February 14, 2007
Back in October, just as we began our renovation project, I was given information on the provenance of the house. Michael and I are the fourth owners. The original owners were a family by the name of Rhodes; originally from England, they came to Austin by way of Taylor, Texas. Apparently Mrs. Rhodes moved into the house in the 20's after her husband had passed away. Her youngest son, an IRS agent, and her daughter, a stenographer at the Fish and Wildlife Agency, lived with her for many years.
I can just imagine what a cool place this house must've been for them. Three people living in a 1,500-square-foot house. It was configured differently back then. There was a galley kitchen and a butler's pantry with a pot bellied stove that must've heated the whole house. There was a third bedroom off the kitchen and a screened in porch from there. Our contractor, Bill Moore, helped us piece together the scenario when we were a few weeks into our remodel. He used clues—like the fact there was no central heating vent and round holes for pipes going into the bedrooms—to figure out they used a heating stove.
I don't know how long Mrs. Rhodes lived in the house, but I do know her oldest son, Buddy was the final owner. There are legends of an 80-year-old Buddy climbing up on the roof every winter to close off the vents. This information I learned from Sonny Rhodes, the grandson of the original owner. We found he had sold the house after Buddy died and located him through a Google search. He still lives in Austin and, as coincidence would have it, has a house 2 blocks from where Michael and I are living during the remodel.