Iconic home in Texas Mansion Murder is on the market

Miya Shay Image
Tuesday, May 21, 2024
Iconic home in Texas Mansion Murder is on the market
This infamous home in River Oaks, featured in our Texas True Crime episode "Texas Mansion Murder", is for sale!

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- One of Houston's most notorious homes is now on the market. We're talking about the infamous house on Kirby that's at the center of our Texas True Crime documentary Texas Mansion Murder.

If you drive past 1561 Kirby, the outside of the stately home has not changed much over the decades, and inside, the home is filled with Houston history, much of it chronicled in books, movies, and documentaries.

In fact, every room in the house pays homage in some way to the story of Dr. John and Joan Robinson Hill, just what homeowners Robin and Danny Klaes always wanted.

"The history was very important. I'd always heard about it," said Robin Klaes, recalling that time 13 years ago, when they decided to buy the house.

"She was like, 'I want to go look at that house. I want save that house,'" recalled Danny. "'Anybody that's looking at it, they may want to tear it down and rebuild something else.' And, um, so that's kind of how it started."

The Klaes had lived around the River Oaks area for years. They knew this was the home where in the 1960's, Dr. John Hill and his glamorous wife, Joan Robinson Hill lived. John Hill had a state-of-the art music salon built above the home's original 1930's frame. For many years, the couple held concerts and salons in that music room, which is preserved in pristine condition even today.

The marriage though, would end tragically. Joan, a well-known equestrian, became sick inside the home and died. Doctor Hill was charged with her death, murder by omission. After a mistrial was declared but before a second trial began, Dr. Hill was killed on the home's front steps by an alleged hired gunman. The ensuing legal wranglings would dominate Houston headlines for years.

The Klaes family loved every bit of that history. Robin Klaes has a piece of horse themed artwork in in every room, in honor of Joan. "I think my favorite room is when I go downstairs to have coffee and I see the big horse sculpture on the wall, and that reminds me every day that this, you know, there we all have history in our life."

The Klaes redecorated and updated the home to modern standards. However, they have kept the iconic music room and the structure largely intact. Holidays were filled with over the top decorations, celebrations, and for just about any non-profit in town who asked, they opened the doors for fundraisers and events.

"During COVID-19, we had these driveway parties," recalled Danny. "Our friends are wondering, 'What about your driveway parties?'"

In the last few years though, they came to a realization about their golden years.

"She's older. She's older than me, so she, she requires extra help getting up and down the stairs and I just can't do it anymore," chuckled Danny.

"That's not funny," said Robin, laughing right alongside him.

The fun loving couple decided that they needed a home with a downstairs bedroom, if they want to age gracefully in place. Therefore, they reluctantly decided to put the house on the market. They are hopeful the next owner will appreciate its history and will want to preserve it.

"I hope that the next person can come and enjoy and whatever they do, and have as much fun as we've had over the last 13 years," said Robin.

"But," said Danny, "We reserve the right to change our minds."

After all, a home with a singular story in Houston lore, is hard to leave behind.

For more information on the home, view the HAR listing.

Watch Texas True Crime on your favorite streaming devices, like Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and GoogleTV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."