W.Y Penn Home, Historical Marker Georgetown, Texas

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Latitude: 30.632127 - Longitude: -97.674119

Address: 1304 S Elm St

Thanks to "Focus on Georgetown"
for this slice of history
story by Ellen Davis

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Marker Text

This house was erected in 1895 for William Y. Penn (1860-1951), a local merchant who also served as a city alderman and mayor. Like several other Victorian homes here, it was built by C. S. Belford Lumber Co. In 1907 the structure became the residence of the presiding elder of the Georgetown District of the Methodist Church. It was sold in 1945 to druggist M. C. Hodges (1889-1965) and in 1966 to Dr. Van C. Tipton. In 1973 it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert V. Allen. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1975.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - RTHL Medallion

W. Y. Penn Home - This house was erected in 1895 for William Y. Penn (1860-1951), a local merchant who also served as a city alderman and mayor. Like several other Victorian homes here, it was built by C. S. Belford Lumber Co. In 1907 the structure became the residence of the presiding elder of the Georgetown District of the Methodist Church and member of the Masonic Lodge. It was sold in 1945 to druggist M. C. Hodges (1889-1965) and in 1966 to Dr. Van C. Tipton. In 1973 it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert V. Allen. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1975.

THE W. Y. PENN HOME Historical Narrative by Clara Scarbrough

The land upon which the Penn Home stands has been owned by the following persons, as indicated by Abstract of Title No. 45409 of Williamson County:


1. On Aug. 19, 1844, Clement Stubblefield was granted by the Republic of Texas one-third league (1476 acres) of land as his headright "as a collinest or settler by Emigration to this Repub­lic." Stubblefield had come to Texas from his native Tennessee in February 1836 and was living in Jasper Municipality (later County) when Sam Houston signed the grant of land to him. The land was located in Milam Municipality--the section later to become Williamson County and, more specifically, a portion of George­town. The grant of 1844 was filed on Sept. 29, 1851. (Deeds Vol. 2, 366)

2. On Oct. 10, 1848, Clement Stubblefield's sale of 1476 acres to Thomas B. Huling (a land speculator operating throughout Texas) for $150 was recorded. (Williamson County Deeds Vol. 1, 20-22) This transaction was also recorded in Jasper County. Neither Clement Stubblefield nor Thomas B. Huling is known ever to have lived in Williamson County.

3. On April 12, 1850, Thomas B. Huling's transfer of the same property was filed, the sale having been made the same month. George Washington Glasscock, Sr., was the grantee. He had become a partner of Huling's inland development and speculation, and beginning in 1848 when Williamson County was formed, had sold considerable acreage in that area. In the Huling to Glasscock deal, Huling transferred all the land which he had owned and which Glasscock had already sold, prior to Huling's revoking of Glasscock's power of attorney, in the aforementioned tract to Glasscock. The unsold portion of the tract was to be divided--half of that south of the South San Gabriel River at Georgetown to go to Glasscock, the other half and all other portions of the tract to remain the property of Huling. (Deeds Vol. 1, 372.)

4. On April 27, 1855, G. W. Glasscock sold to Mary Williams 25 acres of land from the tract for $50. (Deeds, Vol. 6, 51) Marriage records for Williamson County (Vol. 1, 155) reveal that Mary Williams was married to Wm. E. Bouchelle on Sept. 7, 1856.

G. W. Glasscock, likewise a land speculator, through his partnership with Ruling, a state legislator, knew of the pending formation of Williamson County in 1848, and Glasscock had persuaded the new county's temporary commissioners to select the site of Georgetown for the county seat. Glasscock and Ruling owned the land on this site and offered to give it with the stipulation that it become the county seat and be named Georgetown for George Washington Glasscock, one of the donors. Tile offer was accepted, and the town was so-named. Glasscock had purchased considerably more land in the area or had traded for it through his services as a surveyor, and it was some of this land that Mary Williams and her future husband would own after 1855.

Glasscock lived at Georgetown from 1848, venturing in a number of businesses, especially real estate and milling, and in 1853 moved to Travis County. He served as representative from Travis and Williamson counties in the State Legislature the tenth and eleventh terms and died in 1868, the result of injuries sustained when he fell from a mule he was riding at his Webberville farm. He had ten children, a number of whom remained in Williamson County, and numerous descendants still lived there in 1974. William E. Bouchelle, in the mid-1850s, described several of the early roads and trails through Williamson County, including the Double File Trail and the roads from Kenney Fort (Brushy Creek) to Coleman Fort and to Austin. This early description is extant. [Land of Good, Water, pages 124-127, 149-150]

5. On March 2, 1857, the tract of land in question again changed hands (filed Dec. 29, 1857, in volume 7, page 282, Deed Records). William E. Bouchelle and Mary Bouchelle sold ten acres of their land to Thomas P. Hughes of Georgetown for $125.00, and, at the same time, Hughes also purchased an adjacent tract from G. W. Glasscock, the latter transaction dated Feb. 16, 1857, and recorded in volume 7, page 59 of Williamson County Deeds, and was for $221.87 for 17 acres.

Thomas P. Hughes came to Georgetown early in 1851 to set up a law practice. He became active in business and civic and political affairs of the town and community. Descendants of his still live in Georgetown in 1974. He practiced law, was a delegate for his county to the secession convention in Austin beginning of the Civil War, and, about 1880, Sam Houston's second youngest son, William Rogers Houston, read law in his office. The tract of land which he purchased is now a residen­tial section of Georgetown, but at that time, it was south of the town and was referred to as Judge Hughes' farm. Hughes engaged in the cattle business during the 1870s, advertising his cattle brand in the local newspaper. A map in the abstract delineating Hughes' property shows that it included "Block B" in Georgetown, the same block later housing the Penn home.

Block B was at that time bordered by Elm Street, Magnolia Street, Myrtle Street, and Palmetto Street. The names Myrtle and Elm are still in use, but the other two have become numbered streets. This section was a part of the Hughes "farm," and on another part, a short distance to the northwest, in 1860, Judge Hughes began "improvements" on three acres of his seventeen-acre farm. His improvements included a stone home fronting on University Avenue on the north and near Church Street, which ran to the west, but labor was difficult to obtain during the Civil War, and the home was not completed until afterward. His family moved into the large two-story residence, and members of the family lived in it until it was torn down after the death of the second Mrs. Hughes in 1922. Thomas P. (Proctor) Hughes married, and he and his wife, Sue, had three children, John D. Hughes, Mattie R. Hughes (married C. C. Cody), and Louetta Hughes (married A. A. Booty). Mrs. Sue Hughes died about 1871; Judge Hughes re­married in 1877.

One child by him and his second wife, Mrs. Jennie Hughes, was Thomas P. Hughes, Jr., their only offspring. Thomas P. Hughes, Sr., died December 31, 1899, and his widow, Mrs. Jennie Hughes, died April 29, 1922. After her death, the old home was torn down, and the property was divided among their heirs. [Genealogical information from the Abstract; other information from Land of Good Water, pages 156-157, 184, 194, 211, 231, 242, 247] Judge Hughes was also on the board which formed the Georgetown Railroad Company and built a tap line to Round Rock to intersect the county's first railroad, the International and Great Northern, there, in 1878. He was also an early and staunch supporter of Southwestern University, which was moved to Georgetown in 1873. [Ibid.]

6. Block B remained unsold by T. P. Hughes until Dec. 31, 1894, when he conveyed it to his daughter, Mrs. Lou Ella (sic in the abstract) Booty (filed Feb. 26, 1895, volume 71, p. 593). The transaction for Block B, which was 240 feet square, was for $1400.

7. On June 13, 1895, A. A. Booty and Mrs. Louetta Booty sold the north half of Block B to W. Y. Penn for $700 (filed Mar. 26, 1896, volume 75, p. 528). Their new lot was 240 feet by 120 feet in size. "Immediately after purchase • • • W. Y. Penn. . . enclosed same by a good and substantial fence and erected a two-story residence and other improvements" and occupied the house as his home. This is the home now being considered for a medallion. [The following history of W. Y. Penn was furnished by his niece, Mrs. Tom E. Johnson, Rt. 7, Box 928, Austin, Texas, in a Feb. 1974 letter to Mrs. Estha Scoggins of Georgetown, and in another letter dated March 1, 1974, to Mrs. Clara Scarbrough of Georgetown, and from a newspaper story from the Williamson County Sun of Georgetown dated Dec. 7, 1950, J. William Y. Penn was born in San Felipe, Texas, Nov. 12, 1860, received early education in a rural school there and, with his brother, worked a small farm which their father had pro­vided.

As William Penn was plowing the land preparatory to planting a corn crop in February 1877, his father's brother arrived for a visit. The father purchased half interest in his brother's book store in Austin, and informed his son, William Y., that he was to return to Austin with his uncle to learn the business, leaving at once. The next morning, the young teenager was in Austin clerking in the book store. In a short time, his father, Robert Rives Penn, had disposed of his Austin County interests and moved to Austin. In 1880, he sold his interest in the book store there and moved his family to Georgetown in July of that year. There the son, William Y. Penn, immediately opened a book store, where he also offered cigars and confections. In 1887 he sold the cigar and confection rights to Carl Burkhart and bought the jewelry business of W. D. Pfaeffle, combining it with his books. In an interview of later years, Mr. Penn recalled that "November of 1887 was an eventful time, namely election day; a circus was in town and in the evening of that day he became the `husband of the charming Lizzie Robertson. He was one of Georgetown's early City Aldermen and Mayor, serving one year as Alderman and two terms as Mayor. He was a member of the First Methodist Church of Georgetown, was on the official board for twenty years, was Past Master of San Gabriel Lodge No. 89 A. F. and A. M., and a Past Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias.

Files of the Georgetown newspaper The Williamson County Sun, for 1894 and 1895 reveal bits of information about Penn. On October 11, 1894, he advertised "spectacles to fit any eyes" and also offered a patented adjustable aluminum frame for glasses. These advertisements continued through November. On November 29, 1894, the paper announced that W. Y. Penn was closing his "Bargain Store" (apparently a dry goods store) on January 1 "on account of having to give up the house I now occupy." He continued, how­ever, with his optical advertising well into 1895. The March 28, 1895 issue noted that Penn & Stone were advertising real estate "in south end addition," and we're also offering loans and insurance. In August 1895, the paper carried a story about building in the town, noting that during the previous 12 months, new buildings had included a 3 story public school and 31 other buildings, mostly in the "Southern part of the town." These 31 included the "Southside" residences of W. Y. Penn and his neighbor, J. A. McDougle, who built similar imposing Victorian homes, as well as about a dozen more in this new development. Penn continued to advertise eyeglasses and his jewelry store through 1895 and through December 31, 1896. His business, political, and civic interests heretofore men­tioned, suggest that he was a substantial and respected citizen of the town.

8. On January 1, 1907, W. Y. Penn and his wife, Lizzie, conveyed the north half of Block B, on which stood the Penn home, to the Georgetown District of the North West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South for $4500. The deed was filed in Williamson County on Jan. 15, 1907, volume 123, p. 3. W. Y. Penn moved to San Antonio that year and died there on April 15, 1951, is buried in the Penn Family lot in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, Georgetown, with his father, mother, and one sister.

His wife, Lizzie Robertson, who had lost an (earlier) baby by her first earlier marriage, is buried in the Robertson lot by her first baby, also in the same cemetery. Her first husband "must have died very young because she was quite young when she married Uncle Will in 1887," writes their niece, Mrs. Elizabeth (Tom E.) Johnson.

The Penn home, beginning in 1907, was occupied by the Presiding Elder or the District Superintendent, of the Methodist Church. On March 4, 1927, a paving ordinance) passed by the City of Georgetown, included the block on Elm Street on which the Penn home or Methodist District Superintendent's parsonage stood. *(See page 10-a for the list.)

9. On July 28, 1945, John C. Kuhlman, acting for the trustees of the Georgetown District of the Central Texas Conference of the Methodist Church, to which jurisdiction the George­town church had been changed, sold to M. C. Hodges the north half of Block B for $7,750. The church trustees had decided that they did not desire "to repair and improve" - the horns as the district parsonage.

Marvin C. Hodges was a druggist in Georgetown, and owned and operated the Hodges Drug Store for many years. His wife, Melvola Hodges, was a school teacher. Mr. Hodges died on April 4, 1965, at the age of 76. (1889-1965)

10. Mrs. Melvola (Marvin C.) Hodges continued to live in the "Penn Home" after his death. On December 15, 1966 (Vol. 492, p. 414), Melvola Hodges sold to Dr. Van C. Tipton and his wife, Ann Estelle, after which Dr. and Mrs. Tipton lived in the home. Dr. Tipton is a physician, now retired. Mrs. Hodges and both of the Tiptons are all living as of this writing in 1975.

11. Robert Vernon Allen and his wife, Joanne Oesterreich Allen, purchased the Penn House in February 1973 and have lived there since that time. Mr. Allen is employed by the Gulf Telephone Corporation.

The following is a list of the Methodist ministers who lived in the Penn House from 1907 until 1945, during which time it was owned by the Methodist Church and used as the parsonage for the District Superintendents, earlier known as Presiding Elders:

B. R. Bolton (1906-08) (date indicates years served in this

W. H. Vaughan (1909-11) office)

W. H. Armstrong (1912-16)

W. B. Andrews (1917-18)

John M. Barcus (1921-23)

Sam G. Thompson (1924-26)

D. K. Porter (1927-30)

T. Edgar Neal (1931-32)

John W. Bergin (1933-34)

Gaston Hartsfield (1935)

John N. Rentfro (1936-37)

Ed R. Barcus (1938-43)

R. C. Edwards (1944-49)

Residents of the J. A. McDougle Home, located in the same block as the Penn Home, were Dr. and Mrs. John R. Allen between 1901 and 1910. Allen, a Methodist minister, with his wife, served as directors of the Ladies' Annex at Southwestern University for many years. Sometime during the Aliens' residence in the McDougle Home) he made a trip to the Holy Land and brought back olive trees from there. They were planted in his lawn, and two trees that came from them still stand on the adjacent Penn property. The trees bear pro­lifically and seed the area around them.

William Y. Penn had his home-built "immediately after purchase" of the lot, that date being June 13, 1895. The two-story residence, a "good and substantial fence," and other improvements are mentioned on pages 68-69, Abstract of Title # 45409, Williamson County.

As noted previously, W. Y. Penn was involved in a number of businesses in Georgetown, including a real estate venture in the south of town where he built his home. He was also no doubt, a man of means, judging from his business history, and wished a suitable residence for himself and his family. He could also have felt that erecting a substantial and attractive home on the property might promote sales for similar home sites within his addition.

The personal history of the various owners has been noted previously.

C. S. Belford Lumber Company of Georgetown, a large and well-known firm in Georgetown during that period, contracted to build the Penn Home. The Belford Company is credited with erecting many of the finest old homes and other substantial buildings in Georgetown. The company was active for more than half a century.

It is noteworthy that the Penn Home is one of three homes built the same year by Belford Lumber Company, adjacent to each other, of quite similar (but not identical) plans, and all three intact and in good condition in 1975. They, along with two other homes and an early and historic church (already marked r, comprise a district worthy of consideration by the National Register. One of the other homes is applying for a marker at this same time--the J. A. McDougle Home.

*First United Methodist Church of Georgetown.

The Penn House, erected in 1895, contained eight main rooms including the butler's pantry, plus small closets, bath, a large corridor or hallway both upstairs and down, and three porches downstairs, plus one upstairs porch. There were three fireplaces with mantels downstairs, and three upstairs, she all with different style mantels, one of the marble, the others tile with wood trim. The downstairs back porch had a cistern underneath, and the northeast front porch had a rounded extension on the corner, covered with a rounded roof with a turret.

The porch ceilings and the kitchen were finished with beaded wood paneling outside trim is in the Victorian style and includes carved pieces decorating the eaves, the porches, the doors, and window frames. The windows were shuttered outdoors. Stained glass was used in the front and back doors, in one window in each of the living and dining rooms, in a window of a downstairs room leading to the back porch, and in three attic windows both the living and dining rooms are hexagonal in shape.

An outbuilding was originally a servant's room, with a fireplace.

One stairway leads upstairs with two landings; at the second landing, the stair divides, with separate steps leading both to the east and to the west rooms. Although the home is quite similar in appearance, construction, and floor plan to the McDougle House, built adjacent to the south also in 1895, the split stairway arrangement is unique to the Penn House.

Cypress siding was used, as well as other fine materials already mentioned, many of them unobtainable now, such as the beading, stained glass, and Victorian trim.

Alterations and/or additions to the home have been minimal and have not changed the basic structure nor its appearance.

They are:

The Hodges family enclosed the back porch, making it into a room, but retained the original beaded walls inside. The cistern, which was located on this porch, is concealed underneath the floor. The Hodges added two bathrooms upstairs.

They also installed a dumb waiter leading to what was formerly a sleeping porch or bedroom, which the Hodges converted into a recreational room. Mr. and Mrs. Hodges renovated the kitchen, adding cabinet, and storage space.

Dr. and Mrs. Tipton enclosed the downstairs south porch. They moved the servant's room farther away from the main house, added a carport to it, and attached it to the main house by a breezeway.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen have made no structural changes in the house, but have reroofed and repainted it, and repaired the shutters and screens. In addition, Mrs. Allen has obtained sufficient beaded paneling to use inside the "servant's room" and plans to restore it with this finish and make it into a playroom.

The home is sound and in good condition. The family living in it appreciate its historic and architectural significance and plan to continue their care of it. It is an attractive, spacious, and livable home, as well.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, bought the home in 1907, located just a block from First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Georgetown. From 1907 until 1945, (by which time the church's name had been changed to First Methodist Church) the Penn House was the parsonage for the District Superintendent.

The place has been home to several leading citizens of the community, and to thirteen Methodist ministers and their families, all of these families deeply involved in the life of the community.

The present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, wish to commemorate the structure because of its distinctive architecture and materials, because of its added significance in the community due to its location near the First Methodist Church and its ties with the church's history, and because they feel that the home is worthy of preservation.


Abstract of Title No. 45409, Williamson County.
Deed Records cited in foregoing history.

Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water (Takachue Pouetsu). A Williamson County. Texas. History.

Mrs. Tom E. Johnson, Rt. 7, Box 928, Austin, letters of Feb. 1974 and March 1, 1974.
Williamson County Sun (Georgetown), Dec. 7, 1950; also files for 1894 and 1895, specific dates cited in foregoing.

Files of First United Methodist Church, Georgetown, listing District Superintendents.
Interviews with Mrs. Marvin C. (Melvola) Hodges, Dr. and Mrs. Van C. Tipton, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert V. Allen, 1974-75.