Calling all Houston architecture buffs: We have a new River Oaks listing that just went on MLS earlier this afternoon. It’s not the most expensive or largest home we’ve ever listed. But its pedigree is outstanding. If you like classic American architecture, you will love this house.
Winner of the 2011 John Staub Award from the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, 2125 Troon Road is a brick and shingle home by Houston architect Jay Baker. The house offers an open floor plan, multiple indoor/outdoor spaces, abundant light – this in spite of the dense gardens that surround it – and a mix of modern and traditional materials.
Completed in 2009, the house has had just one owner. Its style is reminiscent of the Shingle Style of the late 19th century with straightforward wood and brick construction that seems to blend into the rugged and hilly lot on which it is sited. In fact, it’s located on one of the city’s rare hills and faces the River Oaks Rock Garden ravine, a tiny wild place in the heart of Houston’s toniest neighborhood. Approach the house by either the stone steps from the street or the handy backdoor alley.
Other characteristics of this home – as well as those built 125 years ago – include a confident American informality, large banks of windows that encourage interaction with the out-of-doors and scant applied decoration.
Inside, a central hallway runs the length of the house, like a backbone that connects rooms on both sides, every one with a garden view. Because the sellers are in the music business and host many musicians – they especially love jazz and blues – the living room is separated by two steps from a mezzanine (currently site of a grand piano) that acts as a stage. The two-story wall of windows looking out onto mature white-flowering oleander (think of the Menil Collection) gives the impression of a performance under the stars. Upstairs are three large bedrooms, including a particularly nice master with his and her baths.
If you follow local architecture, Jay Baker is a familiar name. Besides designing some of Houston’s most remarkable homes and consulting on numerous civic projects, Baker has taught architectural design at Rice University, is past chairman of the board of the Hermann Park Conservancy and has served as president of the Rice Design Alliance. His recent book, Making Things: Jay Baker Architects (Oro Editions, 2018, 300 pages) is a celebration of his work in Houston and elsewhere.
Finally, don’t overlook the gardens. The main courtyard, anchored with a lily-filled pond and fountain and wrapped on three sides with trellises, brims with wisteria. On the backdoor alley, climbing roses tumble over the fence, and in the front, gardenias, jasmine and sycamores soften the rocky hillside. Fig ivy covers many of the vertical surfaces. Copper gutters and downspouts provide a strong linear grid.
Take a step inside 2125 Troon by clicking through the gallery below.