Former Houstonians thoughtfully restore historic cottage
Long before builders developed colorful beach house communities on the Texas Gulf Coast, architects such as Nicholas Clayton and Alfred Muller stitched their signatures across the city blocks of Galveston Island.
After a ravenous fire swept across the city in 1885, architect William Pautsch built three sister cottages in the 1700 block of Ball Street for Dorothea Juneman and her children. Juneman’s daughter, Lena, and son-in-law, William Smith, occupied the Queen Anne cottage at 1700 block of Ball Street.
“It was her wedding gift to them,” said George Parsons, now the owner and caretaker of the 1892 William and Lena Juneman Smith Cottage, which was designated a Galveston landmark in July by the city council.
When Parsons and his partner, Gary Foy, first considered investing in the property, they intended to use it as a weekend home. But they soon fell under Galveston’s spell and surrendered their three-bedroom home in Houston’s Oak Forest neighborhood to become full-time islanders.
“At first it was an adjustment coming from a three-bedroom home to a one-bedroom home,” Parsons said. “But, we really use all the rooms, where at the other house we didn’t.”
The floor plan includes 1.5 bathrooms, a front parlor, which is fashioned as a sitting room, a middle parlor, which they use as a bedroom, and an open kitchen and family room at the back of the house.
Parsons and Foy were drawn to the large rooms, high ceilings and solid construction, but, as with other historic homes, there was still work to be done.
“Our initial impression was that it had great bones, but it was small and it needed a sympathetic restoration,” Parsons said.
This meant adding seven transoms to the three in place, replicating and installing 19th century moulding where missing, and fitting the house with period light fixtures, like the gasolier in the entryway, which they had electrified.
“That was a find,” Parsons said. “I bought it at the Junior Forum in Houston for all of $40.”
The interior is filled with antiques, many of them purchased during Parsons’ eight years working at Antiques on Nineteenth in the The Heights in Houston.
Foy is the president of the East End Historical District Association and Parsons serves on the city’s Landmark Commission.
Instead of ripping down walls, they honored the home’s original footprint.
“We went underneath the house and noticed that there were nails where a parlor wall had been, so we came in and restored the wall,” Parsons said.
Although it goes against the modern inclination for open living, that wasn’t their intent.
“It’s definitely a stewardship,” Parsons said. “We are only guardians for the time that we have it to pass it on to the next owner.”