Bayou Bend


By: Stephen Fox

Revised by: Remi Dyll

Type: General Entry

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: November 8, 2021


Bayou Bend, the former estate of Ima Hogg, which now contains Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, welcomes guests at 6003 Memorial Drive in Houston. The fourteen-acre property extends north from Lazy Lane Boulevard; the street from which one entered the grounds during Miss Hogg’s residence, sloping down to a broad oxbow curve of Buffalo Bayou. The two-story, twenty-four-room house and an adjacent two-story garage and service building were designed and built between 1926 and 1928 for Ima Hogg and her two unmarried brothers, William C. Hogg and Michael (Mike) Hogg, the developers of River Oaks. John F. Staub was the architect, Birdsall P. Briscoe the associate architect, and Christian J. Miller the general contractor. The house cost about $217,000 to build. It is of tile block construction, finished externally with pink stucco, with a raised-seam copper roof. The house is tripartite in composition, with a central block and flanking wings. A double-height tetrastyle Tuscan portico is centered on the north elevation of the house, on an axis with a terraced lawn that steps down toward the Diana Garden and the bayou. The house is modeled stylistically on early-nineteenth-century English precedents, though many of its details were inspired by eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century houses of the American South. The result is an eclectic amalgam that Ima Hogg called “Latin Colonial” and considered especially appropriate to Houston. She created formal gardens that reflect the Country Place Era in American landscape design, garden formats that were outgrowths of the classical architecture of the house, formal garden “rooms” extending from the house, and classical muses as themes. In collaboration with Ima Hogg, Houston landscape architect Ruth London designed the East Garden, and the north terrace and Diana Garden were the work of the firm of Fleming and Sheppard, also Houston landscape architects.

After the marriage of Mike Hogg in 1929 and the death of Will Hogg in 1930, Ima Hogg occupied the house until 1965. Beginning in 1920 with the purchase of a mid-eighteenth-century American armchair, she gradually acquired an extensive collection and filled the house with seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century American furniture and paintings, and related objects. In 1956 she offered the estate and its contents to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which accepted the gift in 1958. John Staub returned to Bayou Bend to assist Ima Hogg in reconfiguring the rooms to better display the collection. Additionally, in order to avoid disrupting her River Oaks neighbors to the south, Ima Hogg built a pedestrian suspension bridge over the bayou to provide visitor access on the west side of the property. By 1965 Bayou Bend’s conversion into a museum was largely complete, though the principal rooms in the center of the house retain the character they had during Ima Hogg’s residence. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, opened the collection to the public on March 5, 1966. David B. Warren was the first curator of the collection.

The Bayou Bend Collection of American decorative arts and paintings is one of the finest such collections in the United States. It comprises objects made or used in America from 1620 to 1876 and is displayed in twenty-eight-room settings and galleries within the house. Ima Hogg created the Texas Room beginning in the spring of 1960 to display decorative arts associated with the state. Today, the contents have grown to include an important collection of mid-nineteenth-century furniture made in central Texas by German immigrants in the Biedermeier style, along with a large grouping of nineteenth-century stoneware pottery made by various Texas potteries in the adjacent hallway. The cottage, originally the garage and service building, was converted for other uses including a gift shop. In 1969 Ima Hogg foresaw the need for an education facility and purchased additional land across the bayou to the north. In 2010 her vision became a reality with the opening of the Lora Jean Kilroy Visitor and Education Center. Designed by Houston architect Leslie Elkins, it features an orientation gallery, exhibit cases, two multipurpose rooms for education programs, and staff offices. On the second floor, the Kitty King Powell Library and Study Center holds more than 10,000 volumes on seventeenth to nineteenth-century American decorative arts, material culture, and fine art. In conjunction with the library, the William J. Hill Texas Artisans and Artists Archive was established in 2011 to foster research in the field of Texas material culture through a freely-searchable online database that documents the lives, businesses, and products of artisans and artists in the nineteenth century. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston works with community organizations in preserving and sharing the house and gardens. The Bayou Bend Docent Organization, a group of more than 200 women and men, lead tours and interpret the collection through ongoing scholarship. The gardens are maintained by the museum and the River Oaks Garden Club together with the support of the Bayou Bend Gardens Endowment Fund to continue the gardens’ continued state of excellence. The house and gardens are open to the public year-round; in addition to tours, education programs for children, families, and adults are offered. Bayou Bend reaches a wide and diverse local, national, and international audience. Bayou Bend received a Texas Historical Commission marker in 1973 and entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2013). Michael K. Brown. America’s Treasures at Bayou Bend: Celebrating Fifty Years (London: Scala, 2007). Stephen Fox. The Country Houses of John F. Staub (College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2007). Ima Hogg Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Ima Hogg Papers, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Archives. Amy Kurlander, Joey Brackner, Michael K. Brown. Texas Clay: 19th-Century Stoneware Pottery from the Bayou Bend Collection (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2015). David B. Warren, Michael K. Brown, Elizabeth A. Coleman, Emily Ballew Neff. American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in association with Princeton University Press, 1998). David B. Warren. Bayou Bend Gardens: A Southern Oasis (London: Scala, 2006). David B. Warren. Ima Hogg: The Extraordinary Cultural Patron behind the Unusual Name (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, 2016). William J. Hill Texas Artisans & Artists Archive, texasartisans.mfah.org.

Categories:
  • Architecture
  • Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Museums
  • House Museums
  • Visual Arts
  • Education
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
Places:
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Stephen Fox Revised by Remi Dyll, “Bayou Bend,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/bayou-bend.

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June 1, 1995
November 8, 2021

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