American aphorist Mason Cooley wrote, “Irony regards every simple truth as a challenge.” For Lang Glotfelty, the simple truth was that he wanted a house in Bluffview that he couldn’t have. Someone else was living in it. So he bought another house in the neighborhood, established himself and went on with his life. He married Judy, and they stayed busy building a life together.
But always, the thought of owning that beautiful white stucco Italian palace at the end of the cul-de-sac stayed in the back of his mind. “We were very happy in our other house,” Lang says, “but it didn’t have the ‘WOW’ factor this one offers.”
For sale — but not for long
Judy discovered the house was for sale quite by accident. She called Lang to see if he was still interested, and he replied with a resounding “Yes!” even though he’d never been inside. They competed with another couple for the contract, but in the end Lang Glotfelty got the house of his dreams. “This house has a lot of history behind it,” Lang says. “The story goes that years ago, John Grieshaber sold the Walker family ranch. He had a clause in his sales contract that said he could have two lots of his choice in the subdivision. He chose the lots this house is built on, because it has such an unobstructed view from the bluff.” Lang relates that after Grieshaber chose the lots, he went to France. There he saw a home that resembled an Italian villa. He copied the architecture and built the home on his two Bluffview lots. He spared no expense on the materials: Italian tile, marble floors, gold bathroom fixtures. It was his showplace.
Oddly enough, the home has no garage but is the only house in Bluffview with a basement. Asked about the omission, Grieshaber replied that he could never put his car in a garage in any of the homes he’d lived in, because his wife always filled the garage with stuff. When he built this home, he told her she could use the basement for her stuff because there would be no garage available for storage. Cars are parked beneath the red-tile-roofed porte-cochère. Shortly after the home’s completion Grieshaber sold the house to Pat and Bill Crain, who owned the San Antonio Budweiser distributorship. After Bill died, Pat bought a smaller house next door and put the Italian palace on the market.
“The view from the outside of the house was a ‘Wow!’ for me,” Lang says. “I’d never been in it before we bought it. Once I saw the inside, I thought ‘Wow! Wow! Wow!’ This is the house for me!”
The luxe life
The house itself is a rare gem of approximately 6,000 square feet. The front door is sculptured wood; long carved rectangles are deeply etched and echoed in the unusual handle. A floral wreath decorates the door; it currently houses a sparrow’s nest filled with babies. The entry hall, like much of the home, is floored in the finest Italian marble. The soaring ceiling is accented by a chandelier in a tree and leaf motif. Judy, with the help of a design consultant, found one of similar design for the dining room. The narrow formal dining room comfortably seats eight. The adjoining china cabinet displays collections of crystal and china belonging to Judy and Lang’s parents and grandparents. Across the way is a buffet with two very special needlepoint tapestries with an Oriental theme. Lang’s father provided the designs and the needlework. “My father was a dentist,” Lang says. “When he was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, he had to give up his career. He looked around for something to do with his hands and discovered needlepoint.”
Beyond the dining room is the breakfast room/den, where the couple spend a lot of their time. The sunny room has a granite breakfast bar that separates a comfortable seating area from a kitchen that sees a lot of action. The queen of the bar is a fat jade pig that Judy discovered in Beijing. “It cost almost as much to ship it home as it did to buy it,” she chuckles.
Judy and Lang renovated the kitchen after they bought the house, installing a Wolf stove and oven, granite countertops and a side-by-side refrigerator and freezer. A collection of copper kitchen implements from around the world hangs from a pot rack over the breakfast bar, reflecting light from the broad windows.
The large pantry is at the back of the room; beside it are the spacious laundry room and the entry to maid’s quarters, which now serves as Lang’s office. Judy notes the full bath located in the office. “There are seven-and-a-half baths in this house and only four bedrooms,” she says. “Why did the builder think he needed so many?” The home’s circular flow is perfect for entertaining and leads from the breakfast room into the formal living room. The focal point of the room is the painting Thom’s Bridge, by Thom Ricks, that hangs over the fireplace. The subject of the painting is a bridge on the River Walk; the curve in the bridge is echoed in the curve of the mantel. On the floor is a large needlepoint rug Lang’s father labored over. The octagon shape required stitching the rug in pieces and assembling them at the end of the project, much like piecing a quilt. The coffee table holds a collection of ornate Russian boxes. The adjoining bar has enough space for a card table with a needlepoint top, again made by Lang’s father. Marble countertops and open cabinet fronts provide a perfect backdrop for the antique Irish liquor sconces that hang on the wall. A Frederick Remington bronze, Bronco Buster, accents the masculine space.
Across from the bar is Judy’s office, a feminine, cozy haven that opens onto a shady private patio. It’s easy to see that this is her special retreat — family photos are everywhere, along with notes on her projects and paperwork in various stages of completion.
The master suite next door is a large room with a wall of windows looking out over the bluff. The view is breathtaking. The large four-poster bed is dressed in a soft spread and fluffy pillows in colors of rust, olive and cream. The focal point of the room is a sculpture that once occupied the lobby of a hotel in Mexico. Because of the way the woman is holding her hand, Judy says the sculpture is called What Was I Thinking! The star of the suite is the master bath. “When I saw the bath, I was sold on the house!” Judy exclaims. Along with his-and-her closets, there are also his-and-her baths. It’s an efficient setup that affords the couple plenty of wardrobe room and privacy when they want it. Upstairs are two large bedrooms that overlook opposite sides of the house. Both are furnished with large four-poster beds, plush carpeting and entertainment centers. Balconies offer breathtaking views at sunrise and sunset.
The Glotfeltys love to travel; they’ve been to every habitable continent. Photographic safaris to Africa, tours to Russia, China and throughout Europe are remembered through mementos placed throughout the home. “We’ve acquired so many treasures that I’m not sure where we’d put any more,” Judy says. “But I’m sure we’d find a place if we found the right item,” Lang adds.
Lang and Judy enjoy outdoor living and entertaining, and their backyard is perfect for both. A long veranda runs the length of the house, offering views of the Silverhorn golf course and downtown San Antonio. “During the summer evenings, we can sit out here and see the lights of downtown San Antonio to 1604 and IH-10,” Judy says. “On the Fourth of July, we can see the fireworks displays all across the city.” They also have fabulous sunsets every evening, a show in themselves.
To the right of the veranda is a large swimming pool shaded by aged oaks. Columns set around the edge of the pool provide a Roman feeling. The large cabana to the right of the pool contains a fireplace, television and outdoor seating. The cabana also features a sauna, which at the moment stores pool toys for the grandchildren. A full kitchen completes the setup.
Worth the wait
Lang Believes the home was worth the wait. “I love it here,” he says. “I don’t ever want to live in another house. I enjoyed my other Bluffview house, but Judy has turned this beautiful house into a comfortable home.”
Judy agrees: “We have everything we need here. Plenty of room when our family comes home, all the space we could need for any kind of entertaining. It’s a beautiful home that meets all our needs.”