Plano Residents Rally to Save Historic Collinwood House from Demolition

All photos courtesy of Plano Magazine.

All photos courtesy of Plano Magazine. Photos by Jennifer Shertzer.

The Collinwood House is the oldest structure still standing in the city of Plano, and it faces demolition to make way for a structure in a new park.

The 1860’s era house sits on city land being developed for a 124-acre park, which will include hike-and-bike trails, a dog park, and parking spaces. Plano officials are planning to tear down the Collinwood house to build a recreational pavilion.

The only thing that can save the historically significant house at 5400 Windhaven Dr. is if Plano City Council intervenes.

Collinwood House

Original hand hewn timbers and square nails peek out from under the brick skirting added in the 1940s; Concentric tree rings can be seen, accentuated by weathering at the ends of the two timbers.

“The Collinwood House is an extremely significant house due to the fact that it is the oldest house remaining in Plano dating back to the 1860s, still sits on its original site, and is an outstanding example of the rare Gothic Revival style of residential architecture,” said David Preziosi, executive director of Preservation Dallas. “The city of Plano has been progressive in other areas of historic preservation in the city and hope that can extend to saving the irreplaceable Collinwood House—they have a great treasure with the Collinwood House and they need to work to save such an important piece of Texas’ history from being lost.”

Candace Fountoulakis, a board member for Plano Conservancy for Historic Preservation, has been very involved in efforts to save this property. There have been multiple calls from the Plano City Council for RFPs, none of which have been accepted.

“The more we learn about it, the more we find out it’s a unique, rare, and special look into that era of Plano’s history and we don’t have anything like that left,” Fountoulakis said. “ It’s a huge learning experience, a picture of early frontier history and when you stand in there and look at it, it’s a visceral experience.”

Collinwood house

A removable wooden deck added in the 20th century detracts from the magnificent Greek Revival entryway with 32 panes of window glass surrounding red double doors.

The architectural significance of the structure is undeniable. The home, made from hand-hewn timbers felled from the area, is a one-and-a-half story cross-gable carpenter gothic house, with 3,200 square feet. Its original clapboard is still in place, now covered by wood shingle siding from the mid-1900s.

“Due its historic significance, and the fact that it remains in good condition with most of its original features intact, it should be given every opportunity to be restored for the public to enjoy and learn about the history of Plano,” Preziosi said. “It is very rare to have a surviving piece of tangible history dating back to the 1860s in north Texas and it would be a tragedy to lose this house. The building needs to remain in its original location, restored, and protected for the future.”

As Plano Magazine notes:

Gothic Revival farmhouses of this age are comparatively uncommon in our region since a greater majority of mid-1800s Gothic Revival houses are found in cities and towns back east and not in rural Texas. Many elaborate examples were constructed after Andrew Jackson Downing popularized them in his books and articles written in the 1840s and early 1850s. Needless to say, the Collinwood house and its surrounding yard areas are worthy of National Register of Historic Places recognition.

Other architectural details include a Greek Revival entryway, with the transom and sidelights containing 32 panes of glass, two classic arched Gothic Revival windows on the second floor, and a rare half cellar.

Collinwood House

The north face of the home shows two classic arched Gothic Revival windows on the second floor. Other than the shingle siding, this face is the same as it was when the house was built about 155 years ago. Window glass was expensive and the absence of windows on the first floor at this end was tolerable given that the room had light entering from windows along its east and west walls.

In March of this year, the Plano Heritage Commission submitted findings on the Collinwood House to the City Council. Here’s what they said, in part:

The historic character of the Collinwood House is not immediately obvious to most observers…The house has a very significant amount of historical material that remains below the surface. It is a critical and contributing historical asset that can be used as a vehicle to help convey the story of the greater Plano community from its earliest days of Anglo settlement to the present…The house is further distinguished by the presence of a half cellar, which is unusual in our Blackland Prairie region of Texas. The cellar represents an unusual opportunity to analyze a sealed deposit, which is rarely encountered on an old farm house site in this part of the state. The cellar, the well (which has also not been analyzed), and the house lot have the potential to yield data important to the pre-1884 occupants of the house, whose identities are known from diaries and other primary records.

The Plano City Council will vote on the fate of the Collinwood House on Aug. 8. The deadline for submissions of proposals to “rehab” the house are due Aug 5.

This structure represents early frontier history along the historic Shawnee Trail, and multiple cultures and eras of Texas history still are visible on the property, which was part of the Peters Colony. You can sign the petition to save the Collinwood House here.

 

One Comment

  • A fabulous once in a lifetime discovery of a truly historic house hiding in plain sight. Beneath the shingles and drywall are the original materials … wood siding and handhewn beams. Wide floors squar ed nailsand wavy glass. Have to see to believe!