The century-old semi-model of the White House in Morgan’s Point, commissioned by then-future Texas governor Ross Sterling (founder of ExxonMobil’s Humble Oil beginnings), is once again up for grabs. The 20,689-sq.-ft. home at 515 Bayridge Rd. — purported to be the result of Sterling pointing at the back of a $20 bill and telling architect Alfred E. Finn to “build that” — went on the market this morning for $6 million (that’s 300,000 $20s).
The 9-bedroom, 15-bathroom mansion was converted into a dormitory-style boy’s home for the Optimist Club of Houston after Sterling’s death in 1949; it was sold in the early 1960’s to a Houston banker who eventually decided that cleaning it back up wasn’t worth the trouble. The house sat on the market for 8 years until its sale to a mysterious French Count-type in 1980. This time around, the house is being sold by an orthopedic surgeon who put in $1.5 million in renovations, including a sand-and-palm tree beach (tucked below the South(west) Portico on the edge of upper Galveston Bay):
To the east, the house has a view across the Houston Ship Channel toward Sterling’s former Humble Oil facility in Baytown, now the largest petrochemical complex in the country. The dredged path of the Channel passes just to the east of the 6.89-acre estate, between the tip of the Morgan’s Point peninsula and wildlife-preserve-slash-pile-of-dredged-material Atkinson Island, before splitting off to allow access to the Port of Houston’s Barbour’s Cut facility (which runs along the back side of the peninsula half a mile to the north of the estate).
On a clear day, the graceful giant cranes of the Bayport container-turned-cruise-maybe-turning-back-to-just-container terminal are visible on the distant horizon to the southwest (on either side of the fourth column from the right, in the photo below):
And here’s the view of the property from the front entrance to the north:
The top level of the home holds a rooftop terrace, fenced in by those stone balustrades:
The grand staircase framing the entryway descends over the arched doorways of matching ladies’ and gentlemen’s parlors and powder rooms:
Rumor also has it that Sterling asked Finn to design matching wings of the house that would have held a bowling alley and a shooting range, respectively.
- 515 Bayridge Rd. [HAR]
- White House Replica in Texas Lists for $6 Million [WSJ ($)]
- Once-Elegant Texas Replica White House Finds a New Owner [Washington Post, 1980]