Former Houston mayor’s Riverside Terrace manse gets an overwhelming yes-vote for a sensitive restoration
By Barbara Kuntz • Photography by Jeff Paxton
An uncanny discovery by a father-daughter contracting and designing team unlocked the key to a big mystery surrounding an abandoned 1928 Riverside Terrace house as they were in the first step of restoration, going through the mounds of the unknown original owner’s furniture and extended family’s belonging. The purge even uncovered beauty shop supplies and day-care and apartment furnishings, as the site had hosted those tenants since the owner’s passing in 1968.
“As we were tearing down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room, we found a door jam with the name ‘Massey’ written in cursive in pencil,” Rachel Paxton, of CFV Home Restoration along with business partner and father Michael Cooney, says. “It was the original owner’s name.”
That door jam now rests on the fireplace mantel of the restored structure, former home to the late Houston mayor Otis Massey and his family that once again stands proudly in this historic neighborhood in all its Tudor Revival glory and as a protected city landmark, thanks to Paxton and Cooney.
Their 15th renovation and restoration project, Paxton and Cooney purchased the property in March 2016 and started the overhaul, beginning with ridding of interior holdings and filling two full large dumpsters worth of stuff.
“We realized just how bad of condition the house was in because all the junk covered up the damage,” Paxton says. “It was difficult to tell what was original and what was not, with several add-ons.”
Doing her regular research, Paxton, also a certified realtor with Realty Kings Properties, says she tracked down the Massey grandchildren, who gladly shared with her photographs, memorabilia and, possibly most importantly, a contract between the owner and builder describing in great detail how the house was to be constructed.
“So we pulled out everything that wasn’t included in the plans and kept everything that was,” Paxton says.
Tagged by the city and destined for the wrecking ball, the 4,168-square-foot house at 2622 Riverside Drive now welcomes with a circular drive and freshly installed landscaping. A step inside immediately reveals some of the historic Craftsman details, such as the original gumwood trim and oak hardwood floors the duo hand-sanded and re-stained. Those features are also found throughout the home.
Archways gracefully lead residents and guests from the large foyer to the living area/library warmed by a wood-burning fireplace with original mantel and tiling to the elegant formal dining room. Six French doors and several bay windows with built-in cushioned seating fill the home with natural light.
The spacious kitchen is fully upgraded with soft-close Craftsman-style cabinets that match the gumwood trim. A banquette provides seating for six, as well as views of the new deck and back yard. Soapstone countertops add to the ambiance, as do rounded brass fixtures and a custom range hood. A wine cellar sits ready to display a connoisseur’s collection.
The four-bedroom residence includes a spacious master suite on the second floor. Master bath highlights are a claw foot tub and rainfall shower heads in the shower, which is cleverly partitioned by an exposed chimney. An antique sideboard is repurposed as a custom double-vanity.
The four-and-one-half bathrooms show off original tubs and sinks and period basketweave tile. And at the top of the hallway stairs, a private third-floor suite is equipped with its own three-piece bath.
As for exterior extras, you’ll find a custom Craftsman-style deck built by Paxton and Cooney, terracotta-covered porch, French awnings and a second-floor balcony.
The house initially went on the market in December 2016 with a list price of $647,000.
CFV Home Restoration
CLAWFOOT TUBS, FRENCH DOORS
Houston Historic Salvage Warehouse
1200 National St., Suite B
COUNTERTOPS (soapstone and caesarstone)
Pomogranit Stones Inc.
8758 Clay Road, Suite 410
The Home Depot online
FRENCH AWNINGS (custom)
Paul Gollub Roofing Co.
606 Elm View Court
HOT WATER HEATER AND TANKLESS ITEMS
Texas Plumbing Supply
Two Houston locations
5511 Todville Road
Lowe’s online (kitchen flooring, too)
Mustard Seed Resale Shop
1410 Elgin St.
Realty Kings Properties
1717 St. James Place
REMOVAL OF LOAD-BEARING WALLS