The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Opinion

January 25, 2014

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING: Fox-Pessoney House

PALESTINE — The home of Mr. and Mrs. A. S. Fox was regarded as one of the most socially elegant homes in Palestine. It was the scene of many receptions and open houses.

The home was a jewel on Silk Stocking Road. The Fox house was originally given the address 310 South Sycamore in 1899, today the current address is 411 South Sycamore.

The house sat high off of the ground, rectangular in shape with wrap around verandas. Compared to rival houses, the Fox house was not the most ornate. It was restrained in it's ornamentation, large wood brackets supported a wide eave, a  hipped roof was topped by an iron cresting. Placed on the grounds was a 3 tiered cast iron fountain supported by cranes, but perhaps the most lovely feature of the grounds was the wood gazebo that sat to the left of the house. The small gazebo was truly a work of art; decorated with dental style trim and diamond pattern trim and painted burgundy, dark green, and cream.

The home was the scene of many fine events. One such affair took place on Dec. 14, 1898, when the actor Edwin Rostell came to Palestine to star as “Cardinal Richelieu” at the Temple Opera House.

Mr. Rostell gave a speech on “The Classics in Dramatic Literature” at the Fox house. Mrs. Fox, a member of the Self Culture Club, invited the young ladies of the As You Like It Club to attend the event. Mrs. Fox would be well known for her elegant parties and would often order french hyacinths and other fragrant flowers that would arrive by train with which to decorate her home.

The house would later pass into the ownership of Mr. and Mrs. George Pessoney. George F. Pessoney was the owner of the Palestine Ice, Fuel, and Gin Company. The Pessoney's would bring the greatest change in the appearance of the house; the Italianate design would become an imposing classical facade with four large white columns that would rise the full height of the house. The original one story wrap around porch was given a more stately look and the new formal portico would be completed with a triangular pediment.

Sadly, nothing remains of the elegant home. While the Pessoney family was repairing the house for a Christmas family gathering, a fire broke out and damaged the house beyond repair. The family, which had already moved to their country home, had the gazebo and fountain moved to their new home. The remains of the once elegant Fox-Pessoney house were demolished.  The cast iron fountain has been lost over the years, however the beautiful gazebo still remains sitting quietly in the hidden in the country.

————

Correction to last week's article: The Wright Mansion was demolished in 1949, not 1969. I apologize for the typographical error.

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