For more than four decades, no Houston architect left a bigger and more enduring stamp on Houston’s finest neighborhoods than John F. Staub. Today, Staub homes are still coveted; you can find them among the leafy streets of Broadacres, Shadyside, River Oaks and Memorial. Though they vary in style and size, they’re intimate, livable and timelessly elegant.
Born in Tennessee in 1892, Staub received a master’s degree in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916. He landed in Houston in 1919 to run the local office of New York architect Harrie Lindeberg, a successful designer of country houses for rich New Yorkers. Lindeberg had gotten commissions to design four houses in the exclusive walled-and-gated neighborhood of Shadyside near Rice University.
When his work with Lindeberg was complete, Staub and his wife Madeleine decided to stay in Houston. Oil was booming, the Houston Ship Channel was open, and money was pouring into the city. It was the perfect storm for a residential starchitect.
A who’s who of prominent Houston families lined up for his services: Wiess, Farish, Blaffer, Cullen, Baker, Carter and, perhaps most important of all, Hogg. Not only did Staub design Bayou Bend (donated to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in 1966) for Miss Ima Hogg in 1926, but he worked with her brothers Mike and Will as they developed River Oaks, designing at least two houses a year there. Pretty remarkable, considering it was the middle of the Great Depression.
Says Walter Bering of Martha Turner Sotheby’s International Realty (who currently holds the listing for 2 Longfellow Lane), “My understanding of John Staub is that sources that knew him have described him as ‘uncompromising.’ I have had clients who have lived in a number of his homes. In many cases, they were custom-built for their family. Staub knew these families on a social level and had a clear idea of what home would work for them.
“And in other cases, he actually told the client what they wanted. He was always right. Since many of his homes were built before air conditioning, the rooms were positioned and designed to take advantage of the airflow. The house plans that he drafted are a work of art. I have seen some clients have them framed and put on their wall.”
Staub had a variety of styles, ranging from modest to very opulent. “Regardless of the style, his homes are intimate and very livable. He designed homes that helped shape the character of most all of Houston’s finest neighborhoods,” says Bering. “He was a very prolific architect of his time and created a ‘brand’ that was very much in demand. The architectural pedigree of a John Staub home offers an intangible resale value that will command a higher price. His ‘uncompromising’ nature has translated into a product that has stood the test of time and continues to be very much in demand.”
Take a Tour:
Here’s a checklist if you would like to take a drive-by
tour of John Staub designed homes:
3511 Del Monte Drive (1926), New England colonial
3452 Del Monte Drive, Mellinger House (1931), American colonial
2950 Lazy Lane, Dogwoods (1928), Norman manor house
2960 Lazy Lane, J. Robert Neal House (1933), Louis XV chateau-style
2995 Lazy Lane, Ravenna (1935)
2975 Lazy Lane (1939)
2929 Inwood Drive (1934), Colonial
2909 Inwood Drive (1936), Neo-Georgian
3335 Inwood Drive (1926), English manor
3637 Inwood Drive (1940), Georgian
3740 Willowick Road (1957)
17 Shadowlawn Circle (1926), French Breton
3 Remington Lane
1405 North Boulevard (1924), Connecticut Valley colonial
1324 North Boulevard (1926), English Manor
1505 North Boulevard (1927), Tennant House, neo-Georgian
1317 North Boulevard (1930), Dargan House, French manor
1400 South Boulevard (1929), Kuldell House, English manor