The buildings in the Ennis Downtown Commercial Historic District and original homes in the Templeton-McCanless Residential Historic District provide a glimpse of what the city was like during the period of economic prosperity from 1890 to the 1920s.
Unfortunately, over the years fire, neglect, and development destroyed many of the buildings and grand mansions of the day. In 1981 a group of citizens formed the Ennis Heritage Society to preserve the remaining structures, and in 1986 the National Park Service recognized forty-four private homes and ninety-four commercial buildings in its National Register of Historic Places. This album features a small selection of these.
105 NE Main St
Ennis Railroad and Cultural Heritage Museum, 1915
The restaurant originally housed in this building served up to ten passenger trains a day. In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt stopped here while traveling to the State Fair of Texas (celebrating the State's Centennial). Today, it is one of the finest railroad museums in the Southwest.
110 W Ennis Ave
Ennis National Bank, 1883
Ennis' first bank operated here until 1917 when it moved to the corner of Ennis Avenue and Dallas Street. An enduring landmark, the building has served as a clothing store, legal office, and restaurant. Notice the corner turret, brick parapet, and original cast iron storefront.
101 S Dallas St
John Rowe Building, 1905
A.H. Rowe, a prominent business person from England, had this building constructed to serve as a dry goods store. The Woodsmen of the World, a forerunner for the Boy Scouts, met upstairs.
117 W Brown St
City Hall, 1915
Built to accommodate all of the city's practical and cultural needs, City Hall had space for the police department, jail (which still exists in the basement), and an auditorium that hosted lectures, cooking classes, and vaudeville performances. The Fire Department was formed in 1884 as a response to recent devastating fires and kept its horses and fire wagons in the garage on Dallas Street.
212 N Dallas St
Interurban Building, 1925
This building served as a station for passengers taking the commuter train that passed through Ennis from 1914 until mid-century when the arrival of IH-45 made the railway obsolete.
500 Block of N Gaines
Ennis High School, 1916
This building served as the high school from 1916 to 1982, and is the city's oldest extant school building. It was built by the Fort Worth architectural firm of Sanguinet and Staats, which created a number of similarly styled schools in the state.
Hix McCanless (1868-1938) was the leading architect in Ennis during this period. Born in Tennessee, McCanless and his family moved to Ennis as the railroad arrived. After training at Texas A&M, he returned to Ennis to design buildings that reflected the personal tastes of their owners as well as popular styles.
Prior to the railroad, most houses were plain structures built using locally available materials. The rise of industrialization and expansion of the railroad made it possible for homeowners across the nation to obtain building materials and to decorate and design their homes according to current architectural styles.Between 1890 and 1920, the three most popular styles of architecture were Folk Victorian, Neoclassical, and Bungalow. Excellent examples of each of these can be found throughout Ennis.
Almost all of these homes began with a basic L-shape plan to which the owners added mass-produced gingerbread trim, turned spindles and balustrades, intricately patterned corbels and brackets, and brightly colored paint. Once abundant in Ennis, a few fine examples still exist.
709 N Dallas St
Barkley-Floyd House, 1892
This house was built for H.P. Barkely, a conductor and yardmaster for the H&TC.
701 N Gaines St
Meredith-McDowal House, 1898
This is one of Hix McCanless’ earliest designs.
504 W Knox St
Jolesch House, 1900
William Jolesch came to Ennis in 1875 and established a dry good store on S. Main Street. Later he served as vice president of the First National Bank of Ennis.
704 N Preston St
F.W. Neal House, 1901
Built by Fred W. Neal and his brother Charles shortly before the former wed a local school teacher. Fred Neal was a conductor for the H&TC.
807 N Preston St
Dr. Campbell Home, 1904
Along with prosperity came a higher standard of health care. Several physicians besides Dr. Campbell practiced in Ennis by 1900 and his home served as an early hospital.
509 W Brown St
Williamson House, 1905
The asymmetrical plan of this house is Victorian, but exterior details are Neoclassical and Bungalow in style.
“The White City” of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago renewed interest in the classical designs of Ancient Greece and Rome. Neoclassical homes feature symmetrical plans centered around d a central entry and columned porches extending the full height of the house. They are usually painted white to simulate the stone of monumental architecture.
209 N Preston St
Telfair House, 1902
J.S. Telfair, a conductor for the railroad since the 1890s, had this house built as a wedding present for his wife. It stands on the site where members of St. Joseph's Catholic Church first met.
307 N Sherman St
Matthews-Atwood House, 1908
Pearl C. Matthews purchased this property in 1900 when he and his brother Will, co-owner of a McKinney department store, opened a branch in Ennis.
402 W Tyler St
McCanless-Williams House, 1900
Hix McCanless, Architect and City Engineer built this house for himself and his family. The land it sits on as well as adjoining property was owned by his wife's aunt who was from New York and gave the property to them as a wedding gift. Hix and his family lived here until the early part of 1910 The home was sold to M.B. Williams who was a local banker. The Williams family owned and MB Williams descendants lived in the home for over seventy years.
601 N Dallas St
I.R. Allen House, 1910
This house exemplifies the Neoclassical style as it was built in Texas. Isaac R. Allen was the co-owner of the Allen & Kendall Furniture Store.
400 W Denton St
Moore House, 1905
This house is a significant part of Ennis' architectural history, and it reflects the wealth and prominence of the couple that built it. Malinda and Hardin T. Moore married in 1892. Both had been widowed in previous marriages. Malinda came to Texas with her family in the 1850s and married James Robert Farrar in 1868. Farrar died a wealthy man in 1888, leaving her substantial land and business holdings. Hardin Moore came to Texas with his family in the 1830s. A Civil War veteran, he inherited property in the region from his father. Census records show him as a stockman and cattle merchant. He may have also had interest in a real estate and loan business.
500 W Ennis Ave
Raphael House, 1910
Edmond Raphael (1865-1927) was a Jewish merchant, community leader and president of the First National Bank in the 1910s and 1920s.
501 N Preston St
Weatherford House, 1917
William Weatherford, a cotton buyer from Houston, purchased the house in 1924 and lived here until 1954. While the Neoclassical style was very popular, it is rare to find one like this one that is made of brick.
In America, the term bungalow refers to small or medium-sized homes that have low-pitched roofs, large porches, and efficiently cluster the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms, and bathroom around a central living area. Often associated with the “Craftsman” Movement, its practical layout, affordability, and artistic details made the bungalow the most popular home style in Ennis between 1910 and 1930.
208 N Gaines
Sharp House, 1913
This house was built for John H. Sharp, a local attorney and later a Judge of the Texas Supreme Court.
204 W Belknap St
Barrington House, 1915
810 N Preston St
Bungalow houses were characterized by lower ceilings which made the rooms hot in the steamy Texas summers.
606 W Denton St
Matthews-Templeton House, 1918
Hix McCanless built this home for Pearl C. Matthews, co-owner of the McKinney based Matthews Brothers Department Store that opened a shop in Ennis.
This book on the history of Ennis ($21.99) and the Ennis Throw Blanket ($40) are available at the Ennis Convention and Visitors Bureau.