WAXAHACHIE — In the not-so-distant future, Midlothian residents and patrons could potentially find themselves sharing stories over a glass of wine at a bar inside a living room originally built in 1898. Or, perhaps, a family of six will be making reservations for a table situated in a bedroom built in 1905.
These are just a few of the dreams Stephen Hidlebaugh has for Founders Row, a development of historical homes along Avenue G, just a few block behind the Midlothian Post Office and a short walk from downtown.
Hidlebaugh, a Midlothian resident who began acquiring and flipping property in 1998, is the mastermind behind the project that has already moved two turn-of-the-century homes and is now excitedly waiting to relocate a third.
In just a few short days, the three-story William Hosford House, or "The Pink Lady" as it has been dubbed, will make a brief 12-mile trip from the intersection of N. Dallas Highway 77 and Butcher Road to join its new neighbors.
“We are saving it. I get it and people always say that they want to save it there, but it doesn’t always fit. This land is growing up. It doesn’t really fit to have a house here,” Hidlebaugh, who purchased the home from Life Schools, delicately explained. “It is a shame that it is leaving, even though it is staying in the same county, but it is going to go to a larger part of a historical development so it can be safe for generations. It is kind of by itself out here, but when it comes back into town and is in a village of these old restored homes, then I think it will be really significant. It’s going to be fun.
“[…] This is going to be a really prominent home. We are going to put all two-story homes on that front row so that their style and massive size can all really fit in. But, on the opposite corner we need a really amazing house. Something that has like a round turret or tower, just something that looks amazing, so that when you see the houses, it just makes sense and draws you in.”
The Mulkey-Loggins Home, originally built in Ennis two years before the turn of the 20th century, serves as the longest-tenured resident of Founders Row. Next door sits the Mertz Home that made its trek down U.S. Highway 67 from Cleburne where it was built in 1905.
However, when McMillan Movers complete the relocation process of the four evenly sliced chunks of “The Pink Lady,” the home built in 1893 will become the eldest statesman on the block.
According to Hidlebaugh, the idea for the development was inspired by Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park in Dallas. Which is significant, as not only did the Neil and Karen McMillan help relocate a few of the homes and buildings on the now 50-year-old village, the couple also planted the seed for Founders Row.
“I had restored a lot of homes in Midlothian, but I had never moved one. Seeing those other developments, like Old City Park in Dallas and where they have saved structures was inspiring,” Hidlebaugh said. “We had this land [in Midlothian] that had not really been developed and with old lots where people, through time, had torn down homes. It was so close to our downtown that I just felt like we needed to make it amazing. […] [The McMillans] asked why if I had ever thought about moving homes and not just restoring them so a whole new community could enjoy them.”
On Monday, Nov. 21, McMillian Movers brought its cranes and all hands on deck to the property where Life Waxahachie High School sits along Butcher Road in Waxahachie to lift the top two floors of “The Pink Lady” onto dollies.
It was then that a secret, which Hidlebaugh had already discovered during one of his attic adventures, was exposed — the front of the home was not as it was in 1893.
According to Hidlebaugh, the home received a facelift around 1920, which changed its appearance from that of its sister home located behind CVS Pharmacy on Marvin Ave. in Waxahachie.
Luckily, the original architecture was not altered, as the addition was just that — added onto the original front.
Although he has not yet reached out to the owners of the sister home, Hidlebaugh said that he has plans to so his team can match the details on the porches and woodwork.
“We will be very involved [in the restoration]. My background is in architecture, and my passion is just to make it as close as we can with photographs and the sister house in town to a historically accurate restoration,” Hidlebaugh explained. “On the outside, it will look exactly like it did in 1893.
“[...] It really is like a puzzle, especially now that we have all of these pieces to put back together. Honestly, the best renovation and restoration is when you cannot tell what happened. If you can see that something changed or isn’t quite right, then you haven’t done a successful job. But, if you can put it all back together and no one ever knows it moved or that we took off the 1920s (additions) and back to the 1890s, then that will be a success.”
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The upcoming move will be the third for Hidlebaugh and McMillan Movers, which he said is important because thus far he has been “super pleased” with their work.
“They have a lot of experience doing these kinds of things,” he added.
When the dollies begin their excursion down U.S. Highway 287, it will be with the blessing of state officials, Hidlebaugh noted.
“We had to get permits from the state because the state kind of regulates when you can move and what hours. With the Cleburne house they made us wait until after midnight, so at 12:01 it could be on the street,” said Hidlebaugh with a noticeable air of excitement. “It is really cool to watch. All of the police forces came out so that when it started in Cleburne and then went into Keene all of the Cleburne police stopped and the Keene police took over. It’s really crazy to watch it all. The one in Cleburne actually went downtown on the square. So you got to see this huge house going through downtown. People were really excited to watch them all move.”
THE FUTURE OF HISTORY
Hidlebaugh has no plans for the homes ever to serve as a home again. In fact, that notion isn’t even on his radar.
Founders Row is a development he hopes will provide residents and guests alike with an opportunity to experience and appreciate the architecture and history. Whether they become restaurants, wine bars or museums, Hidlebaugh said he wants their beauty open for all and not just those who pay the lease.
He also said there “absolutely” could be a version of the Candlelight Home Tour held annually in neighboring Waxahachie scheduled for the homes along Founders Row — in the future, of course.
“When they are private, it’s just a personal home and you don’t get to see the inside of it unless you are invited. When it becomes public, then we can show it to everyone. We are super excited about that.”
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith