BEAUTY ON THE BAYOU
Treasured River Oaks Estate on Five Acres Exudes Luxury
By Barbara Canetti • Photography by ©Rob Muir Courtesy of John Daugherty Realtors
Visitors to Richard and Ginni Mithoff’s River Oaks home — and there have been thousands of them — are immediately amazed by not only the magnificent house, but also the lush setting, the view, the ambience and the fact that they are not in the country but in the center of the nation’s fourth-largest city.
Precision Industries Inc. One of only 10 houses on elegant Lazy Lane, this mid-century modern, light-filled structure is secluded behind a wall and sits on five acres abutting Buffalo Bayou and next door to the legendary home of Ima Hogg, now the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Bayou Bend.
Precision Industries Inc. The Mithoffs have lived in this 11,600-square-foot house for 20 years, remodeling it after purchasing it in 1996. Although their renovation included upgrades and updates, the character of this Howard Barnstone-designed structure remains. Their recent decision to sell their beloved home was a difficult choice, but it is on the market for $19.5 million and listed with Jeanne Marosis through John Daugherty Realtors.
A MOST GRACIOUS WELCOME
Enter the gate and the serenity engulfs guests with a stucco-and-glass building in the distance located behind a grove of tall pines and oaks on a grassy knoll and circular drive in front of the house and punctuated by four 16.5-foot granite towers created by American sculptor Jesus Moroles in 2000. A guest house and a pool house, as well as a four-car garage, are also on the property, but it is the massive structure in the back that consumes the site.
Precision Industries Inc. Once inside the house and the bright, elegant entry room with comfortable couches, tranquil art and interesting multi-colored chandeliers hanging from a whopping 17-foot-high coffered ceiling, visitors can start to see the incredible views. They move into the 26-foot-long glass-enclosed gallery, decorated with fabulous art glass and period furniture, and into a huge 30-foot-long living room and its smaller sibling, the dining room.
Precision Industries Inc. The floor-to-ceiling windows in these two rooms — with heights of 14 feet — are made of glazed and tinted safety glass overlooking the lush gardens and landscaping, the curve of the meandering bayou and the trails and terraces in the garden and greenery. It is truly a breathtaking sight.
Precision Industries Inc. The two rooms are divided by a sculptured two-sided stone fireplace with large, imposing artwork hanging above each mantel. The dining room, with two tables and seating for 30, is decorated with a respectable amount of whimsical glass art displayed in the built-in cabinets surrounding the fireplace.
THE WALK-THROUGH CONTINUES
Nearby is the kitchen, redesigned by the Mithoffs, which is not only used by caterers and professional chefs, but also by the family for at-home dinners and coffee. An outside grill is also available through glass doors on a spacious veranda, perfect for al fresco dining and taking in the natural beauty surrounding the house.
Precision Industries Inc. One room that stands out in the house is the library, with its deep cherry wood paneling and hundreds of books and family photos lining the shelves. A sculpted granite wood-burning fireplace fortifies the comfortable room, and three sets of shuttered French doors lead to an iron-railed terrace, which looks out onto the landscape and pool. Nearby is a small and cozy private office used by Richard, a successful trial lawyer.
Precision Industries Inc. First stop on the other side of the house and still on the main level: Workout room and sauna, with giant mirrors and great views of the outdoors. A bit further down the hall opens into a large sitting room and office, used by Ginni, a powerhouse community worker who frequently undertakes leadership roles for causes she believes in.
Precision Industries Inc. The master bedroom is spacious and the omnipresent views abound: The landscaped ravines, terraced paths and stone barriers in front of the winding bayou. The huge bathroom and giant walk-in closets provide sufficient space for storage, clothing and personal space.
Precision Industries Inc. Downstairs are four bedrooms, plus an additional informal family room and play area used by their growing family and five grandchildren. A small kitchenette is also available for refreshments and snacks. Each bedroom downstairs has its own bathroom and views of the grounds and vegetation outside.
A large under-the-house carport — big enough for five vehicles — has frequently been used as the setting for some of the parties and gatherings at the home. The Mithoffs have the reputation of offering their spacious home for fundraisers, entertainment or crusades for causes important to them. Presidents, senators, congressional candidates, as well as contenders for mayor, sheriff and state representative have graced their home, and thousands of well-wishers have joined them at these events.
Precision Industries Inc. Perhaps the only house on Lazy Lane more visited than the Mithoffs’ home is Bayou Bend, and that’s a museum. But this residence is now and has always been a Houston treasure.
ARCHITECT (for upgrades)
Ronald Logan Interest Inc.
John Daugherty Realtors
Boehle Construction Services
ELECTRIC WINDOW SHADES
The Shade Shop
Clouse Wood Floors
INTERIOR & EXTERIOR LIGHTING
Rulon Electric Co.
Watts Pool Service
TILE AND GRANITE
J. Rios Inc.
WHOLE HOUSE GENERATOR
Cummins Sales and Service