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Real Estate / Mansions

River Oaks Treehouse Hits the Market for $19.5 Million

Super Lawyer’s Mansion Boasts Neighbors to Fawn Over — and Great Architecture Cred

BY // 08.01.17
photography Rob Muir

“An aristocrat’s treehouse.” “Treetop living — a house that inserts itself confidently, even regally into the landscape.” Thus, the majestic modern dwelling  richly nestled amid five lush acres on Buffalo Bayou has been described by an admiring architect and Architecture Record magazine respectively.

Miss Ima Hogg, on the other hand, is said to have nearly had a coronary when she saw trees coming down on the heavily wooded lot next door to her beloved home, Bayou Bend, in the heart of River Oaks.

Today,  the 11,676-square foot residence at 2930 Lazy Lane, designed by Howard Barnstone and Eugene Aubrey, is on the market, listed with John Daugherty Realtors. Famed litigation lawyer Richard Mithoff and his wife Ginni, a force in her own right on the philanthropic scene, are trading up, that is transitioning from terra firma to high-rise living.

At a certain point in one’s life, the allure of a house with five bedrooms, seven baths, five fireplaces, a swimming pool, a grand guesthouse and five acres of beautifully landscaped grounds overlooking the bayou gives way to the convenience of high-rise living.

The home has had only three owners beginning with entrepreneur-financier John Maher who built the house as his family’s home in the early ’60s. The colorful oil heiress Mary Ralph Lowe purchased it in 1987 and added the stunning guest house, stone walking paths, a waterfall, picnic area and outdoor sitting areas.

When the Mithoff’s purchased the house in 1995, they significantly updated it while carefully maintaining the original architect’s oeuvre. Bute-King Architects embraced the task and delivered remarkable results. The dated brick facade was wrapped in stucco. The entry was raised to 14 feet in height, three sets of double glass doors added, custom iron railings employed both outdoors and in.

Holiday Gifting

  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Cotton Club
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Elaine Turner - GiGi Flats
  • Wayne Smith
  • Wayne Smith
  • Elaine Turner - Felicia Stole in Magenta
  • Asher Gallery
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Cotton Club
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch

The kitchen was completely updated, a service room transformed into an office, and the family room brick was covered in cherry wood paneling. Bute-King reworked the master wing to include an indoor workout area and sauna, a light-filled office and sitting area and the bedroom with private patio. All of this on the  second floor which is the main, entry floor to the house.

Four spacious guest rooms are located on ground level along with a family room and small kitchenette, laundry room and storage area.

In 2005, the Mithoffs added a four-car garage, installed a generator large enough to serve the entire house, and replaced the original glass walls with tinted, glazed safety glass at 2930 Lazy Lane. Respecting the Barnstone legacy, the house maintains the signature glass and steel rooms on the main floor, magnificent window walls opening to the verdant surroundings.

2930 Lazy Lane

These walls have seen more than their share of glamorous parties for Houston arts groups, fundraisers for national political candidates, and the annual Easter Extravaganza, a springtime fete that fills the house and grounds with hundreds of families.

The new owners will be buying not only a magnificent property but also something of a bit of American politics. The Mithoffs, generous Democrats, have entertained a steady stream of U.S. presidents, senators, congressmen, governors and local officials.

The price tag for this gem is $19.5 million. This comes in just under the $20 million price tag on the nearby home that was built for a Saudi Arabian prince. The Mithoff home is a stone’s throw from the Mecom house, the recent leveling of which caused a conservationists uproar.

The new owners will also be attaining one of the pinnacles of the 77019 zip code as neighbors include Barbara and Gerald Hines, Terri and John Havens, Mo and Ric Campo, Courtney and Christopher Sarofim, Laura and John Arnold, and Jan Duncan.

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