Real Estate / Mansions

Landmark River Oaks Mansion Deemed One of America’s Most Beautiful Homes Hits the Market: $4.7 Million Asking Price, Judge Hofheinz Ties and a Mortgage Tycoon Add Intrigue

BY // 02.20.18
photography TK Images

Another landmark Houston residence, built in 1928, is hitting the market as the current homeowners, empty-nesters, are seeking something smaller than their 7,400 square foot Southern Colonial mansion. The historic property at 1059 Kirby, was designed by Charles Oliver who was in-house architect for the Hogg brothers’ River Oaks Corporation.

Oliver would go on to design 75 houses in the upscale River Oaks neighborhood but few with such timeless bones and stately beauty as this house. Built as a spec home, it was purchased in 1929 by T.J. and Ruth Bettes, who earned fame and fortune through his namesake mortgage company which was once billed as the largest in the south.

On more than one occasion, the old Houston Post Dispatch swooned over the residence, in one article reporting, “The beautiful walls and woodwork, the interesting floors of oak boards of uneven width put together with pegs, the heavy colonial entrance door and inside doors of beautifully rubbed walnut are striking features . . .”

Another post on the house reported that nationally respected interior decorator Mrs. R.H. Thomas of Richmond, Virginia, had declared the Bettes home as “one of the most beautiful residences in America.”

In 1980, storied former Houston mayor Judge Roy Hofheinz purchased the house from the Bettes estate thereby opening the door for an even more colorful pedigree. With its architectural heritage and colorful owners, the T.J. and Ruth Bettes House, as it is known, received a city of Houston Landmark Designation in 2009.

The genteel ambience of the home asserts a style of gracious living for those with an appreciation of history. Consider the wide-plank oak flooring, the crown molding throughout, six wood-burning fireplaces and high ceilings. At the same time, the updated kitchen and baths, Programme Martin closets, the climate controlled wine cellar, and automatic landscape lighting provide modern-day comforts.

Cosseted behind a towering hedge and secured behind wrought iron gates, the property feels larger than the half acre it occupies. A circular motor court in the front of the house leads to a two car garage while a flagstone terrace in the backyard overlooks an Old World swimming pool and manicured gardens, a beautiful throwback to a bygone era.

In fact, one can’t help but be reminded of director George Cukor’s 1940 Philadelphia Story when considering the T.J. Bettes mansion.

The property at 1059 Kirby features a master suite with dressing room and adjoining study, three guest bedrooms with baths, four and 1/2 baths, a third floor flexible space, a paneled den with fireplace and a bright sun room with arched French doors that open to the covered flagstone terrace.

The property is listed with John Daugherty Realtors’ Laura Sweeney with a asking price of $4.7 million.

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