Foundations of FriscoApr 01, 2017 ● By Allie Spletter
With such a rich and meaningful history, the stories of those who established Frisco are as important today as they were at the time Frisco was being settled. The Heritage Association of Frisco charges itself with preserving that history. Linda Sutton, the chair of the Historic Sites Committee, explains a bit more about those early days. “In 1902, the Blackland Townsite Company laid out the streets and lots of the new town’s commercial and residential sections in empty fields east of the railroad tracks. The people who purchased the lots were people who saw opportunity for a better life. They had a vision of successful businesses and happy families. Some built their homes while others moved homes from nearby locations. Some were doctors, blacksmiths and teachers, while others were homemakers and farmers. Those who came and put down roots laid the foundation upon which Frisco thrived and grew into the city it is today,” she shares. By saving and sharing Frisco’s history, the Heritage Association strives to instill pride in the hundreds of new residents who move to this city every month. Ms. Sutton says, “I believe they have the same aspirations of a good life, just as those who moved here more than 100 years ago had.”
As Frisco really began to flourish in the 1990s, the Heritage Association saw a need to identify the city’s landmarks and save them from the rush of development. The first chairperson of this committee was Vivian McCallum, born and raised Frisco resident. Ms. Sutton says, “In fact, Vivian and her late husband, Bill, owned and lived in the Campbell House, now Randy’s Steakhouse on Main Street. During several years, Vivian and her committee marked 32 sites in and around Frisco.” The Heritage Association partnered with the city in saving the Crozier House and the Muse House that are now located in the Heritage Center park, east of City Hall. Recently, a renewed interest in home history and research has taken place and the Heritage Association has set markers at two additional homes located in the historic section of town known as the “Old Donation.”
Most historic homes in Frisco are located in the Old Donation section that runs roughly from Maple Street on the north, Ash Street on the south, County Road on the east, Frisco Street on the west, all bisected by Main Street. This is the area laid out by the Blackland Townsite Company that was auctioned in 1902 when Frisco’s roots began to grow. Ms. Sutton explains, “The homes are all unique in their architecture. Because of the quality of the workmanship on these homes, many of them still have original floors, fireplaces, doors and frame moldings, along with other fixtures. Fortunately, there seems to be a revival of interest in the area, and homes are being purchased by people who appreciate and value their histories. Many of the homeowners are renovating these unique homes with an eye toward keeping original fixtures. In addition to interior renovations, exteriors are being landscaped and lighted creating beautiful neighborhoods. They are contributing to the legacy of the original town site.”
The homes of historic Frisco have many stories to tell, as they have become part of that solid foundation upon which Frisco was settled. The homes themselves, as well as their occupants, past and present, play an integral part in the history of Frisco’s quaint little downtown and the booming city that surrounds it.
The Wagoner House
7090 Maple Street is home to the Wagoner House, built in 1911 by William and Lucy Wagoner. They moved to the Frisco area from Tenn. in late 1902, after having taken in the son of Mr. Wagoner’s deceased cousin, Raymond Franklin Parks. While Mrs. Wagoner made a home for the family, Mr. Wagoner ran the first livery stable in Frisco, which was operated on the north side of Main Street at 5th Street. At the Wagoner house, Mr. Wagoner founded Frisco’s first funeral home. He made caskets and kept a horse-drawn funeral coach in the barn behind the house, which likely pre-dated the home by 20 years. The couple served the community well, and often opened her home to boarders in the 1920s. Later in life, Mr. Wagoner sold his funeral home and farmed until he passed away in 1940. After his passing, Mrs. Wagoner remained in the home until she died in 1968.
The current owners, the Harrigan family, knew they wanted to live somewhere special, and after a months-long search, they came across the Wagoner House and knew it was the one. Mrs. Harrigan recalls, “Most people who saw the photos and the awful mess it was in certainly did not share our vision, but I just knew it was a very distinct and unusual home. The land, the barn, the original ‘bones,’ the intricate details and beautiful architectural features, its interesting story and the fact that it was in the heart of historic downtown all made it one in a million.” She continues, “When we bought the home, it was in great disrepair and filthy. First, we gave it a deep cleaning. We painstakingly restored it, while trying to keep the historical integrity and beauty of the home intact.”
The Harrigan’s 92-year-old next door neighbor fondly remembers Mrs. Wagoner and has told them stories of how she used to play on the front porch when she was a little girl. Mrs. Harrigan explains, “She remembers Mrs. Wagoner and said she was always laughing. If she was talking, she was laughing.” Mrs. Harrigan says folklore stories label Maple Street for being the “undertaker district,” and many neighbors and acquaintances tell ghost stories about the house, saying they have either seen or heard ghosts.
Mrs. Harrigan loves the coziness, warmth and uniqueness of the home and hopes, one day, to host weddings and events and possibly make it a bed and breakfast in the future. A historical marker was placed in front of the home in 2016.
The T. J. Campbell Home
Sitting proudly at 7026 Main Street, the T.J. Campbell home is a Texas State Historical Marker and is the oldest home in Frisco. Built in Lebanon, Texas, in 1869, it was constructed with lumber hauled from the small East Texas town of Jefferson and served as a landmark on the Shawnee Trail during the great Texas cattle drives. The home is where Mr. Campbell was a merchant of dry goods and groceries. As a result of the railroad bypassing Lebanon in 1902, many area merchants moved to the new railroad town of Frisco. This particular home was moved from Lebanon by a steam engine over logrollers. Over the years, the home experienced two significant changes, but they did not alter the original home. In addition to serving as Mr. Campbell’s merchandise store, the home has also served as a doctor’s office, a rooming house, a private home and, since 1995, a restaurant.
Randy Burks, the owner of Randy’s Steakhouse, purchased the home from Mrs. Vivian McCallum and turned it into what it is today: a fine dining experience in the heart of downtown Frisco. Mr. Burks explains the beginning of his adventure in the T.J. Campbell home, saying, “I had a restaurant down the street from our current location for three years. When Mrs. McCallum decided to downsize and sell the house, I bought it and opened Randy’s Steakhouse. I thought having a restaurant in an old historic home would be very cool and guests would enjoy it.” While preserving the home was of the utmost importance to Mr. Burks, much had to be done to accommodate the restaurant. He recalls, “14 years ago, we expanded our restaurant and worked with the Historic Society to preserve our historical marker. The architect used pictures from the house when it was still a residence and restored it to look like the original, including a wrap-around porch. We used period wall paper and, in some rooms, went back to the original wood floors.” Mr. Burks looks forward to many years of business that will allow him to continually contribute to the home, stating, “The longer I stay in business, the more I can invest in improvements and make the building even more beautiful. It is a real pleasure to be able to share this house with all of the residents of Frisco.”
The J.M. Ogle Home
Nestled just north of Main Street, the J.M. Ogle home is rich with history, and the home dates back to the early years of Frisco’s establishment. Mr. Ogle’s family moved to Texas in 1882 from Tenn. In 1896, Mr. Ogle married his wife, Clara Maynard. Mr. Ogle served the area as a doctor in a small community called Erudia, about three miles northwest of what was to become Frisco, and moved his medical practice and family to Frisco in 1902. In 1912, he and his wife built their home using lumber salvaged from the old Howard School that sat on the corner of North County Road and Maple Street. Here, they raised three girls, Nona, Wanda and Ophelia. Both Dr. and Mrs. Ogle contributed to the community greatly. Mrs. Ogle helped organize the Texas Mother’s Club in Frisco, which became the Parent Teachers Association, an organization in which she served as president. Dr. Ogle was a Frisco mayor and served on the School Board. He is the namesake of Ogle Elementary.
The present-day owners of the Ogle Home, Tony and Carla Bailey, are only the fourth family to live in the home that is now more than 100 years old. The Bailey family purchased the home in 2001 and has been actively renovating the home since. The Bailey family is especially proud of the home’s history given that Dr. Ogle also saw patients in the home, opened the house up as a boarding home and even allowed riders a place to stay as the last train rolled into Frisco at night.
Mr. Bailey admits he and his wife were immediately drawn to the sale sign that read “own a piece of history,” and were soon historical home owners, though they nearly lost it to another buyer. When that buyer fell through, they wasted no time. Mr. Bailey recalls, “We did not even walk in some rooms in the house before buying. I know that is an absurd idea to some homebuyers, but we were interested in the house for what it could be, not what it was.” Over the years, the family has renovated almost every part of the house, less one portion they cannot quite decide what to do with. Mr. Bailey explains, “With our renovations, we always stayed true to the character of the home — that was our mantra. However, it is our home first and foremost. Modern amenities had to look like they belonged or we did not get them. We tried to salvage as much original wood as possible. This one was tough. Lead paint was used then, so we had to be careful, especially with little ones, about paint removal. We preferred to use the original wood.” Mr. Bailey very much believes the historic homes in Frisco are important legacies. He clarifies, “Everyone who walks in our home and the people who stop to read the sign out front realize the beauty and unique character old structures have. These become settings for where stories are made over the years. We live in a place that creaks and speaks to us. Our home is bigger than ourselves and has idiosyncrasies like a ‘9-foot, 13-inch’ ceiling height and it was made by men in the community who paid with their labor to work off a medical bill to the good doctor. We have several of Dr. Ogle’s ledgers that show this.”
Of all the aspects of the home, Mr. Bailey admits the front porch is his favorite and is a beautiful place to swing and sip a cocktail on a nice afternoon. He loves the amount of pride his girls have in the home, as well. Mr. Bailey’s hope for the future of the home is that the stories are passed down and the doctor’s books remain with it as part of that story. “We are just small players in the story of this home, but we are very proud to have played a part at all,” he says.
The Dow Baccus House
In April 1905, Erasmus and Winola Baccus purchased three acres from the Blackland Townsite Company and built the home that now stands at 7546 Oak Street. The home was built with cypress siding and four coal-burning fire places. The original mantles remain and original windows still function in the house where Mr. Baccus lived after his wife’s death in 1927. Mr. Baccus was a Mason and served as the mayor of Frisco twice, in 1911 and again in 1916. He died in 1950.
The former owner of the Baccus home, Ms. Susanne Kerley, has a special place in her heart for historic homes, given that she lived in one for eight years. She says, “A historic home has a warmth of place. The materials the home is built from are pure, seasoned and natural. You know many families have enjoyed the same spaces you are now living in. The historic homes of Frisco were built with pride of workmanship and the best of their times.” Ms. Kerley recalls having an almost immediate connection to Frisco and its history after moving here and learning about the Baccus family and property. “I understand that Mrs. Montgomery, Mr. Baccus’ daughter who lived in the house after her father died, had a love of irises and had many varieties in the yard. When I lived there, I looked for antique varieties of iris and even saved some iris from abandoned properties and planted them in the yard,” Ms. Kerley explains.
Matthew and Brooklyn Calloway currently live in the home with their children. The family has lived in Frisco since 2006 and moved into the Dow Baccus House in October 2016, after wanting to buy the home for a long time. Mr. Calloway says, “We will live in this home forever. The feeling you get as the caretaker for this life is special. It is one of the most historically significant homes in Frisco. With that brings us a lot of pride. We could have bought any of the new homes being built, but that is just not our style. We like vintage.”
They love everything about the home. “The front porch and the location being in the absolute heart of Frisco on such a large lot are the best things. We walk to shops and restaurants. I like seeing the historic water tower outside our bedroom window and enjoy the energy of hearing local music on the weekends. Our kids love the zip line and treehouse that was made from leftover wood from the barn that was torn down to build the current six-car garage and guesthouse,” Mr. Calloway shares.
Since moving in last fall, the family has added exterior lighting to the trees and around the front of the house, landscaped the entire front yard and painted several rooms. They even relocated a 1956 Chevrolet bus to the backyard, which will be a signature piece to an upcoming backyard makeover. The family is re-doing the guesthouse and making the bus a unique place for friends and family to stay. They even converted one of the garage bays into Mrs. Calloway’s craft space (for paint parties) and workshop. “We like the house as it is, but a kitchen re-fresh will probably come later this year,” Mr. Calloway shares.
Original aspects of the home still part of the structure include the floors, fireplaces and windows.
The Douglass Home
Dr. Robert and Eliza Douglass purchased the lot at 9121 Sixth Street during the original auction of the land plots that make up the Old Donation. Mr. Douglass came to Texas in the 1880s and Mrs. Douglass was the granddaughter of Mr. Joseph Rogers, who brought his family to the area in covered wagons in 1833. The family played an integral part in the founding the First United Methodist Church of Frisco and Dr. Douglass was one of the few country doctors in the area.
Patti and Dick Ellis live in the home presently and have for almost six years. Mrs. Ellis says they named their home “The Douglass Home” after Dr. Douglass, and there is no doubt they take great pride in maintaining such an important piece of Frisco’s history. She explains, “We want to honor Dr. Douglass and his family for the great home they built that we still enjoy 115 years later. Any time we do a renovation to the home we do our best to keep the Folk Victorian Farmhouse look and feel. Everyone who visits loves the home and is always interested in its history, and one of our neighbors, who is now in her nineties, used to play at our house when she was a young girl.”
Mrs. Ellis had her eyes on the home for several years before they bought it, admitting she had always wanted to live in a historical home. “My dream since childhood was to live in an old yellow house with a white picket fence, and here we are. We love living in the heart of the Old Donation. We have a very quiet neighborhood with great neighbors.” It is the Ellis family’s hope that they live in the home for many more years. Mrs. Ellis says, “We hope that future homeowners will respect and love the home as much as we do, and that the City of Frisco will strive to make sure the historical homes stay in great condition to be enjoyed for another 100 years.” The Douglass Home received its historical marker in 2015.
As foundations were poured and walls were raised in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the pioneers who established Frisco could never have dreamed of what our special community would become. If the walls of Frisco’s historic homes could talk, they would tell the stories of families we can thank for working hard to establish our deep roots. If you are ever out for a drive, head over to Frisco’s Old Donation area and check out these beautiful historic homes, located deep in the heart of our sweet city.