What do Bill Gates, 50 Cent and Springfield businessman Robert Low have in common?
The size of their homes.
I saw on Facebook the other day a reference to two of America’s biggest houses being located in the Springfield area. Of course, it could have been fake news. But it came from a reputable source – my colleague Mar’Ellen Felin of Hightide Communications – and it included a link.
As any good journalist does, I go to the source: Richard Drummond Davis Architect. Actually, this source only is referencing one of the two houses. The Dallas-based firm designed the home – I blush a little calling it that and you’ll see why in a second – of Robert and Lawana Low, the owners of Prime Inc. and diversified businesses, such as the Primatara thoroughbred farm north of Springfield and The Palace Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.
The residence is 70,000 square feet (61,408 square feet is air conditioned, to get technical). It’s being built on the Lows’ 188-acre horse farm. More on it later.
The other residence in “the 10 biggest houses” reference is Chateau Pensmore. At 72,000 square feet, it took southwest Missouri and national media by surprise when it began to rise out of the ground in little-known Highlandville. Owner Steven Huff currently is embroiled in a $63 million lawsuit with a contractor over the use – or lack of – patented products designed to strengthen the walls of the residence.
A glance at lists of America’s biggest homes puts both of these local residences larger than 50 Cent’s mansion in Connecticut, the Aaron Spelling estate in Los Angeles and Gates’ home in Medina, Washington. The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, seems to be the undisputed champ, here, at well over 100,000 square feet.
As the Low home architect tells the story in a blog post on RDDavisArchitect.com, Richard Davis got the design job on Prime’s full-court basketball court, shooting around with owner Low. Davis says he sunk three shots in a row from behind the three-point line, “spurring the client to tell him he was hired for the job.”
That job comprises 70,640 square feet of floor space, which the architect says makes it the ninth-largest house in America.
To put it into perspective, the architect has been drawing the designs for three years – and continues to tweak interior details even as construction is underway.
So we know it’s mammoth. But it’s also intricate.
First, the exterior look is in the classical American Federal style, similar to the White House. The president’s pad, by the way, is 55,000 square feet.
The Low house facing is covered in cream-colored marble, sourced from Bulgaria. A two-story porch features 25-foot marble columns, which the architect calls “the tallest single-shaft columns ever fabricated in the history of the world.”
The three-level rear of the house has a pool and gardens designed by Harold Leidner Landscape Architects in Dallas. An image in the blog shows a country-club size pool with a glass wall on one side extending nearly to the bottom of the pool. Staircases descend from either side leading guests to a fire pit with clear views of underwater swimmers.
Other features in the home are a show garage that doubles as a ballroom, two simulators – one for golfing, the other for race car driving – and a game room to emulate a jockey club at a horse track, as well as a movie theater, indoor pool, steam room, sauna, fitness center, locker rooms, a two-lane bowling alley, and a gun room and range.
Just when you’re thinking you might never need to leave this place, the wine cave solidifies it. I’m being facetious.
But check it out: The wine cave is below the walk-out basement and it’s accessible by elevator. I mean that in the literal sense.
The owners plan to make their own private label wines in French oak barrels there. With designs by local professionals at Slone Architects and Studio V Design, there is a tasting room and a separate dining room – with a chandelier I’m told you’ve just got to see. The architect says the wine cave is operational but for the rest of the house, builder Killian Construction Co. expects to be working at least another 18 months.
The architect says they’ll make periodic updates, so we’ll be watching.
Until then, I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did. Thanks RDDA for opening the door.
Springfield Business Journal Editorial Director Eric Olson can be reached at email@example.com.