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Whether it's sold to buyers willing to take on a complete restoration project or to developers hoping to build multiple homes on the property, the old Weingarten mansion and the surrounding acreage in the historic Riverside Terrace neighborhood are up for grabs at $2,250,000.
A bit of history
Built in 1938 by grocery magnate Joseph Weingarten and wife Malvina, the three-story mansion was the first residence in what later became known as "Jewish River Oaks," as the wealthy residents of River Oaks effectively blocked people practicing Judaism to build in their neighborhood at the time due to "social restrictions."
The neighborhood designation may have resulted, too, from River Oaks and Riverside once falling right next to each other in alphabetical street directories of the era, according to a 2010 Examiner article.
Built in 1938 by grocery magnate Joseph Weingarten and wife Malvina, the three-story mansion was the first residence in what later became known as "Jewish River Oaks."
Joe’s brother, Sol Weingarten, next built his house down the block on the same street, and by 1940, winding South MacGregor Way had became home to numerous other financially successful Jewish families, including the Fingers and Sakowitzes and possibly the Battlesteins.
Later, different populations moved in to Riverside Terrace, including African-American professionals such as the late wealthy cattleman Jack Caesar, who stayed despite the fact that a bomb detonated on his front porch which was reported on by the legendary Marvin Zindler, and pre-politics Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Recent improvements include hike and bike trails along Braes Bayou, brick pavement and decorative street lighting on Almeda Road.
The current owners bought the Weingarten mansion and surrounding acreage from the Weingarten family in 1967 and have lived on the property ever since. Hence, the mansion is on market for the first time in almost 50 years. The Houston Association of Realtors's listing describes the structure as "sound but would need a complete restoration."
Designed by architect Joseph Finger, the French chateau sits on the Weingarten estate's 4.7-acre wooded lot. The structure is an 11-room brick residence with nearly 5,500 square feet, including four bedrooms (all upstairs), three full and one half-baths, a 900-square-foot basement, which has flooded on many occasions during heavy rains and storms, and a detached garage with living quarters initially above.
A once grand rotunda entry with ornate, spiraling staircase and chandeliers overhead welcomed owners and guests in the house's glory days. Four gas connections and wood-burning fireplaces warmed the house, which still has no air conditioning or updated source of heating.
A wooden-paneled office seems to be fairly intact, while paint from the ceiling peels in other rooms, such as in large living area filled with windows, sunroom, dining area and even a bedroom. Floors are also covered with dusty carpet remnants. Several original light fixtures remain, as do, of course, the significant architectural elements.
The expansive grounds are full of mature trees, and the house overlooks a huge front yard and even larger backyard. The property itself is not restricted by any historical designations, and the minimum lot size for new construction in the area is about 22,000 square feet, the Chronicle notes.
Riverside was featured in Jon Schwartz's documentary, This Is Our Home It Is Not For Sale, which traces the "integration, real estate blockbusting, white flight and regentrification" of "Jewish River Oaks" over a 60-year period.
Square footage: 5,480
Asking price: $2,250,000