COTE DE TEXAS: A Bit of Architectural History

A Bit of Architectural History

 

Last year I wrote a story HERE about a house for sale in River Oaks, Houston’s toniest neighborhood.  The house, an original to the area, had been featured in Veranda in 1999, after it was decorated for its owners by Babs Watkins, the late interior designer.  Watkins played an important role in creating the “Houston Look” – an aesthetic filled with painted European antiques, faux walls, slipcovered furniture, and gilded accessories.  When the photoshoot of this French styled mansion was published, Watkins reputation as a visionary was sealed.   For years, fans of the house had only the photographs from the Veranda to look at, but when the house was put up for sale – suddenly there was a trove of new photos of Babs work to examine, albeit 15 years later.   The decor is still as pretty today as it was then.    

 

The house, whose interiors Babs Watkins designed in 1999.  A French styled manse in Houston’s River Oaks neighborhood, it was the work of the very talented and prolific Houston architect, Joseph Finger.

 

The back side of the house shows the large terrace and the breakfast room – located in the bay window. 

 

The front entry with a winding staircase and scrolled banister – along with a large crystal chandelier.   The decor was typical of Watkins – delicate antique furniture with sparse, oversized accents.

At the time, while this house built in 1937, was being well cared for – across town another French mansion designed by Joseph Finger in 1935 had not met the same fate.  Instead, this second Finger designed French house was left to the elements and was allowed to decay.   The irony of the two twin houses designed by the same architect – one lovingly cared for, the another ignored – was too interesting a story to ignore.

 

The other Finger designed mansion – left to decay, was sold “as is.”  Located on almost five acres, the new owners are restoring the house to its former grandeur. 

 

The back side of the mansion – you can see a similar bay window, one of many architectural details that both houses shared.

Besides the interesting juxtaposition of the condition of both houses, there were other intriguing contrasts.   While the well cared for house was built in the heavily deed restricted River Oaks, the decaying mansion was built in Riverside Terrace, where deed restrictions were abolished when the societal turmoil of the 60s hit Houston.

The River Oaks neighborhood was home to the wealthiest of Houstonians.  But, one section of the population was missing:  the wealthy Jews of Houston.  Instead of living in River Oaks, Jewish families moved en masse to the newly created Riverside Terrace which was platted along Braes Bayou.  Banned from River Oaks, many Jew built their own two story classic colonial, English and French inspired mansions, while others had architects design contemporary houses.    For over 30 years, Riverside Terrace was the center of Jewish life in Houston.  But,  with integration, came a text book case of “white flight” to Riverside Terrace.   A documentary was made in 1987 about the neighborhood  and the strife that ensued:  “This Is Our Home – It Is Not For Sale.”

And so, it was in the atmosphere before religious tolerance, that the largest house in Riverside Terrace came to be built, on a five acre lot on the bayou – designed by one of Houston’s most prominent architect’s – Joseph Finger.  The family that commissioned the beautiful French house was Joe Weingarten – one of the sons of Harris Weingarten, who had started a grocery store chain that at its peak had over 200 stores in several southern states.

Joe and his wife Malvina knew the architect Joseph Finger because he had built many of the original Weingarten stores.  They commissioned Finger to design the French chateau with five bedrooms for their young family, including sons Bernard and Jack and daughter Eveta.  Joe’s brother, Sol, also hired Finger to design a house for his own family right down the street, also facing the bayou.   Their other brother Abe hired Finger to design a large white mansion several streets away from MacGregor on Parkwood:

Joe Weingarten’s brother Abe’s house – similar to his own - was also designed by Joseph Finger.

 

  Joseph Finger was a Jewish architect who in 1905 immigrated from Austria where he had earned his degree.  Finger designed many important buildings in Houston, such as retail stores for Everitt Buelow, and Battelsteins.  He designed many Jewish buildings including an earlier Congregation Beth Israel, Beth Israel Mausoleum, an earlier Beth Yeshurun, and more.  He also designed the Houston City Hall which still stands today along with many other iconic buildings including Houston’s Municipal Airport

 

Besides the house Finger built for the Weingartens, other prominent Jewish families living in the neighborhood were the Battlesteins, the Sakowitzs, the Bordens, the Turboffs, and the Meyers.  

One interesting fact about the Weingarten French chateau concerned his son Bernard, who had grown up there.  He eventually married Houstonian Shirley Caplovitz and when his parents moved out of the mansion, Bernard bought it for his own family which eventually included five daughters.

When Bernard moved out, he sold the house to a family who never maintained the house, allowing it to deteriorate.  They have just sold it to a couple who are now currently restoring it.  Photographs have been showing up in the Houston Chronicle of their incredible progress. 

 

Here is a drawing of how the house will look when the restoration is complete.  The main facade will remain the same with the addition of a new porte cochere to the right of the front door, along with a two story garage.  In the back a new kitchen wing will be added, along with a pool:

The back of the renovated Weingarten mansion – with the kitchen wing projecting out in front of the swimming pool.

 

Before:  The house was a confection of pink carpet.  I talked to Bernard Weingarten’s daughter Ellen and she told me that this pink carpet was not in the house when she lived there as a small child.  And even more strangely – the pink carpet was simply laid over the existing carpets and floors – without ever being installed.   When Ellen recently went to visit her former home, the stairs were especially tricky to navigate because the pink carpet kept slipping.

The Houston Chronicle visited the house in the middle of its incredible renovation: 

 

During:  The floor boards have been removed.  Notice the fireplace – there is no mantel.  Bernard’s wife loved the marble mantel and had it removed when she moved out, installing it in her new house.  Photographs of their new house are coming up!

The French manse already looks so much better now that it has been cleaned and stripped.   This room is going to be so beautiful.  I can’t wait to see it completed!!

 

Before:   The beautiful entry which looks very much like its twin River Oaks house that Joseph Finger also designed.

 

During:  The current owner shows the renovation’s progress to the Houston Chronicle.  The pink carpet has been removed.  Notice the niche.   The railing is so beautiful – I can’t wait to see the house finished!

 

The new owner in the bay window room – similar to the one in the River Oaks house.  Again, the floor boards have been removed.  Notice the wall heater!  

To see more photographs of the restoration – with new pictures of its attic and basement(!) go HERE.

 

After Bernard and Shirley Weingarten bought the house from Bernard’s parents, their five daughters were born and began going to school – on the other side of town.  Before the days of the freeway, the commute from MacGregor Drive to Memorial was taxing.  Along with all the political upheaval happening in their once bucolic neighborhood, the Weingartens began to think about moving closer to the girls school.

And so, in the mid 1960’s Bernard and Shirley began designing a new house.  It would prove to be completely different than the French manse that Bernard had lived in almost his entire life.   Joseph Finger, the architect long associated with the Weingarten family and the one who had designed the French house, had passed away in 1958.  In his place, the family hired a new architect that would be closely associated with a cousin of the family, building developer Kenneth Schnitzer Sr.  That architect was Arthur Evan Jones.

Jones was a very prolific architect who had a hand in designing many of the contemporary buildings in Houston.  He was a graduate of Rice University and he worked with Lloyd and Morgan where he later became a partner.   He is credited with being lead designer on such projects as the Allen Center, American General Center, Greenway Plaza, Smith Tower, Rice Stadium and too many more to list here.  But, Jones will always be best known as the designer of Houston’s famous Astrodome.

 

A beautiful architectural drawing of the Astrodome, called the Eighth Wonder of the World.  The first air conditioned stadium, it opened in 1965 – with its famous faux grass called AstroTurf.

A wonderful interview with the architect Jones is HERE.  

While Jones was busy designing many of Houston’s modern buildings, he took time out to design some residential homes, mostly contemporary ones.  One such home was built for Bernard and Shirley Weingarten and their five daughters. 

Mrs. Weingarten lived a rather short life and unfortunately died at just 56, in 1985.  Bernard Weingarten chose to stay in their home and he lived there until he himself passed away last year at the age of 90.  He refused to move and told his family the only way he would leave his house was “feet first.”

Now that he is gone, the house is for sale and it is quite remarkable.  It’s not everyday that a house designed by such a talented architect as Arthur Jones goes on the market.  And even more exciting is that Shirley Weingarten had hired the Houston legend Herb Wells to design the main rooms.  Very little of Wells original design has been changed over the years which is so interesting to see.

So.  Let’s take a look at the house, located in Piney Point Village.

 

The modern house is set on 1.77 wooded acres, built around two courtyards, which are seen through its many windows.

 

The house is 6900+ sq. ft with 5 bedrooms and 3 full, 2 1/2 baths, along with quarters.

 

The back of the house faces a natural setting.  There are two main courtyards that the rooms overlook.

Here’s the floor plan.  The house is large enough that there is room for a large wet bar in the den, a large powder room, a playroom with another wet bar, and study areas in the kids rooms.  There are quarters over the 3 car garage.   To see the listing, go HERE. 

The beautiful photos were provided by Benjamin Hill.

 

The front doors open onto a gallery hall that leads through to the dining room and past that, to the living room.  Herb Wells used a green slate floor.  Here – two demilunes flank a piece of textile art.

 

 

The view facing the front door.  The kitchen is off to the right of the door while the family room is off to the left.  The living room and dining room are straight ahead from the door.

 

View towards the front door.

 

Past the front hall is the dining room.  It overlooks the courtyards on both sides.

 

 

Looking the opposite direction towards the living room.  On the left is the interior courtyard with doors that open up to it.   Across is the master suite.   The table seats 12 – you can see how large this room actually is.

I can’t help but wonder what the new owners will do to the house!  I can’t wait to see!!  I have a feeling the walls will be white white – which will be perfect for modern art work.  I wonder if they will keep the green slate – or remove it and put down light hardwoods which is so trendy now?

 

 

Two steps down from the dining room is the large living room with the views toward the natural landscaping of the courtyard.   The carpet covers the slate floor.  You can see into the kitchen on the left past the dining room.

 

And the view towards the fireplace.  Out the window is the incredibly dense Piney Point forest.

It’s hard to believe the house was decorated in the 1960s and is still so pretty and well done.  A nod to the great Herb Wells!!!

 

The views are incredible.

 

Notice the marble mantel – that is the one that was once in the Weingarten French mansion on MacGregor.  Mrs. Weingarten loved it so much, she hated to leave it there – so she moved the mantel with her! 

 

The house is filled with beautiful art work. 

 

Past the dining room is the cross gallery hall, then the kitchen.  There is a small eating area inside the kitchen and a larger breakfast room on the other side of the kitchen.  I wonder if the new owners will remove the wall between the kitchen and breakfast room and create one large kitchen.

You can see into the breakfast room via the pass-through over the sink.

 

This shows the view through the kitchen, past the entry hall, to the family room that leads to the kids rooms.  I love the clock over the refrigerator – and I love the water fountain!!!

 

The breakfast room, which has beautiful cabinetry.  I do feel that the new owners will create one large kitchen by removing this wall.  Today, people want a huge, open kitchen.  Through the double doors is the playroom.

 

The large powder room has a foyer.

 

The playroom.

 

The family room overlooks the courtyard and the front yard.  I really like the decor here with the striped rug and the skin sofas.  Behind the sofa is a large wet bar.

 

Facing the fireplace.  Behind this bookcase are the doorways to the bedroom wing.

 

The celadon green master bedroom is separated from the four kids rooms.  It faces the courtyard and the living and dining rooms past it. 

 

Facing the courtyard – you can see the living room from these windows.

 

Above the armoire is a photograph of one of the original Weingarten stores!!

 

Looking towards the door, that leads to the four children bedrooms and the family room.

 

The master bath has beautiful white marble with celadon painted cabinetry.

 

There are four bedrooms.  Each is decorated in the 70s style.  Mrs. Weingarten had hired another designer for the girls rooms and the playroom.

 

Two rooms share a bathroom each.  And, in the bedrooms, the study area is separated from the bedroom. 

 

I hope you have enjoyed this slice of Houston architectural history – a house designed by the legendary Arthur Evan Jones.  The Weingartens built this house for their large family – it was a complete departure from the  French mansion on MacGregor built by the also legendary Joseph Finger – the house where Bernard had himself grown up in.  Mr. Weingarten loved his modern house so much that he chose to stay here, after his children grew up and his wife had passed away.  Hopefully a new family will move in and create their own happy memories.

 

For years Herbert Wells was the top designer in Houston and beyond.  He had partnered with Jerry Jeanmard and the two worked together on their numerous jobs.

Mr. Wells passed away a few years ago and today, Jeanmard continues to design with Lauren Hudson.

Next month, Jeanmard and Hudson are opening a store in the design center that will include original Wells designed furniture – taken from drawings found in his office.  These iconic pieces have been updated for today’s client, while still retaining the wonderful Wells touch.

 

An original Herb Wells design.

 

A room designed by Wells Design of today – led by Jerry and Lauren.  I really love this room!!!!  For more information on their new store, go HERE. 

 

AND….

One of Cote de Texas advertisers, Maison & Co., has unloaded a new shipment of gorgeous antique furniture and accessories.

There is a collection of chairs and settees and cabinets from Sweden and France.  Gorgeous pieces!

 

And there are interesting items like these old grape hods in different sizes!!

Be sure to look at all their new accessories along with their antiques. To visit, go HERE!

 

AND…finally:

Simon Paul Scott, manufacturer of marble goods, brass goods, and an assortment of other goodies, sells mainly to online stores.  He is now offering his wares to Cote de Texas readers!!  My favorites are his marble grapes – which come in a variety of sizes.

And there are his handpainted panels – large and small.  He also sells custom wallpaper (I used his wallpaper in my own bedroom.)

Don’t see what you like?  Ask him!!!!  He has a warehouse full of pillows and textiles and more!!

Simon Paul Scott’s inventory is now 20% off with this code:

Cotedetx

This includes free shipping this month!!!

Go HERE.

72 comments :

  1. Joni,
    No content came through on this post. Love your blog and the educational/ historical information is great.
    Keep up the good work

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  2. Nothing on your posting this time!

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  3. I like your topic, after reading your article very helpful at all and can be a source of reference I hope others can feel the same benefits as me I will wait for your next article updates Thank you, for sharing

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  4. Love the floorplan! With a couple tweaks it would be perfect! I can imagine how nice it would be to have cross ventilation on nice days!

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  5. River Oaks is indeed a lovely area of Houston. AND, happy to see some warm colors showing up in the "Houston Look" again. However, many of the photos you show can easily be found on line because the shelter magazines are catching up with design blogs. One need only search for a particular topic such as "Country French+Images" and hundreds of phtots appear for perusal. Most link to websites for more in depth information. I regularly get feeds from Veranda, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, and Antiques and Designers.

    What I miss is your more original work such as we heard and read in Dear Miss Cote De Texas, Before and After and The Skirted Round Table. The Shelter Magazines are nipping at your heels so design bloggers need to up their game!

    Best wishes and good luck!

    Charlotte

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    Replies
    1. Tired of Charlotte Des FleursNovember 15, 2016 at 3:58 PM

      Charlotte, people like you amaze me. Truly. Reading your self-congratulatory bio is all anyone needs to do to realize that you're a lonely shell of a person, with too much time on your hands, a deluded sense of reality and worth, with a genuine sadness about your life that you feel you need to share with the world in any way you possibly can. Apparently you have found the world of interior design blogs to be that place. Surely someone who is in Sales and Marketing, as you claim you are, can understand that you have sold yourself as a thoughtless parasite, looking for the next joyful thing you can suck the excitement and life out of.

      I realize that this post reply will only bring a light to your eye, a spark to a low burning flame you've been waiting to add a log to for far too long, but I couldn't keep my eyes closed, and mouth shut to your vitriol any longer, especially after your he-ho-bandwagon-Republican-rhetoric on the White House post Joni wrote without need for your (or anyone else's) political opinion.

      Please sit back with your Trump porch punch, along with all of the other evangelical Christian's, just waiting for someone to funnel their negativity into a book on Country French Design. Take a few moments to enjoy that you'll be living in a country emboldened by the hateful rantings of a ill-informed and ill-equipped leader, and spend some time creating the book you say you stay awake writing nightly, googling "Country French+Images" at your leisure, and subscribe to every shelter magazine so that you can keep up with the world of design, while you and all of the others keep a log of deported illegals.

      Let people who care to enjoy their time on Cote de Texas do so without having to read your tiresome and altogether unnecessary words. Best wishes, and good luck to you.

      Delete
    2. Amen sister...what a poignant response to dear "Charlotte" Joni, loved your great post...but most important is to tell you to stay strong, and keep those "Tweets" coming!!!

      Delete
    3. Bravo, Tired! Well said! Charlotte certainly does have a deluded sense of her own worth, one she certainly has no qualms about sharing with the rest of us.

      Delete
    4. Hear, hear! I enjoy all of Joni's posts and never cease to be amazed by the things that trolls can come up with to criticize!
      Sarah in CA

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    5. Dear Tired, I would applaud your rebuke to Charlotte, but find your hateful and spiteful comments directed toward our new President quite shameful and frankly, unnecessary.

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    6. Tired of Charlotte Des FleursNovember 17, 2016 at 1:18 PM

      Dear Anon 12:04PM
      Please know that my rebuke to Charlotte's diatribe and vitriol was not one I had hoped would be applauded by you, or by anyone else. I believe that many readers have written similar comments pointing to their love of what Joni does here on Cote de Texas. Sincerely, Joni has inspired many of us, and I think that nearly everyone who comments and reads her blog felt similarly to me in regard to Charlotte's post(s).
      I would not have taken the time to write anything at all here, but I want to make something clear about the comments you've noted as hateful and spiteful, which I cast toward Donald Trump. Over 100 million people voted in the election this year, each with a varied and different opinion about the person they were voting for, or against. I'm entitled to mine, as much as you are entitled to yours, as much as your neighbor is entitled to his. I'm not asking that you agree with them.
      Donald Trump, rally after rally, as a man who was running for office as the leader of our country, cast one hateful, bigoted, misogynous slur after another, targeting and alienatign more than 1/2 of our country. His "frank" way of speaking would be tolerable, if it wasn't on the heels of a vocabulary clearly shaped by his racism, hate, and fear of anyone unlike him.
      I am baffled by the hypocrisy, when his supporters stand smiling at their candidate, and cast shame upon those who have said far less about that man than he did about women, minorities, the LGBTQ community, rights of veterans, access for the impoverished to preventative healthcare, and more.
      Donald Trump is not qualified to be the leader of the United States. Nothing he has done has prepared him for the office of President, and most certainly, his hateful, spiteful chants and rhetoric on the campaign trail has done nothing but embolden a disengaged and uneducated public, with a shameful fear, ignorance, and hate of their own. He has poured fire on a low-burning flame of a grand number of people who value their own life over those of others.
      So, that being said, it is as necessary as your own comment for me to air my grievances, as you should air yours, as anyone should air theirs. Being complicit in what has become a fearful world for many, is no longer acceptable. Change is necessary, and I believe that my comment, directed at Charlotte with regard to her comments on Donald Trump, perfectly represents my view on the man he told ALL of us he was.
      Maya Angelou wrote: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." I choose to believe that he is the hateful, fear mongering, ill-equipped and ill-advised man that he told the world he was. By all means, please, feel about him however you'd like.
      Best wishes, and good luck to you!

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    7. People who voted opposite of you are not 'disengaged', obviously, because they got out and voted. The people who are tearing up property in Portland are the 'disengaged' ones as 70% of them did not vote and now they have the time to act stupid.
      People who voted opposite of you are not 'uneducated', and as I heard a someone say yesterday, if you're calling these people 'uneducated' well, then "good luck to them when they want to get their car fixed. Ha! Good one, huh?
      Sheila

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    8. @Tired...."Cote de Texas" is not, at the risk of being dreadfully obvious, a political website. I did not post the comment to you to argue the merits of President-Elect Trump, of which there are many. You clearly are biased beyond all reason. Indeed, I could write a much longer post about all the criminal activities of former candidate Hillary Clinton. No, rather, what I was trying to do was to point out that we come here to view beautiful homes and admire lovely decorating. If I want people's political views, there are a number of websites I can and do turn to. Leave your politics out of it.

      Delete
    9. Tired of Charlotte Des FleursNovember 18, 2016 at 8:32 AM

      Dear Sweet Joni,
      As noted above by Anonymous 8:36PM, dreadfully obviously, Cote de Texas is not a political website. However, in this unique climate, I believe that many topics can become turned toward the results of the election, and that tide can wash away the original intent of the conversation. I apologize for turning the comment section of your blog into a place where political views have overrun my original intention to stand with others and say: "You're fantastic, and the work you put into each post is much appreciated!" I will not post any further comments here in a political nature, after the two below.

      Dear Sheila,
      Were mechanics the only people who voted for Trump? I'm not sure what your "joke" even means, but I can assume that you think I meant that people who are not college educated are the only Trump voters. I know that this isn't the case. Quite the contrary. There are brilliant people, educated and degreed, from well-heeled families who voted for Trump. My comment about uneducated and disengaged people has nothing to do with wealth, or higher education, or privilege for that matter. It has everything to do with being aware, knowledgeable, and thoughtful of the issues that our country is facing and that we will face, together. These people who I refer to, only have THEIR best interests in mind, not the interest of others, and that is not a way to as Donald Trump says, "Make American Great Again."

      Dear Anon 8:36PM,
      I don't think that biased is the correct word, certainly not beyond all reason. I am not unfairly prejudiced against Donald Trump. Anything that I have said are words that he has said, threats he has made, etc.. They're only corralled here together in my words, instead of his. As I stated, we all have our opinion of Donald Trump, of Hillary Clinton, and of the world that we will enter into in January. I agree with you that this is a place of beauty, and it shouldn't be tarnished with negative political conversation, thus my apology to Joni. However, I stand beside my opinion that being complicit in what has become a fearful world for many, is no longer acceptable.

      Best wishes, and good luck to you all!

      Delete
    10. Dear Tired,
      You are not looking for an honest conversation; you are looking for a bully pulpit. And as you apparently could not resist getting in your last word, I will do the same. People who are "living in fear" as you put it, don't have the sense God gave a goose. They are 20 somethings who don't work, don't pay taxes, don't own property, and are quite frankly ignorant of the real world, the real issues, and the real President Elect because all they watch is CNN. Meanwhile, George Soros is bussing people in and paying them to contest the outcome of a democratically held election. THAT is what is scary. President Elect Trump says he wants to help all Americans. I, and millions of other people, see how he has risked his life, fortune, and sacred honor in order to do so, and we are willing to give him a chance.

      Delete
    11. Eeek! These generalizations (on both accounts) are scary! Can't we all just get along!?

      Delete
    12. Yes generalizations are scary ! Here is a shocking reality for ya-- I am a democrat and I'm also a racist, in that I fear small groups of black teenage males when I am walking own the street alone. NYC will tell you to avoid such groups when entering nearly empty subway cars, via public safety guidelines. I guess I can blame our super liberal mayor for my affliction.

      I'm also an Islamiphobe. (sp?) I fear Sharia Law. I have many wonderful gay friends, several whom I love dearly. I'm terrified of images I've seen from Syria of people being thrown from buildings, burned alive, beheaded, because they are gay, or just suspected of being so. Also, I hate scarves. I look terrible in them.

      Educated, self-proclaimed moderate Muslims here in NYC, when surveyed, often express admiration for Sharia and say that it's really a good way to go. Frankly, I dread the wool burka in the July heat, trailing ten feet behind my seven year old son/male escort.

      In conclusion, all you people who dump on others for having reasonable fears....you have none? All accepting...all the time? You're lying. Absolutely lying.

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    13. I'm sorry to extend this, but good grief, you actually believe the fake news about protestors being bussed in! It has been proven and reported to be yet another lie in support of trump.

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    14. It's not the majority of protestors being bussed in.
      There is, however, a number of anarchists who travel about the country whenever anything bordering on political raises it's head. They've been in Portland all week; they love causing havoc and destruction in Portland and Seattle for some (obvious)reason. The police in Portland confirmed earlier this week that a number of these people were from out of town. The WTO riots in Seattle was one of the first times these criminals were heard of by most people. They've been on a rampage ever since. They show up in cities across America to destroy the downtowns whenever they have an excuse.
      They do travel about, police in cities across the country have verified this in numerous instances.
      Sheila

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    15. Anon 6:23 pm, I think I know what you mean. The left, and in particular, the political young, profess to be all inclusive, all the time, and equate any kind of fear or self-preservation as hate and prejudice. I used to think that this was a result of being young and inexperienced in the world and not having thought things through very carefully. But now this shallow thinking has spread so deeply into the adults among us, and particularly with women.
      I , too, have found it hard to understand women who are so concerned with equality, abortion rights, gender and sexuality issues can be so passive about Islam. Yes, even the most moderate and westernized (as in educated in the western world) welcome Sharia law and courts making inroads into our judicial system. Especially, Muslim men. Muslim men want to put women "in their place"...all Muslim men. I work and Live in Washington, DC. with the World Bank. My impressions are not garnered through propaganda, but through people I live near and work with everyday. Talk about a low level of fear !
      So I also see this all acceptance, all coolness, complete lack of fear, and boundaries, as a dark storm front for women, children (young girls!) and our future.

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    16. @Anon 6:23 and @Anon 8:22: Thank you for your beautifully worded and honest replies. I agree with both of your comments. Honestly, I don't understand the hypocrisy of the left and the complete lack of logic. Their huge slogan was "love trumps hate", but since the election, their actions have been hateful, violent, and shockingly ugly. Protestors are burning the American flag and waving the Mexican flag. What does that tell you? The incident last night at the performance of "Hamilton" was beyond the pale and actually makes me embarrassed for our country. America is supposed to be better than this.

      The vitriol directed at Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence defies all logic. Mr. Trump was in the public eye for 30 years. He had a hit TV show for 14 (?) years. Not until he called for the enforcement of the United States borders was he called a racist. And yet, this same man, supposedly so racist, went into the inner cities (Detroit, Miami, Charlotte) to meet black and Hispanic leaders...to work with them, to address their needs, to pray with them! And least of all I don't understand the comments that Mr. Trump is anti LQBT. Trump has publicly declared he doesn't care about bathrooms, for example. And after the Orlando shooting, Mr. Trump reached out to that community, promising to help keep them safe, while Hillary had the shooter's father at her rally. Open borders hurt all American citizens through crime, terrorism, job loss, etc. Why is this seen as racist or phobic or whatever? It is the President's main job to provide security for the country's citizens.

      By the way, the bussing and paid protestors are not fake. What has been fake though, are the numerous claims of violence perpetuated by Trump supporters. These have been shown to be hoaxes.

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    17. Come to think of it, I have never heard an Islamic woman, talk about Sharia anywhere, anytime, ever. I think they are afraid. Would not defy a father, brother, husband. An exception might be those who have had acid thrown in their faces for attending school, or that young girl who was shot in the head for seeking an education. Lets also mention honor killings. It is hard to understand sometimes the militant support many young western women have when it comes to welcoming Islam into all aspects of our modern world.

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    18. Hello fellow Washingtonian: I went to American University in the 70's At that time, Iran was ruled by the Shah (before revolution). AU had an exchange program with Iran. I remember so well, running the gauntlet through the Iranian male students who clustered in groups on the sidewalks and pathways trying to get to the dining hall in the student center, or to classes. The men ( boys really !) would leer and smirk and call any female all kind of vile names. The university just shrugged it off saying that was their culture. They considered all non-muslim women whores, and being in school made us even worse. This was way way back, and under a western-friendly ruler . A very strong memory for me.

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    19. Interesting that women have nothing to say about this. Afraid of being labeled. Afraid in general. We've already given in and given up. Will be the major issue facing our granddaughters and their daughters too.

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  6. what????? did you read the article????? i give up. i truly give up.

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    1. Don't worry about it, Joni. It's just Charlotte. Nothing ever makes her happy. The people who appreciate what you do REALLY APPRECIATE what you do.

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    2. Charlotte is such a PEEVISH downer! Best to ignore her..

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  7. Is it just me, or does anyone else see the man's face in the window facing the tree in the abandoned mansion? The article was beautiful Joni.

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    1. which picture ????? I don't see it?????? I see a form in the window on the stairs??

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    2. never mind I see it now! scary!!! - I think that is another window along the back of the house and it's actually the light coming through, but yeah, that is scary. haha!!! thanks !!!

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  8. I've read your blog for years and never left a comment, but this seemed to be a good time to let you know how grateful I am for Cote de Texas. As an architectural photographer with a life long love of houses and their stories, I've enjoyed and learned a great deal from your deeply researched content. There is nothing like clicking on the blog to discover a wonderful story like the one above. Thanks again!

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    1. I second you, Anonymous! Thank you, thank you, dear Joni, for this wonderful blog.Keep on trucking, and ignore the haters.
      Trump effect, I am afraid..

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  9. Dear Joni, Must admit, I missed the first few images. Sorry about that. None the less, to me, the rest reads like an ad for a luxury home for sale. I have been with you for about 6 years. I have learned a lot from you, perhaps too much. Often it feels (at least to me) that you work too hard just to churn out a blog every week or so. Material must be hard to find and you don't have a research staff. Perhaps your newer readers haven't become satiated, yet.

    Would love for you to take a deep breath, stretch your legs, shake your hair and get out of your office or your back patio and into the real world - to the Dallas Mart or the Atlanta Mart. Perhaps make a real-life visit to Round Top. Your early posts about some restored and redecorated farmhouses in the area were very interesting. Not something we would find in the usual shelter magazine. As far as I know, your blog is not required reading. It is just for entertainment.

    If everyone else thinks I'm crazy, that's fine. From my perspective, just asking for you to shake it up a bit.

    Best wishes, Charlotte

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    1. Charlotte. This story is not about a luxury home, much less an ad for one. It's about a family - and the history of two important houses and their connection to them. It's a Part Two to a long, detailed story I wrote last year. The prestigious Houston Mod is going to host an event at the house so that its members can enjoy it themselves. I was approached to write about by the estate. It has nothing to do with being an ad. Im just sorry you didn't really read it and you missed the nuance of the story. As for the blog, I made the decision long ago to not have a typical blog like others do. I enjoy research and I enjoy writing. I am not interested in having a blog about me going to market and then going to the design center and then going to round top and talking about what I saw there. There are plenty, if not most, blogs out there that do exactly that. Do you really need another one? I'm not interested in being one of the bunch. Do you think if I wanted to I couldn't write about all that? Of course I could. It's a decision. Do you honestly think I've not been invited every year to market? Why should I talk about market when almost every other blog, professional and not, have done exactly that? How boring. The blog isn't about me or my life. I'm not interested in having a diary of my comings and goings. But it's not like I never do that. I just wrote a long story about my visit to a beautiful antique/decor shop. I don't have any agenda. I don't have to write anything at all. I have very very few advertisers, just a handful, and I'm not obligated to them to write weekly. My schedule is only as long as it takes to research and write a story. When I write about a house for sale, I do so only because I think I can use it as a teaching moment by showing the befores or discussing the afters. You may not like those stories, but I get mostly positive feedback for them. It's a way to show bad decor vs good decor in a real setting and how to avoid it or get it. I try to be a unique voice. Last week with the White House photos - almost all the professional blogs had shown the pictures and quite a few of the other blogs too. I almost didn't write about it for that very reason. But then I thought - I want to see the new rooms next to the old versions - and decide who did it best. Did Smith? Did Jackie? Did Kaki? etc. I always think, if I want to see it, perhaps the readers will too. There were almost 100 comments about the decor and the election and it was a very passionate discussion. That didn't happen at the professional blogs. While you want me to shake it up a bit, I've been here for going on a decade. I've written about it all, yet I strive hard to bring something new each time, a new perspective, a new look. You've been reading for six years - that's a long time. There are a lot of new blogs out there, go explore them. Perhaps you will find one that suits you better than this one. I appreciate your reading CdT, but I will understand completely if you move on.

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  10. Well, as a newer (and less sophisticated) reader, I love your historical posts on houses and places I've never been and would never have the time or inclination to research myself.

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  11. Joni - This just goes to show that some people are never happy and will always find fault. "I have learned a lot from you, perhaps too much... Perhaps [you should] make a real-life visit to Round Top... As far as I know, your blog is not required reading..." Huh? What in the world is this woman talking about? I'm having trouble following her train of thought. She urges you to shake your hair, get off your back patio and go to the Dallas or Atlanta Mart. Oh, and she makes a snide comment about how material is hard to find and you don't have a research staff. Sounds a bit passive aggressive to me with a touch of jealousy thrown in. Oh, and satiation.

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    1. I wrote a too long reply. Charlotte's been here a long time. I'm sure it all gets stale after a few years. Thanks for having my back!!! Very very much appreciated.

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    2. Hi Joni,

      Maybe Charlotte does need to move on..... to therapy. I think that anyone that interested in being so vicious should be ignored. She obviously feels a need to antagonize and cause others to feel stress from her prodding and critical comments. I am also amazed at the amount of free time on her hands to troll a design blog. Probably the lack of friends or anyone willing to tolerate her leaves her with plenty of time to harass others.

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  12. Maybe it's time for Charlotte to move on. I am a newer reader and I have to say that I spent more time on your wonderful blog today than I have all my other blogs together!! It was so much fun to see the "time capsule" homes, imagine what I would do to change them and how I would embrace their history. Thank you so much for giving us something that informs in such an interesting way. I'm sure it is difficult to find new subject matter every. single. day., but many of us are just finding you, so any "stale" material is only stale to some. I look forward to your posts and hope that you continue presenting us with stories like the ones today. Now I'm going to look for the scary man in the window! :)

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  13. Dear Joni, I, AM grateful for your blog and have learned a lot from you over the years. The Skirted Round Table was one of your most interesting and innovative features but it seems you do not do that any more. Several years ago I wrote a comment with a VERY long list of all the things I have learned from you. However, in all that time I have never been one of your sycophants.

    Interesting, at about the 4 year point, two years ago, I did move on. Sharon Santoni, "My Country French Home", Mimi Thorisson, "Manger", and Betsy Speert. "Betsy Speert", have blogs where they, too, educate but with things they personally have done or with human beings with whom they have interacted. Some of the things you used to write about were pretty entertaining - "drive by of The Wheats", your hair raising interview with Bobby Mcalpine the "badass architect", and the conversion of an upstairs bedroom into your office. And the revelation of the "slap in the middle of the forehead" moment when you realised that the antique French ladder you bought could not possibly have been an antique.

    Dear Prof, the pressure to publish or perish weighs heavily upon you. Your Sabbatical is overdue by a year. And, as a graduate from your lecture series it probably IS time for me to make room for the wide-eyed freshmen.

    Best wishes, Charlotte

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  14. I love your posts and I appreciate the amount of research and work that you put into each one. It's very fun to see how people change homes over time. It's also so useful to see older photos of interiors that still look current. That's what I strive for.
    All that pink carpet is just insane.
    I have a niche like that in the apartments we're renovating. What should I put in it? Ours isn't symmetrical--I guess they had trouble with that 400 years ago.

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  15. Actually - in 2012, I wrote a Dear Miss Cote de Texas on niches and what to do and what not do. https://cotedetexas.blogspot.com/2012/10/dear-miss-cote-de-texas.html

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    1. Thank you for this! I went back a bit in your archives when I discovered your blog, but the posts are very heavy because of all the photos and take a long time to load with my slow Internet connection here in the middle of vineyards in rural France. Anyway, I didn't get as far as this one.
      I love your idea of hanging a sconce. The bottom of the niche isn't flat (what WERE they thinking?), so any sculpture would have to be well-balanced, not fragile and/or attached.
      Swahili architecture (especially on the island of Lamu) uses lots of niches, called kidaka (vidaka is the plural). They are elaborately carved and very beautiful.

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  16. Dear Joni, I have been reading your blog for the last 5 years or so. My mother, sister and I have been in the antique and interior business as long as I can remember. For the last 30+ years we have been living in northern New Mexico. For the last 2 or so years I have been dealing with a husband in the late stages of Parkinson's, he contracted the disease in 1991 and is only 66 years old. The reason I write (and this is the first time) is to finally say thank you. It's overdue. There have been many difficult days where I felt hugely isolated and helpless. Your blog kept me company. I so enjoy your down to earth humor, your advice and expertise. It was and remains a constant in my life and has been uplifting and inspirational. I can't imagine (and find it horrifying) that anyone would criticize your blog... Unbelievable! And offensive! You are like a friend I have never met.... I bet there are a bunch of us out there. Some day I hope to write to you about 'Santa Fe style'....in the meantime please just keep doing what you do! Thank you again!

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    1. hi! thank you !!!! i"m so glad the blog is something you enjoy. I understand what you are going through. I don't talk it about it much, but my husband is sick too. he has had a migraine headache for the past almost four years now and is housebound - except for brief respites. He actually has had a good period lately - that past few months except for a terrible setback the past six weeks. so I feel your pain.

      I did not realize there is late stages to the disease? is there never any hope of getting better?
      I hope so!

      Thank you so much for your kind words, J.

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    2. Oh boy.... I had no idea... That makes the blog even more amazing....as for the Parkinson's.... My husband has what is referred to as 'early onset' like what Micheal J. Fox has....there's no cure....the only thing for it is that the caretaker stay as healthy as possible....it's a tall order! But we have other loved ones that need our time and attention, not to mention work and day to day demands. Anyway, prayer works! along with humility, grace and gratitude!... and your fantastic blog! Hang in there! Will keep you both in my prayers!

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    3. same here!!! i'll keep you both in my prayers too.

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    4. A friend suffers with migraines and eventually had to leave her career. She recently posted this, "After three full months on Namenda (a medication for dementia and off-label for chronic headaches and migraines), I am excited to share that it has given me some relief for the first time in 4.5 years from migraines. It's been 11 weeks since my last ER visit and daily pain levels have reduced from around a 7/8 to a 5/6 (on a 1-10 pain scale)." I'm sharing this with you in hopes this info could make a difference for your husband.

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    5. hi. Susan: yes, Ben actually lost his business too. It's been a real disaster. He had brain surgery last year and it worked...for a month. He went on magnesium treatment and it worked...for two months. He went back on botox and it worked for 1.5 treatments. He recently went to the hospital for a new IV drug treatment used to treat psychotics and it seems to have worked along with a new botox round and a new med. He hasn't tried this med - but I will ask his dr. about it. It's great that it helped your friend. It's almost impossible when you have chronic daily migraine. Thanks!!! I"ll let him know.

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  17. I used to subscribe to many blogs, and have cancelled most of them with the exception of two or three. Yours is unique and stands apart from the rest. Please do not let those who criticize you stop your creative bent. I do not understand why people seem to think it is acceptable to criticize someone else's efforts, I find it disturbingly negative. If I do not like someone's writing style, I simply quit reading their posts.

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  18. I really enjoy your blogs. I like the pictures but also the history of the homes and gardens you feature. Excellent work!

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  19. Such amazing houses -so glad to see they're being restored and not knocked down!

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  20. Been with you here since the beginning of your blog -- and still hope that you will write a décor book one day! Then I'll gladly wait in that long line at a wonderful décor store ... so that you will sign my copy! :) I do read every single word -- and have enjoyed each and every posting! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  21. I second 'Teacats!' I've enjoyed it tremendously since the beginning and I also read every word. Thank you so much.

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  22. I was absolutely FASCINATED by this wonderful post, Joni! You are such a wonderful writer and detective. I found the history to also be so intriguing as well. Great pictures. One of your best posts yet!

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  23. Thank you for the great article. I always learn a lot from your blog. Please keep writing!

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  24. As a Houstonian, who has lived in River Oaks, Braeswood and Memorial areas, I particularly loved this blog entry and the history you shared. We grew up shopping at Weingartens. I often fantasied about purchasing both Bab's house and then, when we lived in West U and would walk the Bayou Area I would see the twin (along with the Hobby House) and dream of re-doing those houses. I would love it if you followed the renovation and shared it with us. One thing I have decided NOT to do is read the comment section...How is it that people who share a love of home (which for me means family) and beautiful aesthetics can be so divisive and snarkey? My daughter has had a severe headache every day since she was 8 (and is now 17). My husband went back and basically did a second residency program and researches wellness for us now after being offered crazy treatment plans that offered little benefit and high risk. My neighbor's brain cancer is back and her children are 15-19 and I found myself in tears over her suffering today. I'm so grateful to be cured and cancer free myself. I have little patience or time anymore for anything negative in my life. Your blog is my guilty pleasure but reading the comment section is just not part of that joy anymore. So, Joni, just because you won't see my expression of appreciation in the comment section anymore doesn't mean I'm not viewing or appreciating.

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  25. What a sweet comment! And thank you. Sometimes the comment section goes crazy, most times though it's a nice exchange of information when owners write in, etc. So glad you are cancer free. Can't imagine how horrible it is to go through that - after witnessing my cousins do it. Thanks again, and God speed.

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  26. Help! I looked for your email to send this, and also tried searching your archives and googled you and the key words, but no luck. I have to hang some chandeliers and would like your advice on the correct height. They are in the middle of the rooms, not over tables. The ceilings are 13 feet high. How far off the floor should the bottom be? They are pretty big chandeliers, each a different style. Some are more of the vertical, upside-down hot-air balloon shape, some are more horizontally spread out.
    Many thanks and I love your blog!!!!!!

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  27. Hi Joni
    Libby Farris here (now retired from Texas Monthly). Just wanted to add my two cents. Please ignore that Charlotte person. Keep doing exactly whatever you feel of interest because your POV is unique. Like most of your readers I adore wandering through the houses with you, poring over details and family histories, and different iterations of houses. These lengthy posts that record homes over decades are my absolute favorites. They really move beyond decor into other themes of family, love, tragedy, hopes and dreams. What is a home?
    KEEP DOING YOU!

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    1. Oh Libby, thank you!!!! It means so much to me. Sometimes I wonder - is it just me? Am I the only one who loves to find an old floor plan and pore over it??? Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!! This really made my day!

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  28. Miss Joni, Thank you for another interesting post. As a Houstonian I do love seeing Houston centric posts, but I am a little bias. Seeing the history of a family through their houses was great to read, as well. The modern house with the traditional furniture instantly reminded me of the Dominique de Menil House designed by Philip Johnson. While being very modern, it was decorated with a great mix of color, and both traditional and modern furniture. Which goes to show the true timelessness of great traditional antique furniture.

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  29. Joni,
    I love your blog, for me, it's a respite! Ben will be in my prayers, Charlotte too!

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  30. Thank you so much for what you do, Joni. Please don't change a thing. I'm so sorry to hear about your husband and hope that he will recover fully. I very much admire your spirit - how you have carried on with your writing, celebrating beauty wherever you find it, and inspiring all of us who love design. I,too, have a tough situation at home. My once brilliant husband has Alzheimer's. So, frustration, sadness and loss is part of every day. I've learned that the way to survive is to create as many positive moments as possible, in small and big ways. Reading your blog each week, for me, is one of these moments. Thanks again. You're doing more good than you know.

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  31. Just wanted to tell you that I think your blog is wonderful. Please don't change a thing!!

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  32. This home is so fabulous! A true gem! I hope whoever buys it respects it's perfect and timeless design. And I have read your blog for years and years and enjoy it so much. Always a treat to sit down and read your posts. And I don't own one antique, LOL. I am much more the West Elm type of shopper, but I have still learned so much from you. Your writing is authentic and engaging; your personality really shines through it, and I feel as if we are friends. If you are interested in improving your blog, you should look at the "AdThrive" company; they don't charge to look at ways to maximize your blog revenue.

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