When the rain let up enough for us to have a small adventure, my Texas friend and I decided to find out why there were so many historic and architecturally significant houses in Weatherford, Texas, so we visited the chamber of commerce, which is housed in a historic building of its own — the erstwhile train station.
The woman we talked to was pleasant enough though a bit condescending. “All towns have such houses,” she informed me when I asked why Weatherford had so many historic houses. “We just didn’t tear ours down.”
I have lived in several old towns and visited others. Yes, some small places such as Colorado mining towns had a plethora of historic homes, but other towns seemed to have skipped that phase. Perhaps the folk in those towns were still homesteading during the late nineteenth century or the early part of the twentieth when so many of those large houses were built. Or perhaps the town or county was simply too poor to make merchants and local bankers rich.
So no, not all towns had such houses. I didn’t want to argue with the woman, and anyway, “not tearing the houses down” didn’t explain why so many had been built in the first place. In cattle and horse country, rich ranchers build their homes on their property, not in town.
Finally, the woman gave us a pamphlet for an historic driving tour that described some of the houses and their early residents. And the mystery was solved. Apparently Parker county was so wealthy (cattle, horses, agriculture, oil, manufacturing) that bankers, merchants, lawyers, politicians, even an artist or two grew prosperous. And they built lovely houses for themselves, often tearing down the truly historic homes of homesteaders in the process.
And so it goes.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)
The cream-colored Italianate house with the red door and gray roof is where Mary Martin and later her son Larry Hagman grew up. The other houses belonged to grocers, druggists, bankers, and lawyers.
March 12, 2016 at 4:13 pm
These houses remind me very much of the Victorians found in Waxahachie, Texas. It’s an old town a little south of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I think each served as a nice bedroom community for the wealthy professionals who worked in the Metroplex, which might explain the quality of the old homes.
March 12, 2016 at 5:53 pm
Wow. My favorite part of traveling is looking at the old houses in any town. Weatherford seems to have an abundance of such places. Thanks for sharing.
March 12, 2016 at 6:01 pm
I’m not a fan of Texas, but I really want to visit those homes right now. So beautiful.
March 13, 2016 at 10:47 am
Beautiful homes, Pat. Thanks for sharing them with us. I lived in Texas for a while and on many jaunts around the state I enjoyed seeing handsome homes such as these. I also lived in Alabama for many years and very similar homes are in many communities there, as well. I love architecture and my husband, who was the director of the AL Film Commission at the time, and I used to scout out locations for Hollywood films there. Many happy memories of that time!
March 13, 2016 at 2:39 pm
March 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm
Interesting History Lesson and nice photos of the beautiful large homes.
March 13, 2016 at 10:48 pm
At least you solved the mystery and saw some cool houses.
March 14, 2016 at 6:22 pm
Nice pics Pat. I’m enjoying your stuff. Thanks.
May 10, 2016 at 7:49 am
I just love #1, #2, #3, #5 and the last one.
Here’s to hoping both of us will own such homes some day.
January 17, 2021 at 8:52 pm
When I was growing up my family would travel from Houston to SW Oklahoma to my grandparents. as a child I was quite fond of a house south of town on the east side of the road. It kind of looked liked the Munster’s house-(tv show). It was very run down and grown over in the late 60’s. I can imagine it was torn down when the new highways started coming in. I wonder if anyone has any imformation on the home, when it was built & who built it. I think I counted 11+ fireplaces. It would have been the highway going to Cleburne.
January 18, 2021 at 8:39 am
I’m not from that area, but maybe someone will respond.
August 4, 2021 at 5:53 pm
Does anyone have a picture of what is known to the locals of Weatherford as, “the big house on the hill?” If so, can you please share it here? It would have been built some time around the turn of the century (20th).
October 21, 2022 at 4:13 pm
I’m a Weatherford native who currently resides on the east coast. I have been fascinated with historical houses since I was a child. House #2 captivated me instantly and I’ve loved it since childhood. My love for Victorian houses and historical houses grew even bigger once I moved to the east coast since there are a lot of them in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia especially. Thank you for a great article and for bringing awareness to such beautiful homes! It’s not often you see Weatherford featured anywhere.
October 22, 2022 at 8:26 am
I enjoyed the houses, too, especially because I now live in an area with no Victorian houses of any consequence.