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Gale Gorman

Resource Name:

Allen, Robert Cyrus, House

Address:

402 Cedar St.

Architect:

Larmour, William W.

County:

Robertson

City:

Hearne

Architectural Style:

COLONIAL REVIVAL; QUEEN ANNE; SHINGLE STYLE

Narrative:

The Robert Cyrus Allen House at 402 Cedar Street in Hearne is an extremely well-preserved example of an eclectic, turn- of-the-century residence with Queen Anne, Shingle Style, and Colonial Revival influences. The two and-a-half-story house displays a variety of textures and materials, such as brick, stucco, shingle siding, and finely crafted carved wood ornamentation. The house faces east and stands at the southwest corner of Cedar and Second Streets within a neighborhood of other (although much more modest) early turn of-the century residences. With only a few minor alterations to its original appearance, the Robert C. Allen House retains its historic character and integrity to an unusual degree.

The house has an asymmetrical plan, and its foundation rests upon brick piers. Rising about sixteen inches from the ground, a stuccoed brick foundation wall has been scored to appear as large coursed stone. Likewise, the first floor brick walls have been stuccoed and scored; however, its surface resembles running or stretcher-bond masonry with beaded joints. A slightly flared skirt with regular, lapped shingles divides the two floors and contrasts to the upper level's shingle siding laid with staggered butts. The pyramidal hipped roof and gabled extensions have a composition shingle covering.

A one-story porch with broad frieze and molded cornice extends across the entire front (east) facade and wraps around the south side of the house where it terminates at a side entry. Tusca columns in groups of view, two, or three support the porch and rest upon stuccoed brick plinths which extend to the ground. Turned wood balusters and molded wood rails link the plinths and encircle the porch. With a grid pattern of recessed panels and "button" detailing in its tympanum, a small gabled portico projects from the porch above the front entrance. The main entry features a segmental arch brick hoodmold with an off-center doorway, as well as a double-hung sidelight/window with stained glass lights. The majority of the ground level openings have segmental arch brick hoodmolds. The north gabled bay is pierced on the first floor by a Chicago window type opening with narrow double-hung windows which frame either side of a broader single light window and a carved wood panel.

The upper floor exhibits some of the house's most noteworthy detailing. The front gable end features a solid, carved wood bargeboard; double-hung, twelve-over one light windows which flank either side of a central, square, carved wood panel; and triangular panels with the familiar grid and "button" detailing. At the southeast corner of the front's upper floor, a diagonal corner with a double-hung window has solid carved wood brackets and a small pendant at the corner. The original one-over-one light windows remain intact; stained glass windows with carved wood panels underneath pierce both walls of the northeast corner bedroom. With detailing similar to the front gable, the bay extensions from the south and north walls feature carved wood sunbursts and other ornamental panels. Massive interior chimneys with corbeled brick caps extend from the roof.

The Allen House stands virtually unaltered, but a remodeling project in 1933 resulted in a few minor changes to the residence. A late 1920's photograph reveals the small inset balcony which pierced the north side of the front gabled bay's second floor. This balcony displayed Tuscan columns similar to those of the ground level porch and turned wood balustrade. Large double-hung windows allowed access to the porch. When enclosed, this space was covered with shingle siding laid with staggered butts which helped maintain the historic character of the house. The fenestration of the second floor of the north elevation was also changed at this time as two windows (in the gabled bay and at the east corner) were enclosed and shingled. Also, the ground level was stuccoed during the 1933 renovation. A latticed porch off the kitchen was also enclosed in 1933, and both levels covered with cypress shingles. The roof of the projecting brick kitchen was raised and space on the upper floor -enclosed for an additional bedroom. A shed roof porch which leads to the wood frame carport was recently attached onto the south facade. Otherwise, no other significant additions or alterations have affected the integrity of the house.

The interior also remains virtually unaltered. Paneled wainscoting, built-in cupboards, the stair balustrade, and four pairs of sliding pocket doors are among the examples of ornately carved Texas Longleaf Pine which highlight the larger rooms of the ground. Superb examples of Eastlake style spindlework appear over several of the interior doorways, particularly those connected to the central hallway. The three maple and four oak fireplaces, all with labeled mirrors, were imported from Chicago. In 1933 hardwood flooring was placed over the original pine. More recently, the floor was covered with carpet. Many of the original furnishings are still in the house.

A swimming pool, wood frame bath-workshop area with horizontal siding, and two covered patios, which were originally detached double garages, have been erected at the rear of the house. Originally, an artesian well, windmill, and barn were located on the property but no longer exist.

Built in 1901 for a prominent Hearne mercantile businessman and railroad developer, the Robert C. Allen House at 402 Cedar is an excellent example of an eclectic, turn-of-the century residence in the city. The house is also significant for its association with its owner, Robert C. Allen, who played a vital role in the early development of Hearne, and W. W. Larmour, its architect. The house presents massing which, in many ways, typifies Queen Anne style residences; however, the use of shingles on the second floor reflects a Shingle Style influence, and the Classically detailed porch is characteristic of early twentieth century Colonial Revival architecture. Today, the Allen House stands in excellent condition and is one of the best preserved turn of-the century residences in Hearne.

Born on November 4, 1871 in Bryan, Texas, Robert Cyrus Allen moved to Hearne as a child and later attended college in Boston. He returned to Hearne after his schooling to join his father's successful mercantile operation, R. A. Allen and Son Hardware and Household Furniture. Under his leadership after the death of his father, the hardware business became one of the largest and most successful between Dallas and Houston. The historic 1872 commercial structure which housed the business has been designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Robert C. Allen and a group of other prominent local businessmen created the Hearne and Brazos Valley Railroad in 1891. Allen also served as mayor of Hearne and was president of the First National Bank.

In 1901 Robert C. Allen decided to build a house on lots one through seven of block 418 which his father had purchased in 1882, and Allen hired William W. Larmour, a well-known Waco architect, to design his home. Costing approximately $7,500, the house when completed was one of Hearne's finest and most impressive residences. Robert C. Allen died in March 1933, and his wife continued to live in the house. Soon after her husband's death, Florence Allen decided to have the house remodeled, and she hired the architectural film of Atkinson and Sanders of Bryan, Texas to design the work. She died in 1958 but her daughter, Alice Allen Westbrook, continued to live in the house until 1979 when she sold it to its present owners, Jack and Norma Holloway.

The original architect for the house was William W. Larmour. Born in Haclcensack, New Jersey on May 28, 1842, he began his five-year apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner at the age of fifteen. After working as a journeyman on the Broadway Tabernacle in New York City, Larmour entered the trade of woodcarving which he mastered while attending architecture school. During Larmour's employment with the firm of Andrew Durham in Ramapo, New York, he erected 130 residences and a series of railroad shops. He was subsequently employed by the largest carved hardwood dealer in New York State, Mr. Ichabod T. Williams. In 1878 Larmour came to Austin, Texas for the purpose of entering into competition for the plans of the new State Capitol building. In April 1879 Lanmour moved to Waco where he designed several buildings of Baylor University including Old Main as well as the post office, city hall, and more than 200 residences and commercial structures. Distinguished in October, 1886 as a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Larmour was also a founding member of the Texas State Association of Architects.

The Robert Allen House, built near the end of Larmour's brilliant career, remains as an outstanding example of his knowledge and skill.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baker, J. W. A History of Robertson County, Texas. January, 1971.

Barnes, Lavonia Jenkins. Early Homes of Waco and the People Who Lived in Them. Waco, Texas: Texan Press, 1970.

Deed records. Office of the County Clerk. Robertson County Courthouse, Franklin, Texas.

Holloway, Jack. Allen Family Records and Blueprints. A private collection in the possession of Jack and Norma Holloway, Hearne, Texas.

Larmour, W. W. Architectural Waco. Waco, Texas: Brooks and Wallace Printing House, 1890.

Waco Public Library: manuscript collection.

SOURCE: TEXAS HISTORIC SITES ATLAS, TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION, http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us


 

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Page Modified: 24 May 2012

 


Copyright May 2012-present by Gale Gorman. This information may be used by individuals for their own personal use, libraries and genealogical societies. Commercial use of this information is strictly prohibited without prior written permission from Gale Gorman. If material is copied, this copyright notice must appear with the information and please email me and let me know. Neither the Site Coordinators nor the volunteers assume any responsibility for the information or material given by the contributors or for errors of fact or judgment in material that is published at this website.