When Chad and Richard Bettinger moved into the house at 508 S. Davis in 2018, it was a dream come true. They’d had their eyes on it for some time.
After all, it isn’t every day someone gets a chance to purchase a part of history – though their previous home also had its own unique legacy.
But this was the legendary White Home – ironic, since their previous house became known as The Black House after they painted it completely black. The White Home, also known later as the White-Flanigan House, has roots that go back more than six scores (125 years).
“We were always out here on weekends and Richard said, ‘If it ever comes up for sale, we’re buying it,’” Chad said. “We’re both Leos and the doorknobs are lions, so we felt it spoke to us.”
“The architecture just has so much character and great detailing I’ve always loved it,” said Richard. “It was especially enchanting to me when we would pass at night and see it in the full moonlight.”
This home, like their previous one, will be one of the highlights of the Candlelight Tour of Homes.
The event, presented by the Parker County Heritage Society, is scheduled for Dec. 10.
Richard also previously owned the Mary Martin House, named after the actress who portrayed Peter Pan in the original Broadway show, also the mother of Larry Hagman, who played the legendary TV character J.R. on the TV series Dallas.
“Our best friends live in it now,” Chad said. “It’s ironic. Their last name is White – no relation to the folks who owned this house.”
Richard has been renovating houses in the area for over 25 years.
“I’ve always been drawn to older homes because of their history,” Richard said, “the lives they have sheltered in a beautiful way and the patina those lives have left behind in the homes. We prefer updating in a gentle way to preserve the layers of history as opposed to gutting an old home and building something new inside.”
The three-story White House is filled with history and takes visitors back in time throughout. Built at the turn of the 20th century, it is a Victorian structure with a large wrap-around veranda.
“Some of my favorite things we have ‘inherited’ with this home are photos of the Whites, the family who built the home, spending time on the porches. I have renovated several homes around town and this is the first time I’ve had photos like this,” said Richard.
The house was originally built for George Samuel White, a land developer, cattle raiser and banker. The property originally took up the entire block and included a small lake, gazebo and barn, which are all gone today. It is believed to have been the first private residence in the city with electric lights.
Carved in woodwork in the parlor area is the letter W in a couple of overhanging gingerbread details, a self-tribute created by the original owners.
Even before entering the home, visitors are tempted to take a seat on the front porch swing or relax in one of the chairs in the yard. This time of year, particularly, those are especially inviting.
Immediately upon entering, to the right is an elevator to the second and third floors. To the left is a parlor that takes one back to a time when folks sat around drinking coffee or tea and discussing weighty matters, art, literature and the weather.
Downstairs also includes a quaint little kitchen, complete with a touch of tie-dye in some places as at one point it moved into the hippie generation. In the formal dining room is one of Chad and Richard’s favorite items, a large wall-size canvas painting by Jesse Hernandez. “The Conversion of St. Paul” depicts a stallion with several soldiers – who appear medieval on the ground around it. It’s almost completely black – and it has its own interesting history, Chad said.
“This hung in the Kimbell. It’s the only painting to hang in the Kimbell from a living artist,” he said. “A lot of our artwork is Frijon horses, and I was drawn to it because of the nature of the horse.”
It’s one of several canvases throughout the house, which, though old, has plenty of light coming through.
“This house has a lot of windows, which we love,” Chad said.
Most of the furniture, like the house, has an aged charm of its own, such as antique style sofas and chairs, a charming secretary in the corner and even a bed upstairs that was made in Germany in the 1850s. On the way upstairs, hanging on the wall, is a large wooden church organ sculpture hanging on the wall.
“The guy before restored church organs,” Chad said. “We think it looks pretty cool.”
Indeed, it does, as do the red windows in a second-story sewing room overlooking the front yard. They were installed by the original owner.
“To make red stained glass back in the day they had to roll gold in it. It was a way of showing your stature,” Chad said.
The Lincoln Room upstairs, where Richard likes to take naps, overlooks the Leo Garden, as they call it. It’s called so because of the lion statues guarding it.
Of course, being Leos, the couple loves lions and thus collects lion art, which is also seen throughout the house.
Outside, holiday seasons are celebrated with decorations galore. Their favorite is Halloween, in which they also turn the accompanying carriage house into a carnival atmosphere/circus scene.
“Halloween is our biggest thing. Last year we had over 1,500 kids through here,” Chad said.
Trees around the house are believed to be up to 200 years old.
The residence, at the time, was at the edge of the Weatherford city limits.
“It’s amazing when you stop and think of all the history in this house,” Chad said. “It’s everywhere. And we love living in it.”
The 39th Annual Parker County Heritage Society’s Candlelight Tour of Home will be held on Dec.10. Tour sites will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This year’s tour includes five historic homes, each unique in its style and décor. The homes were built from 1889 to 1945 with unique architectural features to enjoy in each. Several are within walking distance of one another.
Attendees can also tour the courthouse and a historical church.
In conjunction with the tour, the Doss Center is hosting an exhibit called “Hand Crocheted Doilies,” which (according to the Texas Crochet Heritage) tells stories of the women who created them. There also will be activities for the children. Pioneer Cabin Park will be open for tours at the Doss, and Santa will be at the cabins from 2 to 4 p.m.
The grounds of Chandor Gardens will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tickets allow access to any place on the tour from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. They are $20 for adults and $12 for children (12 and younger) and may be purchased online at www.parkercountyheritagesociety.com beginning Nov. 7 then picked up at the Doss Center (1400 Texas Drive in Weatherford) on the day of tour. Please bring proof of purchase to claim your tickets.
You can also purchase tickets the day of the tour at the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce, located at 401 Fort Worth Highway in Weatherford or at The Doss. No credit transactions can be performed at these locations, so please bring cash or check. Proceeds from the tour benefit historical preservation projects in Parker County.
“A historic home tells a unique story,” said Vice-President of the Parker County Heritage Society and Co-chairman of the Tour Laura Roberts. “Generations of families have lived in these homes during our country’s history when times were very different. These homes are more than just a place to live; they are living history.”
Major sponsors for the tour are: Banner Sponsor- DRI Construction- Davidson Reconstruction, Inc.; Title Sponsor First Bank of Texas; Print Sponsor Texas Butane; and Marketing Sponsors: Pee Wee Cray Used Cars and Texas Land and Right of Way.
Tour sites include:
• 109 E. Lee Ave. (Sponsors: Citizen National Bank and Molley Michel-Goosehead Insurance)
• 507 W. Lee Ave. (Sponsors: Remax Trinity and Holland Lake Rehabilitation and Wellness Center)
• 609 W. Lee Ave. (Sponsors: Jamie Bodiford-Century 21 Judge Fife Company and Santa Fe Furniture Store)
• 508 W. Davis St. (Sponsors: Recaptured Charm and Kimberly Benge Photography)
• 416 Josephine St. (Sponsors: Alamo Title and Lisa Jacobs-Williams Trew Real Estate)
• 121 S. Waco St: All Saints’ Anglican Church (Sponsor: Plains Capital Bank)
• Parker County Courthouse 1 Courthouse Square (Sponsor: Rosa’s Café’ and Texas Bank Financial)
• Doss Heritage and Cultural Center,1400 Texas Drive (Sponsor: Parker County Today Magazine)
• Chandor Gardens, 711 West Lee Avenue (Grounds Only. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. No House Tour)