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Glenn and Joe at JeffersonIt was a picture perfect day in Houston when we descended from one of three chartered buses, in front of the impressive iron gates, where chauffeur driven golf carts were there, to take us onto the sprawling grounds, leading up to the newly constructed family compound, created by Reggie Van Lee, for himself and partner, Corey McCathern, and his sisters, Anita, Carolyn and TJ. Seminally inspired by a visit to the Bush estate in Keenepunkport as a student, the goal of achieving a similar sanctuary for his family never left him.

Along with Vanessa Gilmore and Allison Arnold, Nadia Fattah, Deborah Chatman,and David Martin, we made our way through the throng of about four hundred visitors who had arrived from every part of the country for the unveiling of Jefferson, named after Reggie’s maternal family, dating back to the Civil War, when the land was first purchased. We arrived just as the incomparable Jeffrey Osborne was crooning to the assembled guests, on the steps of the back terrace that framed the pool. He had just descended, moments earlier, by helicopter, on the property’s own heli-pad. Additional guests could be found dining on Texas style ribs, Fried Chicken and Fish Stew in a huge tent set beyond the pool area around large tables on gilded chairs. We were delighted to see so many friends there who had also attended Reggie and Corey’s notable wedding only a year earlier in DC. As at that event, there were a collection of inventive cakes that fit the theme of the rooms and the occasions, concocted by the talented baker, Margo T. Lewis, owner of Cake Bliss.

After the consecration and musical interlude, the house was opened to the attendees for viewing. Commencing in the foyer, adorned overhead with a large gold chain chandelier and grande piano, the crowd flowed into the even grander living room where a bar service kept up with demand and then onto the twenty four person table seating in the large dining-room, where a sushi bar constantly prepared fresh offerings for the guests. From there rooms spawned off of one another in a maze of luxuriously individualized settings. The crowds filed in and out of the various suites, in fits and starts, as they took in the magnitude of what each room had to offer. Each of the suites are essentially separate homes, comprised of living rooms, master bedrooms, guest rooms with multiple bathrooms and a kitchen, all adorned in the specific style and taste of the designated inhabitant. The walls throughout the house were clad in an exquisite array of artists works, largely assembled by Peg Alston, the resident curator of note for their properties.

Reggie stood humbly in his private Zen garden, off his wing’s master bedroom, greeting a constant stream of guests, bearing well wishes, loving anecdotes and gifts. This expansive section of the house was the piece de resistance of the entire manse. The proportions of the rooms and the multiplicity of them gave the sense of a luxury getaway fit for their tasteful lifestyle. Original coverings on sofas and beds by Gianni Versace, large significant works of art, sublime bathroom appointments and a walk around closet that would make anyone envious, set the tone of an understated palazzo in this unlikely corner of Houston’s countryside.

As darkness fell a DJ spun tunes on the covered “terrazzo” where the gyrating crowds danced, sang, laughed and drank in around the pool, with fountains spurting cascades of water in the air. All in all everyone was thrilled to meet and greet in such a setting, where everyone’s dream seemed to be realized if only for the day.

In the spirit of giving thankful gratitude for where we all are in our lives, we would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving Season.

Gulfcarts at entrance to Jefferson

Pond at Jefferson

Jeffrey Osborne performing

Pilot at Heli-pad
Glenn, Gail Marquis, Joe, Audrey Smaltz, Timothy

Nadia Fattah

Pamela Joyner and Wanda Felton

David Martin

Cake by Cake Bliss

Cakes by Cake Bliss

Margo Lewis of Cake Bliss and Reggie Van Lee

Sitting in style

Vanessa Gilmore and family

Renee Logans and Vanessa Gilmore

Dancing on the terrace

Dancing on the terrace

Dancing with the kids

Poolside

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