Shadow Lawn

Property Dreams: A Historic French Manor with Local Pedigree

A historic home in the Museum District’s Shadow Lawn neighborhood brims with traditional trappings and understated elegance.

By Melissa Dalton

Joseph W. Northrup designed this home in 1923 for Shadow Lawn’s developer, a local lawyer named John Henry Crooker.

Image: TK Images

The Shadow Lawn neighborhood is a veritable “Who’s Who?” of historic Houston architects – fascinating when considering that the neighborhood only consists of fifteen homes in total. In the early 1920s, fancy subdivisions like it were popping up all over the growing city, so-called “private enclaves” built for well-to-do families of the time. These communities would often have a swath of homes primarily designed by one or two esteemed architects of the day. But for some reason, Shadow Lawn has ten. (Two are more modern, but still.)

There’s a 1925 home by William Ward Watkin, who designed the first buildings for Rice University, and a 1961 original by Anderson Todd, who Ludwig Mies van der Rohe inspired. One of the first homes on the block was this one, done in the French Manorial style by Joseph W. Northrup, Jr, who moved to Houston to work with Watkin on Rice University, and while there, started a residential practice on the side.

Northrup designed this home in 1923 for Shadow Lawn’s developer, a local lawyer named John Henry Crooker. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Crooker, a self-trained attorney, was elected district attorney of Harris County in 1914,  before becoming a founding partner of Fulbright and Crooker – now the global firm Norton Rose Fulbright – and then earning a reputation as a “crusader against the Ku Klux Klan.” Crooker also owned Houston’s minor-league baseball club, The Houston Buffs for two years and made forays into real estate, starting with a trapezoidal tract that would become Shadow Lawn. That trapezoid would make for some interesting lot shapes, like the .63-acre semi-circle this home sits on in the center of the neighborhood’s main circular street.

1920s Houston saw a surge of popularity in Revival styles, which this house speaks to, nodding to a French manor with its white brick, copper hipped roof and flared eaves, and a quoined arch over the recessed front door. The look is understated and elegant, with a symmetrical window layout, and a little bit of flare in the wrought iron balcony and tall, arched windows and dormers.

Inside, the decorative detail is fairly restrained, and there’s a lovely rhythm and proportion to the repeating elements, in things like the casework, crown molding, and transoms over doorways, some solid and some glass. With 5,838 square feet over three floors, the layout balances gracious public-facing rooms with several additional ones that beckon more private retreats.

This starts in the foyer, which has the staircase and cased doorways to the main rooms. To the left is the living room arranged around a fireplace (one of four). Off it, find a handsome wood-paneled study with built-in bookshelves and another fireplace, all very fitting for a lawyer, as well as a tiled sunroom, with access to the wraparound porch and rear patio.

Back in the foyer, the formal dining room is to the right, and beyond it, a more intimate breakfast room. A convenient butler’s pantry/wet bar connects those to the kitchen, which veers classic with its checkered floors, white cabinetry, and simple tile backsplash.

All four bedrooms, each with a private bath, are on the second floor. The primary suite is another retreat, as it has its own fireplace, sitting room, and sunroom. The third floor hosts a games room, while the three-car garage is topped with an updated guest suite. And if that’s not enough, there’s always the backyard pool and spa inset into the patio, and surrounded by lawn and mature landscaping, for feeling like you’re really getting away from it all.

Listing Stats: 

Address: 14 Shadow Lawn St, Houston, TX 77005
Size: 5,838 square feet/4 bedroom/4.5 bath
List Date: 9/6/2022
List Price: $4,850,000 Listing Agent: Robert Bland, Compass

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

Image: TK Images

 

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