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Matagorda County Recorded
Texas Historic Landmark

 

Hensley-Gusman Home

 

2120 6th Street

285854.47N        955751.15W

 

James Robert Gusman Family

Mayor Emeritus Richard C. Gusman



 


HENSLEY-GUSMAN HOUSE

ALEXANDER D. HENSLEY  (1859-1947)  PURCHASED  LAND  AT THIS
SITE  IN JANUARY 1898, WITH HIS WIFE MAGGIE (1875-1960).
HE ASKED HIS BROTHER, ARCHITECT HENRY HENSLEY, TO DESIGN
THIS HOUSE TO CATCH BREEZES FROM ANY DIRECTION.

BUILT IN 1905 BY THE ALAMO LUMBER COMPANY, THE
HOUSE IS A FINE LOCAL EXAMPLE OF A VICTORIAN-ERA
RESIDENCE, WITH STYLISTIC INFLUENCES OF THE QUEEN ANNE
PERIOD. IT FEATURES A DISTINCTIVE OCTAGONAL PLAN, WITH
PORCHES PROVIDING ADDITIONAL SPACES TO COMPLETE THE
OCTAGON. BECAUSE OF IT UNUSUAL FLOOR PLAN, THE HOUSES
CENTRAL LIVING ROOM CONTAINS EIGHT DOORS BUT NO
WINDOWS; FOUR OF THE DOORS OPEN INTO THE CORNER
PORCHES. PROMINENT FEATURES INCLUDE A CROSS-GABLE
ROOF WITH WOOD SHINGLED GABLE ENDS, AND DECORATIVE
WOOD BRACKETS AT CUTAWAY CORNERS ABOVE CORNER
WINDOWS. THE ORIGINAL WOODEN PORCH FLOORS WERE
REPLACED WITH CONCRETE IN THE 1930S. BUT THE DECORA-
TIVE WOOD COLUMNS AND DOORS REMAIN.

RETAIL SALESMAN JAMES ROBERT GUSMAN (1862-1944), HIS
WIFE BETTIE AMANDA HARRINGTON (1864-1948) AND THEIR
CHILDREN MOVED TO BAY CITY FROM WEIMAR IN 1911.
THEY BROUGHT THE HOUSE FROM THE HENSLEYS IN 1919,
AND IT REMAINED IN THEIR FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS.

RECORDED TEXAS HISTORIC LANDMARK-1993

Typed by Faye Cunningham

The Hensley-Gusman home is a Greek Cross or hexagonal-designed which was built for A. D. Hensley in 1905. The house was designed by Hensley's brother, an architect, and was sold nine years later to J. R. Gusman. It is a one-story frame, gabled-roofed structure of Greek Cross plan with five octagonal rooms and four cross walls; four hexagonal entrance porches have delicate turned posts and hipped roofs.

Orson Squire Fowler, an early New York architect, built an octagonal home for himself in New York and recommended this design as an architectural panacea which would be unusually cheap, efficient, and convenient.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, page 231



 


Hensley-Gusman Home
By Kathleen Tatum
1993

A beautiful old house known to all as "The Gusman Home," is located at 2120 6th Street, on Lot #7 and east half of Lot $8, in Block #146, in the original townsite of the City of Bay City.

Mr. A. D. Hensley, district clerk of Matagorda County from 1923 to 1936, bought the land from David Swickheimer by Attorney G. M. Magill on January 13, 1898.

In 1905, the Alamo Lumber Company agreed to furnish Mr. A. D. Hensley and his wife, Maggie B. Hensley, all the necessary lumber and other materials to erect the three bedroom house for $930.

Mr. Hensley asked his brother, who was an architect, to plan a house that would catch the breeze from any direction.

The house is a Greek Cross, hexagonal-designed house. A one story frame, gable-roofed structure of Greek Cross plan with five octagonal rooms, and four cross halls; four hexagonal entrance porches have delicate turned posts and hipped roofs.

The living room has eight doors and no windows. Transoms are over the four outside doors. Three of these doors open to hexagon porches, one of the porches is screened. Originally the fourth door opened to a large screened porch extending the full length of the back part of the house. After indoor plumbing was available in Bay City, a bathroom was made from a portion of the porch. Later another section was used to enclose a water heater.

The inside doors lead to three bedrooms and the dining room. From the dining room, one enters the kitchen and to the back entrance. The bathroom is entered from the kitchen or the screened porch.

All rooms, except the kitchen and bathroom, are octagonal shaped. Two bedrooms have five windows and one door. The third bedroom opens onto the back screened porch, so there are only four windows. There are no clothes closets in two of the bedrooms, only large beautiful wardrobes to hold the clothes. The house has a total of nineteen windows. All the rooms have ceilings that are 11 1/2 feet tall.

The only outside physical change was the replacement of the two front wooden porches with concrete, which required removal of the banisters.

James Robert Gusman (March 3, 1862 - November 30, 1944) and Bettie Amanda Harrington (July 26, 1864 - July 18, 1948) married January 12, 1887 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. They lived in Weimar, Texas until their move to Bay City in 1911.

On July 11, 1919, James Robert Gusman paid $2750 in cash to A. D. Hensley and his wife, Maggie B. Hensley for the home, and it has been in the Gusman family ever since.

James and Bettie Gusman had seven children, all born in Weimar, Texas. Several of the children were leaders in Matagorda County. There were no grandchildren.

1. Mary Alizira Gusman (March 21, 1888 - August 11, 1981) taught school 45 years, 43 years in Bay City Independent School District. She did not marry.

2. Lula Adelia Gusman (July 31, 1889 - February 22, 1978) married Charles D. Ammann. They owned a dairy farm at Weimar, Texas. After Ammann died in 1963, Lula made her home in Bay City.

3. Wylie Harrington Gusman (November 12, 1891 - October 13, 1893) died of scarlet fever.

4. Cooper Hill Gusman (October 6, 1894 - November 27,1991) was a civil engineer at Bay City. He did not marry.

5. Oliver Herbert Gusman (November 23, 1899 - November 14, 1991) became a Matagorda County rancher, married Esther Vest, June 2, 1929.

6. Richard Clifton Gusman (December 28, 1904 - July 23, 1984) married Florence Craddock August 22, 1944. Richard was Bay City Mayor from 1947 - 1979.

7. Ethel Virginia Gusman (August 27, 1908 - [April 14, 2002]) taught school 39 years for Boling Independent School District. She still lives in the Gusman home and stays very active in the Matagorda County Museum, First Methodist Church and the Bay City Service Center. She is a member of the Bay City Public Library, D. A. R., Matagorda County Historical Society and the Matagorda County Historical Commission. She was named Outstanding Senior Citizen in 1874 and in 1980 the Chamber of Commerce named her Outstanding Woman of the Year.
 

 

Copyright 2011 - Present by Carol Sue Gibbs
All rights reserved

Created
Sep. 5, 2011
Updated
Dec. 4, 2012
   

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