The City of Houston Protected Landmark residence at 4019 Inverness, “Legend,” the Mrs. Knox B. Howe House, was designed by and for legendary Houstonians of the Howe-Briscoe family. Its architect, Birdsall Parmenas Briscoe, FAIA, was one of Houston’s foremost architects before and between the wars and played an influential role in the city’s civic and social affairs until his death in 1962.
Known for his exceptional skill and refinement, Briscoe was born in 1876 and was a generation older than his fellow Houston society architect, John Staub. Both men put their professional imprimaturs on River Oaks, contributing to its extraordinary success and longevity.
Towering colonnades of square wooden columns surround the house on three sides and support the front portico, where the massive front door is surmounted by a glass transom window with leaded “wishbone” tracery. Note the Howe family crest of palmetto fronds incised above the door.
[Transom window, Front Door]
A closer photo of the transom window's wishbone tracery and the intricately carved Howe family crest, whose design was reproduced for Briscoe by the original owner, Dorothy Howe, later Dorothy Howe Dupree.
Texas Star Motif]
In addition to the Howe family crest, Dorothy Howe Dupree designed distinctive motifs for Briscoe to incorporate into the interior millwork at Legend. This magnificent Texas Star, surrounded by a wreath, crowns the paneling above the library's exterior door to the patio and gardens.
Ceilings soar to nearly 11 feet and the 14-foot wide reception hall travels from the front door past enormous formal rooms to the library, formal powder room (vestibule entrance at left rear), main staircase, and glass door to the patio and gardens.
[Formal Powder Room]
A vestibule entrance in the formal powder room serves as a dressing or "retiring" area and features spectacular designer wallpaper.
View from the main staircase through the reception hall to the front door. Entrance to the library is visible at near right; entrance to the breakfast room is visible at near left. Note fingerblock-pattern wood floor.
A view from the reception hall into the dining room. Note nearly 11-foot ceiling.
The expansive living and dining rooms, open to each other across the reception hall, project inviting grace and intimacy thanks to Briscoe’s deft hand at proportion. The dining room also overlooks the front porch through full-length windows and features a herringbone-pattern hardwood floor and fireplace.
Additional features include delicate wainscot and a pivot door into the kitchen (shown at left) and a magnificent Newport-style cupboard with a Texas Star carved into the bonnet (not pictured). Note paneled recesses for windows flanking the fireplace.
[Dining Room Cupboard]
This stunning Newport-style cupboard in the dining room has a Texas Star, designed by Dorothy Howe Dupree, in the bonnet.
[Breakfast Room Magnolia Wood Paneling]
Rare magnolia wood paneling enhances the breakfast room.
This magnificent staircase was reclaimed from the Howe family's palatial home on Elgin Street. This is most but not all of it as it was too large to install in its entirety.
The living room, a double salon with a chevron-pattern hardwood floor, overlooks the front porch and side gardens through full-length windows, two of which flank the fireplace, and adjoins the library through paneled pocket doors. The deeply recessed windows flanking the fireplace feature display shelves.
Pullman-style pocket doors open into the adjoining library.
At the far end of the reception hall near the grand serpentine staircase, the impressive library, paneled in pecan wood, has a magnificent fireplace faced with the flame-colored Numidian marble used in the construction of Rockefeller Center in New York. patio and gardens. Note Texas Star wreath above the exterior door.
A closer look at the rear wall in the library and views to the patio and gardens.
This view of the dining room reveals the exquisite pineapple urns, designed by Dorothy Howe Dupree, incorporated into the pecan wood paneling. Closed pocket doors at right open into living room; open doorway at right rear leads to the full bar and then the reception hall; and the double doors at center rear conceal a music closet designed for media and a stereo system.
[Main Staircase / Palladian-style Window]
A closer view of the Palladian-style window at the main staircase turn.
All bedrooms are en suite. This large airy bedroom features a fireplace, dressing area, and spacious bathroom.
An alternate view of this bedroom reveals the sitting area.
This bedroom overlooks the front approach through full-length windows and includes an en suite bathroom.
The third floor comprises an enormous finished space with hardwood floor, dormer windows and window seats, free-standing bookcases built for the space, a large walk-in storage closet, and a full (shower) bathroom.
Bookcases are free-standing. Flexible third-floor space and bathroom would be ideal as a gym, office, playroom, game room, or bedroom if desired.
[Garden Gate and Fig Ivy-Covered Pylons, Side Entrance]
A view of the rear stone patio reveals the exterior door in the library (at center) between theroom's two full-length windows.
This view reveals the breezeway that connects the kitchen to the garage with two bays that each hold two cars, and the second-floor garage apartment. The apartment comprises a bedroom with kitchenette and bathroom and two additional bedrooms that share a bathroom.