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The George T. Briscoe home, built in 1906-1907, has been sold and is being prepped to be moved in May 2016, weather permitting. Photo by K.K. Calame.

By K. K. Calame

Publisher, The Devine News

In the summer of 2015, the Barry family purchased the Old Briscoe Home from its owner. Their family plans to move it to their land, restore the home to its original beauty, and live in it and care for it. It is currently up on blocks and will be moved in four big pieces, one after the other over a span of a week or two during May. It will be cut down the breezeway and then cross ways to create four pieces. Each piece is being reinforced to be able to be separated for the move. The top halves will actually be suspended in the air by cranes at the new home site as the bottom halves are bought to the site to be placed underneath them. This may take up to a couple of weeks to get all four main parts of the home moved and brought together again. A four generation mover, Dodson House Moving, has been hired to do the job.

Ed Barry is no stranger to Devine. He spent a lot of his childhood in Devine with the Vance Family as his mother dated Sandy Vance many years.

“Sandy is like a dad figure to me, and Joe a grandpa,” Mr. Barry said. “We used to come to Devine and hang out here with Sandy Vance and his parents Joe and Helen Vance. Joe was like a grandpa to me. He used to take us hunting in his old green truck out to the Vance Ranch land near the old Cox Feedlot. Many times he would drive right through a red light in downtown without stopping, claiming it was no problem as everyone knows he usually goes through here about this time of day. We had lots of fun in Devine. So, the Briscoe house is not new to me. I have known it and its beauty all my life as it was only a block down the road from the Vance home.

“I promised my wife I would build her a home someday,” Mr. Barry continued. “When I showed her the old Briscoe Home, she immediately fell in love with it. At first we thought it was owned by the state due to the Historical Marker out front of the home, but learned it was privately owned and unoccupied. After many, many months of research and phone calls we were able to make a deal. Next, we had to research how to move it, the costs involved in the move and the restoration. Then we had to wait for a time span where we are banking on better weather and availability of the mover. We hope to have it moved by the later part of May, weather permitting. Lots of preparation and planning go into a project this big. We have confidence in Dodson Moving and look forward to restoring it to its original beauty.”

 “I fell in love with the Briscoe House the first time I set my eyes upon it,” Mrs. Barry said. “I just couldn’t believe that there stood the house I have always dreamed about,” said Mrs. Barry. “I noticed the Texas Historical Commission plaque in the yard and upon reading what the marker said about the house….I fell more in love with it. Not only was it a beautiful house….it was so much more than that….it was a beautiful home. A home lovingly built by a father for his family of seven children. Being a mother of five children myself, I was so emotionally touched by the story of how the home came to be and loved it even more. It saddened us greatly to witness the house growing deeper and deeper into disrepair. 

“My husband researched the house to find out if there would be any way that we could be allowed to tour the house, as well as have an architect go through the house to draw up identical plans of the house so that we could build our very own Briscoe House on our property,” Mrs. Barry continued. “After many days of leg work, telephone calls and pure steadfast determination, he was able to locate the caretaker of the house and locate the owners. We learned the owner did not have any intentions of putting forth the effort of maintaining the house, and it was in such disrepair that the Briscoe House was under the serious threat of being demolished someday. This, we also learned had unfortunately already happened to another house located directly behind the Briscoe House which eventually was demolished. With this new found knowledge of the potential future demolition, my husband and I were fiercely determined to not let that happen to the beautiful Briscoe House. After eight difficult and stressful months of negotiations with the owner (my husband and I were never able to speak directly to the actual owner, we were only allowed to speak to the owner’s attorney) we finally were able to purchase the house. What a glorious day that was. We closed on the house in June of 2015.

“We always hear “God works in mysterious ways,” and how true that is. My husband and I give all the glory to Him. For, it is only through the works of God that my we were given this blessing of ownership of the beautiful Briscoe House.

“I understand the expressed sadness of the Devine citizens at seeing their beloved Briscoe House being moved. My prayer is that they may all rest peacefully in knowing that my husband and I have every intention of giving the Briscoe House all the tenderness, attention and most of all love that it had and was intended for when it was originally built with love by Mr. George T. Briscoe,” Mrs. Barry said.

The Pateks owned it for about 20 years (1995-2015), but didn’t actually live in it. It is believed her husband purchased the beautiful home for her, but then passed away shortly thereafter. They owned multiple properties. During their ownership the home was restored after three different major storms or hail storms and maintained. But in the recent years it seems to have deteriorated a lot more on the outside and vandalized on multiple occasions, yet the interior of the home was still beautiful as the craftsmanship of those days was so amazing. The Pateks had purchased the home from the Tom Graham family in 1995. They generously supported the Devine community over the years through their donations to the city and churches during their ownership and maintain its safety.

Tom and Barbara Graham purchased the home in 1977 from the Briscoe Estate. For 18 years approximately, from 1977 to 1995, they lived in Devine and raised their three children in the beautiful home. After all the kids had grown up and left home the Grahams, who had already retired, decided they didn’t need that big of a home any longer, sold it, and moved to Sudan, Texas to care for two elderly uncles. The home had been for sale for several years before the Pateks looked at it and made an offer in one short hour after touring it. Eventually Tom and Barbara moved to the Houston area to be near their two sons (Kevin and Royd) and their families, where they currently get to watch six of their grandchildren grow up. Their daughter Holly is a college coach so they travel around the state to see Holly and her family as they can. Holly so loves the hometown she grew up in, that she started returning home to Devine every summer to host a three day volleyball camp for our young athletes, future Fillys and Arabians, to give back to the program she got her start in.

The Briscoe Estate sold the home to Tom Graham in 1977. Joe Briscoe was the executor of the Briscoe Estate. Three of his aunts had lived in the home. Two had never married, and the other was widowed at a young age. The home was originally built in 1906-1907 by George T. Briscoe, the contractor and builder was W. J. Moss as noted in the 1906 archives of The Devine News. (More on this part of the history in upcoming weeks).

Visitor Comments
Submitted By: Robert E. Sharer Submitted: 11/27/2016
I am also sorry to see the house moved, but also thankful that the Barry family has chosen to move this wonderful home. I was only in it one time, when my (step)grandfather, Bryan Robinson Briscoe passed away in 1972. If I remember right, a sister of his was still living in the home then. I was only 19 at the time and had never been in a home so old, yet still in its original condition. The upstairs bedroom that the men used to change clothes for the funeral seemed to be as large and the small home I lived in at the time! It is such a grand old home and I wish I had visited it more than that one time. I know the Barry family will love it when they get it restored.

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