House of the Seasons: An Historic Atmosphere

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May 6, 2014 Comments Off on House of the Seasons: An Historic Atmosphere R.H. Collins

Featured in The House of the Seasons brochure on page 6

Guests enjoy historic atmosphere
Jefferson Offers History to Tourists as One of Texas’ Oldest Towns

Various dates between 1836 and 1840 are cited as the beginning of Jefferson at a river landing on Big Cypress Bayou.
Whatever the date, settlers were already established when the town was laid out in 1842.
Today it is one of Texas’ most historic towns, with more than 80 structures bearing State Historical Landmark Medallions.
Located far from the Mississippi River, Jefferson became a port purely by accident after the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 created a massive log jam on the Red River near Shreveport.
The log jam raised the levels of both Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou to make them navigable for steamboats from New Orleans.
Jefferson early became the major East Texas river port of entry. The boats brought supplies such as cotton and timber to be offloaded for shipment to frontier cities, such as Paris, Clarksville and Dallas.
Here, one of Texas’ first breweries was founded, as well as the world’s first ammonia refrigerant ice plant in 1873.
Also, it was the state’s first city to utilize artificial gas for street lighting. The newspaper, the Jefferson Jimplecute, dating from the Civil War, is the oldest in the state.
Discovery of nearby iron ore brought smelters and plow works, while plentiful pine and cypress created a lumber industry.
Shortly after the Civil War, Jefferson reached a peak population of 10,000 with as many as 15 steamboats at a time lining the docks, and scores of wagon trains passing through on their way West.
In 1870, the population of Jefferson ranked sixth among Texas cities, following Galveston, San Antonio, Houston, Brownsville and Austin.
Steel rails were also reaching West, but Jefferson refused Jay Gould’s offer for a major railroad yard next to the riverfront in 1882.
Gould angrily predicted death for the city and laid his tracks elsewhere. His parting words for Jefferson, “the end of Jefferson, Texas” can be seen in the register at the Excelsior Hotel.
He was right as far as “city” goes, because growth in succeeding years, like the railroad, seemed to bypass Jefferson.
Jefferson’s prosperity declined due to the advances in technology, such as dependable railroads. The shipping industry also collapsed and the city suffered.
This small town has survived a century and a half of hardships, economic struggle, and World Wars, and still remains standing today… a fortunate result for those seeking refuge in a town reflective of past eras.
Today, Jefferson is a place that features attractive historic homes and small antique boutiques. Jefferson is the perfect town for a quiet, romantic and peaceful weekend get-a-way with fabulous food and people.
The House of the Seasons operates as a historic museum with a guest house for visitors and is available for weddings, receptions and honeymoon vacations.
One of the most historic homes in Jefferson, The House of the Seasons was built in 1872 during the glory days of Jefferson, then the largest inland port in Texas.
Colonel Benjamin Epperson, the builder of the house, was a prominent lawyer, political leader, entrepreneur, and confidante of Sam Houston.
The House of the Seasons was purchased by Richard H. Collins in 1973 and is now owned by Calvert K. Collins Foundation. The Foundation is named for Calvert K. Collins, a native of Marshall, Texas, and the first woman on the Dallas City Council.
The Foundation supports education for children from pre-k to graduate school, arts, women’s issues, public policy and historic preservation.
One of its most recent projects was the restoration of the Spirit of the Centennial statue and mural at the Women’s Museum in Fair Park in Dallas.