TOUR HISTORIC GONZALES
Tour Historic Gonzales, Texas The Birthplace of Texas Freedom
Come visit your connection to Texas History: Gonzales, Texas, where the first shots for Texas independence began. Members of Gonzales also played vital roles in the Texas revolution (1835-1836) and went one to become a booming financial center as residents made their fortunes in cotton and cattle. Lavish lifestyles resulted in large homes and buildings that have been preserved for over 100 years. To date, over 80 historic properties have been documented. The list is far from complete and research continues.
Use the map below to start your exploration of this iconic piece of Texas history. Don’t miss the very popular Historic Homes Tours of Gonzales – call the Visitor Center to schedule a tour or keep an eye on the Chamber Chatter and newsletters for details about the Annual Winterfest Tour of Historic Homes.
Come visit Gonzales, The Birthplace of Texas Freedom,and enjoy Texas history where it happened.
Historic Homes Quick Facts
- The frame homes are built of cypress shipped from the Florida/Louisiana coastal area to the Texas port of Indianola. It was then hauled by ox-cart to Gonzales.
- Cypress seldom rotted and was rarely damaged by termites. Many of the brick homes and buildings are built from brick made by the Sunset Brick Company, which operated in Gonzales from the early 1880s through the mid 1970s.
- Much of the interior woodwork in these homes is constructed of longleaf pine, a very beautiful hardwood, unlike the soft pine available today. In addition to the longleaf pine, many of the more elaborate homes have floors and wainscoting made of oak, walnut, maple, ash and other hardwoods.
- Most staircases are hand carved from walnut that was plentiful along the Guadalupe River. German artisans traveled through the area and lived with the families while they fashioned the beautiful woodwork that decorates these historic homes.
Historic Homes and Buildings Information
The Old Jail
The old jail was designed by architect Eugene T. Heiner and was completed in 1887 at a cost of $22,000. It was built to hold over 200 prisoners “in the event of riot”. The first floor housed the administrative offices, quarters for the sheriff and his family and the dungeon. The upper two floors contain cells, a walk-around and the gallows. It served as the Gonzales county jail until 1975. It now houses the Old Jail Museum and the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
The Gonzales Fire Station
The fire station was built in 1903 and remodeled in 1951. The steer weathervane on top was originally on the house of cattle baron R.A. Houston. After the house was razed the weathervane was displayed on other buildings and finally came to rest on the fire station. One side carries R.A. Houston’s cattle brand, “T41″.
The First United Methodist Church
First United Methodist Church was built in 1900 on Church Square. It originally had two spires but they were damaged in a 1910 storm and had to be removed. One was replaced in 1999.
The Confederate Monument
Erected in 1910 by the United Daughters of The Confederacy, Chapter 545, this monument was created by famed sculptor Frank Teich. The base is of Texas marble and the Confederate soldier is made of Carrara marble. The inscription on the north side reads “OUR CONFEDERATE DEAD 1861-1865″. The inscription on the south side reads “LEST WE FORGET”.
The Randle-Rather Building
Building situated on the north side of Confederate Square, the Randle-Rather Building was completed in 1895. This Roman Revival structure housed the Gonzales National Bank as well as several other businesses.
The Peck & Fly Building
Located on the west side of Confederate Square, the bottom two stories of this building were built in 1891. The third story was added in 1892. When outlaw John Wesley Hardin was released from prison he set up his law offices on the second floor of this building. It is now owned by the Gonzales Masonic Lodge.
The Old Post Office Building
This building was completed in 1909 and served as the Gonzales Post Office until 1965. It is now an office building.
The W.B. Sayers House
This Victorian-style house was the home of attorney/banker W.B. Sayers. He married in 1874 and built this home for his new bride in 1875. The house was in very poor condition when the current owners began restoration in 1998.
The T. H. Spooner House
T. H. Spooner came to Texas from Mississippi. He became an attorney and then built this house in 1875 as a wedding gift for his bride, Molly Allen. It was the first home in Gonzales to use natural gas. The Victorian structure was restored in 1996.
The Jacob Stahl House
Jacob Stahl and his brother David were merchants. Jacob built this Queen Anne-style house in 1907 and he and his wife, Selma, lived here all of their married lives.
The Lucien Chenault House
The front part of the Lucien Chenault house, known in Gonzales as “The Dr. Stahl House”, was built in 1874. Solomon Stahl purchased the home in 1882 and as his family grew he simply added on to the back of the structure.
This Queen Anne-style house was built around the turn of the century. However, the actual builder and date of construction have not been determined.
The I.N. Smead House
I.N. Smead was a cabinetmaker from New York. He and his wife built the house in 1876 as a Mansard-style structure but it was converted to Greek Revival in the 1920s.
The W.H. Kokernot House
Cattle baron W.H. Kokernot built this home in 1914. Designed by architect James Phelps, it served as the Kokernot family home until they sold it in the 1940s and moved to Alpine. It now serves as the St. James Inn Bed & Breakfast.
The B.N. Peck House
One of the most historic homes in Gonzales, this house was built by merchant B.N. Peck in 1884. It features original drapes, wallpaper, lighting fixtures and furniture. It is still owned by descendants of B.N. Peck.
The F.M. Fly House
F.M. Fly was born in Gonzales and served as a deputy sheriff, sheriff, and a banker. He had this house designed by architect Capp Smith and it was completed in 1914. It is constructed of Gonzales brick with walls two feet thick that extend seven feet into the ground. It is now the home of Laurel Ridge Antiques.
The Old Roof Garden
Note the urns on the top of the building. In the 1920s and 1930s this was a roof garden and on Saturday nights there was dancing with live music.
The Hoskins Building
This building was constructed in 1888 and was the home to B.B. Hoskins’ mercantile store.
The John Fauth House
One of the oldest homes in Gonzales, this Gothic-style house was built in 1868 by carriage and buggy maker John Fauth. He and his wife Margaret were from Germany and came to the United States through New York in 1852. John moved to Buffalo where he learned to make carriages and buggies. The couple moved to Gonzales in 1858.
The J.F. Remschel House
Lumberman J.F. Remschel and his wife, Luella, built this Raised Cottage-style house in 1907. Built by local builder Fred Meisenhelder, it features large rooms, intricate inlaid parquet floors and longleaf pine woodwork. Restoration was completed in 2002.
The M.J. Koch House
This Arts and Crafts Bungalow-style house was built in 1907 by Mike and Dora Koch. Mike was a rancher and Dora was the daughter of J.A.D. Houston, a prominent Gonzales cattle baron.
The J.S. Douglass House
Banker J.S. Douglass built this house in 1915. It features large oak beams, oak crown molding and oak hardwood floors with walnut inlay. Most of the hardware and light fixtures are original as are the upstairs bathroom fixtures.
The J.R. Tinsley House
This house, a mirror image of, but slightly smaller than, the Mike and Dora Koch house, was built in 1918. Dora Houston Tinsley Koch and her mother, Julia Houston, built this home for Dora’s son, J.R. Tinsley, Sr. as an enticement to return to Gonzales and manage the family ranches. A grandson now owns the house and has recently restored it.
The W.P. Fischer House
This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1893 By W.P. Fischer shortly after he married. W.P. was a merchant but later went into the cattle business and moved to Marfa, Texas.
The Dr. W.T. Dawe House
This Queen Anne-style house was built in 1907 and, upon completion, was purchased by Dr. W.T. Dawe. It remained in the Dawe family until 1996. The current owner restored the house that same year.
The W.H. Boothe House
William H. and Annie Boothe built this house in 1898 after purchasing the lots from William’s parents. William ran a grocery store and Annie taught music in the home. The house has been recently restored.
The W.C. Kleine House
W.C. and Julia Kleine built this Prairie-style house in 1907. William was the son of famous Gonzales furniture maker August Kleine who came here from Germany. It was restored in 1996.
The Zilmon Boothe House
Zilmon Boothe, brother of W.H. Boothe, built this house in 1908. He was in the poultry business in Gonzales but later moved to San Antonio and sold real estate.
The C.J. Pilgrim House
C.J. Pilgrim, owner of the Gonzales Inquirer, and his wife, Mary Fleda Boothe, built this house in 1883. Mary Fleda was the sister of Zilmon and W.H. Boothe. The home is still owned by descendants of the Pilgrims.
The J.H. Boothe House
This house was built in 1913 by the wife of J.H. Boothe. It was designed by famed architect Atlee B. Ayres, who also designed the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium and Randolph Air Force Base Tower. It now serves as the Boothe House Bed & Breakfast.
The W.B. Houston House
This Queen Anne-style structure was built in 1895 by cattle baron W.B. Houston. His wife was an artist trained in Europe. Murals that she painted still hang on the parlor ceiling and dining room walls.
The J.D. Houston House
James Dunn Houston, brother of W.B. Houston, built this Queen Anne-style house in 1898. Dunn was another of Gonzales’ early cattle barons. In 1900 he sold his house, moved to San Antonio and went into the banking business. It is in the process of being restored.
The G.F. Burgess House
This Victorian style house was built in 1897 by U.S. Congressman G.F. Burgess. It was designed by architect George Francis and features seven gables, four fireplaces and an unusual “Keyhole” window just to the right of the front steps.
The R.S. Dilworth House #2
This home was designed by famed architect J.Riely Gordon for banker R.S. Dilworth and his wife, Susan. Construction started in 1908 and was completed in 1911. It contains 8,000 square feet and features marble steps, mahogany paneling and a walnut staircase. It was the second of two houses built by the R.S. Dilworths.
The C.B. Patton House
The Dr. C.B. Patton house still stands on a 2.5 acre estate. It was built in 1907 and was heated by a coal-burning furnace located in the basement.
The G.W. Betts House
G.W. Betts built this cottage in 1888 for his wife Imogene Darst. Betts came to Gonzales after the Civil War. His wife was the granddaughter of Jacob Darst who died in the Alamo. Her father, David, owned large amounts of property including a cotton gin. Betts managed the cotton gin for his father-in-law. The home is in the process of being restored.
The Edward Sweeney House
Edward Sweeney was a local grocer. He purchased his first store in 1921 and built this English Tudor-style house in 1926. He and his wife, Annabell, lived here until 1929 when Edward purchased the franchise for a large grocery store chain and they moved to San Antonio.
The Gonzales Museum
This museum, along with eight other similar structures, was constructed by the state in 1936 to celebrate the Texas centennial. However, this is the only one of the nine that has a reflecting pool and an amphitheater.
The O.B. Robertson House
O.B. Robertson came to Texas in 1875. He was an attorney before taking up banking. He built his Gonzales home in 1913 and moved here in early 1914. In addition to banking, he was involved in farming, lumber and the Sunset Brick Company.
The Horace Eggleston
House Horace Eggleston came here from New York before the revolution and fought with Sam Houston at San Jacinto. He later returned to Gonzales and built this “Dog Run” style house near the river around 1845. It was moved to its current location in the 1950s. It is the oldest house in Gonzales.
The Frank Vrazel House
Frank Vrazel was from Austria. He came to Gonzales in 1900 and soon after purchased the Darst cotton gin. He built a small cottage on this lot in 1906 but tore it down to build this house in 1925. The cotton gin was next door.
The S.H. Hopkins House
S.H. Hopkins died in 1910 and his wife built this house in 1911. Hopkins was an attorney and noted orator. The house was designed by architect Atlee B. Ayres.
The C.H. Hoskins House
C.H. Hoskins came to Gonzales in 1895. In 1910 he was president of Hoskins Mercantile Company. He and his wife, Mary, had the house designed by architect Atlee B. Ayres and construction was completed in 1911.
The C.T. Rather House
C.T. Rather built his house of Louisiana Cypress in 1892. He was prominent in Gonzales banking and was on the board of directors of the Gonzales Cotton Oil and Manufacturing Company and the Gonzales Cotton Mill. He was also part owner of the Randle-Rather Building on the north side of Confederate Square.
The Old Gonzales College
The Old Gonzales College was built in 1851 and began holding classes in 1853. It was the first college in Texas to offer four-year degrees to women and operated until the 1880s. It became a private residence in 1892 when purchased by attorney W.M. Atkinson. The current owner purchased the home in 1962 and restored it to its 1892 status. It is constructed of stone from the Maurin quarry east of Gonzales near Peach Creek.
The J.B. Kennard House
Built in 1895 by lumberman J.B. Kennard, this Queen Anne style home features fishtail shingles, clapboard siding and glass and pottery-chip mosaics in the gables.
The J.P. Randle House
J.P. Randle started in the dry goods business and later was involved in banking and the Gonzales Cotton Mill. He built his Victorian-style home in 1898. It was restored in 1997. Randle was part owner in the Randle-Rather Building located on the north side of Confederate Square.
The Paul Levyson House
Paul Levyson was a merchant and built this Greek Revival house in 1877. It was remodeled in 1880. Levyson retired and moved to San Antonio in 1900.
The Edward Lewis House
Edward Lewis was in the retail hardware business and built his home in 1910. He was married to Cayloma Ponton, granddaughter of Andrew Ponton, the alcalde or mayor of Gonzales during the revolution.
The Baptist Church
The first Gonzales Baptist church was organized in 1841 by pioneer Texas Baptist minister Z.N. Morrell. In 1854 the first sanctuary was built. In 1902 the structure was torn down and this Gothic-style building was erected.
The Presbyterian Church
The Gonzales Presbyterian congregation was formed in 1852. For 20 years they met in the Baptist Church after it was built in 1854. The first Presbyterian sanctuary was completed in 1874 and was replaced by this building in 1925.
The Hugh Lewis House
This house was designed by architect Fredrick E. Ruffini and built in 1883 by banker and cattleman Hugh Lewis. The woodwork and some of the floors are longleaf pine. Other floors are intricate oak and walnut parquet. There are five fireplaces with original mantles and a walnut staircase leading to the second-floor bedrooms and porches. It was restored in 1998.
The G.W. Littlefield House
G.W. Littlefield came to Texas with his parents in 1850. He became a cattle baron and gave large amounts of money to the University of Texas. He built this house in 1885 on a lot about a block north of its current location. The house was moved to its current location in 1911. It is being restored by the current owner.
The L.M. Kokernot House
The L.M. Kokernot house was built in 1914. Kokernot came to Texas in 1850 and settled on land between Gonzales and Shiner. He went into the cattle business and was one of Gonzales’ first and biggest cattle barons. He died June 4, 1914, and the children built this Arts and Crafts-style house for their mother so she would not have to continue to live on the family ranch.
The C.E. Dilworth House
C.E. Dilworth, brother of R.S. Dilworth, was a banker. He had the house designed by architect J. Riely Gordon and construction was completed in 1912. Dilworth’s wife was the daughter of L.M. and Hulda Kokernot. In 1951 it was purchased by the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital to house their doctors and nurses. In 1959 it was purchased by the Ross Boothe family and remained in the Boothe family until 1998. It has recently been restored and serves as the Belle Oaks Bed & Breakfast.
The C.A. Burchard House
C.A. Burchard was the attorney who started the Burchard Abstract Company, which is still operated by the Burchard family. Burchard built his house in 1897.
The Everett Lawley House
Everett Lawley built this house in 1921. He married the daughter of C.E and Lenora Dilworth and chose this site near his in-laws for the building site.
The Milton Eastland House
Milton Eastland was a prominent pharmacist who built this house in 1896. He lived here for only a few years before moving his family to the Dallas area.
The J.C. Bright House #2
J.C. Bright began his career in the banking business with his father W.J. Bright. However, he eventually became a pharmacist. This is the second house that he and his wife Effie Wells occupied. After outgrowing their first house, they sold it and, in 1911, built this one for their growing family. The house was built in the middle of the block but later J.C. had it moved to the corner lot where it now stands.
The J.J. Fouts House
Dr. J.J. Fouts was the son of a Florida sawmill owner and in 1902 he had Florida cypress and curly pine shipped in to build his home. He was a graduate of Tulane Medical School and came to Gonzales in 1890.
The T.N. Matthews House
Cattle baron T.N. Matthews built this house in 1885. In 1890 he sold it to J.B. Wells. It is built of Florida longleaf pine and is the only property, other than their state headquarters in Austin, which is owned by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT). The Gonzales chapter of the DRT maintains the house and it is open to the public on most Saturdays. It features original light fixtures, wallpaper and some of the original furniture.
The W.J. Bright House
W.J. Bright and his wife, Nora Mitchell, built this house in 1885. W.J. was a banker and both he and Nora were graduates of the Gonzales College. Before building this house, W.J. and Nora lived in the Mitchell family’s log cabin at this same location. When they decided to build the current structure they built it around the walls of the log cabin.
The J.C. Bright House #1
This was the first house occupied by J.C. and Effie Wells Bright. In 1898, while the couple was on their honeymoon, the Wells family and the Bright family joined forces and built this house so the newlyweds would have a place to live when they returned.
The J.C. Jones House
Dr. J.C. Jones came to Texas in 1855. He later studied in Scotland, London and Paris. When the Civil War started he returned and served the Confederacy as personal physician to General Hood. He came to Gonzales in 1865 and built this Italianate-style house in 1885. The house uses seven different woods in the floors, wainscoting and trim. The staircase is of Gonzales walnut.
The R.S. Dilworth House #1
This is the first house built by R.S. Dilworth. It was designed by architect J. Riely Gordon and completed in 1893. The lots were a gift from Dr. and Mrs. J.C. Jones, Dilworth’s in-laws. The house was originally Victorian but was converted to Greek Revival in the 1920s.
The J.W. Bailey House
J.W. Bailey was from Tennessee and came to Gonzales in 1851. He owned a 4,000 acre cattle ranch east of Gonzales. He moved to town and built this Queen Anne-style cottage in 1897. Restoration was completed in 2002.
The H.W. Matthews House
This Greek Revival-style house was built in 1911 by cattle baron H.W. Matthews. Matthews’ father was one of the original settlers in DeWitt’s colony and his mother was Naomi DeWitt, daughter of Empresario Green DeWitt. Naomi’s wedding dress was used to make the Come-and-Take-It Flag.
The George Ewing House
George Ewing came to Gonzales in 1901 to manage a lumber company and later bought out the business. He built this Queen Anne-style house in 1910. He also served as mayor of Gonzales for 12 years.
The J.F. Miller House
J.F. Miller came to Texas from Tennessee in 1845. He began practicing law but later became a successful banker. Although Miller purchased the lots for his house in 1868, he did not begin construction on his home, named ‘Walnut Ridge’, until the late 1800s. It was the first large Greek Revival home in Gonzales. It was designed by J. Riely Gordon and was completed in 1901.
The Solomon Joseph House
This house originally faced St. Michael St. on the south and was the home of W.T. Atkinson. When Solomon Joseph purchased it in 1892 he tore the original house down and used the lumber to rebuild it facing St. James St. The reconstruction was completed in 1893.
The E.S. Atkinson House
Attorney W.T. Atkinson lived across the street where the Solomon Joseph House now stands. His parents were in the cattle business and lived on the ranch. Atkinson’s father died in 1883 and in 1884 his mother, Elizabeth, built this house so she could live close to her son.
The Hyman Friedman House
Solomon Joseph’s daughter, Blossom Mae, married Hyman Friedman and they built this cottage in 1907. Hyman and his father-in-law were merchants.
The T.J. Pilgrim House
The T.J. Pilgrim House was built in 1877. Pilgrim was from Connecticut but came to Gonzales in 1838. His first wife died here and in 1841 he married Sarah Bennet, daughter of Valentine Bennet, one of the ‘Old Eighteen’. Pilgrim was a charter member of the Gonzales Baptist Church and on the board of trustees of the Gonzales College.
Solomon Joseph House
This is another Solomon Joseph house that was used by his other daughter, Sweetie Rae. The last major change was completed around 1898 but accurate records have not been located. It was the site of Susanna and Almaron Dickenson’s house and the brick cistern in the front yard reportedly belonged to the Dickensons.
Texas Heroes Monument
With the encouragement of the Gonzales Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the State of Texas erected this monument in 1910 to honor those men who fought for and won Texas independence. The monument, created by famed sculptor Pompeo Coppini, shows a bronze statue of a Texas frontiersman atop a pedestal of Llano granite. The inscription on the north side reads “ERECTED BY THE STATE OF TEXAS IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THOSE HEROES WHO MADE THIS SPOT HISTORIC AS THE BIRTH-PLACE OF TEXAS INDEPENDENCE” GONZALES, TEXAS 1910.
On the south side is a 2′ x 3′ panel, also sculpted by Coppini, depicting several Texians gathered around the cannon. Across the bottom are sculpted the words “Come and Take It”.