In the early 1920s, architect John F. Staub, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, who had studied at MIT and worked in New York, came to the burgeoning city of Houston as an assistant to nationally prominent architect Harrie T. Lindeberg. Staub was charged with administering construction of three houses designed by Lindeberg for members of the city’s rapidly emerging elite. He would go on to establish one of the most influential architectural practices in Houston, where he would remain until his death in 1981.
Over four decades, Staub designed grand houses in such communities as Shadyside, Broadacres, and, perhaps most notably, River Oaks. His clients included the Hoggs, for whom he created Bayou Bend; the Mastersons, his clients for Rienzi; and members of the Wiess, Cullen, Farish, Welder, Fay, and Elkins families. Although Staub also completed commissions for clients elsewhere in Texas and the United States, it was primarily in Houston that his work and influence took root.
This ambitious study of Staub’s work by architectural historian Stephen Fox goes beyond a description of Staub’s houses. Fox analyzes the roles of space, structure, and decoration in creating, defining, and maintaining social class structures and expectations and shows how Staub was able to incorporate these elements and understandings into the elegant buildings he designed for his clients. In the process, he contributes greatly to a fuller understanding of Houston’s emergence as a premier American city.
Stunning color images by architectural photographer Richard Cheek, combined with Fox’s well-grounded and expansive thesis, create a volume that will enchant, inform, and entertain. Students and aficionados of American domestic architecture of the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s will appreciate the wealth of material, and the volume’s contribution to architectural history and the sociology of architecture will commend itself to readers across the nation.
What Readers Are Saying:
“Stephen Fox’s masterful history, The Country Houses of John F. Staub, thoroughly captures the nuances of the architect’s 50-year career. The book is unmatched in scope as Fox describes in detail the great variety of houses for privileged clients drawn to Staub, who with artistic generosity created dwellings of welcome and comfort. Most of the houses still stand handsomely on their sites.”--Frank D. Welch, FAIA
"In The Country Houses of John F. Staub, Stephen Fox presents a beautiful portrait of the work of this talented architect and his often neglected period of architecture. . . This book, with its awesome illustrations and intelligent, well-written text, will help revive the memory of this talented and prolific twentieth-century architect."-Southwestern Historical Quarterly
“Stephen Fox knows more about Houston than anyone knows about any other American megalopolis. Among historians, he is legend…with luscious photography by Richard Cheek. . . . Richard Cheek, one of the premier architectural photographers of his generation, knows how to highlight both formal and sensuous qualities of buildings . . . matched with Fox’s detailed analyses, the reader can appreciate what clients saw in Staub’s architecture and why he had such a long and successful career . . . The Country Houses of John F. Staub. . . stands well out from the crowd. Fox and Cheek have created what will likely become the definitive academic study of an American regionalist architect’s domestic work. It is also one of the most beautiful architecture books of the year.” --Architect’s Newspaper