Heritage, Summer 2004 Page: 17
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Opposite page: The headquarters
of T Anchor Ranch, built
near Canyon in 1878, is typical
of log structures built on ranches.
This page, left, is the house
constructed in 1887 by Charles
and Mary Ann Dyer Goodnight
on their ranch near Goodnight,
Texas, in Armstrong County.
Below: numbers reportedly
found on parts of this house during
its restoration and renovation
suggest it is a kit house.
Images from Bill Green.
included stone, log, sod, picket, and a few lumber structures,
as did the Methodist colony of Clarendon established in
1878 in Donley County.
Hispanic pastores who drove their sheep into the
Panhandle after the Red River War, constructed rustic
stone, adobe, and jacal buildings at a number of sites called
plazas along the Canadian River. The largest of these settlements,
Tascosa, consisted mostly of adobe buildings and
attracted a number of Anglos who operated businesses that
catered to cowboys from surrounding ranches.
Many ranchers drove cattle into the region after the Red
River War, but none established a permanent operation until
late 1876 when Charles Goodnight began the JA Ranch in
Palo Duro Canyon. Goodnight and his wife Mary Ann Dyer
reputedly lived in a dug-out until constructing a two-room
house of juniper logs (it later burned). During 1878,
Goodnight built the first unit of the present JA headquarters
of logs. Other ranchers soon established large ranches in the
Panhandle and, like their predecessors, they built various
structures of indigenous materials.
The completion of the first railroads in the Texas
Panhandle during 1887 greatly affected the region's architecture.
The Fort Worth and Denver City Railway built a line
from the southeast to the northwest corner of the Texas
Panhandle. About the same time, the Atchison, Topeka &
Santa Fe laid rails from the northeast corner of the
Panhandle southwest to a point on the Fort Worth and
Denver City route just east of Amarillo. As a result, lumber
and other building materials became easier and much cheaper
to obtain. Also, it was then possible to import brick and
stone, as well as larger windows. This allowed carpenters and
masons the opportunity to build bigger and more elaborate
structures in the Panhandle. Structures built of lumber, brick,
and stone soon replaced many primitive buildings that had
been constructed earlier.
Owners and/or their builders planned most of the houses
that were constructed in the Texas Panhandle prior to 1900.
After that time, an increasing number of wealthier residents
began hiring architects to design their homes. Most people,
however, probably used architect-designed plans that could be
ordered from catalogs. Pre-cut or "kit houses" also became
popular by the early 1900s. Several firms, including Sears,
Roebuck & Company, issued catalogs showing these kit houses.
Shipped by rail and hauled by wagons to their construction
sites, these kits included plans and all other supplies, from
lumber and roofing materials to hardware and paint, that were
necessary to complete the houses.
Examples or evidence of all these building types survive in
many Panhandle locations today, and they help modem-day
historians chronicle just how Euro-Americans lived in the
region from the mid-1800s to the present. *
William Green, Ph.D., is the curator of history at the PanhandlePlains
Historical Museum in Canyon.
HERITAGE USUMMER 2004
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2004, periodical, Summer 2004; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45373/m1/17/: accessed May 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.