Historic Homes

Landmark River Oaks Estate Sells Four Days after Listing

The suburban estate was once home to a descendant of the Cartwright family.

By Shelby Stewart and Ile-Ife Okantah

River Oaks estate on Looscan Lane. 

Image: TK Images

While it’s true that every house has its own unique history, if the walls of this recently listed River Oaks home could talk, they'd give us an insider view of Houston’s high society. And as quickly as it went on the market, someone snagged the historical 9,312-square-foot property. 

Named after two of its prominent previous occupants, the Helm-McDonough House, originally built in 1937 by Houston native and respected architect Louis A. Glover, is located at 2107 Looscan Lane, a stone's throw from the River Oaks shopping center.   

Glover originally built the house for Annie Dickson of Galveston, who then sold it to Shirley and Justa Helm. The Helms were well known in Houston society as Shirley was a successful attorney and founding member of the Texas Lawyers Association, and Justa was a descendant of the Cartwright family, a large and wealthy clan from San Augustine whose origins in Texas extended back to 1820. In 1947, the Helms sold the house to Jack and Maydee McDonough, another well-known couple. Jack worked as a department manager at Superior Oil. His wife died in 1979, but Jack remained at 2107 Looscan Lane until his death in 1985.

Designed with the all-American aesthetic popular in the late 1930s, the two-story house features a gabled roof and floor-to-ceiling shuttered windows. Even with an extensive history, the interior has been updated and brought into the present, while still maintaining its classic style. The first story is faced with brick and the second story has shingle siding. The property features three bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, plus an additional living quarter. 

Built for entertainment, the home includes a sleek blue-tiled indoor pool and spacious backyard patio. It is filled with natural light and high ceilings, and there’s a chef’s kitchen and an office space with built-in bookcase. While the dining and living areas have modern wood flooring, there’s plush carpeting in the bedrooms. 

Now, the home has new residents. 

Only on the market for 4 days, the home was sold by Compass Realty on March 24 at $1,725,000, a 1.8% increase from the original listing price. 

The integrity of Glover’s architecture still remains today, along with the home's rich, storied history. The creator solidified his legacy in Houston’s construction, having helped design some of the city’s scholastic institutions, such as the Julia Ideson Building of the Houston Public Library, Lamar Senior High School, John H. Reagan High School, James W. Deady Junior High School and Charles H. Milby Senior High School, among other projects.

For more information, check out the listing online

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