John F. Staub (1892-1981) practiced architecture in Houston for nearly sixty years and became one of the region's best-known domestic architects. An MIT graduate from Tennessee, he began his architectural career in New York City under residential architect Harrie T. Lindeberg. In 1921, Staub came to Texas to oversee the construction of three Lindeberg houses in Houston. Staub then decided to settle in Houston and would eventually start his own architectural practice in 1923. He quickly became known for his domestic architecture and substantially contributed to the desirable neighborhoods of River Oaks, Broadacres and others. He designed 31 houses in River Oaks alone, thereby helping to establish the architectural flavor of that neighborhood during its first three decades. He is best known for Bayou Bend, which is now a house museum containing the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's American decorative arts collection. Staub also designed notable non-residential buildings, including the Junior League Building, the original River Oaks Country Club, the Bayou Club, and the original library at the University of Houston (which is now the blue wing of the M.D. Anderson Library). He remains best known for his residential architecture, however.
Staub amassed a collection of books on architectural types, regions and styles, which he referenced when designing his vernacular-styled houses. In the late seventies he made notes in these books in order to assist scholar and architect Howard Barnstone, who was then engaged in writing The Architecture of John F. Staub: Houston and the South. In these notes, Staub identifies books and images that influenced his own designs. This exhibit allows viewers to compare this marginalia and images from the books with photographs of his finished houses.
Near the end of his life Staub donated his book collection to the University of Houston Libraries. It may be viewed in the Kenneth Franzheim II Rare Books Room of the William R. Jenkins Architecture and Art Library.