Mary Lou Marks is the owner and design talent behind one of Round Top’s most beloved galleries ― Southern Beasts. And now she’s getting her own Top Gun moment.

Marks caught the eye of a few notable international designers during the 2021 Round Top Spring Antiques Show. Those designers quickly brought her in on the Top Gun House. Nicolò Bini, a well-known architect with LINE Architecture, along with the designers from Value Retail Group ― part of S.D Malkin Properties — were so struck by what they saw at Marks’ Round Top gallery that they hired her on the spot to be part of the Top Gun project.

S.D. Malkin Properties and Nicolò Bini joined forces with Tara Lazar (of F10 Restaurant Group) ― teaming up to rehabilitate the Victorian house seen in the original 1986 movie Top Gun. Now, after a two-year delay (well, more like a 36-year delay) Tom Cruise fans waiting to see what became of fighter pilot Maverick after he was offered a position as a Top Gun instructor are finally getting the sequel Top Gun: Maverick, which opens this week.

Round Top magic collides with architectural reimagining in San Diego. (Photo by Mollie Kimberling)
Round Top magic collides with architectural reimagining in San Diego. Photo by Mollie Kimberling.

In the original movie, Kelly McGillis (who played the role of Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood) lived near the naval base in a quaint Victorian cottage. McGillis was not asked back for the sequel, but her character’s house is getting some major love.

That circa 1887 cottage has now been moved onto the property of the Mission Pacific Hotel in San Diego. The property known as the Top Gun House is now home to the nostalgic (and just recently opened) HIGH-Pie Bakery, where owner Tara Lazar serves up the sweet life with fried pies, freshly churned ice creams and even fizzy cherry pop to hotel guests, pie devotees and the curious. A line snaked out the door and down the sidewalk when HIGH-Pie first opened in the house in early May, as detailed in a Los Angeles Times’ story.

Round Top’s own Mary Lou Marks put some of her one-of-a-kind styling and fanciful finishing touches on the clever design. The results are so eye-catching Architectural Digest took note. Marks adorned the cow head now mounted over the fireplace, the cloth and tapestry covered logs in the firebox, and upholstered the 12 cozy barstools in her fabulous vintage fabrics. Some of the fabrics date back to the 1800s, so appropriate to the Victorian charm of this refreshed and reimagined home.

That’s how this design maverick brought a taste of Round Top to this special San Diego project.

The HIGH Pie firebox is decorated with vintage tapestry charm and Southern Beasts style. (Photo by Jakob Layman)

Mary Lou Marks’ craftsmanship brings to life “beasts” of all types. From cattle and dogs to imaginative llamas and deer. All created from historic vintage fabrics, tapestries and trim. Everyone knows Marks has an extraordinary artistic eye.

It’s no surprise she’s a Top Gun.

Southern Beasts is located at 301 South White Street in Round Top. For more information on what Mary Lou Marks offers, click here.