Monday, October 25, 2010

Random Photos of Jefferson, Texas

I hope you're not bored with Jefferson, Texas, because here's some more random photos. There is just so much history in the homes, businesses and people. And to think that the residents today are taking the time, money and effort to reconstruct their town. Amazing!
We took a ride down the Big Cypress Bayou one afternoon on the Turning Basin Riverboat Tour. Remember it was very hot and humid while we were there, so this was a welcome relief to the heat. It was so beautiful, so peaceful and quiet. John Nance who is a noted historian in Jefferson, was our guide. He told us about the history of the riverboat business along the Bayou, stories about the town, and information about the plants and wildlife of the area. We did get to see several deer in the woods and turtles and snakes in the water.  Too many snakes for me! The boats for touring have history themselves. They were bought in 1985 from Six Flags Over Texas.

We also took a mule and wagon tour of the town. Our guide gave us a wonderful history of the homes and town. I wish I could remember her name she was great. But, I did find out the names of the mules - Pat and Ida. The white house out the front of the wagon is the Schluter House, built in 1856. After the death of several of their children in the house, the family moved. Then, the Schluter house became a boarding house for the wives of riverboat captains. They could see the river from the widow's walk and know when their husband's boat came into town.

Have you ever seen a stop sign like this? It's dated 1926. They are bolted in the center of the brick streets. The back side is raised about three inches so you can see the words as you approach. The back side says "keep right."  I tripped over these several times when crossing the street and not looking down.

There are so many gorgeous homes that have been restored in Jefferson.  You'll find over one hundred buildings in Jefferson that have been awarded historical markers, and there are over forty bed and breakfasts, along with two historic hotels. The restoration began as early as 1940. The Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club began looking at tourism as a way to preserve and promote Jefferson. Thirty-six women belonging to the garden club bought their first house, restored it, and then sold it. They have continued to do this and have restored over 150 homes. They were also helpful in getting a law passed that any new buildings in the historic area would be built to look old.

I wanted to show you a few of the different styles of homes.

Old Presbyterian Manse/Roger's House
It is considered to be the oldest home still intact in Jefferson, Texas. It was built by General James Harrison Rogers, a prominent lawyer in the town. Rogers made his law library available to East Texas lawyers and students who read law in his office.

This is an example of the gardens in Jefferson.
This one is behind the Roger's House.

French Townhouse - 1861
This house has the original tin roof. You can't see it very well, but across the point of the roof the tin is scalloped and decorative.

The Plantation House - 1854
The double staircases leading to the front door were build so the women went up one side and the men the other side. Therefore men could not see the ladies ankles.

Beard House - 1860
Noble A. Birge, one of the first settlers of Jefferson, and a prominent merchant and civic leader built the Beard House.

Captain's Castle
The Captain's Castle, also known as the Rogers-McCasland home, was so named by Captain Thomas J. Rogers, a Confederate officer and local pioneer banker. In the early 1870's, he combined two older houses, one already located on the present site (the back part of the existing structure) and the two story front portion. He moved the front portion across town on log rollers pulled by oxen from down on the river front. The moved portion, built in the 1850's, is said to have been one of the town's most elaborate bawdy houses during its riverboat heydays.

We saw several of these rock homes in town. One of the early citizens wanted to build a home for his son using rock out of a farmers field. The farmer said he could have the rock he wanted, but he would have to take all the rocks in the field. He built a house for his son and then several others. They are beautiful rocks making such pretty houses.

Captain George Todd House - 1893
Capt. George Todd (1839-1913) was a Confederate veteran, ex-district attorney, former state legislator, and senior member of East Texas Bar. He built this home for his family. Descendants still own and preserve the structure.

There were so many homes. I took lots of pictures. But, I'll quit here. There's one more home I want to share, but it will take a whole post because it's the best!!

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