belonged to Spain during the administration of the first president
of the United States, so what is now the Lone Star State has no
quaint inns or taverns with markers noting that "George Washington
On the other hand, the first president of the Republic of Texas
laid his head down in numerous places across the portion of Texas
that was populated during his lifetime. One of the communities that
can claim that "Sam
Houston slept here" is Seguin,
where the hero of San
Jacinto passed a night in 1857. He stayed in one of that town's
Not only is the house significant because of that, it is an example
of the rarest form of Texas
architecture a wooden house or building constructed prior
to the 1840s. Of course, 200-plus-year-old structures are no big
deal in the Northeast or other earlier-settled areas of the nation,
but in the Lone Star State wooden construction did not begin until
the start of Anglo settlement in the second and third decades of
the 19th century. Before then, what little construction that occurred
usually was stone or adobe.
Houston slept here" home stands not far from downtown. It went up
in 1838, only two years after the
Alamo. Known variously as the Holloman House, Elm Grove and
the Elder House, it's located at 135 Glen Cove near a spring-fed
creek flowing into the Guadalupe
By all rights, the place should be known as the French House, or
at least the French-Holloman House. That's because the man who built
it was Ezekiel "French" Smith, president of the company formed in
1838 to sell lots and develop a town on the banks of Walnut Branch.
The settlement of that community marked the beginning of Seguin.
While French ranks as an important historical figure for Seguin,
his brother Erastus is far better known today by this nickname,
Deaf. He was one of
effective scouts during the run-up to the Battle
of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.
The house's present owners, retired Austin
heart doctor George Lowe and wife Nancy know their now-sizable home
started out as a four-room oak log cabin with a dogtrot (breezeway)
between each of the two-room halves. The timber used was a foot
thick. Part of a stone wall that once surrounded the then village
of Seguin to
protect it from Indians still stands on their property, the only
remaining remnant of the Republic of Texas-era enclosure.
French Smith occupied the house only a couple of years before selling
it to George B. Holloman, whose heirs would retain the property
off-and-on for more than a century. Holloman came to Seguin
from Virginia with his brother in 1845 and acquired the house not
In today's vernacular, Hollomon redid the place, transforming it
from a frontier-style log cabin to a fine ante-bellum house. He
John Esten Park, a chemist who had developed a type of concrete
(then called limecrete) eventually used in the construction of 90
early houses in the town, to add three additional rooms and a kitchen.
Holloman also refurbished the interior with cypress, oak and walnut.
Finally, he built a front porch extending along the length of the
That's how the house looked in 1857 when Houston
spent the night as Holloman's guest. The former president of the
late Republic of Texas, after 13 years as a U.S. senator, had come
home to Texas to run for governor and visited Houston
during his campaign.
more than 1,000 miles by buggy, delivering stump speeches when public
speaking and newspaper reports were the only way a political candidate
had of getting his message to the people. Standing beneath a large
oak tree that still shades the Holloman house property, Houston
addressed the residents of Seguin
in July 1857. That night, he stayed with the Hollomans, sleeping
in a four-poster bed built by a Seguin
so impressed by the bed that after he got elected, he had the same
cabinet maker build him a larger version that he moved into the
Governor's Mansion," Nancy Lowe said.
Though whether the original bed is still around is unclear, it remained
in the Holloman family until as late as 1964, when Sue Flanagan
mentioned it in her book, "Sam Houston's Texas." At that time, it
belonged to T.H. Holloman, George Holloman's grandson. The bed Houston
had made for the Governor's Mansion is still there.
In the 1880s and again in the 1920s, the Holloman house saw additional
remodeling, she said. Around 1883, she continued, it got indoor
The Holloman house may have been standing for a long time, but it's
had a couple of close calls. For a time in the late 1950s and early
1960s, it stood empty and in ill repair, ripe for vandalism or fire.
Then, after changing hands and undergoing extensive refurbishing,
in the early 2000s a strong storm sent one of the ancient oak trees
crashing down on the house.
That damage having been repaired by the Elder family, when Dr. Lowe
and his wife bought the house and surrounding acreage, they also
had some restoration work done. The only thing missing in this beautiful
property by the Guadalupe
River is a sign out front declaring "Sam Houston slept here
© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" June
29, 2016 column