This $8 Million Texas Mansion Comes With a Secret Vault
In 1910, when Fort Worth was primarily a cattle depot, a banker named Earl Baldridge hired the architecture firm Sanguinet & Staats to build a three-story limestone mansion. It included double-height limestone columns, intricately carved wood paneling throughout the interior, and, in the basement, a concrete bank vault with an ornate steel door. More than a hundred years later, all of it remains, including the vault door. Today, instead of gold bars, the vault holds a media room.
The house, located in west Fort Worth, was registered as a Texas landmark in 1978. When Paun Peters, president of the oil and gas company Western Production Company, bought the house in 2007 though, it had fallen into a state of relative disrepair. “It had been foreclosed on by the bank,” Peters said. “The previous owner was a personal injury lawyer who’d won a big case, started spending money like crazy, and then his case was overturned on appeal.”
Peters and his wife had been looking for an empty lot to build on, but when they realized the Baldridge house was for sale, they jumped on it. “My wife, dare I say, lusted for that house,” Peters said. “She always dreamed of having herself in there and walking around on one of those balconies.”
After they bought the 1.5-acre lot, for what Peters says was about $3 million, it would be another two years before those balconies would see any traffic: Even though the house was technically livable, Peters said, the previous owners “had started projects that they couldn’t finish.”
The couple, Peters estimates, spent another $4.5 million on the renovation, including a half-million dollars on landscaping. “We added fountains and a whole lot of colorful plants,” he says. “We had an almost unlimited budget on what we needed to get done. We even got in Italian cypress trees from California.” The renovation, he notes, cost more than double the $1.8 million dollars he’d originally been quoted, but Peters was unfazed—at least in retrospect. “I guess it was justified,” he says.
After more than eight years in the house, the couple is putting the property on the market with Giordano, Wegman, Walsh and Associates, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate, for $8 million. Peters’s company sold its oil-producing properties last June, and he and his wife, now empty nesters, want to find a place in Dallas, closer to their two daughters.
The 14,000-square-foot house has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms spread across three floors. A marble foyer leads to a large entry staircase, a formal dining room with a coffered ceiling, a wood-paneled office, a wine cellar, multiple living areas, and a basement guest suite with its own kitchen, living area, and breakfast room.
Peters collects classic cars—he has Porsches, Ferraris, a Mercedes SLS, and an “Eleanor” Shelby Mustang—so the house is equipped with two garages. The upper garage has room for three cars, and the lower garage, which Peters calls his “toy box,” has four stalls with lifts, so the house can hold 11 automobiles in total.
The property also has a dive pool, multiple terraces, a cabana, and an outdoor gas pizza oven. It’s perfect for parties, Peters said. “Our objective was entertaining,” he says. “We’ve had three wedding receptions, two baptism receptions, and one full wedding.” The couple has held numerous fundraisers at the house, and various brides, Peters says, have used indoor and outdoor areas of the house for wedding photos.
“I feel like we’ve been the stewards of the house,” Peters says. “We were nominated to take it to its next level.”