Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Berclair Mansion

It's located in Berclair, Tx (between Goliad and Beeville, South Texas) and was built in 1936 by a woman who vowed it would never burn down (as a previous house had.) The only wood in it is the doors, furniture and flooring laid over concrete. Steel, concrete and brick were her construction materials.

While this 22-room, six bathroom house was being built, she and her four sisters slipped off to Europe and spent some two years buying furnishings for it. Each sister had her own bedroom/sitting room finished to her own taste.

The servants believed the place to be haunted -- particularly the attic when an Army solder (deserter?) was said to be seen frequently. They refused to spend the night in it and had their own quarters out in back of the main house. It's now a weekends' only restaurant and is used for catered events such as weddings and family reunions.

After all five of the sisters went to their various rewards, the sole inheritor was a niece who hated the place -- every time she had to visit it, her allergies reacted and went off the charts. Her Last Will and Testament directed that all of the furniture be burned and the house itself destroyed. Happily the State of Texas stepped in. The house was left exactly as it was when the last sister died -- dust covers on the beautiful furnishings -- for more than 30 years!

The sidewalks were laid by inmates from one of the Beeville prisons. Every morning, when they arrived, an old lady up in one of the rooms of the second floor would wave down to them and smile. When they'd finished the job, they told the ladies who had fixed their daily lunches, to please thank the friendly old lady who had greeted them so cheerfully every morning. The house was completely unoccupied at this time...

My cousin, Susan Dirks, is on the historical society board and is primarily responsible for most of what you will see on the next blog.

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