History of Our Property, Part 3

This is just a little tidbit that Mandi found out yesterday when talking to some friends. We’ve talked about putting photos of the prominent Cameron residents who attended the First Christian Church during its long history, and we have a new one to add.

Marie, from her obituary.

It turns out that Lucille Marie Jones Braden (Marie), the mother of the actor Tommy Lee Jones, attended the church late in her life, after she married Cameron resident Carlton E. Braden. She was a member of the Board and quite active until her death in 2013.

She sounds like a pretty cool woman. Apparently she married and divorced her first husband, Clyde Jones, twice. That’s from Wikipedia. She also had lots of careers, ranging from hairdresser to police officer. She retired from working at the State of Texas in Mental Health and Mental Retardation (MHMR as we call it today, to avoid the unpleasant actual name).

You know she had to be strong to thrive for many years in Midland, Texas and raise a son who went to Harvard on scholarship. She also loved to crochet, according to her obituary, which makes me like her even more.

Liberty Community Cemetery, Milano, Texas

She’s buried along with Mr. Braden in Milano. It’s amazing what you can find out on the internet these days. Thanks to Mandi for finding out about this bit of history.

History of Our Property, Part 2

Cameron Herald, June 25, 1959.

I did some more research on the First Christian Church of Cameron over the past few days. I got as much as I could from the newspapers.com collection of the Cameron Herald through 1985.

[This post originally appeared on the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog.]

Mostly what I found out was that the church went through a LOT of ministers. Of course, I was looking at an eight-year span, so that should not be a surprise. My favorite one’s name was Harsh Brown. The newspaper kindly explained that Harsh is a “family name.”

The current building replaced a wood one in 1935, under the direction of Rev. Grove, who also doubled the church membership during the 5 years he led the congregation. Here’s the cool part: The whole thing cost $6,000!

I learned that the church used a nearby house as Sunday School rooms for a time, starting in 1959. I wonder if it was the house next door? The article from the Herald on October 26, 1959 said it was on Gillis St., but the next-door Rossen house faced College Ave. Maybe someone will remember that. There was a house on Gillis next-door to the Rossen house, so that could have been it, too.

I also learned that the carport where we park our cars was added in 1969. I wonder if the one that’s there is the original? I wonder so much about this building!

The Best!

But, the best thing I found, by far, was an actual photograph of what the church looked like in the 1980s. This picture was in a 1983 edition of the Herald. You can see they had not yet added the brick sign, and had only one cross in front. Also notably missing is the steeple. It looks more Art Deco without the steeple on it. I think our renovation may be bringing it back to its past! I’ll be sure to pass this picture on to our architect!

One more thing you can easily spot is the Rossen House, still happily sitting behind the church. The big wall of the industrial building next door was already there, though. I think you can see a little bit of the Gillis House in the far back. I wish I could see if the basement windows were there at this point or not. I’m still hoping we can find other photos in the museum in the town when Melanie at the Chamber of Commerce and I take a field trip over there. We may learn even more.

The church as it appeared in April of 1983.

History of Our Building, Part 1

Old coins, including an Indian head nickel that David found for us.

For a few months now, I’ve been delving into the history of the properties we’ve acquired or are in the process of acquiring in the old part of Cameron. There will be a series of posts on what I’ve found, as soon as I gather all my information.

[This post was originally written for the Hermit Haus Redevelopment blog.]

No foolin,’ I got a nice boost of knowledge when a local historian and reader of this blog, David Basonic, showed up at the office and talked to our assistant, Mandi, about what he’d learned after reading my post last week when I solved the mystery of why the Rosson family never lived in the Gillis house (the future bed and breakfast to go with The Hermit Haus), but DID live on the corner of College and Gillis streets (which used to be 2nd St., and before that was Bridge St.). Oh, and by the way, Main Street used to be Belton.

Hard to see, but the red building is the Baptist church, while our building is across the street from it on the left. The Rosson house is at bottom left.

David had more information for me, and also gave me links to some reference material I hadn’t looked at yet, mainly a collection of old fire insurance maps, the Sanborn Collection, and some very cool aerial photographs that you can buy prints or digital downloads of. After I gave David permission to do metal detecting around our properties, I filed all the information away for when I had time to do some research.

You can see that there were actual houses near the churches in 1906.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, he found some old money on one side of the church building but not much else. The Gillis house was just chock full of metal debris, so no luck there. I told him to go check out all the houses (since he lives right near the Washington property, that one won’t be hard).

So, What about the Church?

There are fire maps of Cameron going back to 1885, when there wasn’t much of Cameron at all. But by 1901, the Baptist church across the street from our property was built, but had no electricity or gas. In 1906, our building was there! The Gillis house was also there, but more on that in another post. In 1912, our building was listed as a “vacant” church. But in the next series, it’s the Christian Church, which it remained until last year!

Continue reading “History of Our Building, Part 1”

We’re Still Here!

Mandi and Sue Ann announced our move on Facebook.

We started this blog, then decided to keep posting about The Hermit Haus on our company pages until we are ready to accept rentals. In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to share some of the pictures and posts from during the construction phase, though.

What’s been happening?

We have mostly been getting ready to start the remodeling process, while we wait for our architectural plan to be finished. We don’t want to get permits to do the work until we know for sure what that work will be!

It may not look great, but we can work here!

Our company, Hermits’ Rest Enterprises, IS now located in the pre-renovation basement, though. Tomorrow is the big day when the doorbells get installed, so we will know when we have visitors. 

We also put decorations inside the building!

We’ve removed the old signs outside, donated the crosses to a worthy cause, and put up some Christmas decorations, so the building looks loved.

Lee is working on the signage. Soon we’ll have our own sign.

Former occupants

We are very happy to have bought this building, because we’ve noticed in the paper that the church that used to meet in the building has been making some kind donations to local charities, the police department, and others. That’s where we want our money to go, back to the community.

Welcome and Background

This is what our building looked like when we purchased it. It can only go uphill!

We’re really excited about what we can do with the building we just bought. It was a church here in Cameron, Texas for many years, but membership was declining as building maintenance costs rose. The congregation decided to meet elsewhere, but had to sell the building first.

It took a team with a vision to take over the property, so it remained for sale for a long time, until Hermits’ Rest Enterprises decided to purchase it. Our reasons were two fold:

Our previous office location, before we moved in a couple of years ago.

We wanted a commercial building for our offices, so we could make the house we were currently using available for a family with a small business that could use the attached warehouse.

We were looking for a way to bring more visitors to the downtown area of Cameron, and we could see the potential of the building to host medium size meetings, concerts, conferences, weddings, and other celebrations.

Most wedding/conference venues in the area are in ranch settings, so we hope we will be able to offer a more traditional spot for people who don’t have a church or building of their own to use, in a neutral setting that can work for multiple styles.

Want to learn more?

Prior to setting up this website, we chronicled our purchase, with lots of pictures and stories, on the Church Conversion page of our Hermit Haus Redevelopment site.