Everyone has left the sanctuary: Inside the Jermyn Methodist Church

rear windowsStep over to Lottabusha County to read more about going inside the Jermyn Methodist Church.

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Jermyn Carpenter Gothic Methodist Church

Jermyn Methodist ChurchThe carpenter Gothic Revival style Methodist Church in Jermyn, Texas was the first church in the area, and constructed in 1910.  It remained in use for worship services until at least 1979.  You can read more about the church and its style at Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles.

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Rock School

Rock School and amphitheaterMineral Wells’ oldest building is the Rock Schoolhouse, constructed in 1886, served as the first public school in Mineral Wells, Texas.  It is currently owned by the Fifty Year Club, who are restoring and renovating the Mountaineer Park complex that also includes the Lillian Peak Home Economics Building, the 1937 WPA Amphitheater, and the old Mineral Wells High School building.

Stones were obtained from Rock Creek, hauled to the site, and hand-cut.  It currently operates as a museum featuring early history of Mineral Wells.  It remained in use as a school building until 1972, serving the educational needs of the community for 86 years.  Apparently, the 128 year old building is still serving in an educational role, providing free history lessons about the community and its early years as a health spa destination commanding more than 100,000 visitors a year (Rock School House Museum, June 22, 2009, Mineral Wells Index.com).

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Mineral Wells 1937 WPA Amphitheater

amphitheater behind home economics cottageVisible behind the Lillian Peek Home Economics cottage completed in 1934 is the rock amphitheater constructed by the WPA in 1937.  The WPA completed a number of amphitheaters during the New Deal Administration, in state parks, community settings, and educational facilities.  One excellent example is the San Antonio Riverwalk’s amphitheater. amphitheater 2Amphitheaters were generally built on the side of a hill, which provided a natural gentle rise for the seats, aisles, and steps.  In the photograph above, the stage is visible in the forefront, and was surfaced with a concrete slab.

WPA cornerstoneThe 50 Year Club of Mineral Wells restored the amphitheater behind the old school, and are in process of renovation for the home economics cottage.

While I acted on many stages during my theatre years, I don’t recall outdoor amphitheater being among them.  Perhaps I will use my summer research time to pen a play about the New Deal contributions to the country, and see if Mineral Wells will let me stage it on this stunning example.  It could be the culminating show of my career; it has been many years since I walked out on a stage to perform before an audience (presenting workshops and class does not count), but there was nothing like the joy of it.

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Lillian Peek Home Economics Building

home economics building 2entrance detailIn 1933, the state of Texas sent Lillian Peek, the state supervisor of home economics, to seek a site for a new home economics program.  She selected Mineral Wells, a community located not far from Fort Worth, in rural Palo Pinto county.  Originally intended to be located in a former school building, the city instead decided to demolish the old school and build the first free-standing house built for home economics educators in Texas.

The building was constructed of native stone.  The WPA, led by contractor W. W. Brassel, worked one day for pay and one day for free to complete the building for occupancy on February 21, 1934.  The “semi-Georgian” style cottage was designed by architect A. Howell, and cost $11,200, with additional cost for the furnishings of just over $2,000.  The cottage contained a foods laboratory (kitchen with 6 units), clothing laboratory (containing sewing machines), living and dining room with rustic faux fireplace, bedroom, bathroom, and terrace. (“Lillian Peek homemaking building finished in 1934″, February 12, 2013, Mountaineer Heritage Park Blog)

The 50 Year Club of Mineral Wells is working on restoration and renovation of the building, and it has been partially completed.  Both current and historic images and updates can be seen at their blog, Mountaineer Heritage Park Blog.

Sources: “Creative Arts Center on Sunday’s Zonta Tour,” December 1, 2006, MineralWellsIndex.com; Judith Richards Shubert digitized photographs from 1934, 1935, and 1939 Mineral Wells High School Burros yearbook and minutes from the October 1935 school board, retrieved from http://mountaineerheritagepark.blogspot.com/2013/02/lillian-peek-homemaking-building.html; Living Room in Home Econmics., Photograph, n.d.; (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth25049/ : accessed November 13, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.

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1913 Mineral Wells High School

Mineral Wells High SchoolIn 1913, the city of Mineral Wells voted a bond issue to build a new high school.  Architect Cornelius Granbery Lancaster designed the building (Beil, 2010) with its “Mission Revival style parapets and polychromatic brickwork along the roofline” (Texas Historical Commission State Marker).  Contractor J. S. Murphy completed it in 1914, and the first class graduated 1915.  The last high school graduating class was 1953; it remained in use first as a junior high, and then as an elementary school until 1973.  Renovation began in 2001 for use as a community center (Texas Historical Commission).

Side and rear elevationAccording to the Old Mineral Wells High School Foundation (oldhighschool.net), the building is undergoing restoration one room at a time.  Two rooms have been completed, one which contain a history of the school from 1913 through 1953, and one which is a restoration of a room to circa 1950s.  Several educational exhibits were planned for 2014.  The 250-seat auditorium is ready for renovation.

I confess to feeling a nostalgia for small towns, and the desire to be part of such an activity.  I can actually visualize a committed group of town-folk being able to tackle one room at a time until the building is complete–a task far more doable when a building is still structurally sound and the roof hasn’t leaked or caved.  Whatever Mineral Wells did to keep this building viable since its was put out to pasture in 1973, they deserve credit.  Perhaps on the next trip by this building, the doors will be open for a visit.

Beil, G. K. (uploaded June 15, 2010). Lancaster, Cornelius Granbery. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association.

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Tampa City Hall

Old City Hall 2The Eclectic style old City Hall of Tampa was designed by M. Leo Elliott and B. C. Bonfoey and constructed in 1915 by McGucken and Hyer contractors.  The drawings for the city hall were completed in 1914 by H. G. Perring Engineering Company.  The tower is seven stories, including the two in the bell and clock tower.

The clock is known as “Hortense the Beautiful” after the young girl who spearheaded the fundraising drive to purchase a clock.  Cost of construction was $235,000.  A twin annex of the first three floors was added in 1916 to serve as the police station.  That annex has been demolished, as have other early buildings that were near by. OCH painting


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