Mayor Boyd Austin said the center portion of his house on Confederate Avenue might be one of the oldest houses still standing in Dallas.
The white, wooden house was built in the early 1870s with a kitchen, hall, dining room and a bedroom by Noel Roberts.
“He built many of the houses on the street,” Austin said. “He may have had a saw mill on the lot next door when my house was constructed.”
Roberts added onto the house as well, and by 1911, the house had seven rooms and three porches—a front porch and two side porches.
Roberts died in 1900s and the next year, his widow, Sarah Chapel Roberts, bought it from her husband’s estate in 1901. After Roberts died in 1908, Cleon Gordon bought it from Roberts’ estate. In 1915, Gordon removed the front porch, added several rooms to the front and then rebuilt the front porch.
“It made it look more like the bungalow-type of house that it is now,” said Jason Edwards, historian.
The family also replaced the mantles and fireplaces. Gordon sold in the house in 1918 to M.B. Sell as a rental property. While the Sells owned the home, the McGarity, Tom Rawls and Otis Cooper families lived there. In 1929, Sell sold the house to E.D. Wheeler. Details are sketchy as to who owned the house after the Wheelers, but the Echols family bought the home in the 1950s. In 1959, Austin’s parents purchased the house from the Echols’, and that was the home where Austin lived for most of his life, other than when he went away for school and lived in Atlanta for a few years.
“I just loved being in town,” Austin said. “It’s home, and it’s familiar. It has some character. I like the history of it.”
Austin’s parents added a den and sleeping area, carport and laundry room. When Austin himself did some renovations in 2006-2007, he tore off the addition his parents had built and the only bathroom, and renovated the kitchen as well as adding a master suite, a laundry room, a powder room, a family room and a small back porch.
He discovered some aspects of the house that were still original. When he tore off wall coverings, he found timbers in the walls held together wooden pegs and dropped nails.
“It’s got a lot of old stuff, real thick walls in the back,” he said.
The foundation in the central part of the house is original, and there is a well under the hall. When the house was built, part of the foundation was laid across a huge stump, and now there is a petrified stump underneath. And then, in the hallway is a transom, which likely was the original transom on the house’s front door.
“They just left it when they added [on],” Austin said. “They used it as a dividing part.”
The house originally was built as a one-and-a-half story structure. When Austin added onto the house in 2006, he turned that half-story attic area into a bedroom with a bathroom and large closet. Stairs inside the house now lead into the new room.