Thursday, August 6, 2009

History of Pecan Place

The original house that stood on this lot was built in 1846 by Henry Lucas Elder. The style is what is sometimes termed a typical "Southern Colonial." Often this style is ornately Italianate in features, however, ours was fairly modest. It's configuration consisted of a central hall flanked by one room on each side on both floors. Both floors had a front facing porch, one at the entrance of the house and one above.

This is the only picture we have of the old house, so little is known about the configuration of the back although the 1877 map of Trenton shows a T-shaped structure that extends beyond the central hall to another room which seems to be quite common for this style of house. The house originally faced College Street. There was some speculation that the house faced 4th Street, but if you will notice the tree prop on the small tree to the far right it provides evidence that both houses faced the same direction. The drawing on the 1877 map also indicates this.

It has been said that the Elder family watched the Civil War battles from the back porch. I'll have to do some additional research on this to see where all of the local battles took place, but the only one that I am aware of took place down by the railroad track. The back porch would have faced east. The tracks are to the west. They would have been facing the wrong direction to have seen that battle. It is possible however that it they may have watched this from the second story front porch although I'm skeptical about this as well since there is a rather large house on High Street that would have probably blocked the view.

I suspect that because of the age of the newly planted trees in front of the house and the age of these same trees in front of the new house addition, that this photo was taken very shortly before construction began. I also suspect that a good deal of the people standing on the porch lived in the house at the time, including the maid who can be seen to the far right in front of the window.

Given the date the house was built and the date that Horace McClung Elder was born, I'd suspect that Henry built the house to accommodate his upcoming family. He would have been 25 at the time. Horace was the first of what looks to be seven children. We have yet to find out much about Horace, but apparently he grew up to have comfortable plans and some means of making them happen.

I presume that being the oldest son, Horace inherited the house at age 31 upon the death of his father. Horace worked for his uncle and next door neighbor, John Wesley Elder, as a cashier at the Gibson County Bank. I imagine the responsibility and wages for this position are much different than they are for this position today.

Horace McClung Elder 1852

In 1893 at age 46, Horace added on to the family home. In fact, he added an entire house to the family home!

The planning of the addition included rotating the original 1846 home 90 degrees clockwise, removing the central hall, then moving the remaining rooms to the back of the addition. Whether the home was rotated and moved intact and used by the family during the construction of the new house is unknown although quite practical. It could have then been added once the new house was complete. I hadn't considered this until now.

Although we have no concrete evidence of this, it is highly suspected that the architect for the addition was none other that George F. Barber of Knoxville. Several people knowledgeable of Barber's work have confirmed that our suspicions are probably correct. I'd still love to find the blueprints though!

Photo from Gibson County Illustrated, 1901

Because of the number of pecan trees planted on the property, Horace named the newly finished home "Pecan Place."

Postcard of College Street looking north towards the courthouse. Given the growth of the trees, I'd say this was probably taken between 1910 and 1915 possibly. The photo was taken at the south side of our property. The fence can be seen in the foreground. The house that is now the funeral home next door is seen in the distance on the right and the Methodist Church on the left.

Henry Houston Elder is third from the left posing in front of his law firm with his partners and a colleague from Humboldt, a nearby town. (More to tell about this a little later.)

Residence of Evelyn Howard Elder Sawyer prior to sale of home to Dr. A.L. Schrader in 1981. After 135 years, the family home was sold to the town doctor who had loved the house for 20 years before he was finally able to obtain it. The purchase came just in time too, as it is rumored that Evelyn had considered selling it to the Methodist Church for use as their parking lot. I guess given that the house needed repairs and updating and this is a rather small rural town, it was unlikely that someone would want to tackle the work or have the available funds to do so. So, thanks to Dr. Schrader, the old girl was saved. He and his wife were married in the second parlor and lived here for the next 20 years or so.

To carry on the tradition, Donnie loved this old house for many years too. After several years of being on the market, we bought it and got married on the front porch. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Following the Elder line as it pertains to the house:

No comments:

Post a Comment