Saturday, December 31, 2011

Candlelight Tour: Historic Houses

Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures).  One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I have featured all this week.

Most of the 20 sites on the tour were private residences.  Therefore, I could not take photos inside the homes, but here are the exteriors of the ones I toured, plus some interesting information on each.

The Estes House is just a few blocks from my home.   It was built in Fort Worth around 1910 and moved here in 1994, creating quite a scene as it rolled down Highway 51 from Weatherford.  It has a pressed tin ceiling inside. At one time Billie Sol Estes lived here. [ETA:  In February 2014 a fire destroyed a significant portion of the house, and it was demolished the next month.]

The Walthall House was built in the early 1940s, by dentist Robert Walthall, based on plans his wife Mary found in Holland's magazine. Building materials were in short supply due to World War II, so its concrete foundation had to be reinforced with scrap metal from junked automobiles. Mr. Cockran, a rock mason from nearby Tolar, laid the exterior rock in a random "peanut brittle" pattern, and used large slabs of limestone for the window lintels, arches, and sills.  Metal of any kind was scarce, affecting the family's ability to find door hinges and faucets. The Walthall family lived through the winter of 1943-1944 with limited heating, electricity, and plumbing.  The redwood door was propped into place and the family went in and out of the house through a window.

The Daniel-Harris House is one I pass each day on my commute.  From the state historical marker in front:
Early Granbury merchant and saloonkeeper Robert Randolph Daniel (1864-1918) had this house built about 1892. In 1899 it was sold to Wesley Smith Harris (1854-1930), a prominent local furniture dealer and undertaker. Representative of elegant turn-of-the-century homes in Granbury, the Victorian residence reflects influences of the Italianate and Eastlake styles and features an ornate square tower and intricate ornamentation.

Notice also the limestone mounting block in front of the home, used to step in and out of carriages or mount a horse, and the stained glass in the front door and upstairs windows, which is original.  During World War II this home was divided into three apartments, which will be advantageous in its upcoming use as a bed and breakfast.

The Holderness-Aiken House is next door to the Daniel-Harris House.  Also from the historical marker:
Contractor E.J. Holderness, credited with building numerous Victorian structures in Granbury, erected this home for his own family, in 1896. The front porch features intricate Eastlake style decoration. Enlarged before 1910, the one story frame house was occupied by Holderness until 1913. It was acquired in 1926 by Mary Narcissa Rylee (Mrs. Ed) Aiken (1856-1931), member of a Pioneer Hood County family.

This tiny house had lots of interesting details, including the state seal carved into the paving stones of the walkway.

The Rickenbrode Residence is across the street from the Daniel-Harris House. This early-Craftsman style bungalow was built for Charles E. Brady and his wife Annie in 1913 by local contractor Jim Stout, at a cost of $550.

The Cogdell "Yellow Rose" House was the last one I visited on the tour, just before it ended at 5 PM on Sunday (hence the darkness of the photo).  The house was built around 1895 by Daniel Calhoun Cogdell, a prominent businessman and banker, supposedly for one of his daughters.  Cogdell also built the large house next door (not on the tour) as his main residence, and at least two other houses in Granbury for other children.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Candlelight Tour: Nativity Display and Presbyterian Church

Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures).  One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I will continue to feature this week.

One of the houses on the tour (the Neely House) was recently acquired by the City (it has a nice view of the Lambert Branch, below), to be rented out for events.  During the tour, it was used for the "Away in a Manger" display of local resident Faye Landham's collection of over 700 nativity scenes from all over the world.  Unfortunately, the lighting in the home was not conducive to photography (particularly on a rainy day), so my pictures did not turn out very well, but here are some of the sets of most interest to me.  I'm not sure why I took the photo below right (the identifying tag did not show up in the picture), but it may have been because the set was from Lithuania, where my maternal great-grandparents are from. [ETA:  I saw one almost identical to this in Cozumel on January 10, 2012, so it's from Mexico, not Lithuania.]

The set below left was made by a nomadic tribe in Kazakhstan and shows their native shelter.  The one below right was made by the Amish.  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph have no faces because the Amish believe everyone should use their own minds to imagine what they looked like, and because the Amish traditionally don't put faces on dolls.  Ms. Landham says she had a hard time finding someone to make this set because the Amish rarely make "decorative" items.

The one below left was made from a bald cypress knee hand cut in a swamp near La Beau, Louisiana, where it is the state tree.  No two knees are alike, making this a unique piece.  The next two were also handmade in the United States.

The one above right was made in Argentina of a variety of woods, and the one below right in India of wood from Benares.  The one below left is from Nigeria.

I thought the one below left was rather unusual, but it turns out it's a "Pillars of Heaven" nativity and you can find it rather easily.

Another stop on the tour was the First Presbyterian Church near the courthouse square, below right and at bottom.  It was built in 1896.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Candlelight Tour: Granbury Railroad Depot

Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures).  One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I will continue to feature this week.

The Granbury Railroad Depot was built in 1914, replacing an earlier frame structure that burned in 1912.  It has a bay window on the north side (facing the tracks).  Wide eaves surround the building to protect passengers and baggage from the weather.

The building has a red tile roof.  The local garden clubs decorate the outside for the holidays, and it's a popular place for family photographs.
The station sign, visible from approaching trains

The interior features pine floors, twelve foot high ceilings, and two chimneys for potbellied stoves. Below, volunteer Yvonne Ables points out the features (including a curved reflector at the top) of a candle sconce from a late 1800s-early 1900s railroad dining car, to the right of the old ticket window.

The old bay window area now has a working telegraph display.  I learned that the original straight key apparatus (below right) caused "glass arm," a repetitive motion disorder (like carpal tunnel syndrome)... the Vibroplex (below left) was invented to reduce stress on the hand.  It also made transmitting Morse code faster.

A volunteer (I did not catch his name) demonstrated the operation of a Y-shaped train order hoop (or fork).  A train order provided instructions or information on timetable changes from the dispatcher to the train's engineer (with usually a second copy to the conductor at the rear) at stations where the train did not stop, in the days before radio became common.  The message was tied with a slip knot to the center of a pre-cut string.  The string was then looped through notches (like those in an arrow so it would fit into a bow string) cut into the tops of the dowels forming the legs of the Y, and secured at the bottom in a spring clip.  The telegrapher or an assistant would then hold up the pole so that the top of the Y would be within arm's reach of the train crew.  The crew member would slip an arm in the loop and the string would pop off.

Here's a short (35 second) video where "hooping up" train orders is demonstrated twice:

The old freight and baggage room area of the depot is now an archive for county historical and genealogical records, many of which were rescued when they were being discarded out of the courthouse:

Passenger service ended at the depot in the 1970s, and freight service ended in 1983.  At that point, the county's genealogical society and historical society formed a joint committee to restore the building and operate it as a museum as well as the records repository.  The groups have a joint monthly meeting at the Depot except in July, August, and September.  The depot museum and genealogy research library are open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Candlelight Tour: Mangold Stick Horse Factory

Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures).  One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I will continue to feature this week.

One of the homes on the tour is a business today - and also was in the past.  The original four-room house was completed in 1916.  Today it is the home of Town and Country Floral Gallery.

What was especially interesting to me, though, is that this was also the former home of the Mangold Toy Company's stick horse factory.  R. P. and Mattie Landers Mangold moved into the house in 1937.  Making the stick horses began as a hobby for Mattie, but grew into a business during the 1940s.  At its peak (the company was the #1 toy manufacturer in Texas in the early 1950s), the company shipped over 600,000 stick horses a year throughout North and South America as well as Australia, and employed about 60 people.

In 1960 Humble Oil, forerunner of Exxon, did a short television clip on the factory and how the horses were made. Local kids were in the video, and you can see this house in it as well.  They were showing it on continuous loop during the Candlelight Tour, but the five-minute video is also available on YouTube:

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Candlelight Tour: Granbury Light Plant

Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures).  One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I will continue to feature this week.

One of the stops on the tour was the old Granbury Light Plant.  I pass by this place all the time.  It's about a mile north of my home, behind the post office, and on my 13-mile bike ride.  I'd never been in it (because it is rarely open), so I was eager to see it on the tour.

The sign outside the light plant is a little misleading.  There was a light and power plant (and water works and ice manufacturer) in this area since 1904, but the building pictured was not constructed until 1923, when the City of Granbury purchased the utilities from a franchisee.  The City operated a power plant here until 1954.

The equipment remained intact, and through the efforts of the late Hugh Raupe, a former mayor of Granbury, and the late Weldon Newman, Light Plant engineer from 1939-1948, the Hood County Historical Commission, and the City of Granbury, the building and equipment were restored. The Granbury Flywheelers (Branch 43 of EDGE&TA, the  Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association) maintains the equipment and opens the building for demonstrations on special occasions (like the Candlelight Tour) and by appointment.  That's local resident Jack Wesley, 2011 vice-president of the group, greeting me at the door, below left.

Engine #1, above right,  is immediately in front of you as you enter the door.  This diesel Fairbanks-Morse was installed in 1939 and replaced an earlier engine, but was not operating this day.  It exhausts through the roof.

Engine #2, below left, also a diesel Fairbanks-Morse, is original to the building and installed in 1923, and was already running when I entered the building. This 50-horsepower engine exhausts out underneath the floor into an underground pit, and then outside through a large pipe.  The floor above the pit shook from the vibrations, as it runs at 257 RPM.
All of the electric current made by the diesel generators was passed through the switchboard, pictured above, before being distributed throughout the city.

During my visit, members of the Granbury Flywheelers were working on Engine #3, another Fairbanks-Morse diesel installed in 1930.  It was brought to town on a railroad flat car. Scaffolding and rollers were made from timber, and a team of horses moved the engine onto blocks of ice which, as they melted, let the engine down to the cement slab and into permanent position.

The flywheel had to be in a certain position for the engine to start, which is what the gentleman with the pole is doing below left.  Numerous adjustments were made, and then the engine literally roared to life.

The building also has pumps for intake water and cooling water, original air tanks and an air compressor (needed to start the engines), and a gasoline engine and air compressor used to pump up the starting air if all the diesel engines were down and there was no electricity for the regular air compressor.

These guys love what they are doing, and their enthusiasm is contagious. I must have spent an hour here. I look forward to visiting again during Granbury's annual Harvest Moon Festival in October, when the Flywheelers also display their antique tractors and parade them around the courthouse square.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Candlelight Tour: Hood County Courthouse

Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures).  One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I will feature later this week.

Another benefit was getting a preview of the newly-renovated interior of the courthouse a few days earlier, before many citizens had seen the results of the nearly-three-year project.

The Hood County Courthouse was designed by Waco architect Wesley Clark Dodson, who designed a number of other courthouses in Texas, including the one in Lampasas.  Many of these are in the French Second Empire style.  It was constructed in 1890-1891.

One of its most interesting features are the paintings on the doors of vaults and safes throughout the building.  Many of these had been painted over and needed careful restoration.
Most of the benches in the second floor courtroom are originals, as is the wooden floor, pictured above.

The second floor courtroom used to have a dropped ceiling and a number of partitions, as pictured below left. The photo below right shows how it looks today:

During the restoration, experts scraped away layers of paint, exposing decorative treatments.  Faux black grout lines were painted over a calcimine blue-gray background, creating the appearance of Cannes stone, reflecting the building's French design.  Near the ceiling, they uncovered a Victorian motif hand-stenciled in brown oil-based paint that replicates the art metalwork pattern in the courthouse staircase, below right.  These original paint treatments were restored, below left.

The removal of the false ceiling exposed the soaring 19-foot walls, the 32-foot vaulted corrugated metal ceiling, and tall, narrow Victorian windows.

Another interesting feature, not described in the literature we were given, was the old urinals on the landing between the first and second floors on the east end of the building.  Apparently these were just large funnels (now gone) connected to holes in the floor, which are still visible.  (The center photo below is by Andrea Sutton and was taken February 23, 2007, for the Hood County Historical Society.)

And finally, just for fun - my husband pretending to be a mean judge on the Candlelight tour (his station was the second floor courtroom; I was on the first floor), and the nutcracker sentry just outside the south side door, next to the historical marker (click on the photo to enlarge it and read the marker).

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.