I’m not speaking in hyperbole when I say they’re practically giving away this 3,200-square-foot home in far west Plano, located at 5400 Windhaven Parkway near the Dallas North Tollway. Admittedly it’s not move-in ready, but the Collinwood House’s motivated seller is throwing in a quarter of a million dollars to make sure this rustic beauty really moves. I should tell you that the Collinwood House, built in 1861, currently sits on a future city park site, so you’ll have to move it yourself. Not your belongings, but the actual house.
What sounds like a comic nightmare for a Realtor (or a professional stager) is the latest tumultuous chapter for the oldest-known home in Plano that’s become a money pit the city can’t shed.
In this latest stay of execution in May (one of many reprieves in recent years), Plano solicited proposals for taking ownership of the Collinwood House, offering the would-be owner $250,00 in budgeted city funds to properly relocate the home onto their own land, preferably somewhere in Plano. That’s better than deconstruction, or documenting materials as they are removed and demolished from the home, which has been on the table for years.
More than a dozen people showed up for the open house in mid-May, offering the public a rare glimpse at this relic. Haggard Enterprises (remember that name) submitted the only proposal bid, which has not yet been awarded, according to city documents on the public bid platform BidSync.
It seems the-house-that-no-one-wants remains in limbo, which means if Plano can’t find a qualified bidder, this 1860’s relic could soon be dismantled for scraps.
CandysDirt.com first wrote about this beleaguered Collinwood House in August 2016, when it faced demolition to make way for Windhaven Meadows, which will feature trails, several ponds and shaded pavilions, a dog park and a 20,000-square-foot playground donated by Liberty Mutual. The park is full of amenities — just everything but a Civil War-era home.
An active contingent of residents calling themselves the Collinwood Consortium rallied to help save the building from immediate deconstruction, including preservation advocate Candace Fountoulakis who researched and wrote extensively about the property in Plano Magazine and other publications.
“This house has a lot of secrets that have not been uncovered,” Fountoulakis says.
Already, the home that pre-dates the city of Plano’s incorporation in 1873 has been through more plot twists than a daytime soap opera.
When Plano acquired land for the 124-acre Windhaven Meadows in 2009, this home that was once owned by the Haggard family, one of the city’s first settlers, came with it. Preservationists like Fountoulakis didn’t know at the time that Haggard descendants lived in the home; the same Haggard family of Haggard Enterprises.
In 2014 and 2015, the city offered to give away the Collinwood House to any qualified owner that paid for its relocation and restoration. But no one seemed willing to gamble that a 157-year-old home would pack up nicely for a move that could compromise the structural integrity of a less-fragile home.
Then in early 2016, the Collinwood House was given a chance to survive if conservationists could raise enough funds and present a viable business plan for the home in a matter of a few months; they assembled a plan and raised a half million dollars but the city’s magic number was $1.5 million.
Plano City Council let taxpayers decide the home’s fate in a May 2017 bond election. By a margin of less than 600 votes, taxpayers said no, they don’t want to pay for the bond measure to restore the Collinwood House and other unnamed preservation projects. The city’s number had risen to $3.5 million and taxpayers were weary of the standalone referendum, so the home was again without a willing taker.
You wouldn’t think a Civil War-era home would be so hard to unload.
In 1861, the Fox Brothers constructed the “I-house” style, Gothic Revival home on the highest elevation of the surrounding land, and sold it a year later to the Haggard family. The family moved their farmstead from a nearby home to this new one, and lived there for two generations until they sold it in the late 1930’s, according to Quimby McCoy Preservation Architecture, whom the city hired to research and report on the property.
The Collinwood House’s facade is a great example of the Gothic Revival style of residential architecture, which is marked by distinctive pointed arch windows, exposed framing timbers; and steep, vaulted roofs with cross-gables.
The home, made from hand-hewn timbers felled from the area, is a one-and-a-half story cross-gable carpenter house. Its original clapboard is still in place, now covered by wood shingle siding from the mid-1900’s.
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 157 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.
Other architectural details include a Greek Revival entryway, transom and sidelights containing 32 panes of glass, and a rare half cellar that may predate the home. Greek Revival style is marked by full-building width porches, entryway columns sized in scale to the porch type, and a front door surrounded by narrow rectangular windows.
But late additions like a sun porch built in the 1970’s make it ineligible as it stands now for any kind of landmark protection status since many of the floor, ceiling and wall finishes have obscured the original, historic finishes, according to Quimby McCoy’s 2014 report. “In its current condition, it is not eligible for the National Register because it has been altered from its historical appearance,” Andrea Hamilton, an architect with Quimby McCoy, wrote.
“But strip away the shingles and the other later additions, and you’ll see the home as it stood in the 1870’s,” Fountoulakis says. “What you see on the surface is not the whole story. You’re not seeing the earlier chapters of this home and those still have to be peeled away to restore it.”
If the Collinwood house cannot be relocated, building materials may be the only thing salvageable from this historic home, including the exterior front doors and windows, historic wood fireplace and mantle, and long leaf wood flooring.
If you’ve got an inkling to save this house, reach out to Plano city officials. Or as Fountoulakis wrote in her plea for saving the home:
“The oldest remaining home in Plano still stands, awaiting its final destiny. In the event someone would like to relocate the house, they’d need to contact Plano Parks and Recreation department or Plano City Council (serious inquires only). But they better hurry. The bulldozers are lining up.”
The historic Collinwood house will be saved after all, and by its original owners’ family. The Plano City Council on Monday approved Collinwood’s relocation from the future site of Windhaven Park and transfer of ownership to the Haggard family. Per the city agreement, Plano will subsidize the home’s relocation, paying the new owners $250,000 to move the home off the city’s property. More updates to come.