1856 Gilbert House
The cornerstone of the Historical Park, the Gilbert House remains in its original location, built amidst a grove of stately post oak trees. The house consists of two-foot-thick limestone walls, chestnut plank floor and native Texas furniture. It is architecturally referred to as a dogtrot style home, recognized by a large open hallway through the middle of the house. In 1988, the Gilbert House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks.
1870s Farmers Branch Depot
The Depot was relocated to the Historical Park and restored in 1985. The Depot is used to display artifacts that demonstrate the impact different modes of transportation had on early Texas. The 1890s all-wood Caboose includes original bunks, sink, icebox, hardware and potbelly stove.
1900s Farmers Branch School
Farmers Branch holds claim to the first organized school in Dallas County. The first classes were held in 1846 in the Methodist church. This school was built around 1900 near the intersection of Valley View and Dennis Lane. Around 1915, the T-shaped building was split into three parts. This one-room portion was relocated to Bee Street in Farmers Branch and used as a home. In 1985, the building was moved to the Historical Park and restoration was completed in 1991. Educational artifacts are used in the structure to interpret a turn-of-the-century, one-room school.
1930s Dodson House
The Dodson House was built in 1937 for William and Maude Dodson, who were responsible along with friends for formulating a petition for the incorporation of Farmers Branch in 1946. William Dodson was elected the first Mayor of Farmers Branch and served from 1946-1948. Many of the early planning meetings and three of the first Council meetings were held at the Dodson House.
1885 Queen Anne Victorian Cottage
The Queen Anne Victorian Cottage was originally built at 501 West Broadway in Gainesville, Texas in 1885, and is architecturally typical of small cottages built during the late Victorian era in Texas. By 1907, it was occupied by the Basinger family and their descendants who lived in the home until it was moved to the Historical Park in April 1992. It was restored to its 1885 appearance, dedicated, and opened for tours in 1997.
1890s Old Church
The Old Church at the Historical Park is from Renner, Texas, a town established in 1888 as a stop on the Cotton Belt Rail Line. In the present day, the area is just west of Coit Road, not far from Frankford Road. Renner, Texas was incorporated into the city of Dallas in 1983. The church building was moved to the Historical Park in 1985, and restored in July 1988. The Church is furnished and interpreted for the years 1890-1900. Unlike modern churches, there was probably little furniture in the church: a pulpit, pews, a pump organ, and later a piano. Kerosene lamps were used to provide light and air could be circulated by opening the windows and using hand-held fans. A potbelly stove would have provided heat in the winter. Two rooms on either side of the main aisle were Sunday school classrooms. The pastor’s study was added when the church was updated in 1914. Attending church was often a daylong event, when families could meet other families and friends in the community.
1920s General Store Replica
The General Store was built in 2012 in honor of JoAnn Elliot Bond, the first President of the Friends of the Farmers Branch Historical Park. The General Store is a new type of exhibit for the Historical Park in that the majority of the items in the store are meant to be “hands-on.” Most of the items on display are reproductions of items that would have been available in the 1920s. The items are not antiques, as anyone visiting a store today would want an item new and in a package, so would a shopper in the 1920s. The general store is modeled after three stores that were operating in Farmers Branch in the 1920s: the W. Taliaferro & Son General Store, Jim Smith’s Country Store, and Corbit’s Store.
1800s Log Culture Area
The Log Culture area consists of 2 main areas including a replica 1840s Land Grant Office designed to represent the original Peters Colony Land Grant Office which was located in Farmers Branch in the 1840s. The second structure is known as the Log House. Log structures were a prominent feature of Texas during the 1800s. The Johnson family built the log house and several outbuildings near Pilot Point, Texas in the 1870s (although the buildings are now being interpreted as they were during the 1840s). The Johnson family of northern Denton County was one of the larger families in the area. From Hebron, Texas up to the Red River, certain members of the family were quite prominent. However, little is known about the family members who lived on the farm where our structures were built.
The Historical Park obtained these structures from the U.S. Corps of Engineers. They were scheduled to be destroyed to make way for Lake Ray Roberts in 1980. With a grant from the Farmers Branch Civic League, the Historical Park was able to hire archaeologists to dismantle the structures, number the logs, and restore them. The logs of the house were cut to fit together in the corners of the house using half-dovetail notching. This is the most common style of notching in Texas log houses and is considered “a superior type [of nothing] identified with fine craftsmanship.” It produces a firm, locked joint and drains water to the exterior. The roof of the house has a shallow pitch along the eaves and over a lean-to, and toward the center climbs at a steeper pitch to meet at the peak. Inside the home, each floor is taken up with an entire room. The fireplace is only on the lower level. The staircase is located inside the home, but has a door on the lower level.
A Texaco Gas Station was the first such business in the Farmers Branch area in the 1930s. This replica structure at the Historical Park incorporates many of the architectural features of that first gas station. The oblong box shape represented a substantial increase in size over 1920s gas stations, but was still fairly cheap to construct as most were prefabricated and easy to maintain. The exterior is painted in bright company colors to attract customers and establish market recognition. A canopy covers the pump area to provide shade. These features were common at gas stations from the 1930s to the 1970s, until they were replaced by modern gas stations.