Garden Club members tour ‘Rock House’
Members and guests of Crown Garden Club spent an enjoyable and informative day at the old “Rock House” off Texas 36 about two miles South of Milano for the club's September meeting. Their hosts were Dr. Donny Hamilton who is restoring the historic home and Martha Newman who made arrangements for the visit.
Dr. Hamilton is former head of the Department of Anthropology at Texas A& M University and past director of the Center for Maritime Archaeology and Conservation, the director of the Conservation Research Laboratory and former head of the Nautical Archaeology Program.
He is also past president of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology which is affiliated with Texas A&M. He is the author of several books on artifact conservation and North American historical sites. He is a past editor of the Studies in Nautical Archaeology Series published by Texas A&M University Press.
Dr. Hamilton purchased the 122-year- old house in 2010. It was built by George W. Beard for his mother in 1891. It had been vacant for many years and had been almost demolished by varmints, treasure hunters, visitors carving their names in the walls and other curious people.
First order of business was debunking the myths about the house. He said he had not seen any ghosts or other haunters, there were no rattlesnakes under the floor, no bodies in the well and the house was never a stagecoach relay station.
The original farm was on 200 acres and the family had orchards, gardens and raised cows and chickens. The red sandstone which was used to build the house was from a quarry on the property and the house has walls 18-inches thick to keep the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
It was originally built with a living room and bedroom on the first floor and, up the original staircase, was another large bedroom.
The kitchen was outside and the farm featured three outhouses, a barn and several other outbuildings. There is a spring in back of the house which still runs.
Dr. Hamilton showed slides of artifacts and pictures from the home and a drawing of the original house and buildings and gave a history of the family and farm which he has researched since owning the property.
He has done most of the restoration work himself except for the new roof and there is still a lot of work he plans to do.
Following the presentation, everyone shared a picnic lunch in the kitchen, which is being made from the original downstairs bedroom, and then toured the rest of the house.
Mrs. Newman presented Dr. Hamilton with an antique flower garden quilt for the house.
Guests for the meeting were Geri Burnett, Evelyn Hirt, JoAnn Martin and Bonnie George.
For information about the Crown Garden Club, call club president Yvonne Young, 512- 446- 5453—Peggy Cooke, club reporter