PRICE – FARWELL HOUSE
By Mary Belle Ingram & Madonna Gann
Palacios, situated in the southwest portion of
Matagorda County, was an ideal setting on Tres Palacios Bay, an inlet of
Matagorda Bay for the development of a new town at the beginning of the
twentieth century. According to an article appearing in the Special
Illustrated Edition of the Palacios Beacon of 1909, "the whole coastal
belt from the Sabine to the Rio Grande was one vast cattle range in the
Palacios, "The City-By-The-Sea," dates back to 1901 when a large tract
of land, 20,000 acres known as "Bull Pasture," was offered for sale by
the estate of Abel H. "Shanghai" Pierce. W. C. Moore, a Houston real
estate man, obtained an option and formed The Texas Development Company
with other interested developers, who purchased the land and subdivided
it into 160 acre tracts. Out of this vast acreage, the town of Palacios
was laid out on a choice one mile square tract of land on Tres Palacios
Bay at Hamilton Point which was sold by a subsidiary TRDC called
Palacios City Townsite Company. The townsite company began immediately
promoting and selling lots to settlers from the north.
On July 15, 1903, land was donated to the New York, Texas and Mexican
Railway for a right-of-way, and the railroad to Palacios was built the
following year. It later became the Southern Pacific Railway.
By 1909, Palacios had grown to a ton with over 2,000 population and was
incorporated as a city of over 1,000 at an election held May 18, 1909.
The City-By-The-Sea was becoming well known as a health resort and with
the Texas Baptist Encampment opening in 1906 bringing thousands for
summer camp and excursion trains bringing visitors to the new town, it
became known throughout Texas.
With the promotion efforts of the Palacios Townsite Company, settlers
from the north and east began coming to Palacios, buying property and
building their homes. Two such people were John T. Price, who came from
Arkansas and Tennessee, and H. W. Farwell, from St. Paul, Minnesota.
John T. Price was in the lumber business and H. B. Farwell was manager
of the Palacios Townsite Company. Each made a notable contribution to
the early growth of Palacios.
John T. Price (1875-1921) married Opal Cates (1883-1980) in Tiptonville,
Tennessee December 22, 1904 and by 1906, they had moved to Palacios to
make their home. They built their honeymoon cottage at Fifth and Duson
Street, Block 53, Lots 1 and 2, Town of Palacios overlooking Tres
The house was a one-story frame house of eclectic mixture of bungalow
with a low pitch hip roof, multi-lighted sash windows in broad grouping
of 2's and 3's with a central gabled dormer over inset front porch.
Inside Texas: Culture, Identity, and Houses, 1878-1920 by
Cynthia A. Brandimarte writes about this Price house:
Palacios is located along the Gulf Cost midway between Galveston and
Corpus Christi... The bungalow appeared in this region in the first
decade of the twentieth century. A new style of house that had been
winning favor since the popularization of British design reforms in the
1880's and 1890's, it had gained early popularity in the Midwest and
California. These homes, too, were generally built without the use of
architects and interior designers, the occupants chose the interior
finishes and furnishings.
The Reuben Anderson Cates (Opal's parents) home was constructed in 1910
and the John T. Price home in 1906 by a builder unknown. The couples
themselves, however, were responsible for the furnishings. In order to
decorate in sympathy with the new lines, materials and spaces of
bungalows, the owners had to master a different vocabulary of suitable
John T. Price was active in the lumber business, having started his
business career in lumber at the age of fifteen. He immediately opened
the John T. Price Lumber Company in Palacios as well as nearby
communities that were coming into existence because of the coming of the
railway; namely, Blessing, Collegeport and Bay City.
John T. Price and his wife, Opal Dean Cates, and their family lived in
this house until 1920 when it was sold to H. B. Farwell who moved it
that same year to 308 South Bay Boulevard, Block A, Lot 4 and 30' of Lot
5 some three blocks from the original location. The Farwell family lived
there until 1946.
Herbert Bradford Farwell (1854-1943) and his wife, Mary Estelle
[Brann] (1859-1952), were in Palacios by 1905, with Farwell coming to manage the Palacios
City Townsite Company. He was one of the founders of the Palacios
Business Men's League, one of five citizens to sign the application of
the "Board of Trade" which later became the Palacios Chamber of
Commerce. He was a stockholder in the Palacios State Bank and Trust.
Farwell was interested in gardening and planting palm trees, orange and
fig trees, and had a strawberry field which he shared with the
neighbors. Today, the fruits of this labor can be seen in the
surroundings of this house. They had one son, Neal Bradford Farwell, who
served in the United State Navy. Estelle Farwell researched and read a paper entitled
"Palacios Founders" at the Wednesday Club on November 1, 1933, in which
she told of the early history of Palacios.
The Farwell Estate was in possession until 1946 at which time the house
was sold to W. A. Suggs who lived there until 1947. At that time, it was
sold to Amos E. Duffy (1887-1969) and his wife, Helen Gould Gilbert
(1887-1969). Amos E. Duffy was born in the historic town of Matagorda
and his forefathers came to the town from Ireland in 1845. Duffy was the
Matagorda postmaster for twenty-three years and also a merchant and a
mortician. In 1930, Duffy formed a partnership with D. D. Rittenhouse
establishing the A. E. Duffy & Co
Funeral Home. In Palacios, after the
marriage of Duffy's oldest daughter Trude Ann to Thomas S. Brandon,
Brandon and Duffy became partners and in 1936 the funeral home became
Brandon Duffy Funeral Parlor with parlors in both Palacios and
Matagorda. The Duffy's bought the house in 1947 and the Duffy family
lived there until 1957 at which time it was purchased by Nelle Elizabeth
Nelle Elizabeth Kimball (1928-1986) owned the home until her death and
at that time her brother-in-law, Jerome B. Kimball, Jr. (1935-2001) and
his wife, Bonnie, became owners. The home was sold to W. R. Mote and D.
Durham in 2000. They have spent the past three years (2002-2004) with
extensive restoration in restoring the original floor plan. Structural
timbers are cypress and the floors are pine except in the living and
dining rooms which are maple, laid out in a descending rectangular
pattern. The original pass through cabinet between dining room and
kitchen has been restored. The well in the basement retains three
original walls of oyster crete. Some of the plumbing fixtures are
original which were originally lighted by gas.
During World War II, the upstairs was converted into an apartment. Much
time and thought have gone into restoring the mood of the "arts and
crafts style," with attention to ample light, air, and bay views from
all rooms. The furnishings are of various periods from the 18th to 21st
Dedication of the Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
marker for the Price – Farwell House was held March 4, 2006. The Price –
Farwell House is located at 308 South Bay, Palacios, Texas.
H. B. Farwell
Funeral services for Mr. H. B. Farwell were held in
the Palacios Funeral Home Saturday afternoon at 4 o’clock conducted by
Rev. George F. Gillespie.
Mr. Farwell was born in Maine in January , 1855, and
would have been 89 years of age his next birthday. As a young man he
served an apprenticeship in a dry goods business in Boston where he
remained for some time. He and a young friend decided to go west
locating in St. Paul, Minn., where he engaged in the furniture business.
In this he was quite successful and after a good many years he decided
to retire from the business and came to Texas in 1906 and became
interested in the building of Palacios which has been his home ever
He was a member of the Palacios Townsite Company and
served as manager a number of years. He was also interested in the bank
and was president of the Palacios State Bank for some time. He took a
keen interest in everything for the advancement of Palacios. The coming
of the sewerage system, National Guard Camp, paved highways and all
civic improvements were given his loyal support.
In 1920 Mr. Farwell purchased the John T. Price
cottage at the corner of 5th and South Bay, which he moved to
the corner of 4th and South Bay where he and Mrs. Farwell
have made their home during the intervening years.
Mr. Farwell took great pride in the landscaping of
his property which was and still is one of the prettiest homesites in
Palacios. Being endowed with good health up until a very late age, he
did all the work about his home. He enjoyed his flowers and shrubbery
and sharing them with his friends was a great pleasure.
Mr. and Mrs. Farwell attended the same school in
early life in Maine, and were married at an early age. They have one
son, Neal, …[who] was a Captain for many years. A grandson, Charles
Farwell, is a lieutenant commander in the Navy and is now an instructor
The sympathy of the entire community goes out to Mrs.
Farwell in her bereavement.
Palacios Beacon, October, 1943
[Date of death: September 30, 1943, Nightingale
Hospital, El Campo, Wharton County, Texas]
[Mr. and Mrs. Farwell are buried beside his parents
in Walnut Hill Cemetery, Yarmouth, Cumberland County, Maine.]
Courtesy of Ric B. Farwell