Heritage, Volume 10, Number 4, Fall 1992 Page: 16
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Raiford Stripling worked along with his mentor Samuel Vosper on the restoration of the Mission Espiritu Santo at Goliad. The pair were forced to reconstruct large
parts of the mission because the walls had been robbed of stone through the years.
Episcopal Church built in 1870 in San
During this early phase of his activities,
he restored a number of houses in the area,
including the three Greek Revival homes
built by the master builder Augustus
Phelps. Each of the Phelps buildings is an
architectural gem, constructed of hand
planed, heart pine lumber, and a tribute to
the craftsmen of that time. He restored
the 1839 home of Stephen W. Blount,
who was a signer of the Texas Declaration
of Independence, and he took great pride
in being the owner of the Blount house.
About then philanthropist Hugh Roy
Cullen asked Stripling to restore his
grandfather's home, the Judge Ezekiel
Cullen House, built in 1839. The last of
the Phelp's buildings was the Matthew
Cartwright House, also built in 1839, and
like the other two, in excellent condition.
From the historical viewpoint, the
Cartwright House is the most important
because it is the only domestic complex of
that era that has survived into modem
times. It includes the large two-story dwelling,
with tool shed, carriage house, kitchen,
well, storage shed, and privy.
While working on the San Augustine
houses the Daughters of the Republic of
Texas contacted him about the restoration
of the French Legation in Austin. This
project began in 1953 and would require 20
years of intermittent labor to complete.
There was considerable disagreement as to
where the kitchen and privy had stood, but
again Stripling's attention to detail answered
the questions. The French Charge
d'affaires Alphonse Saligny built the house
in 1841 with heart pine hauled from the
Lost Pines at Bastrop, and all of the iron
work was imported from England.
In 1963 Stripling began his greatest
project, the restoration of the counterpart
of Espiritu Santo, the Presidio La Bahia at
Goliad. His description of how he has
awarded the contract and how he went
about the restoration is a story in itself. He
was commissioned by Kathryn Stoner
O'Connor to restore the fortress to its 1836
condition. She set only one stipulation, and
that was it must be accurate, so future generations
would see what it was really like,
and he said it was a joy to be in her employment.
La Bahia was in very good condition
compared to Espiritu Santo. The structure
was much further from Goliad, across the
San Antonio River as well, making stone
robbing more difficult. Also, the Hispanic
community in the area had continued to
worship in the chapel and kept it repaired.
Utilizing almost every source of information
including the archaeological excavation,
local information, pictures, and archival
research, La Bahia was restored about
as accurately as possible. One fortunate aspect
of La Bahia was that it had been photographed
and drawn through the years,
especially by the late E.M. (Buck) Schiwetz
who grew up in nearby Cuero. Some of the
Schiwetz drawings were most useful in determining
the height of the walls and buildings.
The chapel of the Presidio was unique in
that it had a rare groin-vaulted ceiling in
16 HERITAGE * FALL 1992
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 10, Number 4, Fall 1992, periodical, Autumn 1992; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45421/m1/16/: accessed October 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.