Tour Around Town: Ace of Clubs House

Ace of Clubs House (Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)
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Legend has it that the Ace of Clubs house was built in 1885 by James Harris Draughon with only $10,000 that he won from a game of poker with an ace of clubs.  Draughon was a Confederate veteran, lumber investor, and early Mayor of Texarkana.

 

The house is known for its unique architecture, in the shape of an ace of clubs, with 3 octagonal shaped wings and an additional wing that adjoins the central stair hall.  Only three families resided in the house before it was donated to the Historical Society, now Texarkana Museums System, in 1985.

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William Lowndes Whitaker, Sr., owned the building from 1887 through 1890, until attorney Henry Moore, Sr., and his wife Katherine Flemming Moore moved in with their siblings, Mildred and Charles Beatty. Henry Moore, Jr., and Olivia Smith moved into the residence in 1920 with their two children, Katherine and Henry Moore III.  Ms. Olivia remained in the house until 1985.

Moat beneath the Ace of Clubs used to keep the property cool.
(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

One of the most interesting features of the house is the moat.  The moat acted as an air circulation system that collected cool air that rose through the cupola to the rest of the house.  This feature encircles the residence and was an essential function prior to air conditioning.  The cupola is 46 feet from the floor to the ceiling.

The cupola is 46 feet from the floor to the ceiling.
(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXk Today)

The formal parlor was an important part of the turn-of-the-century interior design and reflected the importance placed on formal etiquette.  Families displayed their material possessions and finest furniture in this room.

The Parlor where guests requested an audience.
(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

Prior to telephones, guests would do their “calling” in person.  People would be shown to the parlor and if the family had a servant, the servant would let the guest know whether or not the lady of the house was receiving guests.  If the lady of the house was unavailable, the guest would leave a calling card in a card receiver.  

 

The desk, end tables, and curio chest are mahogany pieces in the Colonial Revival style, fashionable in the early 1900s.  The marble-topped pedestal table reflects the late 19th-century interest in nature and is either English or American in origin.  

 

The table with the mirror is called a pier table or console table and was a very fashionable piece in the mid-1860s.  A pier table was usually displayed between two windows with a pier mirror above it.  The mirrors would’ve reflected natural light in an era before electric lighting.

Music Room
(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

The Steinway and Sons baby grand piano (Model O) bears a serial number that dates the piano to approximately 1902.   The sofa is Duncan Phyfe Revival and the striped chairs are the Eastlake Colonial style of the 1890s.  The chromolithograph of the draped woman over the piano also reflects the interest in romanticizing natural forms and dates back to the late 1800s.

 

The crystal chandelier is one of a pair bought in New Orleans around the 1940s by Miss Olivia.  They were antiques at that time and are approximately as old as the house.  The silk damask draperies here and throughout the house were made from fabric purchased by Miss Kate in France c. 1919.  The beveled mirrors between the windows were 1901 additions to this room and the parlor.

 

The house was heated with coal burning stoves until 1901 when steam heat was installed.  The boiler and radiators were still functional in the 1980s when the Museums System acquired the house and were used throughout the first winter of the restoration.

 

The Wooton desk, made by the Wooton Company of Indianapolis between 1875-1880, was bought by Henry Moore, Sr. for his law office in Lafayette County, Arkansas, where he was the first district court clerk.  The desk is now on loan to the Museum from Henry Moore, III.

During the early 1900s, the kitchen was installed.  Although not original, the gas stove, sink fixture, Formica countertops, metal edging and metal drawer pulls are probably from the 1940s to the late 1960s.

(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

The dining room features embossed material between the wainscot and the plate rail is called Lincrusta-Walton.  Lincrusta is a permanent wall covering made of a pulp of linseed oil mixed with sawdust, plant resin, chalk, zinc oxide and a colored dye. This pulp is applied to a paper base and then passed between two rollers, one which is engraved with the pattern, creating a design in relief.

Dining Room (Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

Lincrusta was invented by Frederick Walton in 1877 as a way to emulate the more expensive decorative plaster effects of carved wood paneling, tiles and tooled leather which were popular wall treatments during the late Victorian era.  Designed to stand the test of time, Lincrusta actually gets harder with age.

Ms. Olivia donated over 500 pairs of shoes to the Museums System when she passed. (Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

Miss Olivia adored anything French and pink.  The English walnut chest-on-chest is the oldest piece in the Moore family collection dating approximately to the late 1720s and the dressing table dates c. 1840.  

RCA Television cost approximately $1,000 when first purchased.
(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

The portrait of Miss Olivia was painted by local artist, Otis Lumpkin.  The television is a RCA, reputed to be the first color TV set in Texarkana, bought in 1958 costing approximately $1,000.  Miss Olivia’s granddaughters related that they and “Mama Grande,” as she was known to them, loved watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on her color TV.

 

Miss Olivia left the Museum over 500 pairs of shoes when she passed, most of which came from Neiman Marcu, her favorite store.  Several times a year, Miss Olivia would make a trip to Dallas to do her shopping or she would have items shipped by truck to her.  In her later years when her health did not permit her to travel as much, there were occasions when about three Neiman’s employees would come to the house bringing selections for her convenience.  

(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

In the 1930s, Miss Olivia had the area which had been a housekeeper’s quarter converted into her own bathroom, closet, and dressing room.  The door leading from the bedroom was put in at this time.  Originally the housekeeper could only access this room from the outside back stairs.  The original door came in through what is now Olivia’s closet.  Local architect Bayard Witt designed this suite in the Art Deco “Streamline Moderne” style.

(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

The “Marie Antoinette” style bedroom furniture was a gift to Katharine for her 16th birthday, dating back to 1938.  On her dressing table is a celluloid dresser set that belonged to Miss Olivia before she married.  Many of the items in here were Katharine’s personal belongings that were left here once she married and moved to Monterrey.

This room above the downstairs bath was added around 1901 and was probably used as a nursery. During Katharine’s childhood it was a playroom and later it became a storage room.  The wicker cradle, originally belonging to Olivia’s mother, was used for the Moore children and later the grandchildren when they visited the house.  The “Jenny Lind” spool bed dates from the 1860s and is a piece from Olivia’s side of the family.

 

(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

Henry Jr., was still a bachelor in 1910 when living in the residence.  The dresser and chest are of the same Empire Revival style as the dining room furniture and were probably bought at the same time.  Henry’s personal law books line the shelves.

Henry’s law books
(Photo by Erin Rogers | TXK Today)

The original house property stopped where the brick wall ends.  In 1946, Miss Olivia bought the lot adjacent to her property.  There had been a house on this lot that was built in 1894 which she had torn down for expansion of her lawn.  

 

From outside, guests can access a 360 view of downtown, including the Federal Building.  St. James Episcopal Church was established in its present location at 5th and Olive in 1877. Henry Jr. and Miss Olivia were married at St. James in 1920 where Ms. Olivia attended church regularly.  

 

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