TEXAS HILL COUNTRY HERITAGE ASSOCIATION
Supporting the social welfare and economic well-being of Mason County and the surrounding Texas Hill Country
THE SEAQUIST HOUSE
Events & More Information
 
TOURS
Call the
Chamber of Commerce
325-347-5758
for Information


 
Seaquist House Website

Reynolds-Seaquist House,
Preservation Texas

Seaquist House
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How Can You Help?

Future Uses of the House

HISTORY

In 1886, Reverend Thomas A. Broad purchased 2.7 acres of land in Mason, north of the courthouse square. Rev. Broad was a full-time mason and a part-time Methodist minister, who emigrated from England to Canada, and then on to Texas. He began construction of a two-story house for his wife, Grace and their family-not knowing thatMason County Courthouse someday what he began would become one of the grandest homes in the Texas Hill Country. He loved using various colors of rock, like sandstone and limestone, which he would then hand carve with elaborate patterns of grapes, roses, stars and other designs. He and his family did not live there long, as he sold the house to a wealthy banker, M.E. Reynolds in 1891. Reynolds had come to Mason from New York to continue his career in banking and raising cattle.

After purchasing the home, Reynolds felt it was not large enough, so he hired Mason architect, Richard E. Grosse, a German immigrant, to design a large wing south of the existing two-story structure. Also added were: a third floor, used for entertaining, complete with a ballroom, billiard room, card room and two small balconies; as well as a wooden porch and columns around the first floor and a wooden balcony around the second floor. Because of some business difficulties M.E. Reynolds left Mason around 1896 and never returned. His wife, Jennie, and their four children remained in Mason living in the Seaquist House.

Mrs. Reynolds sold the home in 1919 to Mr. Henderson, owner of the bank in which her husband had worked. Henderson owned the house for only a few months Mason County Courthouseand then sold it to Oscar Seaquist (original spelling Sjokvist).

Oscar, a bookmaker and Swedish immigrant, had come to Mason, via Galveston, in 1901. He married Ada Garner in 1905 (her parents owned the old Southern Hotel in Mason). Evidently the bookmaking business was quite successful as he was able to purchase in 1919 what later became known as the Reynolds-Seaquist home. Since the interior of the house had not been completed by Mr. Reynolds, Oscar continued with the renovation. He also removed the wooden first floor porch and replaced it with a concrete porch and concrete columns. The second floor balcony is still the original wood.

Oscar (DOB 1880) and Ada had three children: Garner, Edwin Linden (Billy), who died of pneumonia when only fifteen years old in 1934, and a daughter, Daisy Dean McGraw Seaquist. Oscar died in 1933, Ada in 1972, and Daisy in 1964. They are all buried in the Gooch Cemetery in Mason.

Garner Seaquist, the eldest son, married Clara Nowlin, and they had two sons: Mike and Jack. Mike and his wife Jean live next door to the Seaquist House. He has two children by his first marriage. Jack Seaquist, an orthopedic surgeon, and his wife, Peggy, live in Austin and have one son. Garner and Clara lived in the Seaquist house until their deaths, Garner in 1993 and Clara in 1990.

In 1972-73, Garner and Clara Seaquist had the house completely restored. In 1974, it was awarded a Texas State Historical marker; it was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

During the time they lived in the house, there were many parties on the third floor. They usually had friends over on Sunday for after-church luncheons and loved to entertain during the Christmas season and for many other occasions. People, of course, loved to visit the beautiful, historic home. Garner and Clara decided to open up some of the rooms to rent out as apartments, and it eventually was known as a boarding house. Many rural students that came to the town of Mason to attend the high school stayed there during their years in high school. There are many Masonites who have fond memories of living there and knowing "Miss Clara" and “Mr. Garner”.

Some years after Garner's death, Mike and his wife Jean came back to Mason and lived in the house for about ten years. After living there, they realized that the upkeep on a home such as this was tremendous, and quite expensive to keep in its restored condition from the early 1970s. The house was placed on the market in 2012 and had not sold by 2014. The Mason County Historical Commission was concerned that the house would deteriorate if someone who could afford to restore it once again did not purchase it. The Historical Commission was not allowed to purchase it since they are under the Texas Historical Commission as well as the Mason County CourthouseMason County Commissioners Court. Neither the county nor the state could purchase it either. So, a small group of concerned Masonites formed the Seaquist House Foundation, Inc. In the latter part of 2014, after talks with the Seaquist family to determine their willingness to sell the house to a non-profit group who would keep the name of the house as well as restore it to its original beauty, an agreement was made, and the home was sold to the Foundation on January 10, 2015.

Even before the sale of the home, the Foundation began a fundraising campaign to purchase the house. Many people made five-year pledges and many one-time donations were received. One of the local banks worked with the Foundation to obtain funding and they were successful in the purchase of the property. Since the Foundation still owed a mortgage, it was decided that their main goal would be to raise enough money over the next two years or so to pay off the mortgage. There were, of course, many needs and immediate repairs to pay for “up front” such as having a temporary electric box installed, a security system, taking down dead pecan trees, pruning other trees that were damaging the roof, having all the chimneys capped, having the house exterminated, and having the house tested for asbestos. Volunteers began working on the cleaning of the house and grounds in February of 2015, and by July were ready to have their first "official" tour of the house. The tour was quite successful as there were about 175 people that came to tour the house, basement and grounds. A decision was made to have the house open the first Saturdays of September, October, November, and December since there were so many people interested in seeing it even though the actual restoration has not really begun.

It seems as though people don't mind that there is not much furniture in it or that it is still a "work in progress”. The Foundation thinks of these tours as "before" and hopefully within the next few years they'll be able to begin "after" tours.

Were it not for the volunteers the Foundation would not be able to have these tours. Volunteers have spent literally hundreds of hours since February, 2015 and are now continuing to maintain the new landscaping. The house is now ready for the "pros" to come in and do their work. All the Foundation needs now is money! The master plan from our historical architect is almost complete and when it is finished the Foundation will be able to begin applying for grants. There are several grants for which they hope to apply before this year's end. Priorities are the electrical rewiring and air conditioning/heating, then the plumbing. The asbestos will be removed from the house by an environmental company from San Antonio sometime in October or November, 2015 thanks to the generosity of a wonderful friend of the Seaquist House who is underwriting this cost.

How Can You Help?

There are many ways that you can help to restore this icon of Victorian architecture. You can make donations in honor or in memory of a loved one or friend. You can donate an amount to furnish a room, to re-plaster walls, to purchase items needed to furnish the home, to refinish some of the woodwork on the stairs or to refinish the floors, etc. You can also volunteer time to help with the upkeep, cleaning and landscaping of the home. In addition, you can become a Founding 25 Member by donating $25,000 over a 5-year period. The Seaquist House will be a viable asset to the community by bringing tourists to our area. Not only will they see one of the most unique and beautiful homes in the Texas Hill Country, but they will be encouraged to stay and explore our frontier heritage, to see the beauty of our past and to experience the charm of our present.

Future Uses of the House

Once the restoration is complete, the uses for the Seaquist House are almost endless. It will be an incredible wedding and reception venue (an outdoor area is also being planned for weddings). The entire house, or just particular rooms, can be rented for special occasions such as art shows, recitals, musical performances, parties, meetings, dances, children’s parties, wine tastings, wine festivals, family or school reunions, picnics, galas, etc.

The future of the Seaquist House looks a lot more promising now than it did a year ago! Progress is being made, and the monthly tours are generating income which will help in the day to day maintenance of the home. Generations of our citizens will benefit from the restoration of this architectural masterpiece which for nearly 130 years has stood as an emblem of Mason’s character, beauty and fortitude. We trust it will be with us for many more years to come!


TEXAS HILL COUNTRY HERITAGE ASSOCIATION
P. O. Box 941   Mason, Texas 76856-0941     Phone: 325-347-6683     E-mail: info@thcha.org
 
The information contained in this website is for information purposes only. The THCHA does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other information contained in this website.
 
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