Barnstone’s Jewish Houston: Lillian Guberman and Gerald S. Gordon House


Joshua J. Furman


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The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Making Houston Modern: The Life and Architecture of Howard Barnstone, edited by Barrie Scardino Bradley, Stephen Fox, and Michelangelo Sabatino, published by the University of Texas Press, expected August 2020.

Making Houston Modern Part Four
Barnstone’s Jewish Houston: Lillian Guberman and Gerald S. Gordon House

A number of important Houston Jewish families were drawn to Braeswood in its first decades, including the Gordons, Rauches, Brochsteins, Battelsteins, and Kaufmans, and they often employed Jewish architects such as Joseph Finger, Irving Klein, and Lenard Gabert, as well as Barnstone, to design their houses.(1)

The two-story house at 2307 Blue Bonnet, designed by Bolton & Barnstone for Lillian and Gerald S. Gordon and completed in 1955, fit this pattern. The plan was inspired by the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, with minimalist styling and an extensive use of steel and glass. Photos of the house were featured on the covers of Architectural Record (mid-May 1956) and House and Garden (January 1958), and the Gordon House earned design awards in 1956 from the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Texas Society of Architects.(2)

Reflecting on the Gordons in an interview with Architectural Record, Barnstone commented, “It isn’t often that we find clients who are so anxious to get a good house, that they slow you up, to give you the opportunity to reflect on what’s been drawn on paper.”(3) Gerald Gordon, an attorney, married Lillian Guberman in 1939. The family attended Congregation Beth Israel, where Gerald taught Sunday-school classes, and they were members of the Westwood Country Club, founded in 1929 by prominent Jewish families who were not welcomed at the River Oaks Country Club and other elite gentile social clubs.(4) The Gordon House was celebrated in Architectural Record for its elegant simplicity, a “disciplined and understated” approach to home design that exuded an “impression of considerable luxury.” The Gordons told Architectural Record, “We feel we are living in a piece of sculpture, unique in that it is spacious, comfortable, sparkling, and above all--beautiful.”(5)

  1. Fox, Stephen. Braeswood: An Architectural History (Houston: Old Braeswood Civic Club, 1988): 24–28, 39, 51–52.
  2. Ibid., 53–54.
  3. “Disciplined Elegance Marks Houston Design,” Architectural Record 119 (mid-May 1956): 135.
  4. “Gerald S. Gordon,” obituary, Houston Chronicle, December 9, 2003. On the Westwood Country Club, see “Work on New Country Club to Be Started,” Houston Chronicle, October 27, 1929.
  5. “Disciplined Elegance Marks Houston Design,” 136.

About the Author

Joshua J. Furman is the inaugural director of the Houston Jewish History Archive at Rice University. He is currently completing a book on the history of Houston’s Jewish community.

Making Houston Modern is part of the Docomomo US Regional Spotlight on Modernism Series, which was launched to help you explore modern places throughout the country without leaving your home. Previous spotlights include Chicago, Mississippi, and Midland, Michigan. Have a region you'd like to see highlighted? Submit an article.

Making Houston Modern Part Five

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