Kirby Mansion in Midtown could be demolished

 John H. Kirby residence (1926, James Ruskin Bailey) /  courtesy of The Heritage Society

John H. Kirby residence (1926, James Ruskin Bailey) / courtesy of The Heritage Society

Preservation Houston has learned of a threat to the Kirby Mansion, 2006 Smith Street in Midtown. Reliable sources indicate the historic house is under contract and that the new owner does not intend to retain the building. Preservation Houston has been working behind the scenes to promote the restoration and repurposing of the historic property. If new owners choose to renovate the house for commercial use, they could take advantage of combined state and federal preservation incentives for the restoration project.

The mansion was built in 1894 by businessman J.S. Price and was sold to lumber magnate John Henry Kirby two years later. Kirby remodeled and enlarged the house twice; the second remodeling, an extensive addition and reconstruction designed by architect James Ruskin Bailey and completed in 1926, resulted in the 36-room Tudor Revival-style building that stands today.
 
Kirby died in 1940 and his wife, Lelia, sold the house in 1947. For the next 30 years, the mansion housed the headquarters of the Houston-Harris County Red Cross. It has been used as office space since the late 1970s. The property is one of the few survivors from the once-elite South End residential neighborhood.
 
Preservation Houston continues to advocate for the building's rehabilitation and will keep its members informed of further developments.