I repeat, NOT in Southampton. It is at 1526 Banks in Ranch Estates, formerly a modest neighborhood populated with little postwar ranch-style houses that is now morphing into a center of McMansion design. Ranch Estates is more than a half mile north and east of Southampton. Southampton is defined by Ashby on the East, Bissonet on the North, Greenbriar on the West, and Rice Blvd. on the South. We once had the “Pink Lady House” on Sunset, but its new owner covered the pink paint, and retired its pink tile walkways and other distinctive aesthetic ornamentation. So our one monument to weird art has vanished.

    The Times story was badly informed about Houston geography in more ways than one. Consider the author’s confusion about “upscale” Southampton being the venue where “several jailed Enron executives have impressive homes.” I wonder if the Times writer knows the difference between down-home Southampton and a REAL “upscale” neighborhood–River Oaks. That’s where Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling and other Enron executives moved, some (Skilling included) after living for a few years in modest Southampton homes. Only the Fastow family, I believe, still lives in Southampton, in a discreet neo-Georgian house much like a dozen others in the neighborhood. The Fastow River Oaks mansion, still under construction when Enron fell, was sold. More typical of Southampton is that its most prominent Enron resident is the redoubtable Sherron Watkins, the accounting executive who played a key role in bringing down the Enron house of cards.

  • Thanks Guy, I was just getting ready to post about this not being in SH when you beat me to it. I wondered why I didn’t know it, when I finally saw the link to the address. Not us.