House in Stephenville, Texas – The Story of Vanderbilt Place
A beautiful 2-story, 3,700-square-foot home was built on the site of what was once McIlvaney Academy, which was reclaimed by fire in 1919. We call this home “Vanderbilt Place.” With its hardwood floors, French doors, claw foot tubs, five fireplaces, and high ceilings, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to rent for a special occasion.
In 1920, the house that currently stands on the site was built. In an article that the local newspaper was kind enough to publish, I asked if anyone knew anything about the history of the house if they could give me a call. An older man said that the house was owned by a family with the last name Henry and that the house was always “full of children.”
Another woman I met said she boarded there while she was in college.
I heard from another man who said that his mother ran the house as a boarding house for college students in the 1940s and 1950s. He said that in those days there was another structure on the property, an apartment with a garage, in which he and his brothers slept. . The son of the previous owner told me that there was indeed an apartment with a garage on the property. He said that although his father took down that structure around 1999 or 2000, it was not beyond repair.
A funny call came from a man who said that the entrance to the kitchen used to be all glass but, as a child, he was throwing a ball in and it broke the glass, “one day,” he added, laughing, “who will live in infamy. “. That guy added that his father had installed some kind of spring-loaded contraption designed to raise and lower garbage cans, since “dogs, cats and vermin were everywhere in those days.” He said there was no reason to remove the device and that it is most likely still buried there to this day.
One day, two wealthy white-haired ladies passed by the house. They said they were from Granbury and that they were part of the Henry family that once lived there. In fact, when the house was “full of children”, they were part of that group. The ladies were very nice and had a lot of nice things to say about how we were decorating the house. One lady was even moved to tears. They explained to us how the house was always a boarding house of one kind or another, and they showed us how the room that we now know as the kitchen used to be a small apartment. The master bathroom now blocks what was once the back door, a direct shot from the front door. The French doors that we see at the end of the ground floor foyer weren’t always there as those same doors once divided the living room from the master bedroom. The ladies recalled how they used to have dances on the front porch and related how they were related to the great American statesman, Patrick Henry, of “Give me liberty or give me death” fame.
One night, while placing numbers in the rooms above, I couldn’t help but notice that there were already nail holes from previous room numbers. Although we are confident that the house has undergone a number of renovations in its 85-year history, we are very proud of the fact that we remain true to the original uses and purposes of the building, that is, providing a comfortable and pleasant environment. Lively place where people can lay their heads at the end of the day.