(Note: The "contemporary" information taken from the Texas Historical Commission's Historic Sites Atlas Database, beta version, for these National Register Properties was actually written in the 1970's, and may no longer apply.)
The Randlett/Ratcliff House
Architectural Style: Queen Anne
From the 1984 Historic Lancaster calendar, published by
the Lancaster Genealogical Society. THE RANDLETT HOUSE, "The Old Ship of
Zion", 401 South Center Street. Built in 1893 by Samuel L. and Addie W.
Randlett. Architect, Scott W. Wilson of Fort Worth. Material supplied by
Cameron Lumber Co., Waco. The site, from the William Love White estate,
was given to Addie (White) Randlett as a wedding present, Ausgust 16, 1886,
by her mother, Louisa (Ellis) White.
The Randlett house is one of the four remaining Victorian houses still standing in Lancaster. Constructed by S. D. Andrews for Sam Randlett, a prominent local merchant, the house was completed in 1896 and represented the Randlett's social status within the community. Displaying characteristics of Victorian architecture, the Randlett house possesses an asymmetrical floor plan, numerous projecting wings, a complicated roof line and detailed woodwork. Although much of the original detailing has been lost, the house still retains its Victorian character. Located on 23 acres of land which Randlett's wife, Addie, had inherited from her father, the structure was originally bounded by a cast iron fence. Brickwalks connected the carriage house, barn, outhouse and garden which were situated to the south and west of the house. The yard was landscaped with shrubs lining the brickwalks and a hedgerow of cedars imported from Lebanon decorating the north property line. The original roof consisted of Cyprus shingling with pressed tin cresting on the roof ridges. The wood shingles have been replaced with a composition covering and only portions of the metal detailing remain. The tower's lightning rod still pierces the sky, but the decorative finials are missing. Terminating the roof, the cornice encases a guttering system with a central drain. Upon emptying into a charcoal filtering system, the water flows into a 2000 gallon underground cistern.
The three-story tower with its octagonal spire dominates the east or front facade and rises from the ellshaped intersection of the projecting east and south bays. A one-story attached gallery extends from the north wall and wraps around the east and south facades. The gallery is supported by slender turned wooden posts. Initially these posts were connected with ornate carpentry, but because of neglect and deterioration, the gingerbread detailing under the eaves has been removed. The original balustrade remains in a dilapidated condition.
Other interesting features include the north facade's three- sided bay and the west winy porch. The north bay exhibits unusually proportioned windows, measuring 12'x3' on the top floor and 6'x3' on the first story. As a result, these windows greatly contrast to the standard 8'x3' doublehung windows which prevail throughout most of the structure. The rectangular wing which projects from the west (rear) facade, displays a small shed porch on the north side. Once highlighted with gingerbread carpentry similar to that of the front gallery, this porch remains relatively unadorned after the detailed woodwork was removed.
Containing twelve rooms, the Randlett house displays much of its original interior architectural detailing. The high ceilings of the four front rooms allow large three-foot transoms and seven-foot doors which are ornamented with stamped brass hinges, escutcheons and doorknobs. The projecting bay on the north side contains a carved wood staircase. The stairs include a small first flight which leads onto a landing before continuing with a much larger second flight. To provide adequate lighting, the secondstory windows are much taller than the ground floor openings,, thus creating a large open space within the stairwell.
Plumbing and electricity were added to the house when it was remodeled in 1912. A new bedroom and sleeping porch were added on the west end of the building just above the kitchen.
After years of neglect, the new owners are in the process of restoring the structure to its original appearance.
Located in the small community of Lancaster, the Randlett house provides a good illustration of vernacular Queen Anne architecture. When the two-story, balloon farmhouse was completed in 1896 for a local merchant; Sam Randlett, it was among Lancaster's finest homes. At one time, the town exhibited many fine Victorian homes, but the Randlett house remains as one of only four good examples of Victorian houses.
Although little is known of his early years, Sam Randlett was reputed to be a sea captain prior to his settling in Lancaster in 1887. Upon his arrival in the Texas town, Randlett established a modest hardware business. His store prospered, and in 1889 he married Addie White, the eldest daughter of one of Lancaster's wealthiest citizen Mrs. Lou F. White.
In the mid-1890's, Randlett contracted with S. D. Andrews, a local builder, to construct house. Situated on a 23 acre tract of land which Addie had inherited from her deceased father, the spacious house was planned to accommodate a large family and reflect Randlett social status within the community. The structure was designed in the Queen Anne style which was very popular in Lancaster at that time.
In June of 1896 the house was completed, and Randlett, his wife and three children proudly moved into the wood frame house with its dominating tower. However, their happiness was short-lived when Addie died in November of that year from an asthma attack. Stricken with grief, Randlett moved to Dallas. He returned to Lancaster in 1899 and married Mary Randlett a well-known artist in the area. Sam and Mary Randlett had 5 children and lived in the house until their deaths in 1945 and 1952, respectively.
In 1944 Sam was in poor health and sold the house to his youngest daughter, Alice Grace Randlett. Upon her retirement from a department store in the 60's, Miss Randlett leased the house to various tenants. In 1975 Tim and Connie Ratcliff bought the structure from her. Although it was neglected for many years, the house is currently being restored to its original appearance by its present owners.
W.A. Strain House
400 E. Pecan St.
Architect: J.E. Flanders & Moad
Builder: Joe Lyon
Architectural Style: Late Victorian
The W. A. Strain home stands on a hill at the southeast corner of the Lancaster city limits, facing northwest. Of the original outbuildings, including a barn, smoke house, wood shed, wash house and outhouse, only the smoke house and outhouse, southeast of the home, still remain. The two and a half story frame late-Victorian structure with gabled wood shingle roof and brick foundation has an asymmetrical plan. Its guttering system around the roof sends rain water through a charcoal bin to a cistern. The house was originally painted a deep rust color with cream colored trim. It is now white with black trim. Some of the original metal roof cresting has been removed. There is a wide band of imbricated shingle siding between the first and second floors around the front and two sides of the house. The shingle siding is repeated on gable ends and around the third story of the turret. One-over-one double-hung sash windows are used predominantly on all facades of the house. There is a large central corbeled brick chimney with two evenly spaced brick belt courses encircling it, and a smaller, very simple brick chimney toward the southeast (back) of the house. The northwest (front) facade shows a ground floor gallery wrapping around the southwest corner of the house with a wide central pedimented entry, turned columns, spindled and cut-out balustrade and cut-out spandrels. The second story gallery directly above stops at the southwest corner of the house. Beside the gallery, three windows separated by muntins have a stained-glass transom above on the ground floor. A horizontal stained glass window is on the second floor with a low-pitched pediment above. Both triangular pediments on this facade are trimmed with dentils and applied serpentine wood moldings. The single-light casement window in the gable end above once contained stained glass. The peak of the gable end is spanned by a cutout bargeboard. There is a three-story turret on the north corner of this facade, its cone-shaped shingle roof topped with a metal finial at its peak. Circular windows on the third floor once contained stained glass. There is a carved wood medallion above the second story window on the turret.
The northeast (side) facade shows the turret and a twostory bay window with an arched stained glass window set in a projection of the ground floor of the bay. The gable end and pediment are identical to those on the northwest (front) of the house.
The southeast (back) facade of the house shows a hipped roof rather than a gable end. The two-story porch was enclosed and a one-story porch added around 1915.
The southwest (side) facade consists of a central projecting pavilion with gable end and pediment identical to those described on the northwest and northeast elevations, with enclosed porches to the southeast (back) and the wrap around gallery to the northwest (front). A small balcony above the gallery has been enclosed.
The four original Victorian mantels with beveled mirrors are still in the house. There is an ornate front and simple back staircase. An attic stair was added around 1915. Sliding panelled pocket doors open between the front hall and parlor and between the parlor and diningroom. All the ceilings are 12 feet high on the ground floor.
The three-story smoke house has horizontal wood siding on the two lower floors with imbricated shingle siding around the mansard top floor which contains a cistern fed by a windmill.
This property is still occupied by the W. A. Strain heirs. They have recently replaced the wood shingle roof and have repainted the house. The floors and woodwork inside the house have been refinished. The family plans to continue to maintain the house and its original furnishings as they have in the past.
The W. A. Strain House near Lancaster, Texas, is an excellent example of late Victorian architecture, designed by J. E. Flanders & Moad of Dallas. This firm also designed the Trinity Methodist Church in Dallas, and the Shackleford County Courthouse, which is part of an historic district in Albany, Texas. Joe Lyon built the house in 1896. The 374 acre farm on which it is located has been designated one of 560 farms in Texas for the Family Land Heritage Program. This land has been farmed for over 130 years by the same family. The Strain family has shown pride in their old family home by maintaining it with few alterations since it was built 72 years ago. The house has been the meeting place of many Baptist groups over the years and is the annual location of the Lancaster Historical Society spring luncheon and meeting.
W. A. Strain (1861-1907) was the son of M. L. Fornsworth and W. S. Strain of Washington County, Tennessee. W. A. Strain came to Texas sometime before 1887, followed by his family. He purchased a building on the north side of the square in Lancaster in 1889 in which he opened a drugstore. His brother, Horace, managed this store while W. A. opened another drugstore in Waxahachie.
In 1895, after marrying Minnie White (1867-1957), Strain moved back to Lancaster, sold his two businesses and bought the 380 farm from his wife's family. The young couple was able to build the large house on the hill just east of the W. L. White cotton gin due to the encouragement and financial aid of Minnie's widowed mother, Mrs. W. L. White. Mr. and Mrs. White had planned to build a home one day on the site their daughter and son-in-law utilized in 1896.
The house was built on land that had been settled by Mrs. White's parents, and McKee and Mary Wit Ellis, in 1846. W. L. White was a cattleman, banker, investor. W. A. Strain helped the White sons run the gin after W. L. White died, and farmed his 380 acres until his death from tuberculosis in 1907. The Strain heirs have continued to live in the old family home, maintaining it with very few alterations and much of the original furnishings still intact.
Capt. R. A. Rawlins House
2219 Dowling St.
Architect: R.A. Rawlins
Architectural Style: Greek Revival
The R.A. Rawlins house is a one and one half story frame structure built in 1870 on the present site located on the northeast corner of Highway 342 and LancasterHutchins Road in Lancaster, Texas. Of the rural framed vernacular, this house is distinguished architecturally by its three large gable-roofed dormers placed across the west (entry) facade perpendicular to the main gable roof of the house. The main portion of the 10 room house is sheathed with white- painted pine siding finished and tongue-andgrooved by hand when Capt. Rawlins, along with family and neighbors, began building in 1869. The timbers used in framing the structure were salvaged from the original (1854) Rawlins homestead of this same site, which was torn down to build the present one. All the windows, doors and siding were made entirely by hand on site. The wood shingle roof, a recent replacement, was originally covered with thin-split oak board roofing. Two outside-end brick chimneys were built by "Uncle Billy" Rawlins with brick and lime he quarried and burned on the property. Both chimneys and the house rest on a foundation of stone carried from Winifred Branch, 3 miles to the East.
The Greek Revival plan house was symmetrical on its east (rear) and west (front) elevations before the later addition of a frame porch, bedroom and bathroom on the southeast corner of the lower level. The ground floor level employs tall, 9-over-6 light double-hung windows symmetrically placed in each of two pairs of rooms arranged on either side of the central breezeway. This breezeway opens to the single- bay entry porch on the west with a pair of original four- paneled doors with a sixlight transom above and screened doors on the exterior. The east end of the breezeway widens at the smaller rooms on each side. It opens with a pair of 3 light-over single panel doors centered between 4 full-height 4-over-4 light, double-hung windows, two of those being on each side.
Of the two smaller rooms, the one on the southeast corner opens to the breezeway on the north and to the later addition screened porch on the southeast. Two sets of stairs, one directly from the breezeway and the other from what once was the master bedroom, connect to the second level and two more bedrooms now joined by a bathroom between them. The upstairs rooms each have two 6over-6 light doublet- hung windows, one on either side of brick chimneys in the gable ends of the main roof. One of the three gable roofed dormers protrudes from each of the upstairs bedrooms and the bathroom. A 6-over-6 light window is centered in each. The opposite, or east side of these rooms have no windows. The pitch of the roof slopes unbroken down to the height of the first floor door head.
The house, along with some period and original furniture, remains in the hands of Rawlins' descendants who use it as a second home and family gathering place. With the exception of the bathroom upstairs and the sympathetic addition, it remains virtually unaltered. It is one of the oldest houses in Dallas county and is a good example of rural vernacular as applied in the North Texas of 1870.
The Captain R.A. Rawlins house, located at the intersection of the Highway 342 and Lancaster Hutchins Road in Lancaster, Texas, was built in 1870 by Captain Rawlins and his friends and relatives. Using the symmetry and plan of the Greek Revival period, it is distinguished room that architectural style by three gabled dormers with windows opening on the main, west, facade. Apart from its rustic charm and representation of a period rural Texas house type, the R.A. Rawlins house is also significant for the contribution of its occupants to the area's history and development.
When Elder Rawlins came to Texas from Greene County Illinois fin December of 1844, he and his family were the first Anglo people to settle the area soon known as Hard Scrabble his children was Roderick Alexander Rawlins who later married Virginia E. Bledsoe, he first school teacher in the area and member of the founding family of Lancaster, Texas.
R. A. Rawlins initially built a modest house with accompanying outbuildings including a smoke house and stables on land of his father's headlight in the 1850's. The stables were removed in 1888 with the passing of the Katy railroad through the property. The smokehouse and a small barn still exist on the site.
The original house and grounds deteriorated while Rawlins fought in the Civil War, becoming a Captain in the Sixth Texas Cavalry, Sul Ross Brigade. Slowly rebuilding his resources after the war, Rawlins eventually began construction of the more spacious one and one-half story house which still stands. Using square-cut iron nails and timber from the earlier house, the present house was begun in the summer of 1869 and completed in the summer of 1870.
A depression in the yard in front of the house was the location of the earlier Texas Central highway, an important link between Waxahachie and Dallas. Because of its location and importance to travelers, the house became known as the "Halfway House", being equal distance between those two important cities. The road once was also the main route of travel from the northern states into Texas and on into Mexico, as well as the route of the stagecoach line from San Antonio to Dallas.
Captain Rawlins lived in the house until his death in 1910. The house is in good condition, leaving been recently refinished as near to the original as possible by the present owner, Erle Rawlins of Dallas, who is the Great- Grandson of Captain Rawlins. In 1976, the Dallas Board of Realtors selected in the house as the oldest in Dallas county still owned and occupied by the heirs of the original owner.
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