Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992 Page: 15
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and her late husband Charles have been
Charles L. and Faith Bybee began actively
collecting examples of American
furniture during the 1930s and 1940s.
Charles was advancing in his career with
the Houston Bank and Trust Company,
and on business trips to New York, he and
his wife were able to see some of the finest
examples of Colonial American furniture
then on the market.
The Bybees shopped with and learned
from such fine dealers as Israel Sack &
Company and became friends with many
famous collectors from the Eastern states
such as Henry Francis DuPont and Electra
Webb.' DuPont was responsible for the extraordinary
collection of American furniture
at Winterthur, which now is a property
belonging to the National Trust, and one of
that organization's most prized possessions.
Electra Webb became famous for her vast
collection of folk art, which is preserved
and displayed at the Shelburne Museum.
Faith and Charles Bybee learned much
from this circle of friends, dealers, and
acquaintances, but they evolved on their
own as collectors of Texas furniture and
"I love creations that are primitive and
pure. They are inspirational. I can feel the
artist's feelings in simple and well-made
objects. A person must be able to relate to
an art object personally, or it is of no value,"
Mrs. Bybee said. "That is why I love Texas
furniture so much. It is from an era when
people put their best into things and their
work; you can feel that. You don't just buy
old things, you have to have a feel for the
history and period in which the object was
Mrs. Bybee's sunny home, where she has
lived for the past 22 years, is furnished entirely
in American antiques, including several
Texas pieces. Also included in her displays
were several fine pieces of American Indian
pottery from the turn-of-the-century.
The Bybee's efforts at restoration were
naturally directed toward Texas architecture
since Charles was a sixth generation
Texan, and both were aware of the pressing
need for Texans to preserve their pioneer
heritage. This concern led the Bybees to
become involved in many civic activities
during their long marriage. Mrs. Bybee has
been a member or officer of many Houston
area groups including the Blue Bird Circle
and The Harris County Heritage Society.
She played an active role in the society's
collection, restoration, and preservation of
important early Houston houses that now
stand in Sam Houston Park on the western
edge of the downtown area. -
During the 1960s, the Bybees purchased
a few acres in Round Top, Texas, a small
community in Fayette County. When circumstances
permitted, they would purchase
structures from the area that were about to
be destroyed or others that were in need of
saving and move them to their property.
These buildings were, and continue to be
restored by Faith Bybee.
To merely refer to the work on these
structures in Round Top as "restoration"
does not in any way fully explain the sheer
stored in Texas. Since that first restoration,
Mrs. Bybee's efforts at Henkel Square have
included the preservation of two houses
from different generations of the same family,
the Schulmann and Schulmann II
houses. One front room in the Schulmann
II house has in it a rare example of original
stencilling entirely covering the walls, giving
them a wallpapered appearance. A famous
collector from the East Coast made
overtures to acquire the room from Mrs.
Bybee at a high price, but' she was not
interested. According to Mrs. Bybee, "...it
doesn't really belong to me; it's Texas'
heritage, and it should stay in the state."
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magnitude of effort involved in preserving
and furnishing the 13 buildings in Henkel
Square or the quality of the materials used.
Hundreds of hours of work has been invested
in each of the buildings in the square.
The painted surfaces are of either original
or historically appropriate paint and colors,
which has been painstakingly applied
by workers from as far away as New York.
The stonework in the fireplaces and foundations
is authentic or recreated by master
craftsmen with hewn, not rough limestone.
The woodwork is authentic heart pine, or
in cases of exterior woodwork, the boards
are custom sawed full-dimensioned Texas
cedar grown locally and secured with
wrought nails authentic to the period. The
window frames have been handmade from
the same cedar wood.
The first restoration accomplished by
the Bybees at Henkel Square was a twostory
dog trot log house that the couple
purchased in 1961. The 1840s vintage home
was about to be torn down so that the logs
in the wall could be used as fence posts. The
couple bought the home, moved it approximately
two miles and began a project
that lasted almost 18 months. Today, the
house is magnificent; it is one of the first, if
not the first, two-story dog trot house re
The earlier Schulmann house is a single
pen log house with a shed addition in the
rear. This home is the earliest structure in
Henkel Square, and the home's "cat chimney,"
made from mud, has been recreated.
The house's history states that Catholic
services were held in the shed room at the
back of the structure.
Other buildings at Henkel Square include
a one-room school and church, moved
to Round Top from Haw Creek; the original
Henkel home and drugstore; other
beautiful examples of 19th century Texas
houses; and a late 19th century board and
As impressive as Henkel Square is, it is
important to note that Faith Bybee has not
restricted her preservation efforts to only
that project. In addition, she has purchased
and restored more than 30 other
buildings in the immediate area of Round
These herculean efforts have not been
for profit, either. Publicity for Henkel
Square, which is open to the public for a
small fee, has been low-key, and when
questioned about this, Mrs. Bybee explains
that "Henkel Square is for the people of
Texas, not for me. I have received much
joy, pleasure, and satisfaction in being able
HERITAGE * WINTER 1992 15
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 1, Winter 1992, periodical, Winter 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45418/m1/15/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.