Craftsman Aesthetic ON THE BAY
Restoration of this magnificent house in Texas included the imaginative and heartfelt re-decorating of the summer-home interior.
The Galveston With splendid a pyramidal Bay house is the roof home perched and of essentially Terry on a bluff and a Paul overlooking foursquare Garber. plan, the house has Arts & Crafts-era details and neoclassical allusions. Porches surround it. Rooms inside feature colonnades and high wainscots, stained dark and polished, surmounted by Aesthetic Movement friezes. Visitors are forgiven for thinking this is a meticulous restoration. The interior was in fact completed in 2014 and designed by owner Terry Garber.
• “When we bought the house in 2010,” she says, “every room had beadboard laid horizontally on walls. It was a summer house without any of the architectural details seen in a primary residence. We added details spanning the late Victorian to Arts & Crafts period, to get the look we wanted.”
She and Paul, a geophysicist in the oil and gas industry, had searched for a long time before they found this house in Morgan’s Point.
“We wanted to be in a community with old houses and large trees,” Paul says. “We looked at this one once, but thought that the work would be too much for us. When it came back on the market, we took the plunge.”
Built in 1911 by H.S. Filson, a Houston lumber magnate, the house’s balloon frame has 24-foot-long studs. Its frame, exterior clapboards, flooring, trim, and the beadboard are made from virgingrowth, Texas longleaf pine.
Paul explains that the longleaf heart pine has hardness scores meeting or exceeding that of hardwoods like red oak. “This is a hurricane area, but the house has withstood every storm. Balloon framing is very wind resistant, and the horizontal beadboard applied perpendicular to the studs made [the frame] stronger.” The Garbers retained the beadboard, which underlies the new wainscots, wallpaper borders, and crown mouldings.
For the original design, Filson had engaged the Dallas firm Sanguinet, Staats & Barnes; the young draftsman who completed much of the work, Alfred C. Finn, became a prominent architect responsible for the transformation of much of downtown Houston. When H.S. Filson enlarged his summer home in 1923, he again hired Finn to design the addition, which added two bedrooms, three bathrooms, a laundry room, and a large sleeping porch. From then until 2010, when the Garbers bought it, the house remained unchanged.
“We are only the third owners,” Terry Garber explains. “Mr. Filson’s daughter
still lived here in the 1980s. Then there was just one other owner before us.”
The Garbers reconfigured the interior, turning the attic into a dormered bedroom suite and relocating the kitchen, living room, and dining room. Although Terry Garber’s field of study was economics and her husband is a scientist, they describe themselves as students of architecture and design; they used house-design software as a tool during the seven months they planned the renovation.
“We were lucky that the house allowed the changes we wanted to make,” Terry says. “The laundry room that was
adjacent to a bedroom is now its bath; we widened a hallway to make a new laundry room. The former sleeping porch adjacent to the master bedroom became the perfect master bath. And the location of an old butler’s pantry and breakfast room was perfect for the galley kitchen of my dreams.”
As far as style, Terry knew exactly what she wanted. “I’ve always said that my first love is a classic late-Victorian style Queen Anne,” she says. “But, in New Orleans, we lived in a 1902 Craftsman house and loved it. When we bought and renovated this house, we based the design more on the later period.”
Thus, a summer cottage with whitepainted beadboard rooms became a yearround home with a formal Arts & Crafts personality. It may not be what Mr. Filson had in mind, but the style suits the house. Terry replaced the square stair balusters with a nod to a staircase she saw at the Catawba County Museum in North Carolina. She hung lush Aesthetic Movement wallpaper friezes above deep wainscots. For those wainscots, the Garbers contacted a dealer specializing in recovered hardwoods, who had a cache of the wood the house was built of: reclaimed, old-growth, longleaf pine.
In 2015, the couple added a garage and a side porch that leads to it. That year, Paul Garber finished a project dear to his heart: a 550-foot pier with two boat slips. He loves the house, but his voice warms when he talks about sitting at the end of the pier, doing nothing but holding a fishing pole.
A well-located laundry became a bath; the former sleeping porch easily became the master’s en-suite bath. The old butler’s pantry and breakfast room became a large galley kitchen.
The dining room occupies space formerly used as a living room. Terry Garber took the design of the staircase after one she saw at a historic house museum in North Carolina.
LEFT A small breakfast table and chairs is visible looking from the kitchen toward the den. RIGHT Terry Garber was inspired in the design of the interior from an Arts & Crafts-period house she and her husband had occupied in New Orleans. Inspired elements include the wainscot and the colonnades. OPPOSITE (bottom right) A cherished new element is the 550-foot long pier extending into Galveston Bay. It incorporates two boat slips and, at the end, a sheltered spot for fishing. ART WALLPAPER Bradbury & Bradbury’s Victorian and Arts & Crafts collections of wallpapers fit the transitional house; this is ‘Iris Frieze’ from the Fenway suite.
RIGHT One of the bathrooms added in 1923 is on the back, or bay side, of the house. The room was created from space taken from a porch. FAR RIGHT The alcove that previously housed the shower now holds a vanity with a stone counter and a copper sink. BOTTOM The bathroom next to the master bedroom occupies what was originally a sleeping porch. The bathtub, original to the house, was moved here. OPPOSITE The master bedroom was designed around a favorite wallpaper design. The wainscot height was determined by the depth of the frieze.