Show Your Support for Saving the Historic Collinwood House

Sign a petition to save the house >

 

Dear Plano,

The Collinwood house is the oldest dwelling still standing among its original agrarian fields within the corporate limits of the city of Plano, Texas, about 19 miles north of Dallas. The house is estimated by historians to be 155 years old (possibly even older) and is on city land that is being developed for a public park with jogging trails, parking spaces and a dog park.

While most of the approximately 124-acre park property will remain undeveloped, the majestic old dwelling is planned to be torn down to make way for a recreational pavilion and parking if the Plano City Council does not intervene. And so, Plano, we need your signatures to help stop the unthinkable.

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A removable wooden deck added in the 20th century detracts from the magnificent Greek Revival entryway with 32 panes of window glass surrounding red double doors // photos by Jennifer Shertzer

Until recently, the Collinwood house had been under-recognized for its historical importance and architectural value due to a cascade of unfortunate events. Its frame is constructed of hand-hewn timbers likely felled on the premises back in the 1850s. These hewn beams contain tree rings that may stretch back another 200+ years, yielding evidence of saplings that germinated in the early to mid-1600s. The rings are like old books with a page for every year, and those rings (depending on the tree species and setting) may also record major droughts, forest fires, major late spring freezes and even the early impact of the removal of certain trees by the axes of the first Anglo-Afro-European settlers along White Rock Creek.

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Original hand hewn timbers and square nails peek out from under the brick skirting added in the 1940s; Concentric tree rings can be seen, accentuated by weathering at the ends of the two timbers

The house itself is a large 1 1/2 story cross-gabled structure with the original clapboard covered by mid-1900s wood shingle siding. Finer architectural details include a magnificent Greek Revival main entryway with sidelights and transom containing 32 panes of window glass, second floor pointed arch windows on its side-gabled ends and a floor plan that provides 3,200 square feet of living space without including the large cellar.

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Closer view of impressive entryway with its Greek Revival styling and 32 panes of window glass; The red doors and inner doors are not original to the home.
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The north face of the home shows two classic arched Gothic Revival windows on the second floor. Other than the shingle siding, this face is the same as it was when the house was built about 155 years ago. Window glass was expensive and the absence of windows on the first floor at this end was tolerable given that the room had light entering from windows along its east and west walls.

Gothic Revival farmhouses of this age are comparatively uncommon in our region since a greater majority of mid-1800s Gothic Revival houses are found in cities and towns back east and not in rural Texas. Many elaborate examples were constructed after Andrew Jackson Downing popularized them in his books and articles written in the 1840s and early 1850s. Needless to say, the Collinwood house and its surrounding yard areas are worthy of National Register of Historic Places recognition.

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An enigmatic chalk rock field stone (some believe to be the former cornerstone) carved with “James A Bell 1861” was moved to the reconstructed fireplace about 40-60 years ago

Standing next to the Collinwood house is much like standing among ancient redwood trees where one cannot help but feel the relentless ebb and flow of time and think about all those men and women who have come and gone. This venerable old house appears to be standing silently but in actuality it is gently whispering about centuries past to those who stop and take a moment to listen.

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A visit to the property with its plentiful old, large shade trees feels like stepping back in time

We ask for your help and support in saving this house from needless demolition. Remember, old houses, like ancient redwoods, are a nonrenewable and finite resource that once destroyed are gone forever. Please add your name to our list to preserve this historic structure for all future generations yet to come. Unfortunately the children of tomorrow do not have a say in what we tear down today in the name of city progress, but you can make a difference on their behalf.

Sign a petition to save the house > Learn more about the Collinwood home history >

 

Address of the home is intentionally not listed as it is on private property and not open to visitors.

Written By
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Show Your Support for Saving the Historic Collinwood House

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8 Comments

  • Its so important to save delicate pieces of history for Iiur future generations… for them to experience and learn from. This home is such an important historical building. Parks and progress is great and everywhere. This Collingwood has been standing and presently still for over 155 yrs. It should be preserved and protected. Especially built with aged timber Mich older. That could possibly offer more insight of the past. This historical treasure should not be thrown away and destroyed.
    Thamk-you, -Elizabeth Salazar

  • If you want to help save this unique and priceless part of Plano’s history, consider signing the online petition via the link above. Texas history connects us, and this is a wonderful opportunity to discover this hidden treasure found right here in our own backyard. Plano may not have the Alamo, but we do have the Collinwood house. Let’s rally around this architectural gem and make sure it survives another 150 years!

  • The land/house is on city land, owned by the city, to be torn down by the city, to build a city park. A city of morons!!

  • Having attended yesterday’s City Council meeting about this property, I am completely taken aback. I am all for preserving history and heritage, but the breathtaking amount of money the City Manager stated would be needed for any operation for the home is utterly ludicrous. $325,000.00 just to secure the property where it is, until next spring when a decision will be made? I’m in the wrong line of work. Are you kidding? Fencing, smoke alarms, burglar alarms, and $48,000.00 for a redesign of the park, if it were decided to leave it there. Really? This has been on the burner for a year and we didn’t have an alternate design artist drawing of some sort already available just in case? $48,000.00?
    Then just in case it is voted on in a bond election, to preserve the property and use it, is was estimated it will take a whopping $3.5 Million. To do what exactly?
    I have about a thousand questions after last night, and where that vast amount of money will go is just the starting point. I am begging to have serious reservations.

  • Excellent points, Mike. I hope we all get the answers to these pressing questions, with sufficient detail so that voters will know exactly what the outcome will be from the bonds they are being asked to approve. Details matter and citizens need them to make informed decisions.

  • The city of Plano was not even incorporated until 1873 so its boundaries clearly did not include anything west of the Preston Trail. The current and apparently settled city limits of Plano include this frontier expanse and its claim to “being oldest” is based on research into the property records and diaries (ie, primary sources) of the former owners. With the proper research to come into the onsite evidence not yet performed, the dates can be more accurately defined.

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