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Real Estate / Mansions

The Mansion That No One in Houston Thought Would Ever Be Sold

Historic Castle House That Dates Back to The Heights’ Founding Hits Market After Preservationist Champion’s Death

BY // 08.29.18
photography Kevin Bailey

The Heights’ most iconic home has hit the market. Owned by the late Houston preservationist trailblazer Bart Truxillo, Castle House is on sale for $2.28 million.

Historians and architecture devotees  have long treasured the sprawling historic estate that’s at once immaculate and lush, lined with crepe myrtle trees.

The five-bedroom property is a City of Houston landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It includes the four-story mansion, the carriage house and the guest house. All in all, the home covers 3,719 square feet on a 21,120-foot corner lot.

It’s as timeless as it gets, the entirety of The Houston Heights distilled into one Victorian home. It was constructed in 1892 by the original developers of The Heights, the Omaha and South Texas Land Company.

Castle House is one of only two of those original Heights homes standing, both built by architect George Barber. The only other remaining original sits at 1102 Heights Boulevard.

As The Heights has grown and changed, Castle House has stood as an enduring emblem of its history. For many, it’s hard to imagine the home owned by anyone other than Truxillo.

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“It really is the Truxillo house,” realtor Amy Lynch Kolflat, who has the listing, tells PaperCity.

Kolfat hopes that the next owner carries on the tradition of Truxillo’s love of tradition, his commitment to preserving the past. Truxillo, who passed away suddenly last year after a brain aneurysm, was a founding member of the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance, which is now Preservation Houston. He is perhaps best known for restoring Magnolia Brewery downtown.

“He was a historic preservationist, he was wonderful,” Kolflat says.

The two were close friends. “He rode in the Art Car Parade with me right before he passed away, in the Zebra car. Bart and I were buddies,” Kolflat says. The realtor wants to find the right fit for the future of the estate.

“Who do I need to buy this house? I need an eccentric with passion for making something, for bringing something into the next phase of its life. I need a new steward to the home,” Kolflat says.

“No one ever thought it would be sold — it was one of those things. But it’s time for it to move on to its next life.”

Castle House Stunners

The first thing that catches your eye from the street could be the library tower. Or it could be the wrap-around porch. Inside, you’ll find three baths, a sitting room, parlor, music room, dining room and sun porch. And you’ll be stunned to find the mixture of more modern amenities and so many original details intact.

“It’s very untouched,” Kolflat says. There are electric lights that date back to the year it was built, the original millwork, original woodwork, sconces, door frames, window frames and more.

“Although it’s been updated and does have central air conditioning and these neat features going on, it also has some of the very old historic touches that have never been altered,” Kolflat says.

There are some elements you won’t see anywhere else, like the aviary that once housed 50 finches and 20 doves. Another nod to animals — a koi pond that’s visible from the basement level of Castle House.

“It’s very much like when you’re going to a museum or the zoo and you have an aquarium. The windows are all at and below ground level. You actually see the koi fish swim up to the window, “ Kolflat says.

“It’s a unique view, getting to see the world from a different angle.”

The basement also has access to the pool and boasts a small kitchenette, dressing room, work room, bathroom and laundry room. The Carriage house is a complete efficiency apartment with hard wood floors and custom louvered windows.

Kolflat’s been amazed by the response to Castle House since it hit the market. “You’d think in that price range there wouldn’t be a lot of people looking, but there are,” she says.

And many have had the chance to see it over the years. In 1974, Truxillo purchased the home. Then, in its bicentennial year 1976, he officially opened it.

“Sharing the house was his biggest thing,” Kolflat says. “He loved having it open to the public for home tours and inviting people in. At Halloween he would sit up at the top of the stairs — you’d go up that big staircase going up to the front door — he’d sit up there in his Boy Scout uniform.

“Every year he put on his Boy Scout uniform and handed out pounds and pounds of candy.”

Truxillo enjoyed the Christmas season just as much. “Just bringing the festivities to life. He really enjoyed life to the fullest,” his friend/realtor says.

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