The United States is a country chock full of rich history. It might seem a very young country compared to some of the really old ones in Europe and other places around the world, but it has still managed to accumulate enough history in its short time of being that it makes many other countries look boring in comparison. The lone star state is no exception to this fact.
The Earle-Harrison House, located in Waco, Texas, is a part of some of the smaller historical locations in the United States. While some places, like the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and Pearl Harbor have a ton of history behind them. Other places exist that are known for relatively smaller feats, or for just having served a purpose in some historically significant person’s life. The Earle-Harrison House is one such case, a relatively unknown residence that, until very recently, was slated for demolition.
Who Used to Live at the Earle-Harrison House?
The Earle-Harrison House was the place of residence for one Dr. Baylis Wood Earle. Dr. Baylis Wood Earle resided in the house with his wife Eliza Harrison Earle, and his nine children. The house remained the home of the Earle and Harrison families until the year 1891, when its current owner – Eliza’s brother General Thomas Harrison – passed away and the house was sold. Given that Dr. Baylis Wood Earle passed away in 1859, it is prudent to mention that the house wasn’t only notorious for being his home, though it did gain fame because of the good doctor.
Who Was Dr. Baylis Wood Earle?
Dr. Baylis Wood Earle, born in South Carolina in the year 1801 to parents John Baylis and Sarah (Taylor) Earle, is known for being an excellent practitioner of medicine. He grew up in South Carolina, but later moved to Alabama. He also lived in Mississippi for some time before he ultimately settled down in Texas, in the city of Waco. It was here that Dr. Baylis Wood Earle found success and fame in his profession and spent the rest of his days.
What is the Earle-Harrison House Like?
The Earle-Harrison House is a beautiful exhibition of the famed Greek-Revival style of architecture. In a way, the house is only a “half house”, as Dr. Baylis Wood Earle never got to see the construction of the house to completion due to his untimely demise. The house’s remaining construction was never carried out, and the house remained as it was in the 1850’s.
The Earle-Harrison House has five acres of oak trees, neatly maintained lawns, and a 75-foot rose arbor in addition to a lily pond. The interior of the house features spacious rooms, 14-foot high ceilings, and multiple large windows that lead to verandas. The house is furnished with beautiful 19th Century furniture, and seems to be frozen in time due to never being redecorated. The furniture also includes a beautiful piano that used to belong to Eliza Harrison Earle. The house stands today as a proud member of Waco’s history, not just because of its past history as the house of a respected doctor, but also because of its ageless beauty. The fact that a portion of the interior furniture consists of items donated by citizens of Waco themselves only cements the house’s place in Waco’s history of beloved places that the residents of Waco hold dear.
The Earle-Harrison House Following Dr. Earle’s Passing
When Dr. Baylis Wood Earle passed away shortly after having moved into the house, the place quickly fell to disrepair. It was divided up in to apartments, and everything inside and outside the house started to fall apart. In the following years, the house became an ugly blot on Waco’s map, and it was decided that the old residence was impeding the way of progress and should be torn down to make way for a motel.
If it hadn’t been for two residents – Nell Jurney Pape and Lavonia Jenkins Barnes – the house would have been demolished. Instead, Nell Jurney Pape founded the foundation that set out to restore the house to its former glory, and today the Pape Gardens around the Earle-Harrison House are named after Nell Pape. The house’s roof and nine cyprus columns were removed, and the structure was sawed in half using a chainsaw.
The dismantled house was then relocated to a new site 1.9 miles (roughly 3 kilometers) away, where it was then masterfully restored to perfection over the course of three years under the guidance of architect Rayford Stripling. In the year 1970, the house was first opened to the public for tours, and was awarded a plaque from the Texas Historical Commission later in the same year.
The Earle-Harrison House is far from the only house in the United States with a historical past tied to it, but it does hold the distinction of being the only one open to public in the city of Waco, Texas. If you’re touring around the whole state of Texas however, there are plenty more fun places to visit, fun things to do, and cool sights to see in the state of cowboys and guns.