Architect Alfred C. Finn of Houston drew the plans for this scaled-down replica of the American White House for oil executive Ross S. Sterling (1875-1949). Completed in 1927 on the residential "Gold Coast" stretching from La Porte to Morgan's Point, it stood as a landmark on the Houston Ship Channel. By night its roof deck commanded a view of the lighted industrial plants in this region.
Layers of stone, concrete, air space, and plastered lath form the thick exterior walls. Deeply sunken foundations and huge beams running the length of the structure give it hurricane resistance.
With 21,000 square feet of floor space, this was known as the largest private residence in Texas at the time it was built. It has seven fireplaces, 15 baths, 34 rooms— including a dining room seating 300 guests. Silver and gold inlaid sconces, fine cared woods, and Tiffany chandeliers form some of the adornments. There were elaborate facilities for recreation and for efficient housekeeping. Sterling and his wife Maude Abbie (Gage) had several children.
Ross Sterling was governor of Texas 1931-1933. In 1946 he donated his mansion to a civic club and it was used as a juvenile home until 1961.