A Year on Clear Lake-Feb 17, 2013

One Man’s Dream…February 17, 2013

Time has a funny way of changing things.

The West Mansion was built across from Clear Lake in 1929 for Houston millionaire J. M. West, a man who made his fortune in lumber, real estate, cattle and oil. Designed by renowned Houston architect Joseph Finger, the place boasted 17,000 square feet and 40 rooms, including a nine car garage. It was the smallest of the millionaire’s five “get-away” ranches, but one of his most beloved. West died in 1941 and supposedly stipulated in his will that the mansion not be used as a residence again. (Interesting – would love to know about that.)

The property was sold to Humble Oil who donated it to Rice University (that’s another story with ties to the space program). It served as office space for the Lunar Planetary Institute for a few years, but the mansion was vacant for years.

Then it was sold to the Pappas family, a well-known Houston restaurant family. (Rumor had it that once Texas approved gambling the property would become a casino – never happened. Texans still go to Louisiana to gamble). In 2006 the property was bought by Houston Rocket basketball star Hakeem Olajuwon, who then sold it to the investment company. They planned to divide it up and sell it.  About that time a preservationist group, Preserved in Time, became interested.  The mansion was destined to be destroyed, until the group discovered a document that made reference to a deed restriction which protected the mansion until 2012. In the meantime, the group worked diligently to raise funds to purchase the property. The investment group apparently went bankrupt and the property reverted back to Olajuwon.  Then in 2011 came word that Olajuwon planned to use the mansion as the headquarters for his fashion line. It was a head scratcher, for sure.

But today, the West Mansion is the home of DR34M. You can purchase men’s suits or women’s $2,000 designer handbags. If your budget is a little smaller, why not pick up a pair of $225 DR34 Shake sneakers.  (Story in Houston Chronicle here with photos.)

You just never know where a dream is going to end up.

In the meantime, these guys, a Snowy Egret and a flock of Coots, don’t care if you buy designer handbags, or sneakers. They’re just looking for the next meal.