Rhine Home Will be Marked

Proof that age does not destroy beauty but only softens it may be seen in the stately old oaks and home of Mrs. Eugene Risser at 404 East 8th street, one of four Fannin county homes to be honored with a Texas Historical Building Medallion Sunday, Feb. 9.

The Texas State Historical Medallionis being presented by the Fannin County Historical Survey Committee of which Mrs. H. A. Burow is chairman.

Built in 1871 by David Rhine, who came to Bonham from Philadelphia, Pa., in 1866, the home is as strong and sturdy today as it was when David and Florence Rhine first occupied it.

The Rhine brothers, David and Phillip, were natives of Bavaria and shortly after arriving in Bonham opened a general merchandise store which they stocked with dry goods and novelties from their native land.

The Rhine brothers prospered and David and his wife, Florence, both in their late 20s, purchased a big block of land in the Bailey Inglish Survey a short distance from the square and began plans for the home they were to occupy for more than 30 years.

Huge oak trees under which Indians were said to have held their camp fire councils before the coming of the White Man covered the northern portion of the tract.

It was in the midst of these even then stately oaks that David Rhine chose to have his home built, to leave a level and open area to the rear of the home where a school, called "Inglish," had been built in the early year.

It was in 1871 that the Rhines began work on their home which stands today as a tribute to fine craftsmanship and work.

Some of the timber used in the home were hewn from native trees while others were brought from Jefferson, head of navigation of Red River, 160 miles to the southeast.

Bricks for the sidewalk - remains of which are still visible - were made by Negro workers who made sure they were all of the same size and placed exactly as they should be in the walkways.

A blacksmith shop was in the rear of the home with the stables and it is said that horse shoes worn by many of the teams pulling stage coaches through Bonham at the time were made in the shop and purchased by the coach operators and drivers as they stopped in Bonham to discharge or take on passengers, partake of a meal or spend the night.

The Rhines' three daughters were born there and "there was a lot of living" in the home as the Rhines entertained their friends as their daughters grew to womanhood.

David Rhine died in 1900 and Florence Rhine in 1902.

It was in 1912 that Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Risser came to Bonham from Ballinger to join the business life of one of North Texas' oldest towns.

They selected the Rhine home for their home in Bonham and found it to be in excellent condition, having only to replace the post on the front porch with large columns.

Mr. and Mrs. Risser furnished their new home with Mrs. Risser's family heirlooms and a large antique gold frame mirror she had purchased in New Orleans.  Oriental rugs were laid on the floors and new hand-woven draperies were hung at the high windows.

Time has brought changes in heating, lighting and communication, but is has only served to enhance the elegance, beauty and comfort of this 94-year-old home that holds wonderful memories for all who have known it intimately.

Forestry experts have estimated the huge oak trees in the front years of the home are more than 500 years old.

Children of Mrs. Risser are Eugene Risser, Jr., and Dr. Joe Risser, both of Bonham; two granddaughters, Mrs. Sally Risser Estes and Miss Louise Risser, and a grandson, Joe Risser, Jr., and a great-granddaughter, Kris Estes.

Bonham Daily Favorite
Friday, November 3, 1995, Page 1

Historic House Destroyed By Fire

By Steve Snyder
A beautiful historic residence in Bonham now only has memories to remind people of its splendor.

The residence, at 400 East Eighth Street, was razed to the ground by fire last night; the Bonham Fire Department received the call on the blaze at 12:39 a.m., and were at the scene throughout the night and into the morning, but were unable to prevent the building's destruction by the flames. Smoke from the smoldering remains of the residence hung heavy in the cold Friday morning air to alert the rest of the city to the disaster.

The present owner of the century-old house, Tommy Jo Hanes, was not at home at the time of the fire, according to firemen, and no injuries were reported in battling the blaze.

The house, which was built in 1872, had an estimated value of $180,000, according to Fire Captain David Norris. As he noted, the large beams that were used to build houses of that age contributed to the power of the inferno.

About the only things reported saved from the flames were an antique rocker inside the residence and the Texas Historical Commission marker on the front wall.

Tom Scott of the Fannin County Historical Museum provided the historical background on what had been a stately home.

The house was built in 1871, by David Rhine, and is one of the five oldest houses in the City of Bonham, Scott noted.
According to Scott, Rhine was an immigrant from Bavaria who moved to North Texas before the Civil War, settling at one time in Red River County before moving to Bonham.

He and his brothers were merchants, according to Scott, and when Rhine moved to Bonham, he set up his store building on the north side of the city square, where the old title building now is. Scott said that he was noted for his unusual imported gifts.

When he passed away, he was buried in the Jewish cemetery at Willow Wild, according to Scott.

Scott added that his daughter was an amateur biologist of some renown, he once discovered a previously unknown micro-organism, which was eventually named after her, in the house's flower bed.

Scott noted that the house was constructed in what he called a "Victorian hybrid style," combining Greek Revival details with an overlay of Italianate design. Scott noted that this was a somewhat unusual architectural combination.
He added that when the Risser family purchased the house in 1912, they enlarged the front porch, but that the house otherwise remained in its original state.


Rhine Home

Marker Text:

Colonial style home built 1871.  Wooden pegs used in construction.  Bought by Eugene Risser, Sr., in 1912.

Location:  The house was destroyed by fire in November 1995 (See article transcribed below).  The marker currently resides in the Fannin County Museum of History.

Fannin County, Texas