|THE RUDISILL HOUSE|
|The Rudisill Family Foundation’s showcase asset, and symbol of our efforts to preserve the history of the Rudisill family, is an 1896-built house in Nacogdoches, Texas. Here follows the history of the house, a description of its historical features and architecture, and the RFF’s successful efforts to restore it.|
The prosperity of Nacogdoches in the late 1800's attracted a coterie of professional people, including an important architect, Diedrich Rulfs (1848-1926). He was born, educated and married in Germany. He and his wife, nee Johanne Emilie Helene Wilhemine Boeschen, had three sons when they settled in Nacogdoches in 1880. Another son and a daughter were born in their adopted town. From 1880 to 1923, Rulfs designed more than 50 architecturally significant structures in Nacogdoches and surrounding towns. His buildings reflected many styles: Queen Anne, Victorian Gothic, Romanesque, Stick, Prairie, and revivals of Colonial, Spanish, Gothic and Classical.
In 1896 Rulfs built one of his earliest houses, a 1 1/2 story Queen Anne home on North Street (known for its many beautiful homes of the town’s most prominent citizens) at the corner of Powers Street, then a narrow dirt road. The house was commissioned by one of the town’s most influential early families and founders of the Commercial Bank, the Bounts, for their daughter Laura as a wedding present. The Blounts lived nearby on North Street in a home also designed by Rulfs, a large house that unfortunately was destroyed by fire in the early 1940's. It is said that Laura died in her first childbirth and that her husband sold the house and moved from Nacogdoches.
The house had several owners until about 1915, when it was purchased by Henry Clifford Rudisill and his wife, the former Mary Lenora Lively, for their family of five children. Four of their children were living at home. Their eldest, Clarence Astor Rudisill, was then a medical student at the University of Texas in Galveston. Henry Clifford Rudisill was born and grew up in Cherryville, North Carolina, the son of Jacob and Susan Elmina Rhyne Rudisill, and a direct descendant of Johan Jakob Rudisile who arrived in Philadelphia in 1729 and was one of the five Rudisill brothers and cousins to migrate to America from Michelfeld, Germany. When an adult and at the invitation of friends who encouraged him to join them in employment by the railroad, Clifford Rudisill moved to Chamblee, Georgia, where he met his future wife. Their first two children were born in North Carolina and Georgia before they were transferred to Texas by the railroad in the early 1900s. Clifford’s grandson, Henry Clifford Rudisill, II, inherited the 1896 House, restored it, and recently donated it to the Rudisill Family Foundation.
The 1896 House, aka Rudisill home, has a distinctive, large central Mansard roof. Fish-scale shingles, Eastlake ornamentation and round-arch windows decorate the roof gables. A large porch, richly decorated with “gingerbread,” surrounds the front and side of the house, and porch gables repeat the Eastlake detailing. Triple-hung windows were designed to open onto the porch from the front hall, living room and dining room. The home has four fireplaces and a wide central hall which runs the length of the house, joining a smaller front hall with an off-center front door which is perfectly balanced by the roofline. The ceilings are 14' high and the 9' doors are solid mahogany.
Recent renovations have included a new roof, new porch floor, new gingerbread, and new porch stairs. The home has been repainted using the original colors of ivory walls, white trim, and blue-gray in the gables and on the porch floor. The bathrooms that were added in about 1920 by the Clifford Rudisill (the grandfather) have been removed and the central hall has been restored to the original plan.
The front bedroom has been restored by removing a large closet and bathroom which obscured one of the original fireplaces. An antique mantel of the period at the fireplace and an antique transitional gas/electric chandelier have been installed in this bedroom.
A side porch off the kitchen has been restored and enclosed and a laundry room and half bath have been added. A small bedroom off the center hall has been converted into two modern bathrooms using reproduction fixtures. These bathrooms serve the middle and back bedrooms. The middle bedroom contains some Rudisill furniture that is original to the house and other furniture that has been donated by cousins and friends of the extended Rudisill family. An antique gas chandelier has been added to replace the original chandelier.
A third bathroom with reproduction fixtures has been installed between the front and middle bedrooms. Someday in the future when the need arises, these bedrooms will be used for exhibitions and meetings.
The living room has been furnished entirely with the original Rudisill furniture and with paintings of the Rudisill family. An antique transitional gas/electric chandelier has replaced the original fixture.
In the dining room an antique gas chandelier (with original pulleys) has been installed. Some Rudisill furniture original furnishing the house and furniture donated by cousins of the extended Rudisill family decorate this room.
A state-of-the-art geothermal heating and air-conditioning system has been installed to serve the 1896 House. All rooms have been repapered with historic reproduction wallpaper of the period and the doors, mantles and baseboards have been refinished. The original heart-of-pine floors have also been refinished.
The furnishings in the 1896 House are further described in several editions of Relations, the newsletter of the Rudisill Family Foundation, which can be accessed on this website by clicking HERE.