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Through the Trees

Chris Kelly | February 20, 2018 | Feature Features

A multimillion-dollar mansion in River Oaks turns a new leaf.
The front of the estate's circular drive brings visitors to the home's main level, which is actually the second story

An iconic 5.2-acre Lazy Lane estate with a fascinating history is on the market in River Oaks for a cool $19.5 million. Designed by 20th century Houston architect Howard Barnstone, the 11,676-square-foot multilevel home features five bedrooms, five fireplaces, walls of glass and incredible views over the parklike grounds, which slope down to Buffalo Bayou. It’s the ultimate study in treehouse chic.

Constructed in the early 1960s, the design challenged tradition in a neighborhood known for Southern Colonial and Tudor mansions. Rumor has it that legendary Ima Hogg—whose Bayou Bend estate is now part of The Museum of Fine Arts and sits just down the road—was appalled by the concept until she saw how the new home embraced nature and blended with the landscape.

A walk around the grounds today makes it easy to see why Hogg was won over. Wildlife is spotted regularly, and a resident family of owls keeps a watchful eye on the perimeter. In addition to the main house, the property sports a swimming pool, guest quarters and a dramatic 16-foot-tall granite fountain made up of four towers created specifically for the site by sculptor Jesús Moroles.

Although the home provides the ultimate luxury of privacy, it also offers the perfect setup for grand entertaining and has attracted many high-profile visitors. The current owners—philanthropists Richard and Ginni Mithoff—have opened their doors for a number of local charities, celebrities and artists. Prolific composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch has played tunes on the living room’s grand piano, and former President Bill Clinton was once an overnight guest after a
campaign fundraiser.

The estate is rich in history and architectural detail, and the next owners are sure to have a ball nesting in. Now, the only question is which celebrity or world leader will be next on the list for the guest house. Jeanne Marosis, John Daugherty Realtors


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