Fannin County, Texas

Trout House, Honey Grove

Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984

Location: 705 Poplar Street, Honey Grove

Sited very prominently on a large lot at the head of 12th Street, the Thomas and Katherine Trout House is a superb example of domestic Queen Anne architecture influenced by decorative elements of the Colonial Revival. The massive two-and-a-half-story structure has had very few alterations over the years, and dominates an area of largely newer and smaller residences.

In typical Queen Anne fashion, the house has an irregular plan, pyramidal roof with intersecting gables, and projecting bays on the elevations. The front of the house is asymmetrical, with a massive, pedimented attic gable on the right(east), a circular tower and domed turret on the left(west), and a first-floor veranda that stretches along the entire width of the house and down both sides. The veranda is skirted with the original pressed-tin panels which resemble rusticated stone blocks. Wooden Tuscan-order columns support the veranda, while paired columns flank the entry steps (also of wood). A small pediment with a carved wooden panel further defines the main entrance on the veranda. The doorway, which is somewhat recessed from window bays on either side, consists of large side lights with etched glass, and an original door complete with beveled glass and brass knob. The window bay to the right has two curved one-over-one windows on each side, and a large conventional one-over-one window in the center. The curved part of the wall has fish-scale shingles, while the center has clapboard siding. To the left of the doorway, at the base of the tower, a large one-over-one window juts out from the wall, enframed by three-dimensional wooden panels. Additional windows in the tower's base and second floor are curved and mounted flush with the fish-spare exterior wall. The west side veranda terminates behind the tower with a door into the left rear bedroom.

On the east side, the veranda curves around the aforementioned window bay, and ends with an exterior door to the dining room. While a wooden banister does exist along the outer edge of the veranda, a photograph taken shortly after the house's completion shows neither a banister nor balustrade. The original owner's granddaughter has confirmed this lack of a balustrade (photo 8).

Beneath the large attic gable, the second floor continues the first story's curved window bay on the right, while the left side of the gable extends over an arcaded balcony. Reflecting the main entrance below, the balcony has a slightly recessed doorway, though with a transom window rather than side lights. The balcony's arches are supported by smooth, scrolled columns with a spindled balustrade spanning the base of the widest arch. Above, the eaves of the pedimented gable are enriched with modillions. The pediment contains two levels of windows. The four lowerlevel windows are flanked by a curved board and-batten design. The two outer windows are of the casement type, with a diamond pattern of stained glass. The inner windows are conventional one-over-one sash. The upper level consists of a narrow, round-arch window flanked by two small, circular ones--all of single-piece stained glass. These windows are surrounded by fish-scale wooden shingles.

To the left, the circular tower is topped by two levels of eaves with modillions (photo 5). The domed roof flares out in each instance to accommodate the eaves. between these two levels is a carved wooden panel of intricate swag designs. Above the second eave level the textured, painted metal dome gives the impression of a gold-tile roof. A ramunctuous gold onion and finial top off the dome in a grand manner.

Midway down the east side of the house, a projecting two-story bay is topped by a plain triangular pediment. The bottom corners of the pediment are cantilevered over the bay, with carved wooden brackets under the projecting portions (photo 6).

Towards the rear of the west side, a projecting wing faces west. The pedimented gable contains a small Palladian window for the attic (photo 4).

The rear (north) of the house (photo 7) has seen at least two small additions, both being built rather early in the life of the house. Two pedimented one-and-one-half-story wings project from the rear in nearly symmetrical proportions. One was a kitchen/pantry addition, while the other contains closet space and a bathroom for the rear bedroom. A small, additional porch and closet were added soon after, linking the two earlier wings.

Inside, the house contains extravagant woodwork, largely oak, including carved baseboards, ceiling moldings, door and window frames, two imported staircases, and a meticulous, fragile bead-and-spindle assemblage across the entry hall's ceiling (photo 8). This delicate wooden masterpiece of craftsmanship is easily the most breathtaking feature of the entire house. All of the above-mentioned woodwork retains its original, unpainted finish.

The library, located in the base of the circular tower, contains oak wainscoting and a built-in book cabinet. The cabinet extends from floor to ceiling, and includes glass doors, wooden shelves, and rich woodcarver panels (photo 9).

The dining room, on the east side of the house, contains a large built-in china-closet with a glass door which rises into the ceiling. The kitchen at the rear has been recently remodeled, although it retains the original breadboard siding in a chevron pattern (again, the original unpainted wood). A rear stairway leads from the kitchen to the upstairs hall, although the front stairway off the entry hall deserves greater mention. Inlaid panels and wainscoting follow the stairs all the way up. At the landing midway up the stairs, two Tiffany-style windows of stained glass add to the aura. The lower window, while large at 3\ x 3', is no match for the upper one, which measures 31/2 x 7' . Both are in very good condition.

The second floor contains three bedrooms (the largest was originally two rooms, the wall between them having been removed), a hall running the length of the house, and one bathroom. The original marble lavatory, plumbing fixtures, and bathtub with four feet are still operational.

The unfinished attic is reached by a ladder in a rear closet. The house contains three chimneys, the largest of which does a 90o twist in the attic, brick-by-brick. The house has six fireplaces with the downstairs mantels containing ceramic tiles and beveled mirrors.

The original oak floors are mounted on a 2" x 6" cypress studs. The first floor has a 12' ceiling, and the second floor a 10' ceiling. Except for the metal dome, the roof is of recent asphalt shingles.

With little doubt, the Trout House is one of the finest, least-altered examples of Queen Anne residential architecture in northeastern Texas. Built for a wealthy farmer, cattleman, and merchant just before the end of the 19th century, the house exhibits exuberant Victorian design and elegance on a scale rarely seen in this part of the state particularly in a town of only 1900 people (pop. 4000 in the 1890s ).

The Trout House recalls a bygone era of great prosperity and growth for the now declining maybe in 1965, but not now Fannin County town of Honey Grove. The town was surveyed in 1848, and grew rapidly as a center for farming, supply, trade, and stone quarrying for eastern Fannin County. By 1890 the town had three banks, two newspapers, four hotels, two cotton gins, and two railroads. Honey Grove was obviously a promising, progressive place for a wealthy farmer and rancher to build a house and settle-in.

Thomas Warren Trout was born in 1849 in Georgia. In 1858, he and his parents came to Texas by wagon, settling on a farm two miles north of Honey Grove. After three years here, the boy's mother died and his father became blind. Being the only son, Trout had to care for the farm, his father, and three sisters at an early age.

In 1870, Thomas Trout married Katherine Craddock and shortly thereafter purchased a 50-acre farm adjoining that of his father. Records show that this farm was paid for over time from the sale of sorghum molasses. Trout later engaged in the cattle business on a large scale, and was apparently very successful, purchasing much land with his profits.

By 1895, Trout's interests were obviously turning from agricultural to mercantile, as he moved into town and engaged in the grocery business with Williamson-Blocker & Company, a wholesale firm. Construction of the house at 705 Poplar Street began in this year, with Trout and his family temporarily living in another house one block north, according to Miss Kathryn Trout, Thomas W's granddaughter.

The house was built of some of the finest imported materials, employing the Victorian era's most classic residential design schemes all befitting a man of rising stature in the community. Trout served as a Honey Grove city alderman in the 1890s and as a director of the First National Bank in the 1900s. According to family tradition, the two staircases were imported from France, as was the beveled glass in the front door and the beveled mirrors in some of the fireplace mantels. Two huge stained-glass windows at the front staircase landing are of the Tiffany variety. The metal dome on the turret reportedly was brought by mule train why, when the T&P R. R. went to from New Orleans.

Mrs. Trout died in 1908, and Mr. Trout moved to Dallas, selling the house to a family named Denison. The Dennisons owned the house only a few years and sold it to Mr. and Mrs. Joe Fielding by 1918. The Fieldings lived in the house for some twenty years--longer than any family before or since. Meyer Smith, a hardware store owner, purchased the house in the 1940's, and the residence has had three-subsequent owners since then.