Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens

Ima Hogg, a collector of American antiques, and architect John Staub collaborated on the mansion's design, combining elements from southern plantations, the Spanish creole architecture of Louisiana, and 18th century Georgian architecture. Construction on the mansion, intended to showcase Hogg's collection and serve as a residence for Hogg and her brothers, William and Michael, began in 1927. The decoration, layout, and color scheme of the Bayou Bend's 27 rooms challenged Hogg's and Staub's combined creative efforts, with no detail too small for consideration. Hogg's private rooms include woodwork and a mantel from 18th century houses in Ipswich and Salem, Massachusetts. The floors are wide, hand-hewn planks re-purposed from old houses along the eastern seaboard. The house was completed in 1928, but by 1930, Hogg was the sole resident due to William's untimely death and Michael's marriage.

The 14 acres surrounding Bayou Bend also fell under its mistress's critical eye. Hogg planted several formal gardens around the house, each with a different theme. The cultivated landscapes contain grass terraces, flowering plants, hedges, trees, statues, and fountains, creating a picturesque country ambiance despite the proximity to downtown Houston. Hogg took great pleasure in planning and caring for her gardens; however, in 1961 the River Oaks Garden Club assumed responsibility for their maintenance.

Hogg donated the house and surrounding property to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts in 1957, despite lawsuits from several residents of the River Oaks neighborhood who objected to opening the property to the public. A footbridge was built over Buffalo Bayou to address neighbors' concerns about increased traffic. Hogg moved out of the house in 1965 and the collection opened in 1966. When asked about Bayou Bend, Hogg said, "While I shall always love Bayou Bend and everything there, in one sense I have always considered I was only holding my collection in trust." Hogg continued adding to the Bayou Bend collection until her death in 1975.

The home and gardens are open year-round except on Mondays and holidays. Inside the home, visitors will find over 4,700 pieces dating from 1620 through 1870. The grounds are also home to the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center, which houses an orientation center, an exhibit about the Hogg family, meeting rooms, and the Kitty King Powell Library and Study Center. Comprised of over 9,000 volumes, the non-circulating Powell library collection is open to the public and includes the Hogg Family Collection of books along with works about American art, periodical volumes, and auction catalogs.

The Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens welcomes thousands of guests annually and provides several guided and unguided tours of the property and grounds. In 1973, the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker on the site and, in 1979, Bayou Bend was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1999, the City of Houston designated the property an official Houston landmark.

Images

Bayou Bend Exterior

Bayou Bend Exterior

Using Greek architecture as her inspiration, Ima Hogg chose pink as the mansion's exterior color. When asked about the design she said, "I also remembered in Greece where they have brilliant sunlight... All the Greek architecture, you know, was... pale pink. It was, every bit of it, pale pink. And I thought, well, now, that's ideal for this sunny climate." Bayou Bend's pale pink color was originally achieved by mixing crushed pink quartz into the stucco. Because of fading, the house was painted pale pink in the 1970s, in keeping with Hogg's vision. | Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston View File Details Page

View of the Mansion from the Clio Garden<br /><br />

View of the Mansion from the Clio Garden

Ima Hogg intended the gardens to be outdoor living space. Most of the gardens were designed and planted between 1934 and 1942, and changed very little until 1957, when the estate was donated to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The museum now hosts regular programs and events that are open to the public on the Bayou Bend property. The home and gardens are also available for a limited number of private events arranged by the museums special events staff. | Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston View File Details Page

Diana Garden at Bayou Bend

Diana Garden at Bayou Bend

There are eight gardens on 14 acres surrounding the Bayou Bend Mansion. The three gardens that anchor the north end of the property are named "Diana," "Clio," and "Euterpe" for the statues of Greek mythological figures they contain. The remaining named formal gardens are "White," "East," "Butterfly," and "Carla." The eighth garden is unnamed. The formal gardens are surrounded by native trees and shrubs kept largely in their natural state at Ima Hogg's request. | Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston View File Details Page

Massachusetts Room, Bayou Bend Mansion

Massachusetts Room, Bayou Bend Mansion

Architect John Staub chose the vivid blue paint for the Massachusetts Room, more commonly known as the Blue Room, in Bayou Bend. The room was painted in 1928 and has not been repainted since. The vibrant hue serves as a backdrop to the Chippendale and Queen Anne Furniture as well as the early American mahogany tea table dating between 1740 and 1790. American Painter, John Singleton Copley's, "Portrait of a Boy" (1758-60), can be seen hanging in the background. | Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston View File Details Page

Bayou Bend Entry Hall

Bayou Bend Entry Hall

The architecture of the house is a combination of 18th century Georgian, Spanish Creole Colonial, and southern plantation. The entry way is a long central hall with flanking rooms on both sides and a grand curving staircase. John Staub, the architect, dubbed this style Latin Colonial. | Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston View File Details Page

Dining Room, Bayou Bend

Dining Room, Bayou Bend

The dining room is decorated with furniture, portraits, and other American antiques from the Federalist period. On July 10, 1990, President George H.W. Bush hosted a working dinner for the G7 summit in the room. The leaders of seven countries, including Margaret Thatcher of England, and Helmut Kohl of Germany, met to discuss various economic concerns and international cooperation among their nations. | Source: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Kristin Escobar, “Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens,” East Texas History, accessed June 26, 2017, http://easttexashistory.org/items/show/167.

Share this Story