Inside a 1930s John Staub-Designed Texas Mansion with 200-Year-Old Chapel
River Oaks, Houston, Texas, United States
A long-vacant 1930s limestone château has been brought back to life by two Texans with a deep appreciation for history. John, president of Seismic Exchange Inc, and wife Terri, owner of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa and Country Club in California, embarked on a lengthly restoration of the 34,000 square foot château. It was originally designed by architect John F. Staub for J. Robert Neal. According to DK Decor, it later served as the home of Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and wife, Tammy Jo Dewhurst. The couple commissioned a selection of Houston-based designers, including architectural firm Newberry Architecture, Kara Childress, Inc. Interior Design and Suzanne Turner Associates Landscape Architecture, to restore and incorporate amenities for contemporary life. According to Houston Business Journal, they imported a half-dozen antique French fireplaces, a chandelier from one of Napoleon’s hunting lodges in Europe and an ancient painted wood ceiling from Italy that they installed in their home gym. DK Decor notes that the formal living room’s original Louis XV-style boiserie and grand chandeliers were preserved. While researching the property, the couple found out that the Olmsted Brothers had unfinished plans for the estate. Landscape architect Suzanne Turner was commissioned to finish what the firm started. “Utilizing a collection of over 200 original landscape drawings, sketches, and plans, Suzanne Turner Associates restored the missing portions of the gardens, installed features that were designed by the Olmsted firm but never completed, and updated the plan for an active twenty-first century family.” One of the crowning jewels of the 4.5 acre property is a substantial 200-year-old stone chapel with beamed ceiling. According to Houston Business Journal, John and Terri Havens imported the historic building from Chateau de Bruneaux in Firminy, France. It was disassembled, shipped and rebuilt on site at their Houston home. The property has also been featured in countless magazines and publications, including Architectural Digest in 2013. Click here to view the article. Photography by Terry Vine and Eric Piasecki.