The Clendenen-Carleton House, built c. 1888, is of particular interest for its arrangement of highly decorative and gabled first and second floor porches and galleries on its east, south and north elevations. Eastlake and Stick style architectural elements and external embellishment have endowed the two-story asymmetrical residence with a multifaceted quality, a trait common to Victorian homes of the late 19th Century built in this lively vernacular style. Gable ends, brackets, fret work, spindle work, ballusters, columns and posts have all equally been given an ornate and imaginative treatment on this otherwise simple frame structure, surfaced with horizontal cypress siding and fishscale shingling.
The entire house, with the exception of the flat- roofed kitchen, is covered by a roof consisting principally of two large gabled roofs intersecting one another at right angles. Intersecting these are two additional gables.
The focal point of the Clendenen-Carleton House is its east facade, highlighted by the ornate two-level porch unit. The first floor porch is covered by a shed type roof, a structural feature repeated on the upper window, and surmounted by a smaller extremely gabled porch. Projecting over the main porch is an additional bracket and pendant supported smaller gable.
Incorporating the same structural and decorative elements of the east porch plan are two galleries atop bay windows.
The structural lathe-turned ballusters, columns and posts, as well as the varied spindled, semi-circular, ball- shaped, cut out and shingled embellishment of these porches and galleries can be seen in detail in the accompanying photographs. Particularly eye catching are the elaborate gable ends with their king posts and collar ties.
The original physical appearance of the house has been retained with the exception of two additions built in 1914, a kitchen and back porch on the west end, and the upper and lower sunporches on the south elevation.
Beyond the front door, paned in clear and ruby glass with scroll work embellishment, is the central hall. To the north of the hall are the parlour, dining room, butler's pantry and kitchen. To the south of it are located the music solarium and the Lower sunporch. Adjoining this sunporch on the west side are a large bath and bed-room.
To the rear of the central hall is the staircase leading to the second floor's five bedrooms, bath and screened sunporch, also used as a bedroom. The staircase, with its massive Newell post, milled hand rail and turned ballusters, was moved from the front of the hall to its present location in 1914. Topping it is a Tiffany-type lamp, replacing the original Newell post finial.
Electricity was introduced to the house at a later date than its original construction. The lighting fixtures in the home reflect the 1915-1925 period including several beautifully preserved brass hanging lamps in the entry hall, solarium and parlour.
Utilizing elements of the Eastlake and Stick architectural styles, the Clendenen-Carleton House is a fine example of the vernacular Victorian residences built by prosperous merchants and professional men in North Texas during the last quarter of the 19th Century. Its north, south and, particularly, its east facade display the elaborate and imaginative structural and ornamental features that made this building mode such a popular one at the time.
Adding an authentic touch to the original feeling of the property is the boldly initialed stone carriage block of the home's builder, Albert Joseph Clendenen. It is the only one known to remain in Bonham and one of the only two in Fannin County.
The structure has retained virtually all of its original architectural features, and should be easily stabilized and restored to its original condition. All of the external decorative and structural elements are intact or easily duplicated or restored.
The few additions to the Clendenen-Carleton House (sunporches on the south elevation, and the back porch and kitchen to the west at the rear) were made sixty to seventy- five years ago, utilizing the same type of materials and construction used in the original portion of the structure. These additions, rather than detracting from, actually add to the significance of the property in that they indicate adaptive uses made to meet current needs at the time of modification.
The two previous owners of the house prior to its acquisition in 1976 by Dr. William F. King were Albert Joseph Clendenen, its builder, and Dr. James C. Carleton, who acquired it in 1914.
Little is known of A. J. Clendenen, son of pioneer Bonham doctor Andrew Clendenen, except that he was in the ice business, possibly operating one of Bonham's first ice plants. His first wife was of the Castleberry family, and his second was a Hartfield. He died in Collins County in 1930.
The home's second owner was James C. Carleton, a Bonham doctor for more than 40 years, who received his training in 1893 at the Louisville Medical College. The son of Clark Carleton, he married Joanna White and had three children. The Carleton family was a socially prominent one in the Bonham community.
Upon his death in 1931, his widow and daughter May remained in the home, his daughter being the last Carleton to reside there.
The present owner of the Clendenen-Carleton House, Dr. William F. King plans to refurbish it to its 1914 condition.
Much of the interior has retained its original appearance although several doors have been replaced. The original mantles in the parlour and solarium have also been replaced with brick mantles.
Other interior features include oak ground floors, pine second floors and wall coverings of paper on canvass over shiplap.
The entire structure rests on a pier-and-beam foundation. The piers are bois d'arc "blocks", typical of almost all early dwellings in this part of Texas.
There are two out buildings on the property, both of which are in an advanced state of disrepair and deterioration. One is a small, shingle car garage of frame construction, and the other is a small shed of box construction.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Location: 803 N. Main Street, Bonham
The house is currently (2018) the Carleton House Bed and Breakfast.
Left: Carleton family in front of house
Above: Carleton house in early 19th century
Interior photos from 1914. Music scene is Joanna Carleton and Bernice, May and Lillian. Below - Dr. James C. Carleton, Joanna White Carleton and May Carleton.