The Dougherty House


In 1876 Professor Robert Dougherty aquired land on Round Lake in order to build a home for his young family and a school for boys. Using a loan of $5,000 from rancher Nicholas Bluntzer, Dougherty bought the land from Patrick McGloin and set about to fulfill his dream and the desire of the local people for a school. Doughery felt he had found an ideal location for the school and his family. "No calmer, gentler spot for the purpose intended could have been selected," he later wrote.(1)

Construction of the building began under the direction of a young Scottish architect/carpenter, W.P. Allen. Florida Cypress and dressed long leaf pine, brought into Indanola by schooner, and then hauled by ox cart to E.A. Sidbury's lumber yard in Corpus Christi, was the most likely source for the building material. Doors, windows, stairs, mantels and hardware, produced in the east and shipped to Texas were also purchased.(2) The materials were again hauled by ox cart to the site.

The building is an example of the center hall, double-pile house type (pile is an English expression for back-to-back rooms; double because the pattern repeats to either side of the central hall). Much of the original house remains intact and several interesting features of its 1876 style are visible today: the low-pitched hipped roof with narrow eves as well as the polygonal double porches. Its architecture is markedly different from other South Texas houses, which usually feature a long veranda spanning the width of the house to catch the breezes.(3)

Oral tradition was that the house was patterned after one in Dundee, Scotland. Recent research revealed that polygonal entries were used on many Dundee houses of the same period. It is possibly due to the influence of Allen that the now familiar, distinctive porches were placed on the house. Paint analysis shows that the original exerior colors were a soft cream set off with pale gray trim, a popular Victorian color scheme.(4) Early photos show that the windows were six over six panels with operable shutters for each.

The house served as both a school and home for Robert and Rachel Doughtery's growing family. At the time the family moved in there were five children: Kate 10, Chrys 7, Jim 5, Lida 3, and Mary 1. Pauline and Francis were to come later, in 1877 and 1878 respectively. The family quarters consisted of a parlor with fireplace, the central hall, three bedrooms, a dining room with fireplace and kitchen, all down stairs. The later addition of a bathroom used significant space of what was the little girl's bedroom. The large classroom and two boarder's bedrooms were upstairs. The former "trunk room", used by students, later became a bathroom. At mealtime the students entered the dining room by descending a stairway on the back porch.(5) The stairs were later removed.

The house was described in the newspaper ad as being "beautifully and healthfully situated in a deep-shaded grove on the banks of the Round Lake." The same ad stressed it was "large and commodious and capable of accommiodating a number of pupils."(6)

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(1) Corpus Christi Weekly Gazette, 1/1/1877
(1) 1870 Federal Census, Calhoun County, TX
(2) Corpus Christi Weekly Gazette, 7/28/1877
(3) Stephen Fox, Architectural Historian, Rice University, 2004
(4) Restoration Associates Limited, San Antonio, TX: March 2004
(5) Kate D. Bluntzer interview with Rachel B. Hebert, The Forgotten Colony, San Patricio de Hibernia
(6) Corpus Christi Weekly Gazette, 7/28/1877