07/18/17 10:45am

Does tearing down historic Houston architecture run in the family? The 1930’s house built for Harry C. Hanszen at 2945 Lazy Lane Blvd. (which showed up on Wednesday’s Daily Demolition Report last week) did in fact get the full knockdown treatment over the weekend, a couple of stunned readers tell Swamplot. The River Oaks home, designed by architect John F. Staub, was owned for a few decades by John Mecom Jr.; more recently, it was sold in 2014 to Matthew B. Arnold, per county records. The 5-acre-ish lot sits right across the road from Bayou Bend, and from the Lazy Lane spot where the historic home known as Dogwoods used to stand — before former Enron trader and experimental drone surveillance funder John D. Arnold knocked it down to make room for a boxy replacement. (Staub also designed Bayou Bend, and collaborated with Birdsall Briscoe on the Dogwoods design.)

It’s worth noting that the Hanszen house was majorly added-onto between 1979 and 1981, back when it was owned by the Mecoms — and it was largely stripped of its original interiors during that time, archi-historian Stephen Fox tells Swamplot. It’s now been stripped of its exteriors as well — which previously looked like this:


Bye Bye by Bayou Bend
09/22/14 4:15pm



The last time this 1952 River Oaks home attributed to Staub and Rather was on the market was about a decade ago. At the time, it sold for $2.875 million to business titan and philanthropist Jack S. Blanton, who died in December of last year. The 1952 corner property features an expansion by a previous owner back in 1998 — around the time it sold for $1.08 million. In its listing earlier this month, the home’s asking price was $4.85 million. What sorts of add-ons have accompanied the rising prices?


Still Rather Staub-Like
03/10/14 3:00pm



Stainless fittings in the kitchen and steely paint can’t entirely conceal the hand of prolific Houston society architect John Staub, who designed this 1935 Regency-style home in Riverside Terrace. When the property popped up in the listings at the end of February, it did so with a $895,000 asking price — considerably lower than what a Staub home might fetch elsewhere in the city. During renovations back in 2006, which replaced the HVAC, electric system, plumbing, and gas lines, and made a few alterations to the structure and finishes, the attic proved to be a real treasure trove:


Check Out the Garage-Door Bathroom
03/05/14 12:00pm



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.


Find Your Way Around the Wray House
12/19/13 11:30am



Once billed as “Somerset Estate,” a 1960 home designed by well-known Houston architect John Staub occupies a waterfront lot in the Bay Breeze neighborhood, located an amble down the road from the Kemah boardwalk. The Bermuda-style stucco home with aluminum roof sold for $1.9 million back in February, though that previous listing had a $2.8 million asking price. When the property popped back up on the market in June, it featured a slightly trimmed footprint along with much-tidied undergrowth along its curving driveway. The repackaged property’s $1.8 million price tag still includes the furnishings:


A Walk from the Boardwalk
03/04/13 12:00pm

THE BOOK OF JOHN STAUB Maybe literature does have an impact in the real world — or the world of real estate, at least: “After the 2007 publication of The Country Houses of John F. Staub, by [architectural historian] Stephen Fox,” reports Nancy Keates from The Wall Street Journal, “momentum gained to save Staub homes that were being torn down, particularly in the affluent River Oaks neighborhood.” And this retroactive interest is happening all over the country, writes Keates: Homebuyers are looking back, when they’re looking to buy, for “an original source of traditional architecture — as opposed to the newer ‘McMansion’ variety.” Houstonian Calvin Schlenker and his wife paid $6.3 million for their John Staub, a “neo-Georgian” that dates to 1930: ”There’s a very limited inventory, they don’t come on the market very often and there’s great demand,” [Schlenker] says. . . . Houston real-estate agent Janie Miller says Staub homes have more of a premium than ever. ‘You pay so much more it isn’t funny. It’s like buying a diamond from Tiffany’s.'” [Wall Street Journal; previously on Swamplot] Photo of 2110 River Oaks Blvd.: HAR

06/24/11 2:11pm

TEXAS ARCHITECTURE AWARDS FOR THE NON-MODS Invoking the name of Houston architect John Staub, the Texas chapter of a national architecture organization is launching an awards program meant to honor recent Texas architecture that demonstrates “sensitivity to classical and vernacular traditions.” Designers, don’t bother submitting your modern projects — local coordinator Carolyn Foug says she considers the new program from the Institute of Classical Architecture an “alternative vehicle” to the local AIA’s more Mod-friendly awards programs. A tour of Staub’s work at Bayou Bend — and maybe one or more of his other Houston houses, if the organizers can swing it — will take place after the awards ceremony there in October. [Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America Texas Chapter]

02/16/09 8:00am

Some of you may be ready for a refresher: What does a $5 million teardown look like again? Here’s one answer: It looks a lot like a very large lot in a tony neighborhood that doesn’t like the land, at least, to be chopped into smaller pieces.

This 1962 estate on more than 3.3 acres in Sherwood Forest, designed by Houston society architect John Staub, showed up in Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report this morning, which means it received a demo permit on Friday. The permit report identifies the owner as developer Giorgio Borlenghi, but HCAD records indicate Borlenghi sold the property in October 2007 to an entity known as ALV Interests, Ltd.

Only 2 months after that sale, the 7,334-sq.-ft. home went on the market — at $6 million. And it’s still listed, now for $1 million less. Though these photos, included with the listing, now might be slightly out of date:


03/19/08 4:14pm

3740 Willowick Dr. in River Oaks by Architect John Staub

This time, the folks selling the home at 3740 Willowick in River Oaks are really going all out.

Maybe last November they hoped that the release of Stephen Fox’s The Country Houses of John F. Staub would unleash a new era of interest in the Houston architect — and result in a recordbreaking price for the 1955 Staub-designed ranch-like mansion backing up to Buffalo Bayou, across from Memorial Park.

The book did fine, but Staubmania never really took off. Now, almost five months later, the sellers can’t harbor any illusions.

This time, the John Staub marketing machine kicks into full gear:


03/11/08 9:44am

Perspective View of House at 2950 Lazy Lane, Designed by Alexander Gorlin

This massive 20,000-sq.-ft. home featured on New York Architect Alexander Gorlin‘s website is under construction at 2950 Lazy Lane in River Oaks. The Museum of Fine Arts’ Bayou Bend Collection is next door.

Gorlin’s client is the youngest member of the Forbes 400 list of the Richest Americans (he’s number 317): 34-year-old former Enron trader John Arnold, who now runs secretive Centaurus Energy, a small but extraordinarily successful hedge fund company that trades energy commodities.

Four years ago, Arnold bought a recently renovated 1926 home in the French Norman manorial style in the Homewoods subdivision of River Oaks. The home, which had sat on the market for close to three years, was designed by Houston architect Birdsall Briscoe in collaboration with John Staub, who also built the Bayou Bend estate for the children of former Texas governor James Hogg next door. Briscoe’s creation was dubbed “Dogwoods” by Hogg’s son Michael, who lived there for many years with his wife.

A year after purchasing Dogwoods — currently valued by HCAD at $4.9 million — Arnold angered River Oaks preservationists by tearing it down.

After the jump, more illustrations of the house John Arnold will be trading into, plus a few photos of the one he didn’t leave behind.


12/13/07 11:59am

3740 Willowick Rd., River Oaks, Home by John Staub

How’s that River Oaks “you loved the book, now try the homemarketing tie-in going?

Well, Stephen Fox’s volume on The Country Houses of John F. Staub is currently ranked #10,535 on Amazon.com, which probably isn’t so bad for a book about a dead architect. It is heavily discounted, but it’s collected several favorable reviews online.

The reviews aren’t looking quite as good for the Staub ranch-mansion at 3740 Willowick: The asking price was dropped earlier this month from $7,495,000 to $6,950,000. For a 2.3-acre River Oaks lot with Buffalo Bayou frontage, that’s a healthy step closer to . . . yes, land value. And looky at all the excitement just down the street!

11/07/07 5:31pm

3740 Willowick Dr. in River Oaks by Architect John Staub

A 1955 River Oaks “country house” designed by John Staub appears on MLS just days before architectural historian Stephen Fox’s book on the Houston architect appears in bookstores. Mere coincidence? Or brilliant upper-end home-marketing technique?

There’s a slight price difference between the two: The Country Houses of John F. Staub lists for $75, though Amazon.com whacks 37 percent off of that. No telling if the sellers will accept a similar discount off the $7.495 million asking price of 3740 Willowick.

The house overlooks Buffalo Bayou and features four fireplaces, three bedrooms, and six full and one half baths — all in a single story. Yes, it looks like some ranch-house flavor got mixed in here. There’s a garden loggia and lots of trees, plus a three-car attached garage. It’s a 5,532-square-foot home on a quarter-acre lot.

The book is 408 pages long and comes in hardcover. It features photographs by Richard Cheek, and will take up just three-quarters of a square foot on your coffee table.

After the jump: the not-so-ranchy interiors.

Of the house.