Three sisters watched with tense expressions as their childhood home was cut into pieces and lifted onto trailers.
The historic Mulkey-Loggins home in Ennis is being relocated to Midlothian to be part of a neighborhood of restored homes. The homes will be available for office space, special events and other business uses, said Stephen Hidlebaugh, whose company, Leasing Impressions, owns and leases several of the downtown Midlothian buildings and will be restoring the homes.
Jan Magee, Judy Gray and JoBeth Ellis and their brother David Mulkey, who lives in Florida and was unable to travel to see the home moved, had grown up in the house after their parents purchased it in 1944. After moving in to take care of her parents, Magee and her husband lived in the house until six years ago when they made the decision to sell the house because it was becoming too expensive to maintain.
“I'm a little sad, a little nervous and very excited,” Magee said as she watched the workers maneuver half of the second story onto wheels, while half of the first story of the home including the room she was married in sat on a trailer, ready to be pulled off the property.
The house was on the market for a while and was eventually bought by a company that was going to tear down the house to build a car wash, Magee said.
“When we thought they were going to tear it down, we were heart sick,” Gray said.
“I was going to come up when they were going to tear it down. One of us had to be there,” said Ellis, who lives outside of Ellis County.
But, before the home was touched, the new owner was approached by the non-profit group 360Grassroots and Leasing Impressions and agreed to allow them to move the house off the property to be restored at the Midlothian site.
“We like that style of architecture, the Queen Anne style. It's important to the community and that is why we wanted to save it,” Hidlebaugh said. “If it becomes a business, it becomes public. Whereas a private residence, it can only be toured by invitation. This way, we can actually share it with the community.”
This is just the first home in the Ellis County area that 360Grassroots plans to save from the bulldozer, said co-founder Bridgette Hawks, and each will have it's own history to share with visitors. At least one more home will be moved to the lot with the Mulkey-Loggins home to be restored and managed by Leasing Impressions. 360Grassroots is also working to open a new business development called the Farmstead that will use about 50 restored homes and churches as buildings for offices, shops, craft stores and restaurants, she said.
“We love and honor old homes. It's wisdom's circle. How do you know where you are going until you know where you have been,” Hawks explained.
The former Mulkey sisters said they are excited they will be able to still visit the home once it is restored and will help Hidlebaugh construct a history of the house to share with future visitors.
Magee, the oldest child, was 6 years old when her parents moved the family into the home. Her great, great-grandfather, Philip Mulkey had originally owned the property in the 1800s before he sold it to Dr. James Campbell Loggins, a member of the Texas Legislature, the first mayor of Ennis and the town doctor, she said. Burr Lumber company constructed the home which passed through several owners before returning to the Mulkey family.
“Mother and Daddy used to walk by there on their way to play tennis. My mother remembered going as a small girl to have tea in that house,” Gray said.
“My mother always said, 'One day, I'll live in that house,'” Ellis said.
The home was a significant landmark in town while they lived there, the women said, partially because of it's history and partially because it was a popular place to gather.
“We had lots and lots of friends and mother had a lovely singing voice. So we always had lots of events there, so everyone said turn at the Mulkey House,” Gray said. “Mother has a very good friend who teased her of having a revolving door.”
There were several other old homes close to their childhood home, but one had burned to the ground years ago and another had been torn down, Magee said. She is not convinced their home was the first built in Ennis like some claim, she said.
“It maybe the oldest one standing now, however,” she said with a chuckle.
Ellis said she was born in the home and never knew another home while she was growing up.
“It was beautiful. It was a great place to grow up,” she said. “It's at 110 N. Elm Street. And it was not a nightmare.”
She said she remembers the house filled with her mother's colonial antique collection and family gathered for every major holiday.
“I liked the dinning room,” she said. “Mother had a huge dining room. It could seat 14-16 people. That was where our formal Thanksgiving dinners took place, because we had enough room.”
“The worst part was when Santa came,” Magee added. “Daddy had to go get our grandparents, both sets, before we could go see what he had brought.”
Even though the sisters had decided to sell the home, pieces of it were taken to their new homes, Ellis said. A central feature of the kitchen was the large red table.
“I still have that red table in my home,” Ellis said. “Every management decision in that house was made around that table.”
The women said they were thrilled to see someone take and interest in giving their old home new life after so many years of rejection and hearing it was just an old house. The Mulkey-Loggins home is important because of it's former residents and because it reflects the lifestyle of the community, Gray said.