Coryell County, Texas Home Preservation
While driving into the entry of the Texas Hill Country on Highway 36 between Gatesville and Temple, we spotted a breathtaking steep-pitched timber frame barn and dogtrot log home sited to the left of the road. In the dead of winter the hundred-year-old live oaks hid the entry to the barn, but the specimen crepe myrtle couldn’t conceal the signature ‘dog run,’ an open breezeway between the two dovetailed-cornered cribs of the old house.
“What is that?” we asked, knowing well the structures here were a fine example of Texas’ mid-to-late nineteenth century built environment. We didn’t realize it was the home where our client’s mother was born. “That’s Mama’s house, the one we came to see,” he said.
The name “dogtrot” comes from family dogs finding comfort in summer heat from breezes through the passageways between the two sides of the home. Texas settlers enjoyed a similar respite in the long days of August in this ingenuous pioneer climate control.
Some people think the passageways were closed in winter to keep out the chilling winds and provide an extra room for the large Texas families.
A Tennessee doctor migrated to Texas in the mid 1800s and lived in the cabin off Highway 36 with his brother, his brother’s wife, and 15 children. A century-and-a-half later, descendants of this family want to restore the Coryell County dog-trot house for a comfortable getaway where they can restore the history and feel the presence of their stalwart Texas relatives.