This ranch property in Jack County is in the Jacksboro/Lake Bridgeport area, on a precipice with a fall of 150 ft. affording a view of the stunning Trinity River Valley. When you open the front door of the home, the view through the back stretches for 20 miles. The design takes full advantage of this arresting panorama and affords a 360-degree area of activity for family, friends, and guests while still providing separation of living and entertainment pursuits. The ranch property has been in the Henderson family since 1890 and was originally 30,000 acres and used to raise cattle.
Jack County was a borderland between the Caddo Indians to the east and the Comanche Indians to the west in the early part of this area’s history. The first Europeans to visit the area may have been Spaniards under Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in the sixteenth century, but they created no permanent settlements. Jack County was included in the Texan Emigration and Land Company, more commonly known as the Peters Colony. Settlers began arriving in the future county by 1855, and by 1856 the first settlement, Keechi, was established. Early settlers entering Jack County came mainly from the middle South states, primarily Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky, many by way of Smith County or other parts of Texas.
A cattle ranch that’s been in the family for generations provides a century of memories and acreage aplenty to get out of the city. Not to mention some pretty sweet views.
When your lot size is 10,000 acres, you have choices when you decide to finally build that weekend getaway. The historic Henderson Durham Ranch, established in 1890, rolls through Jack County, about 70 miles northwest of Fort Worth, and doesn’t lack for scenery.
“The ranch has been in our family since 1890 and originally was 30,000 acres,” says Donna Henderson Craft, co-owner of an online art/jewelry gallery in Fort Worth. “We’ve been coming out here since I was a kid, but always stayed at Mom’s house in Jacksboro.” (“Mom” is Carol Henderson, founder of the Carol Henderson Gallery. It was her great-great- grandfather, Thomas Henry Cherryhomes, who bought the acreage as a cattle ranch.)
Donna’s son was busy with extracurricular activities and baseball when growing up, and weekend getaways didn’t always fit into the family’s full schedule. Finally, the timing felt right. Donna had her husband Ross do the honors of picking out a perfect spot.
“Of course, you have to consider all the boring but critical things like access to water and electricity,” she jokes. But Ross did well, finding a spot on a precipice that has a 150- foot drop-off and offers a stunning view of the Trinity River valley. It also catches those all-important summer breezes.
They hired architect Stephen B. Chambers, who has designed several new ranch homes and helped preserve several more.
Together they came up with a 4,600-square-foot home that offers a 360-degree view of the ranch, including a 20-mile view through the front door. It provides plenty of room for family gatherings with an open concept that combines kitchen, dining area and living room.
As the ranch is a family affair, Carol recently had a home built for her and her husband — they used the same builder — and Donna’s brother, who lives in Dallas, built a few miles away about 12 years ago.
The house was completed in November 2012. “We loved coming out here as kids,” says Donna. “The West Fork of the Trinity runs through the property. We fished and rode horses and played in the river. Today, our son and his friends hunt and fish. He loves it out here.”
“People always ask what we do out here when they visit for the first time. You can do anything, or you can do nothing at all.”
– Carol, Owner
It remains a working cattle ranch, originally Hereford, but today hosts an Angus-Limousin herd.” While quail remain scarce, wild turkeys and deer are regular visitors. Coyotes can be heard, if not seen, and there’s evidence of big cats. Wild hogs, too, roam the acreage. Warmer weather means the landscape greens up, but it also brings snakes. “Every season has its beauty; it’s just a little safer in the winter,” says Carol, who’s thrilled to have more kids and grandkids visit now that she and her children have houses on the ranch. “Everyone ends up at Donna’s place, because she cooks for all of us.”
It’s not just the kitchen that’s warm and inviting. The house was designed to take advantage of the views — a pair of binoculars is a must-have accessory — but also to be comfortable. Materials — much of the stone was taken from the ranch — add to the rustic feel. Solid-wood beams soften the effect of the tall ceilings in the great room.
Oversize distressed-leather and rustic sofas and chairs are welcoming to those who might have a little mud on their boots.
In cool weather, armloads of colorful Pendleton blankets, also used as bedspreads, are available for family members and guests to spread over their laps while hanging out by the fireplace, indoors or out.
Artwork, ranging from works by painters represented in the gallery to pieces found during trips to the Texas coast and New Mexico, is found throughout the home. But the views are the star of the show.
By Permission: 360westmagazine.com February 2015, Written by Meda Kessler; Photography by Jeremy Enlow