El Castile

El Castile

The land of at least one castle.

As the county seat, Decatur, Texas, boasts an impressive courthouse, but it was the Victorian mansion overlooking the sleepy town that caught my attention. Popularly known as El Castile, the home was built in 1883 by cattle rancher Daniel Waggoner and restored in 1931 by his son William Thomas (W.T.). Historians and photographers alike consider this one of the most significant (and more importantly, significantly intact) examples of period architecture in Texas. It’s easy to see why: the limestone, ironwork, and ornate cupola, or tower, are (apparently) not to be outdone by the grand staircase, stained glass, and marble bathrooms inside. Oh, and if you’re thinking to yourself that you’ve seen this mansion before, chances are you have: El Castile was the inspiration for the iconic “Reata” mansion in 1956’s Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean western film, Giant.


For more information, visit: http://www.wisehistory.com/waggoner_mansion.html

The Schluter House

The Schluter House

This bright home has a dark history.

So does the town. Jefferson, located about 20 miles west of the Louisiana border, is considered one of the most haunted places in Texas, and for good reason. A northerner named George W. Smith and at least two of the four freed slaves traveling with him were murdered by a local mob following the end of the Civil War. Accounts vary, but local history has it that one of the freed slaves escaped and was pursued to an outbuilding on the Schluter property, where he was later hung. The Colonial-style mansion on the site was built in 1856 by one of the first six settlers in Jefferson, F.A. Schluter. Although privately owned, the home is a featured stop on the Historic Jefferson Ghost Walk.


For more information, visit: http://jeffersonghostwalk.com/