Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pace House now on our lot; what's next?

Garland's Pace House enters Travis College Hill Historic District

We've been plenty busy this past week supervising the Wednesday, October 15, move of Garland's Historic Pace House from the Patty Granville Arts Center in Downtown Garland to our vacant lot at 317 S. 11th St. The move of less than two miles required massive detail-planning, but that is behind us. Now onward to the future!

In the following Q & A I will try to answer some of the questions that people have posed to us this week:

1. Why is the house now sitting at the back of the lot and not on its new foundation? 

Our contractor felt it best to have the house nearby to double- and triple-check our architect's plans against the reality of the 1890s house. He did not want to build the new foundation before the house arrived at the lot. We certainly didn't want to write a check for the work, then find out a few days or weeks later than something was amiss. By having the house on the lot while the foundation is being drilled and poured, anytime a worker has a question, he can simply go over to the house and re-check the measurements.

2. When do you expect the foundation to be finished and the house moved on to the new foundation?

Our contractor will begin laying out the foundation this week. Then he will drill 42 piers at least 8-feet deep. After that he will insert the iron bars into the holes before we call for the first city inspection. Once those piers pass city inspection, concrete will be poured. Next will be the concrete beams. Some will be poured before the house is suspended over the foundation area; other beams will be poured after the house is moved over the foundation. After everything is complete and approved by the City of Garland, the house will then be lowered on to its new foundation. We expect the entire process to take anywhere from three to four weeks, weather permitting. We don't want to rush the process; we want it done right!

3. Can we go inside and tour the house now? 

No. Sorry. Our insurance company prefers that we hold off on tours until the house it sitting on its permanent foundation. Right now the house is still on its rails and wheels for moving. One has to climb a tall ladder to get on to the front porch, then unlock the door to get into the house.

4. How will the house be used?

We will return the house to its original purpose—a private residence.

After moving the house from its original location on North First at State streets in Garland, the Pace House was moved in 1985 to the city's then-Heritage Park. For the Texas Sesquicentennial the house was renovated as a community center, with meeting rooms, a small kitchen and two public restrooms. Our architect has drawn up plans—which we really like—for restoring the house to basically its original configuration.

5. Will the house have a second story?

It's difficult to tell from the history of the house whether it originally contained a second floor. The Pace family that occupied the house only had one daughter, who had no children. Consequently, lots of bedrooms were not as necessary for them as they were for other farm families in this area who had an abundance of children. However, our architect says we have plenty of room in the attic as it now exists with three dormers for two bedrooms and a full bath, without having to make any adjustments to the roof. 

Initially the house will be restored as a one-story residence with two bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. Long-term plans call for finishing out the second story with the additional two bedrooms and full bath. The huge entry hall will easily hold a beautiful stairway to the second floor. We already have the architect's drawings in hand for this later addition.

6.  Who will live in the house?

Plans call for leasing the home to a qualified individual or family who have a love for historic houses. We are already compiling a list of people who are in line to lease the house. Our current home, the 1916 Beaver-Walker Home at 313 S. 11th Street, was purchased by us as a rental property, but when we got halfway into the remodeling we decided our furniture "would look great" in the house and changed our minds and moved into it ourselves. We've lived in our current home for 14 years. So who knows? We have no plans to occupy the house ourselves, but our history shows that our plans do change.

7. How well did the house survive the move?

Our preliminary review of the house shows that it survived the move in remarkably good condition. The house was well built to start with and was restored extremely well in 1985.  Frankly, we are amazed at what good shape the house is in right now still sitting on the rails on which it was moved. Because Garland has been dealing with two historic homes, some people have inadvertently confused the Pace House with the much-smaller Lyles-Tinsley House. The Pace House was in far better shape at the start of this decision-making process than the Lyles-Tinsley House was. Even with that said the mover was quite surprised and pleased at how well the Lyles-Tinsley House accommodated the move. He commented that he thought the Lyles-Tinsley House was in far better condition than he had first thought. No question has ever existed about the quality of the condition of the Pace House. As several people said this week, "They don't build houses today like they used to."

8. Do you know the exact date when the Pace House was built?

The sign Garland placed in front of the house when it was in Heritage Park says "circa 1895". We intend to reinstall that sign in front of the Pace House after it is on its foundation. Traditionally, Garland has used 1895 as the date for the house. Some sources say "the late 1890s". However, local Garland historian Jerry Flook says he has found a newspaper article that says the Pace family moved into its new home in 1901. He does not cite a second source that says exactly when construction on the house started. 

On a recent trip to visit the Chickasaw Nation's Historic White House near Tishomingo, OK, we noticed an uncanny and dramatic similarity between that historic national monument and the Pace House (both are Queen Anne style, popular in that period). The National Registry says the Chickasaw White House was begun in 1895 and completed and occupied in 1901. I don't imagine that houses like either of these—with hand-hewn wood and many special features—were built overnight. In 1895-1901 no such thing as Home Depot or Lowes existed.  We will continue to seek out documented evidence on the house's history. Either way, the house is one of the oldest still in existence in Garland—somewhere between 113 and 119 years old.

9. When can the public see the home?

The Pace House will be one of the dwellings in our neighborhood, the Travis College Hill Historic District, that will be available to be toured during the city's next Heritage Week, tentatively set for April 11, 2015. 

10. Will the dwelling always be known as the Pace House?

We intend to keep the name by which the dwelling has always been known.

11. Will the exterior paint color be the same as it has been since 1985 in the city's possession?

We plan to keep the exterior colors very close to those on the house currently.

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