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Storied Houston Hotel’s Stunning Grand Ballroom Dismantled to be Moved Into a Posh Private Club

La Colombe d'Or's History Finds an Ultra Exclusive New Home

BY // 07.17.20

The sigh could be felt across Houston when it was revealed that the construction of the stunning Residences at La Colombe d’Or would mean dismantling of the beloved French Rococo ballroom, Le Grand Salon de la Comtesse, that had played host at La Colombe d’Or Hotel to some of the city’s grandest celebrations. Now comes a sigh of relief with news that the salon will be moving to a new home.

The circa 1730 ballroom, which is lavishly paneled in quarter-sawn English oak and resplendent with gilded-frame mirrors and dazzling chandeliers, is destined to become the focal point of a special events space at The Clubs at Houston Oaks, a posh residential enclave west of Houston.

Originally built for French royals, the salon, which has a varied provenance, is named for Princess La Comtesse Elisabeth Greffulhe who installed it in her husband’s hunting lodge in 1891. Jump ahead to the mid-20th century and noted Texas wildcatter John Mecom Sr. purchased the ballroom and shipped it to Texas where, eventually, it came into the hands of La Colombe d’Or Hotel owner Steve Zimmerman. He installed it at the back of the hotel where it served as one of the city’s most elegant party venues.

Fast forward again, Zimmerman partnered with Hines on development of the 34-story residential tower, hotel and restaurant which are expected to open some time in the fall.

“We tried everything we could to place the salon in the tower,” Zimmerman says. There was no solution to the logistics problem so the hotel owner and developer packed up the panels and put them in storage.

“I feel very good to know that it is going to stay alive and continue the Grand Salon de la Comtesse name,” Zimmerman tells PaperCity.

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La Colombe d’Or Grand Salon
La Colombe d’Or Grand Salon was the setting for beautiful parties and weddings. (D. Jones Photography)

In the meantime, co-owners of The Clubs at Houston Oaks high-end development Marci and Steve Alvis, Kim and Chuck Watson and Francophiles Terri and John Havens are initiating plans for the salon. The Havenses, owners of Cal-A-Vie Health Spa and a River Oaks mansion replete with antique French architecture, tell PaperCity that the Old World elegance of the salon will be preserved as it becomes the centerpiece of a new special events facility.

“We love anything French and preserving history,” John Havens says. “I think it will do incredibly well and people will really enjoy the history.”

Historical plaques will commemorate the room’s colorful past and the current plan is to have the mirrors replaced with windows that will offer views of the verdant landscape which counts more than 1,000 trees across the 900 acres that previously served as a family retreat for Tenneco employees.

The salon will serve as a swank venue for weddings, social affairs, receptions and the like. The facility will include bridal rooms, meeting spaces, and offices. Construction is expected to begin in 2021 with completion some time in 2022.

One caveat: Membership at The Clubs at Houston Oaks is by private invitation and personal referral through existing members of the club.

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