Bayou Bend Gardens | Former Home of Ima Hogg…now MFAH
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Beautiful Mansion and Gardens
Bayou Bend Gardens as well as the mansion called Bayou Bend is now a part of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and is available to tour year-round.
Most importantly, if one is seeking attractions in Houston and happen to be here in the springtime when the Azalea Trail is on the schedule, be sure to visit this grand dame of locations and take your camera! You will walk away with the most beautiful colorful pictures!
Each year in early March, Bayou Bend Gardens and many other gorgeous home gardens are open to the public. For the price of a ticket, one can freely wander the pristine grounds and admire the brilliant colors of azaleas that mingle amidst the other well-tended landscape plantings. These homes on the Azalea Trail are large and elegant as are the yards and gardens. That is certainly the case with Bayou Bend!
Above all, be prepared to be wearing good and comfortable walking shoes because one is sure to get some exercise on those days! Sometimes even walking from a car to the entrance to the gardens can be quite a hike depending upon how many people are coming and going in their vehicles at the time of one’s visit.
The Azalea Trail in Houston is an annual affair that is eagerly anticipated each year by residents and visitors alike. We have wandered through the spectacular grounds on many such occasions with different friends as well as out of town guests.
Bayou Bend Gardens are opened to the public almost year-round. All of the photos in this post from one of their free family days except for the two at the top of this page. February 19, 2017, was one such day.
Children and their families filled the grounds. Entertainment on the grounds included music, educational demonstrations, craft workshops and more.
Many of the children were playing on the large open lawn areas to the back of the mansion. The weather was perfect for such a day, reaching a high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ima Hogg had three brothers, and her father had been a former Attorney General as well as Governor of Texas. Miss Hogg never married although she had plenty of suitors over the years.
The family was well off financially. When oil was discovered on their Varner plantation, the children then became extraordinarily wealthy and decided to share their money and resources with others who had not had that good fortune.
The Hogg brothers were responsible for developing River Oaks. Many of the wealthy individuals initially chose to settle in River Oaks back in the days when Houston, Texas was still relatively small in the 1920s. It remains a grand and impressive site today.
Bayou Bend Now a Museum
Due to the philanthropy of Ima Hogg commonly called the “First Lady of Texas,” the Bayou Bend Collection which consists of a large home plus 14.5 acres (5.9 ha) has become a part of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. It opened to the public in 1966. Since that time a grand visitor and educational center have been added to the grounds.
Noted architect John Staub was chosen to design Ima Hogg’s mansion which was named Bayou Bend. Buffalo Bayou runs through the property and makes a bend, thus the appropriate name.
After Miss Hogg moved into Bayou Bend, she furnished it with her sizeable international art collection and American furniture collection. When Ima Hogg decided to move out and donate her Houston estate to the MFAH, she often sat on the back veranda during the Azalea Trail. She seemed to enjoy the crowds of people wandering the grounds.
After touring the gardens, visitors could then walk through the ground floor of Bayou Bend. Docents would point out some of the rare pieces in the roped-off rooms as people made their way from the back to the front of the mansion where they exited. Miss Hogg was quite the lady! I remember my grandmother speaking to her on one of those Azalea Trails many years ago. She was very gracious to those who recognized her and conversed with her.
Legacy of Miss Ima Hogg
Miss Ima Hogg has left quite a legacy behind her!
- First of all, she helped to establish the Houston Symphony. Miss Hogg personally studied music as well as art and loved both.
- Secondly, her Hogg Foundation supports mental health and also some graduate students who eventually work in that field of endeavor. She was not only interested in mental health, but also disdained racial or gender inequalities
- Another example is the Child Guidance Center in Houston, which also originated because of her efforts.
- Miss Ima Hogg at one time helped advise on the furnishings for our nation’s White House!
- Finally, her donations of art to our fine arts museum far exceed what is within Bayou Bend. There are collections of art named after the Hogg’s.
Those of us who live in Houston, Texas bear much evidence of this generous lady’s philanthropy throughout her lifetime and now long into the future. Click here for hours and admission prices to Bayou Bend.
The location of Bayou Bend which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places is here: 6003 Memorial Drive, Houston, Texas 77007.