Pay a visit Roseland Plantation’s lovingly restored Hambrick House, built in 1854 and rumored since the Civil War to be haunted, and it is immediately evident this old southern belle is in capable hands.
Tim and Carolyn West spent years reclaiming the mansion from neglect, filling it with period treasures and vintage holiday décor, such as rare 1850 German Christmas feather trees, to transform it into a home.
The couple offers house tours all year with reservations, but this season they are offering a new, old-fashioned favorite: Christmas teas.
“I started out doing teas for friends,” Mrs. West said last week. “It just grew from there.”
The four-course afternoon tea, offered for $25 per person with reservations, features home-based goodies, colorful stories and a tour of the house.
Teas are set for 2 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12 by calling 903-849-0205.
For the Wests, their home is an important piece of East Texas history and they are happy to share it with others.
“I’ve been intrigued since I was a child in pre-Civil War and Civil War years,” Mrs. West said. “It’s always been my favorite period in history.”
The historic mansion was constructed by Burwell Hampton Hambrick, who moved to Texas in 1852 and purchased huge tracts of land, much of which were deeded to his former slaves at the end of the Civil War.
Hambrick died shortly after a failed 1869 business deal, his house and remaining acreage changing hands several times afterward.
The house, itself, sat vacant from about 1919 until 1954 when the Mrs. W.C. Windsor, wife of a Tyler oilman, purchased the structure and 200 acres. She initiated a restoration, renaming the property Roseland Plantation.
The Texas Historical Commission recognized the house with a marker, presented by Mrs. John Connally, wife of then Texas Governor John Connally.
After Mrs. Windsor’s death, the Wests bought the home in 1998 and launched into a complete overhaul, moving into a small nearby home also located on the property until work was complete.
West has a construction background; his wife, in design.
“It was structurally sound,” Mrs. West said. “We had to put in electricity, plumbing and build a kitchen and baths. We sanded everything down. Outside was like an old alligator. … We went all the way to the wood.”
The couple added seven feet to the back of the house, but left the remaining structure virtually untouched, except for mostly cosmetic rehabilitation.
The Hambrick House is located near a 1840s-era log cabin, which the couple uses as a bed and breakfast; other structures on the former plantation are privately owned.
The property is situated between Dallas and Shreveport, once a half-way point for stagecoaches and changing station for horses.
But it is the ghost stories that seem to draw people to the home like a magnet.
Since the Civil War, people have reported seeing a strange light coming from the east bedroom of the house, now the master bedroom.
According to East Texas legend, Hambrick’s daughter committed suicide in that room after her fiancé did not immediately return from the war and was presumed dead.
Three days after her untimely death, he returned and reports began to surface of a light emitting from the east bedroom.
Mrs. West said she heard the stories, but didn’t initially believe them until experiencing it firsthand, recalling repeated instances in which the bedroom light came on by itself.
Her husband tried to remedy the situation by removing the light fixtures from the room.
“I said, ‘I’m not living in any haunted house,’” West said.
But within weeks, the light in the bedroom was back, the couple said.
“There were no fixtures,” West said. “There was a skuttle hole in the corner of the east bedroom and I had just started working on the wiring for the lights.”
“I took out all the breakers,” he said.
The couple said they haven’t seen the light since moving full time into the house about four years ago, but acknowledged they would not be surprised if it started up again.
Apparently they are not the only ones attached to the house.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” Mrs. West said of the mysteries surrounding the structure. “It’s home to us.”