A brave and adventurous shepherd came to Lubbock from Missouri many years ago to grow and tend his flocks of sheep, to live, and to prosper. Through many trials and tribulations he created a magnificent home where, today, a shepherd of another more human flock continues to grow and tend his “sheep.”
Early Lubbock pioneer, Warren A Bacon, was a man of vision who ventured to the South Plains from Missouri sometime in the 1890’s. The Texas Land Act of 1887 and other land promotions brought many settlers to this area during the late 1880’s and early 1890’s. The precise date of his arrival is not known, however early tax roll records indicate his presence in 1894. Upon arrival he became involved in raising sheep, most likely in the Yellowhouse Canyon, taking advantage of the ample supply of prairie grasses and range land. As told in a story about early sheep raising on the South Plains, Bacon worked with notable Lubbockites J.A. Wilson, Isham Tubbs, W.G. Nairn from Scotland, and H.V. Edsall. In the fall of 1897 the men were gathering their sheep in a field located 3 miles north of the current town of Idalou. Their plan was to drive their flocks down the Concho River to the Rio Grande for winter grazing. A prairie fire that originated in northwest Lubbock County on the Groves property burned eastward across the county, threatening their sheep. One of the men, left alone to tend the flocks, grabbed his matches and began to start a back-burn to create a protected area for the sheep. Even his fast thinking and quick action could not save them, however. The fire caught the grass under the sheep causing a panic amongst the flock. They began to pile on top of one another as their wool caught fire. In a little more than an hour over 75% of the flock was dead. The financial loss to the men was extraordinary.
In the census of July of 1898 Bacon was in Lubbock County and purchased 4 sections of Texas School land being offered @$2.00 an acre. Eventually that land included an 80-acre truck farm on which he dug one of the first actual irrigation wells in Lubbock County, sometime around 1909. With 1909 and 1910 being two of the driest years in Texas history, Bacon sold 1958 acres of land to L.E. Dow for the sum of $35,244. He also invested in and sold several buildings and parcels of land in Lubbock over the years.
Bacon eventually became involved in Lubbock Civic affairs, serving as a City Councilman from 1912-1914, and 1914-1916. In 1926 he was served on the first Board of City Development with other Lubbock businessmen J.L. Dow, J.A. Rix, O.L. Slaton, J.B. Maxey, B. Sherrod, Roscoe Wilson, and others. In 1927 he served on the first City Planning Commission and the Railway Committee of the Chamber of Commerce.
It was said that Warren Bacon was a quiet man who enjoyed playing Carroms with his friends, Sam Arnett and Tom Ivey. He often sat on his front porch and smoked his pipe. He was also seen walking from his home on Broadway to the Citizen’s Bank at Broadway and Texas Ave. to visit with his friend, Sam Arnett. Warren Bacon passed away in 1938 at the age of 67.
His wife, the vivacious Myrta Hunt Bacon, was the daughter of panhandle pioneer and Quaker, George Hunt, who was one of the first settlers to come to the town of Estacado, established by Paris Cox in Blanco Canyon. Mr. Hunt brought his family to Texas in a wagon from Sterling, Kansas, in the fall of 1884. Their adventure to the panhandle was told in a lively, personal account written and published by George Hunt. In it he tells that they arrived December 6 and enjoyed their first Christmas in the panhandle “eating watermelon outside in the pleasant sunshine.” Hunt established a boarding house, the Llano House, upon their arrival and became the first Justice of the Peace in Estacado. In his book Hunt told of a couple who knocked on his door one night wanting to be married shortly after he was sworn in as J.P. Lacking any written service, he simply used what he remembered of the Quaker services he had attended over the years. He also operated a grocery store with supplies brought in from Amarillo.
In September of 1890, Mr. Hunt sold his boarding house and moved his family to Lubbock where he ran the Nicolette Hotel, built and owned by Frank Wheelock. In his book he also stated they had the first Christmas tree in Lubbock, and he “played Santa.” Hunt was a teacher, poet, and musician who instilled those qualities in his daughter, Myrta. She is purported to have had the voice of an angel, having sung duets at social events, and with the first band formed in Lubbock. It is quite likely that she may have seen Warren Bacon at a social event called the Locust Grove Sociable held at the courthouse in 1897. Myrta and Nora Hunt sang a duet for that occasion. That love of music and the holidays lived on in Myrta, who loved to decorate and entertain. It is said she loved to “roll back the carpets in the parlor and dance,” and make popcorn balls and punch for her guests at Christmastime.
Warren and Myrta Bacon married in 1900 in Lubbock, and had a small family for that era. Their first child, Marie, was born in 1903, but sadly passed away in 1909 from typhoid fever. Their second child, Lawrence, was born in 1905. Lawrence grew up and attended school in Lubbock. He eventually married Kathryn Atkins, who lived in Lubbock until her death in 1983. Members of the Bacon family still reside in the Lubbock area.
The Bacons owned three homes, their first being located where the town of Idalou was established. Their second home was purchased from a family who lived in “south Lubbock” at that time. Undoubtedly their finest home in Lubbock was located on the corner of Broadway and Ave. R. William M. Rice, an architect from Amarillo, was commissioned to design and build their home for them in 1916. Rice is also known for building several large buildings, only one of which is not currently standing- the Lowery- Phillips School in Amarillo. Those buildings built by Rice include the downtown fire station in Amarillo, which is still in use today; the Shelton-Houghton House in Amarillo, which currently houses the Junior League of Amarillo; the Lipscomb County Courthouse; and the Lynn County Courthouse.
According to a 1974 interview with their daughter-in-law, Mrs. Lawrence (Kathryn) Bacon, the foundation of the home on Broadway was “strong enough to build a six- story house on it.” A visitor from Plainview once said it was an impressive “tribute to the Panhandle,” and would be around for many, many years. They chose the Overton Addition, the first integral neighborhood in Lubbock, where their home would look out on Broadway, but not be too close to the hustle and bustle of downtown at that time. Broadway was eventually paved with brick, which still remains as its surface today.
The façade represents a Neo-Classical, Greek revival style of architecture typical of the gentry of the period. There are open porches on the south and east sides, supported by graceful columns reminiscent of the Greek temples. The entry of the home is relatively unchanged with the original beveled glass front door. At one time the house had an iron fence that had graced the Lubbock Cemetery. The interior was decorated by the Bacons in a typical fashion of the day, with the major design being to the taste of the head of the household. Their original furniture was purchased in Kansas City, Missouri, and brought to Lubbock. It was solid mahogany with black leather upholstery. The pine flooring was covered with Axminster rugs, a machine-made rug featuring a weave which originated in England usually with Renaissance, architectural, or floral designs. Warren Bacon’s office, a room to the left of the front entry on the first floor, had windows that looked out on Broadway and captured the morning and afternoon sunshine.
As stark and masculine as the main portion of the house may have seemed with its leather furniture and dark wood, Mrs. Bacon loved pretty things. That is evidenced by the previous photo of the Bacons taken around 1900. Note the lovely design of her hat and frilly bodice of her dress. It is said she owned numerous pieces of cut glass and silver. The Hulsey Center still houses two exquisite crystal and cut- glass lamps that belonged to Mrs. Bacon. The master bedroom was specifically designed to her taste, with a beautiful, ornate brass bed with a white windowpane covering, crisp white linen pillows against the headboard, and delicate boudoir pillows. Her mahogany chest of drawers, which is still used in the Hulsey Center today, displayed a lovely, solid silver dresser set and cut glass perfume bottles.
The yard of the home was much larger than it is currently. At one time there was an orchard of apple and cherry trees north of the house, and grapevines to the west bordering the property. There was also a 6 ft. deep concrete irrigation tank north of the garage that was used as a swimming pool. It was fed by water from their windmill, which was also to the north of the house. It is said their son, Lawrence, was responsible for chopping weeds and watering the trees, so in order to lessen his load of yard work, Lawrence allowed his friends to swim in the tank in return for their help with the upkeep. It is also rumored that a local man learned to swim in that same tank. Over the years the original windmill has been removed, as well as the orchard and irrigation tank, but the home is still surrounded by many trees that offer sanctuary to numerous species of birds. Planters grace the corners of each set of steps leading to the porches, as they did in the early years.
The house underwent extensive renovation in the 1980’s after it was purchased by the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Bishop at that time, The Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, wanted a “home” for the Episcopalians in the Panhandle region. He felt that such a place would provide a psychological “center” for Episcopalians in the area, and would also serve notice to the community of the vitality of the Episcopal Church here. Working with others who shared his concern, the Bishop determined that renovation of an historical building, rather than construction of a new one, would be in keeping with good stewardship of resources. Inaugurated in November, 1982, the restored building represents not only the administrative hub of the Episcopal Church in this area but also its recognition of, and appreciation for, the distinct architectural heritage of the region. In March of 1983 the building received the “historic landmark” designation of the local, state, and national historical societies, which placed plaques by the front door in recognition of the distinction.
Today the Hulsey Episcopal Center continues to serve as the home for Episcopalians in Northwest Texas. With our new, recently consecrated “shepherd”, The Rt. Rev. James Scott Mayer to lead God’s flock, it will live on in Lubbock history as a cherished landmark and place filled with the laughter and joy of a religious family.