1905 was a time of prosperity in Texas, and that lasted for many years to come.
The Rose Lambert-Hynes house was built by George Strauch, a Refugio pioneer.
The house was considered one of the most beautiful post Victorian era homes in South Texas.
Strauch also built the windmill that is now behind the Refugio County Museum.
Strauch had built the home for Rose O’Brien, the daughter of John Thomas O’Brien and Johanna Whelan O’Brien.
The Rose-Lambert-Hynes house served as an icon of pride for residents of Refugio for years.
Now, after many years of sitting idle with no one living in the house, D.L. and Ann Johnson of Corpus Christi have purchased the deteriorating house and plan to return it to its grandeur from around 1935.
The house, at 904 S. Alamo, had been condemned by the Refugio City Council on June 28, 2011, and marked for demolition.
The impending demise of the historic structure was reported in the Refugio County Press and the Victoria Advocate.
Then, D.L. Johnson said he approached the city council and mayor and asked if he could have time to restore it and purchase it.
“I bought it on Sept. 10, 2012,” Johnson said. “The mayor and city council were kind enough to listen to what I had to say.”
Johnson, who owns and operates Highway Barricades and Services, said the house had a fire in 1935 that destroyed the turret and tower it originally had.
That’s when the current third floor was constructed.
Originally, the house contained “modern American” furnishings, but after the fire and into the 1940s, the house was filled with European antiques.
One of the pieces was a piano that had belonged to Emperor Franz Josef of Austria and was hand painted by Anton Lasor in 1888. According to Bart Wales, of the Refugio County Museum, the piano was auctioned at some point and ended up in the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History.
“The house has 8,800 square feet. We plan to refurbish it to the original state (from 1935),” Johnson said.
So far, Johnson said he has had seven large dumpsters filled at the house.
He said every room was knee high with trash, junk and assorted things like books, clothes and papers.
“We got trash out of the house and carport,” he said.
Lots of graffiti was found on the walls in the house, as well.
Also, many things have been taken from the house: furniture, decorative trim and chandeliers, to name a few.
Johnson said some people nearby told him the house was haunted because they saw lights in it at night and heard voices.
“Transients were in here living,” he said. “They built fires in the fireplace.”
Now, while restoration is in progress, the house has been boarded up and “no trespassing” signs posted.
Johnson said he is still researching the house and is looking for old photos of it to restore it as accurately as possible.
“I had an engineer come in and look at it,” he said.
The engineer determined that the structure of the house was sound although outward appearances suggest otherwise.
Rose O’Brien’s daughter, Jamie Lambert Hynes, had occupied the house until her death in 1965.
The house was eventually sold in 1969 to Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Whitlow, colonial descendants of the Heard family.
The Joel Whitlow family occupied the house until around 2005.
Then the house sat empty until the Johnsons purchased it.
“Ann loves this place,” D.L. Johnson said.
Johnson said he and his wife are having fun restoring the home and plan on living in it off and on once it is refurbished.