609 Griner, Del Rio Texas 78840
Southwest Texas Junior College
207 Wildcat, Del Rio, Texas 78840
In 1995 Alberto and Laura Galvan bought the house at 609 Griner Street in Del Rio, Texas and converted it into The 1890 House, a bed-and-breakfast.1 The house is quite old for this part of the state and appears to have had only three previous owners.
As with many of the properties near Val Verde County’s San Felipe Creek, the first recorded owners of the property were the James Mitchell heirs. Neither James Mitchell nor his heirs are recorded to have ever lived or developed the land. The lot as 609 Griner was included in the James Mitchell Survey #183 and was part of the level land west of the creek. Mitchell participated in the battle of San Jacinto in 1836 but died before gaining title to the land. "The Grant was patented in the name of his son and heir, James D. Mitchell. He sold the Grant to A. Coleman August 3, 1850 and the same day A. Coleman sold the Grant to John Twohig of San Antonio. In 1854 Twohig sold one-half of and undivided interest in this property (along with the same interest in other properties) to Augustin Toutant Beauregard, and older brother of General Pierre Toutant Beauregard C.S.A. These two men held the land until June 12, 1868 when they sold Survey #183 to James H. Taylor, William C. Adams, John P. Grove and Donald Jackson, each with an undivided interest."2 The land was bought for the San Felipe Agricultural, Manufacturing and Irrigation Company, which built the canal system of Del Rio including the Madre Canal which forms the south boundary of the property.3
In the heyday of land speculation in the 1870s and 1880s, the land on which the house sits was owned by several individuals. Owners included W.C. Adams, who was a founding member of the Irrigation Company—this being part of his share of the Company land. Adams sold the land to William H. Pulliam, who sold it to Jerome and Nancy Strickland, who then sold it to Harry Johnson.4 Each of these landowners was buying and selling lots and groups of lots constantly; however, no evidence suggests that any of these people ever lived on or developed this parcel of land.
Ownership of this particular parcel of land passed to James Alvin Price in 1891. Johnson, having left Del Rio and moved to Lower California, Mexico, sold this tract of land along with several others for $500 cash and five $1,000 promissory notes, the first one due April 1, 1892 and the rest following at one year intervals. The Prices did not live on that particular lot but immediately south of it across the Madre Canal.5
James Alvin Price, born January 1, 1825 in Pulaski County, Kentucky, brought his family to Del Rio in 1882.6 He was active in the lumber business and land speculation, owning several parcels of land in town.7 He represented the Mason and Black Company which sold over $1,000 worth of lumber in 1884 to build the Ice Factory, one of Del Rio’s earliest and most important landmarks.8 "Originally, it manufactured ice, a valuable commodity in Southwest Texas, in fifty pound blocks…. The ice plant was also a grist mill, grinding grain from local farmers and from Mexico, and later, a power generating plant. Coal, for fuel, was brought in from Eagle Pass by the railroad to Del Rio and then by wagon to the plant to generate electricity."9 By 1885 Price owned his own lumber yard.10 After selling one lumber yard by 1900, he still owned another, centrally located near the railroad between Garfield and Broadway, where he sold not only lumber but hardware, wagons, farm machinery as well as land—residential and commercial lots.11
Price was appointed to the position of School Trustee, District No. 1, on June 11, 1885 (along with Harry Johnson) by the County Commissioners Court, and he was elected as one of the first group of five trustees of the Del Rio Independent School District on July 29, 1890.12 He was also Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of the San Felipe Agricultural, Manufacturing and Irrigation Company.13 He died September 14, 1904 leaving his widow, Elizabeth Arsenith (Bessie Throop) Price, sole inheritor of an estate worth $18,520. 14
Mrs. Price, born January 16, 1844, was active in the First Presbyterian Church and was a charter member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a sister organization to the Masons.15 In 1906 Mrs. Price gave the property as a present to her daughter, Belle Josephine Woods.16
Mrs. Woods, known in her early years as "Josie" Price, was born on July 15, 1875 in Houston, Texas.17 She married Washington Green Lee Woods on September 9, 1896.18 Mr. Woods came to Del Rio in 1889 with his father and brother to open the first bank in Del Rio, John Woods and Sons, located on the northeast corner of Martin Street and Main Street, two blocks from the railroad tracks. The firm also bought and sold real estate.19 John Woods was president of the Del Rio School Board for a time.20 The Woods left Del Rio in 1896, moving to San Antonio and establishing the firm of Woods National Bank, but continued to advertise banking services in Del Rio.21 The bank building in Del Rio was then converted to the Frank’s Hotel which operated until it was closed and torn down during the Second World War.22
Lee Woods returned to Del Rio in 1906 to manage the lumber yard for Mrs. Price and was active in the community as an accountant and banker.23 During the 1930s he operated a news stand at 402 South Main Street.24 Mr. Woods was also Superintendent of Sunday School at the First Methodist Church, the first Del Rioan to attend the University of Texas, a member and president of the Ex-Students Association of the University of Texas, District Clerk, and, until a few weeks before his death, Justice-of-the-Peace of Precinct 1 of Val Verde County.25
The house was constructed on a site that had been part of the Prices’ orchard, next to the San Felipe A.M. and I. Company’s Madre Canal.26 The house was built in 1907 at a cost of $2,800 and was used for social gatherings at that time. A photograph of the house was published in 1908.27 Mrs. Woods, her mother Bessie, and her sister Adrienne Price were all members of the New Century Club, a women’s study group, which met in members’ homes. Miss Price lived in the home with her sister’s family, collected books, began a library in the 1940s and was Librarian and Executive Board Member.28 Mrs. Woods was a fouding member of the Musical and Literary Society and has been described as its capable first president.29 Bessie Price died March 12, 1920, but even then was referred to as owner of this property in land transactions concerning neighboring parcels at that time.30
The Woods sold parts of the lot on three different occasions. To F.C. Rockwell in 1930 was sold a parcel 165 feet deep with fifty feet along Griner Street. In 1936 a second parcel, consisting of the western half of the lot, was sold to Dr. R.N. Graham. W.G. Lee Woods died on August 6, 1947, but Mrs. Woods continued to occupy the home. Mrs. Woods, "a widow," sold the third parcel, a seventeen by fifty foot brock sandwiched between the two, to Vernon Call in 1952.31 These sales resulted in the lot as it exists today. Belle Josephine Woods died Jan. 17, 1962. Before her death, she had been a source of information on the early days of Del Rio.32 She and her husband had raised eight children in their home—four of their own and four Gordon children of her deceased older sister, Annie Virginia Gordon.33 The two Woods daughters, Marjorie and Bessie were both married in the house by Rev. L.C. Beasley, pastor of the First Methodist Church.34 The property was inherited by five heirs: son John Price Woods, grandson William Sterling Woods, nephew John A. Gordon, nephew George Douglas Gordon, and niece Adrienne Gordon Gooch "joined by her husband, J.A. Gooch." Mrs. Woods outlived all but one of her children, son John.35
The plans for the home were drawn by Mrs. Woods and built by a contractor named R.E.L. Bush.36 Architecturally, the house represents a unique mixture of Folk Victorian, Neoclassical and Colonial Revival styles. Few houses were built in Del Rio during this period have three stories; the Price lumber yard made this construction possible. Construction included 2x6 wall studs and two layers of wood on the exterior, a 1x10 fir shiplap diagonal under 1x4 fir exterior siding. The full-width porch is typical of the Folk Victorian style, but the front façade is done in the Neoclassical style. The porch supports are square columns two stories in height with decorative turned-wood balusters. The roof has a classical Colonial Revival pitch with side gables and triple gabled dormers with broken pediments. In front of the dormers the pitch of the roof appears almost flat; giving the impression of a third story balcony. The interior finishes include 1x10 fir shiplap diagonal under 1x4 fir horizontal interior siding with ten foot ceilings throughout. The floors are mostly the original 1x4 tongue-and-groove fir; though some places have been repaired with oak. Two wood-burning fireplaces originally heated the house: one in the first-floor living room and running through the master bedroom above, the other in the dining room and running through two bedrooms on the second floor although those two were bricked in before the Galvans bought the home. The first and second floors are connected by two stairways: the main stairway facing the front door, and a second, back stairway leading form the kitchen.37
The Woods heirs sold the house and property to Jesus Turullols for $10,000 in 1962.38 For some years Turullols had admired the house and the grounds, but after a year of disuse, both were in need of a great amount of work. Dr. Turullols hired a contractor named Binder to raise the sinking floor, reinforce the beams, and put a new roof on the house. New railings were put on the front porch, the kitchen was remodeled for modern appliances, and two new bathrooms were installed on the second floor. (Previously, the house only had one bathroom, downstairs.) He added central air and a parking lot in the front. Informally calling it the "White House," Dr. Turullols then set up his medical practice on the first in the home while he lived on the second. Nevertheless, the bulk of the house was kept as it was originally constructed.39 When he retired and moved to San Antonio, he rented the house to a Laughlin A.F.B. family and, later, to a youth center. He sold it once, but the check bounced, so he retained ownership and used the house as a vacation home. The size and costs of maintenance and upkeep prevented him from finding a buyer until the Galvans came along with their business plans.40
The Galvans added three rooms on the north side of the house. On the first floor they added a studio, but more importantly on the second floor they added two bathrooms which were necessary for each of the northside bedrooms of the bed-and-breakfast. The Galvans also pulled out the wall-to-wall carpets, restored and refinished the hardwood floors, and placed period molding along the tops of the walls. The name for the bed-and-breakfast was taken from the pamphlet published by Val Verde County Historical Commission "A Guide To Historic Del Rio," which contains a walking tour itinerary of historic downtown Del Rio and states that the house was built "approximately 1890." Consequently, the Galvans named the home "The 1890 House" and continue to serve residents and visitors to Del Rio.
1 Val Verde County Deed Records, Vol. 613, pages 355-356.
2 Cynthia V. and Hayden A. Glatte, "History of the Mason-Foster House," 1979, page 1.
3 Kinney County Deed Records, Book A1, pages 138-139, Val Verde County Tax Rolls, 1885-1910, Reel.
4 Kinney County Deed Records, Book Al, page 282; Val Verde County Deed Records of Kinney County, Book 2, pages 113-115.
5 Val Verde County Deed Records, Vol. 4, pages 346-348; Letter from John Price Woods to Marie Endress, November 18, 1996.
6 Axcie C. Seale, "The Writings and Collected Papers of Mrs. Axcie C. Seale," (Texas State Historical Survey Committee Member), page 309.
7 Letter from John Price Woods to Laura Galvan, January 1998; H. Muenzenberger, Del Rio, Val Verde County, Texas, 1900. This second item is a small booklet reproduced in Whitehead Museum, La Hacienda: An Official Bicentennial Publication, page 309.
8 Val Verde County Deed Records from Kinney County, Vol. 1, pages 292-295.
9 Doug Braudaway, The History of Val Verde County, Texas, unpublished manuscript.
10 Whitehead Museum, La Hacienda, pages 247,311; Val Verde County Herald, January 6, 1905.
11 Del Rio Record, July 21, 1887; Del Rio Weekly News, November 4, 1905.
12 George O. Perkins, "The Early History of Val Verde County," Sul Ross State University Master's Thesis, January 1954, pages 86, 88.
13 H. Muenzenberger, Del Rio, Val Verde County, Texas, 1900 in La Hacienda, page 345.
14 Billie Ruth Coleman adn the Val Verde Genealogical Society of Texas, Val Verde Cemeteries 1879-1989, 1993; Val Verde County Probate Records, Vol. II, pages 239-245, 252-253. The inheritance included lots valued at $1500, $1600, $100, $2000, $250, $1200; four contiguous lots valued $3200; this property--"Part of Block 1, Range 1, North Del Rio, valued at [$]1200,"; and farmland valued at $2565. The lumber by far was most valuable: "Stock of lumber on hand in Lumber Yard in the Town of Del Rio, Texas 5000.00." Early Del Rio had plenty of land, but very few trees; lumber was far more valuable than land, a fact recognized by Mr. Price. "Architect Wright of Del Rio was in Brackett on lumber business and claimed that it was impossible to get lumber in Del Rio, and as a result, many people have had to live in tents. George O. Perkins, "The Early History of Val Verde County," Sul Ross State University Master's Thesis, January 1954, page 108.
15 Letter from John Price Woods to Laura Galvan, January 1998; "Miss Adrienne Price, Native of City, Dies," Del Rio News-Herald, January 15, 1962, page 1.
16 Val Verde County Deed Records, Vol. 13, pages 474-475; Letter from Mrs. J.A. Gooch to Doug Braudaway, January 1988.
17 "Mrs. Lee Woods Dies," Del Rio News-Herald, Jan. 18, 1962, page 1. Interestingly, Mrs. Woods died three days after the death and one day after the funeral of her sister Adrienne Price who had been living in the Woods home. "Miss Adrienne Price, Native of City, Dies," Del Rio News-Herald, January 15, 1962, page 1; "Funeral Services For Miss Price To Be Held Wednesday," Del Rio News-Herald, Jan. 16, page 1.
18 Val Verde County Marraige Records, Vol. 1, page 196.
19 Whitehead Museum, La Hacienda, page 314; "W.G. Lee Woods, 81, Claimed by Death," Del Rio News-Herald, August 7, 1947, page 1; Axcie C. Seale, "The Writings and Collected Papers of Mrs. Axcie C. Seale," page 70. The location is taken from a hand-drawn map of Main Street in file at the Whitehead Museum in the "Buildings" file.
20 Del Rio Record, April 5, 1890; Del Rio Record, Jan. 9, 1892.
21 Lee Woods' parents were John and Mary Woods of Hallettsville. John Woods was a member of the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate and was Speaker pro tempore at the dedication of the state capitol. "W.G. Lee Woods, 81, Claimed by Death," Del Rio News-Herald, August 7, 1947, page 1. Woods National Bank was located in the Hicks Building on Houston Street, and at the turn of the century, had assets worth $1.3 million. The Del Rio National Bank, founded in 1904 adn the second bank in Del Rio, only had assets of $50,000. Del Rio Weekly News, June 21, 1905.
22 Whitehead Museum, La Hacienda, page 314; photo at Whitehead Museum in "Book" box.
23 "W.G. Lee Woods, 81, Claimed by Death," Del Rio News-Herald, August 7, 1947, page 1; Val Verde County Probate Records, Vol. VI, pages 353-356; Forteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Val Verde County, Texas, Justice Precinct 1. He is also acting as a lawyer for his family; with the map of the Price Addition of Del Rio is this notice: "I Adrienne T. Price, through my Attorney in Fact W.G. Lee Woods, do hereby adopt said plat...of said "Price Addition" to the town of Del Rio." Val Verde County Map Records, Vol. 1, page 79. This land is immediately southwest of the Woods property and contiguous with property along Griner Street between the Madre Canal (adjacent with the Price-Woods House property) and Strickland Street. More Price family land was located further south nearer the Rio Grande. Val Verde County Map Records, Vol. 1, page 81. Lee Woods may have bought outright Mrs. Price's lumber yard; the exact relationship is unclear.
24 Letter from Mrs. J.A. Gooch to Doug Braudaway, January 1998; Del Rio City Directory, 1933-34.
25 "W.G. Lee Woods, 81, Claimed by Death," Del Rio News-Herald, August 7, 1947, page 1; Judge J.Q. Henry, "Val Verde County," Sheep and Goat Raisers' Magazine, February 1922, page 53.
26 Axcie C. Seale, "The Writings and Collected Papers of Mrs. Axcie C. Seale," page 152.
27 Letter from John Price Woods to Marie Endress, November 18, 1996; Val Verde County Tax Records, 1885-1910, Reel 2; "Minutes," New Century Club, September 9, September 16, September 20, October 2, 1907; "Yearbook," The New Century Club, Del Rio, Texas, 1908-1909. The home was referred as "L'Wood Hall." A copy of the photograph from the yearbook is attached. The Woods' recently born son, W.G.Lee Woods, Jr., whose photo also appears in the Yearbook, was named the mascot of the organization.
28 Lillie Newton, "Club News: New Century Club," Del Rio News-Herald, November 2, 1997, page 1B: Axcie C. Seale, "The History of Val Verde County," page 37.
29 Axcie C. Seale, "The Writings and Collected Papers of Mrs. Axcie C. Seale," page 151.
30 Val Verde County Deed Records, Vol. 45, pages 221-222; Val Verde County Probate Records, Vol. VI, pages 353-356. According to Bessie Price's will, she still owns a lumber yard at Main and Broadway, a block away form the Woods' family bank.
31 Val Verde County Deed Records, Vol. 84, page 272 and Vol. 103, page 189; Vol. 91, page 419; Vol. 125, pages 297-298; Southwest Abstract, map for "Range 1, Block 1."
32 She was, for example, a source for Ruby L. Barnett and Rachel L. Moore's "A History of the Del Rio Independent School District: 1890-1953," Term paper for Sul Ross State University, 1953.
33 "Mrs. Lee Woods Dies," Del Rio News-Herald, Jan. 18, 1962, page 1. The Woods children were named Bessie Belle, Marjorie Gordon, John Price, and Lee Jr. "W.G. Lee Woods, 81, Claimed by Death," Del Rio News-Herald, August 7, 1947, page 1.
34 These come from two clippings in the Woods family folder at the Val Verde County Library, both incompletely labeled: one reads Mon, 11/4, Del Rio News, the other July 5, 1937. The Marjorie Woods marraige notice also says that the wedding cake was served with wine "pressed in 1863 by the bride's grandfather, John Woods."
35 Val Verde County Probate Records, Vol. 31, pages 37-38.
36 Letter from John Price Woods to Marie Endress, November 18, 1996; letter from Mrs. J.A. Gooch to Doug Braudaway, January 1998.
37 Jazmin Meauz to Laura Galvan, letter on February 3, 1998; Alberto Galvan to Doug Braudaway, February 7, 1998.
38 Val Verde County Deed Records, Vol. 170, pages 19-20.
39 A loose, hand-written document at the Whitehead Museum in the "Buildings" file states that the house was "unaltered" and in "good repair." No date exists for the document, but it refers to Doctor Turullols. The document also states that "much early history is contained within its walls," but the writer is unidentified. The document was probably something prepared during the production of the county scrapbook, La Hacienda.
40 Jesus Turullols, M.D. to Laura Galvan, letter January 1998.