The MacGregor Way mansion built for the family of Houston grocery pioneer Joseph Weingarten went up for sale last week, providing Houston oldtimers and other more recent converts to old-school real estate ogling a first opportunity to confirm or contradict their suspicions about what the interior of the once-proud 1939 Joseph Finger-designed estate looks like in its . . . uh, unattended state.
The listing photos don’t disappoint, providing an air of grandeur to the vast interiors — peeling paint, leaky window units, rumpled carpet and all. Better yet, the 4-bedroom, 5,480-sq.-ft. property on 4.73 acres (most of them in the 100-year floodplain) has no deed restrictions or historical protections, which sets the Brays Bayou-side perch in Riverside Terrace as the latest scene of a no-schemes-barred Houston-style bidding-and-bitching rumble. (Multiple offers have already been submitted by developers eager to scrape the home and carve up the property into separate homesites).
Listing agent Kelly Paul tells the Chronicle‘s Nancy Sarnoff that at least one potential buyer has expressed interest in restoring the mansion, however.
The family of real estate mogul George Lavinghousez, who hung onto the home for 46 years until his death last year, put the property up for sale along with the 1950 ranch home next door.
For the Weingarten Mansion at 4000 S. MacGregor Way, the asking price is $2.25 million; for the 1.5-acre property next door at 3932 S. MacGregor, they’re asking $500,000, but that listing doesn’t include any interior photos:
- 4000 S. MacGregor Way [HAR]
- 3932 S. MacGregor Way [HAR]
- History, location provide chateau’s cachet [Houston Chronicle]
That old mansion and most of those trees, sad to say, have no chance. There could be 100+ townhomes built there which, with lower floor garages, are also more practical in the flood plain.
By design, a tear down. The owners wouldn’t have let it go to shit otherwise.
I wonder what may be in the attic!
Back in 2008, there was an even larger MacGregor Way mansion that was up for sale. The photos were some sort of “3D turnaround photos” that allowed you to almost “walk through” the home, room by room. It was pretty amazing because the home, while completely trashed (like the photos shown above) was also in original condition (no remodeling had ever been done). That home had a full ballroom (with a black/white linoleum checkerboard floor) and a third floor that was complete taken up by a game room. The bedrooms were on the second floor, some still will original furniture that dated from the 1940s/50s. The game room still had its original jukebox, pool table, and bar, along with burgundy-red leather-covered seating areas.
I suspected that the home had been sold by its original wealthy homeowners and another large family had moved in and then never bothered to care for the home (many of the rooms/walls were filthy from wear and not having the carpets cleaned). There’s so many lovely original homes left in the MacGregor Way area, but unfortunately, many just haven’t been properly care for and so they’re just rotting away even as people continued to live in them (and not taking care of the structures).
Sadly, I didn’t save any screenshots of that real estate listing, but that home was so amazing that I’ve never forgotten it.
CODY…..are you buying this one?
This is GREAT news!–maybe. I’ve always loved this house, it’s a shame it was left to decay like this, by an owner who was actually quoted as saying he liked the decayed look of the house! Seriously?!! I really hope they don’t divide the property or worse yet tear down this beautiful house. Let’s hope someone comes in with some intelligence and a sense of history, not just some typical slimy Houston developer out to make a quick buck and move on. I hope it gets some sort of Preservation Protection, tho in Houston what does that really amount to: exactly.
What a great opportunity to renovate it as a centerpiece of a cool planned development of condos, townhomes, patiohomes, whatever. Sadly, this will never happen due to floodplain issues.
This is the largest house every built in Riverside Terrace, there is no larger home. Also, I disagree that someone can’t afford to live here, my God, people in RO live in 28000 square feet mansions. And I doubt 100 townhomes will be built here, but alas the lot will probably be subdivided, but I think the Weingarten House will remain…we shall see if I’m correct, let’s all hope I am right. They don’t build houses like this anymore, it’s irreplaceable.
Could be the set for Grey Gardens
This home can be saved and property behind it have new structures built.
Terry Ward wants to turn it into a Remembrance Park…..WE SAY NO!
I read in another article that the minimum lot size in this neighborhood is ~22k sq ft…. so no townhomes or condos are going up here.
The owners own a sea of low rent rental properties. My guess is that their father was a miser. I remember the first time I saw this home over 20 years ago, it looked like it was decaying then. I do hope the new owner will restore it.
This house makes Grey Gardens look like Hen House. That old Hampton’s Cape Cod Banacle was more lower Oyster Bay, this is more Newport lite. Granted this house has been a bit uncared for, but it’s hardly the squalor of Grey Gardens….
What a beautiful banister rail, I bet the place was gorgeous in its day. I hope if they do a tear down they preserve some of the original finishes. Such a shame they let it get to this point.
@Swampy, I remember reading about that “natural burial” garden. Has anything else come of it? There would be room for plenty of bodies. Since there was no mention in the Chronicle article, Mr. Ward has probably found another location although didn’t he already own the neighboring property?
I’ve wanted this house ever since I set eyes on it–even before learning any of it’s history. It’s a truly singular property in Houston.
I was hoping the Levinghousez would keep it in the family another couple of years (at least until I could afford to buy and renovate it). Now I can only hope a kindred soul purchases it.
I’m frankly surprised that the house has not been vandalized. Many of the first floor windows seem to be open to view and the property is back from the street with lots of trees near the home. Amazing at the number and variety of personal “family” items left here and there in the rooms. Oh, and the books. I can imagine that there are some treasures in those bookshelves.
I see none of the “leaky window units” mentioned in the article, but I do see a rusty old AC compressor in the back yard. Is this really the best you can do, Swamplot?
Also, does anyone know what’s the body of water behind the house? Is that just standing water from recent rain, or a tributary of the bayou?
It’s a beautiful house and grounds, and a real shame that it’s been neglected so. You cannot leave houses standing empty in Houston’s climate! They will literally rot! But of course, if someone moved in and maintained it, they would be castigated as squatters.
@d713: the minimum lot size won’t stop a developer from subdividing; they will request a variance and they will get it. I don’t think any developer has ever been turned down asking for a variance in Houston.
@JT that is hardly the case… they are one of the strongest REIT’s in Texas…
It may seem like no developer in Houston has ever been thwarted, but it is not the case.
A beautiful house. It reminds me of a brownstone I worked on in Brooklyn: the same level of neglect and gunk, hiding real quality and beauty underneath.
I desperately hope a good buyer can be found. It would be someone with an eye for history, and either no kids or kids in private school. They will spend money to fix it up but don’t see the need to pay a premium to live in River Oaks or Shadyside. Not sure of one will….
For that kind of money, I expect a pool.
@Swampy – that looks like a pretty cool idea! Why not?
Is there really another cemetery next to this property?
There is a cemetery adjacent to the property. It’s the Kuhlman family cemetery; a 2 acre plot. The Kuhlman family farm was on that side of the bayou before the neighborhood was developed. Their old farm house was originally incorporated into the neighborhood; it was in the Houston Architectural Guide. You can find more information at the following HAIF link: http://www.houstonarchitecture.com/haif/topic/11323-cemetery-in-riverside-terrace/
@Karma I don’t believe Terry owned the property, however, there was word that he had already received the Kuhlmann cemetery property from Kuhlmann family with promise that he would maintain it (they obviously didn’t, it has been overgrown for years). He would then try to purchase the adjacent properties for his Remembrance Park and convert the mansion to a Funeral Home. And technically, there wouldnt be any “bodies” buried, so there wouldn’t be any issues with ripping up the ground later for any type of development.
@Phil We weren’t opposed to the idea of the “park/garden setting”, we were opposed to the idea that Terry would effectively convert the acreage into commercial property for the “Funeral Home”. We were worried that this would open the land to commercial development in the future. We would like to keep it designated as residential-single family.
Maybe the mansion can be converted into something similar to what the MFAH did to the Ima Hogg house, although would this require the home to be designated as commercial property as well?
I wonder if UH could buy it and renovate it for a new President’s House – sort of like Rice did in 2005 with 2 Sunset Blvd. of course they would need a major donation in order to do so. I think Rice had been given that house.
The University of Houston should buy it and make it the President’s house. Time for UH to sell the South Blvd home and make bank and then win some good will be restoring this beauty. The new private dorms are just a stone’s throw away and there could be some amazing functions held on those grounds. Plus, the Ashby Tower will loom over Renu’s backyard in a few short years.
Glad to see someone else agrees with me on how this house would be great for the President of UH. It’s a good size for entertaining and fundraisers, the grounds are well suited to events, and it’s in a perfect location right around the corner from campus.
Someone really should bring the subject to the UH Board of Trustees and higher ups. It would be awesome if it happened.
Ohhhh … a nearby cemetary.. NOW I want this property even more… It’ll be NC ( read new crappy) townhouses.. Our development crazy mayor and her equally development crazy administration WILL grant a variance. That’s their drug. They NEVER say no…
@ Ms. Pris: What body of water in which photo? There is a high aerial photo but the water in the distance is the actual bayou. That may be what you’re looking at.
Like others, I think that this grande dame has been a victim of neglect but it still has held up quite nicely. Given all of the acreage, this would be a great property to own – not to subdivide but to continue to maintain.
Though, like others have said, the City has never met a variance request it didn’t like. We’re WAY too easy on approving variances in this town. You’d think we didn’t have a Planning Department. But, I know they exist since I see those Priuses around town with the label on it. Unless this is just a big prank on all of us? :)
Channel 13 is going to have a story on this house during the 10 p.m. news. The “teaser” mentioned new construction versus preservation. That would be the ABC station.
Ahh, come on now – this one is way to nice for Cody.
Was this the mansion used in the 1974 film Sugar Hill which was filmed in Houston?
Our friends have a similar house to this in Newport-on Bellevue Ave. This is hardly Newport lite-It’s the real deal…it is a fabulous house begging for love, good taste, and a good deal of $$. But it would be worth it, as given that scenario, could fetch its real worth over time.
An amazing place to raise a family-or collect art, have insane soirées… did I mention-it’s fabulous.