In the early 1900s, what would become Houston’s Montrose area was considered the city’s “outskirts,” undeveloped land located a few miles from the city center. John W. Link, however, a wealthy financier, attorney and lumber tycoon, saw more.
He purchased 250 acres in the area, intent on transforming it into Houston’s first upscale, restricted residential subdivision. In 1912, at a cost of about $60,000, he completed a grand three-story, 10,500-square-foot home on the property for his family, complete with five bedrooms, a ballroom and a conservatory. It was a striking example of neoclassical architecture, easily recognizable with its prominent portico, intricate brickwork and terracotta ornamentation.
The Links only lived in the home until 1916 when it was sold to oilman T.P. Lee for $90,000, reportedly the highest price ever paid for a single-family home in Houston at the time. In 1940, it was sold to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston; and thus, what was once the residence of two of Houston’s most prominent families, became the first home of the University of St. Thomas in 1947.
The “Link-Lee Mansion” has served the University for 71 years and continues to house the offices of the president and vice presidents, and provides a beautiful, welcoming space for campus events. In 2001, Link-Lee became a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, the highest honor the state can bestow on a historic structure. This designation further validates the mansion’s historic and architectural significance, not only to the University of St. Thomas, but to the City of Houston and to the State of Texas.
“We must make sure that this place stands the test of time, and is a symbol for Houston and the grandeur that was the past, and an important part of our future.”
– Dr. Richard Ludwick, UST President
Linking our Past to our Future: Preserving Link-Lee
UST is committed to preserving the iconic Link-Lee for future generations. However, more than a century of use has taken its toll on the beloved mansion, and a significant restoration and preservation effort is needed. A community of friends have joined UST in support of this worthy project, including honorary co-chairs and first ladies, Cecilia Abbott, Andrea White, Y. Ping Sun and the late Barbara Bush, as well as community volunteers Ginger Blanton and Elizabeth Ghrist. The most critical priorities include restoration of the terraces; roof, stone and masonry repair, and weatherproofing.
Learn more about preserving Link-Lee online, or call 713-525-3100.