There is many a building in Houston that bears the name of George R. Brown or Alice Pratt Brown, but only one that can claim to be the home of one of Houston's greatest civic leaders. Now on the market for $9.995 million, the former Brown home at 3363 Inwood Drive in the heart of River Oaks was built in 1932 and designed by John Thomas Rather, Jr., a classmate of Brown's at Rice University (then Rice Institute) who would later go on to become a partner at the firm of iconic Houston architect John L. Staub.
The 9,057-square-foot home has five bedrooms, five baths and three half-baths, not including a separate pool house and guest house. With nearly an acre of land, the grounds are dotted with century-old oaks. Current owners Laura and Denman Heard—civic leaders in their own right, as Denman is a trailblazing trial attorney—are only the third or possibly fourth occupants of the property, and they've put their own mark on the house since buying it 20 years ago with a thoughtful and historically respectful renovation.
"It needed a ton of work and we were young and ambitious enough to take on the task. We viewed it as a piece of history, it being the Brown family home. I thought it would be tragic if someone tore it down," says Denman, who describes the result as a labor of love by his wife. "We redid all the wiring, the plumbing, completely restored the old part of the home and added on a new phase. We tried very hard to remain true to the original architecture but at the same time modernize it for a contemporary family."
In its heyday, the home was a gathering spot for Houston's most illustrious citizens, including Jesse H. Jones, Gus Wortham, Harry Wiess, former Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, Oveta Culp Hobby, Michael DeBakey, governor John Connally and senator Lloyd M. Bentsen. The Browns were close friends with president Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, who were frequent guests—there's even a Lady Bird bedroom that looks out on a magnolia tree given to the Browns by the former first lady. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was also hosted in the home.