The daughter of Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg, Ima Hogg, was an astute and much loved civic leader and patron and collector of the arts. She was known during her life as “The First Lady of Texas.”
In 1928, Ima and two of her brothers, Will and Mike, moved into a beautiful Georgian-style house, which they named Bayou Bend, built on 14 acres of land in Houston’s newly developed River Oaks neighborhood.
A lasting gift to Houston
In the late 1950s, Ima decided to give her collection – and her home – to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH). In 1965 she moved out of Bayou Bend, and the following year the MFAH opened the new museum to the public as Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens.
Today, a half century later, the collection is considered one of the finest showcases of American furnishings, silver, ceramics, and paintings in the world. More than 2,500 objects made or used in the United States between 1620 and 1876 are on display in 28 room settings and galleries.
Equally extraordinary are Bayou Bend’s gardens, created by Ima herself, reflecting the Country Place era (1880-1920) in American landscape design. Intended as outdoor rooms for living and entertaining, three of the eight formal gardens are named for the Greek goddess Diana and muses Clio and Euterpe, while four others are known as White, East, Butterfly, and Carla.
If you have never visited Bayou Bend, you truly can’t appreciate how much you are missing.
Christmas Village at Bayou Bend
For two years now, the Bayou Bend house and 14 acres of gardens have been transformed into a magical Christmas Village, featuring a holiday-themed tour of the mansion, a caroling trio, faux snowball fights, an exquisite array of lights illuminating the grounds and gardens, plus a fun scavenger hunt inviting your children to find eight reindeer statues who have run away from Santa’s sleigh.
But many visitors found the most unusual element of Christmas Village to be the authentic Spiegeltent, which is Dutch for “mirror tent.” The first Spiegeltents were built in the Flemish Region of Belgium in the late 19th century to serve as mobile dance halls at town fairs.
The Cristal Palace Spiegeltent that invited you, your friends, and family at Christmas Village was built of more than 1,200 separate pieces, with rich russet-colored mahogany, faceted mirrors, and artisanal stained glass. It was also filled with seasonal music, holiday treats, and photo opportunities with Santa, as well as a one-of-a-kind handcrafted model train encircling the Spiegeltent’s 12-foot Christmas tree. And thanks to an amazing snow-making snowman, it “snowed” inside the tent every five minutes!
For more information about Christmas Village at Bayou Bend, please visit
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