Heavenhill on Earth
Words and Photography Provided by Shelbie Miller-Gaddy
620 E. Bridge St.
Owned and renovated by local interior designer, Shelbie Miller-Gaddy. Heavenhill was constructed as two separate homes in the 1880s. They were most likely “married” in the early 1900s.
The two front rooms (kitchen and living room) are original to the property. The walls are made out of 2x4 studs and were covered with scrap lumber that came off boxcar’s shipping crates down at Granbury’s depot. The planked floors and beadboard ceilings are original to the home. Catherine Clark who grew up in this house from 1927-1950s remembers when her parents updated the home with linoleum rugs, painted floors and cheesecloth-backed wallpaper.
Heavenhill wallpaper with cheesecloth.
Photograph provided by Shelbie Miller.
This part of the house is special because it is the reason why Heavenhill got its name. Shelbie’s mother, Jennifer, bought this house in 2002 ago mostly for investment reasons (she owns Witherspoon’s Antique Mall). Beadboard ceiling ran along this part of the house & during demolition back in 2002, Jennifer was thinking about exposing the rafters. She asked Shelbie, a senior in high school then, to climb up the ladder to look up in the attic space to see what she thought. Shelbie climbed up the ladder and before she looked up into the attic she saw handwriting on a piece of beadboard. It was very scrolly and she began to read it and it said:
Josephine Heavenhill + Little Louise Miller Cross of the Heart Jan. 1 1893. “Stole a Kiss Studying With Edgar”
It was a very exciting time for Shelbie and her mother! First of all, their last name was Miller! And then they figured out the date of the house. Immediately they knew they wanted to name this home “Heavenhill” since it was such a unique name and it also stood on a bit of a hill. Shelbie had luck researching “Josephine Heavenhill” since it was so unique. She was able to find a great deal of information about the Heavenhill family. They were farmers in Winters, Texas (near Abilene) and the father, William, wanted his children to have a finer education because farming was not a guarantee to comfortable living. So he bought property in Thorp Springs so his children could go to Granbury schools during the winter when they were not farming. Shelbie believes this section of the home is from Thorpe Springs from one of the properties that William Heavenhill owned.
Heavenhill Granbury, Texas
Photograph provided by: Shelbie Miller
Shelbie found out that Josephine attended school for a year at Texas Christian University (TCU) probably since they had ties to it when it first started in Thorp Springs. She then transferred to University of Texas in Austin where she received her Bachelor of Arts in 1916. She received her masters of arts at Colombia University in New York in 1921 with her Thesis titled: Country life in the literature of New England, 1866-1914. She was a news reporter for Abilene Newspaper and then eventually moved to San Angelo and owned her own bookstore. She died in 1965 and is buried in Northview Cemetery in Winters, TX. Her father was one of the original trustees of the cemetery.
As the years went by, the chimney separated from the house creating an unsafe environment. The smoke would not ventilate thru the chimney except for between the chimney and the house, which got the walls very hot and caused fires.Heavenhill has endured several of these fires. A couple in the kitchen, the original barn burned down and also you can see traces of a chimney fire near the fireplace. It is amazing that over all the years, the whole place did not burn down.
You may wonder why there are two front doors. During the summer, the two front doors and the back doors would remain open to create air flow. The back porch was enclosed when Jennifer bought the home. Shelbie and Jennifer tore down the walls to make it a porch again. Back in the 30s it was a screened in porch. For weather protection the Clarks (previous owners) would let canvas down during cold/rainy weather since children mostly slept out here. They also had a wild mustang grape arbor that still exists.
There was no gas, proper plumbing, or sewage system in 1927 when the Clark family moved into the home. Instead, there stood an outhouse over yonder.
Shelbie met the daughter of Catherine Clark and she said that her mother’s family was very poor, so each Thanksgiving they would have a picnic under the pecan trees in the yard. After the picnic, the children would gather pecans so they could sell them in order to buy Christmas presents.
Also, during the years, Shelbie has found tons of marbles around the yard! Her mother and she made a game that they could not leave Heavenhill until they found a marble. After a big rain storm you can still find one or two! This section of the land has always been for gardening. Asparagus and garlic still come up every year. The Baldwin Family bought the home from the Clarks in 1965 after renting it from them for several years. Ms. Baldwin lived here until 2001. She loved to garden as well.