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Link-Lee Mansion: Historic Houston Landmark at University of St. Thomas

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Link-Lee Mansion on the University of St. Thomas in Houston

Link-Lee Mansion on the University of St. Thomas in Houston

Link Lee Mansion

The impressive Link-Lee Mansion now serves as the executive offices of the University of St. Thomas campus. It started as a private home and has the date of 1912.

Visitors can view the Link-Lee mansion, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also a Texas Historic Landmark, which is at the corner of Montrose Boulevard and West Alabama. The address is 3800 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas 77006. It is one of the many historic buildings in the Houston metropolitan area.

Link-Lee Mansion

Link-Lee Mansion

Early Days of Houston Settlement

Back in those early days of Houston history Montrose Boulevard where this home is situated was considered the outskirts of Houston.

John Wiley Link saw a great opportunity in this city and moved here from Orange, Texas. He set up the Houston Land Corporation and purchased 250 acres. Mr. Link then subdivided it into lots. After roads were there, he began the development of a premier master-planned community.

Another view of the mansion

Another view of the mansion

Description of This Home

The initial cost of this home was $60,000. The architecture was designed by the firm of Sanguinent, Staats, and Barnes in an American neoclassical style. With 10,500 feet of living space, this three-story structure also has a basement. The ballroom is on the top floor with a kitchen and bathroom to accommodate party attendees. Five bedroom suites are on the second floor with shared living areas on the first floor, including a music room.

The ornamentation of this mansion is exquisite. Elaborate brickwork and terra cotta embellishments with a clay tile roof make this mansion a prominent feature of what is now the University of St. Thomas campus.

Families Who Lived in This Mansion

This historic house was the private residence of the Link family from 1912 to 1916. In December of 1916, T. P. Lee, who was a very successful Houston oilman, purchased the home. $90,000 was the sale price, which made it the most expensive family home at that time. The Lee family had possession of the mansion for 30 years.

In 1946 the widowed Mrs. Essie N. Lee and her family members sold the property for $120,000 to the University of St. Thomas.

University Campus

At first, the entire university consisted of the rooms of the mansion and surrounding grounds. Eventually, other buildings came into being to what is now a beautiful university campus in the heart of Houston. Now the home is solely used for offices of the president, the vice-presidents, and alumni relations.

The sculpture pictured below has a plaque upon it, which has the following information:

"Dedicated to Anita Borges Stude by her loving husband, Micajah Stude

Christopher Cairns

Sculptor, 1984

Cast bronze, 3/7"

Cast bronze sculpture by Link-Lee Mansion

Cast bronze sculpture by Link-Lee Mansion

Edward P. White Memorial Plaza

In 2006 the Edward P. White Memorial Plaza was built. Architect Philip Johnson is responsible for the design of it, combining a fountain with a prominent feature, that of a large upright piece of dark granite with a white cross affixed to it.

Edward Patrick White

Near the memorial plaza attached to brick is a granite piece with a picture of Edward P. White.

The following information is under his image:

"Edward Patrick White

1927-2005

Ed White was a major University of St. Thomas benefactor along with his wife Raye G. White. Born on February 20, 1927, in Mobile, Alabama, to Frances C. Vogtner and John Joseph White, he spent his childhood in Mobile, Alabama. After his high school graduation from McGill Institute in Mobile, he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southwestern University in 1949.

He retired from the United States Naval Reserve with the rank of Commander. He then enjoyed a 42-year career in management positions at General Motors Acceptance Corporation.

Ed was an avid yachtsman and spent many happy days with family and friends aboard the family yacht, the Lady Raye. Ed consistently gave of himself to his family, his church, and his community."

Image & Information about Edward P. White

Image & Information about Edward P. White

Basilian Fathers

The University of St. Thomas had come a long way since 1947. That is when the Basilian Fathers first opened this institution of higher learning on 23 acres.

In that first year, there were only 42 full-time students and 28 part-time ones. Now the yearly enrollment accommodates over 3,400 students with a student-faculty ratio of 9:1.

Baccalaureate, as well as masters and doctoral degrees, are awarded in several different fields of study.

Restoration and Renovation Project

According to a Houston Chronicle article, the wife of the current 8th president of St. Thomas University is raising money for an extensive restoration and renovation project. This grand old structure has a leaky roof and leaky pipes. Some of the beautiful terra cotta ornamentations are disintegrating.

Marianne Ivany hopes to restore this beautiful mansion to its former glory. Additional improvements, such as central air conditioning and a two-story elevator, will eventually be made.

Reference Sources:

Link-Lee Mansion

John Wiley Link

Thomas Peter Lee

University of St. Thomas

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Peggy Woods

Comments

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

It has air-conditioning but not central air-conditioning like modern buildings have. I am sure that they will preserve this historic building and do what is necessary to make it more amenable to those who still use it.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 31, 2020:

What a stunning building. I do hope they are able to preserve it. I can’t imagine no central air in the Houston summer!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2020:

Hi Heidi,

Yes, $60K back in those times was a lot of money. The costs to renovate would be much more than that today. I am pleased that you enjoyed learning about the Link-Lee Mansion.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on March 31, 2020:

What a beautiful building! If the initial cost was $60K way back then, imagine what something like this would be today. Wow. Thanks for sharing this beautiful spot with us!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2020:

Hi Bill,

It would be fun seeing the city of Olympia through your eyes. I am sure others would enjoy it also.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 31, 2020:

I am blown away by the number of cool things you have in Houston. it got me thinking about how many I would find in Olympia where I live. Of course, it is a much smaller city but still...it might be fun to find out.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2020:

Hi Liz,

I have to agree that this building has a fascinating history. It is a landmark feature on the University of St. Thomas campus.

Liz Westwood from UK on March 31, 2020:

This interesting building has a fascinating history behind it.