Stafford-Miller House - Columbus, TX
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Benchmark Blasterz
N 29° 42.312 W 096° 32.404
14R E 737990 N 3288651
Quick Description: OST travelers who wanted to gawk at how the 1% lived in the late 19th century could take a look at the Stafford-Miller House, one blck off the OST in downtown Columbus TX
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 12/20/2017 9:03:24 AM
Waymark Code: WMXB2Z
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 5

Long Description:
The Stafford Opera House was built in 1886 by wealthy cattleman and banker Robert Stafford. He hired famous 19th-century Texas architect Nicholas Clayton to design it.

Stafford was so proud of his building that he built himself a mansion next door, where he look over and see opera performances without leaving the comfort and opulence of his own home.

The Stafford Opera House was a big deal building in this small town, and drew patrons from several counties around Columbus, most of whom traveled to Columbus by train before the automobile era began. Afterwards, they came via the US 90/OST. Once the Opera Hose closed, OST tourists could get a look at how the 1% lived in the 19th century by tootling by in their "infernal machines."

The Stafford-Miller House is located along Spring street east if the Stafford Opera House. It is across the street from the Colorado County Courthouse, one block south of the OST/US90.

A state historical marker in the front yard of this historic home reads as follows:

"STAFFORD-MILLER HOUSE

Ornate Victorian house built for millionaire cattleman-banker Robert E. Stafford (1834-90), one of the organizers of Columbus Meat & Ice Co. Stafford built home and opera house in same year, 1886. By design, he could sit in his bedroom and see opera house stage performances, next door.

Home lost a cupola in 1909 hurricane; It was owned by the Staffords until 1915, then sold to Mrs. Helena Miller, whose descendants still preserve it.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1974

Addendum plaque:
After death of Mrs. Helena Miller on April 14, 1936, house was inherited by E.G. Miller, who is the present owner. (1973)"

From the Texas Historical Commission: (visit link)

"Old Spanish Trail

Evoking the early Spanish conquistadors, explorers, and missionaries who came to Texas and other southern states centuries ago, the historic named highway known as the Old Spanish Trail (OST) includes segments of some of the oldest roads and trails in Texas. Spanning the nation from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California, the OST took a more southerly route than the Bankhead Highway and was touted as the shortest transcontinental highway in the United States, especially when compare to the Lincoln Highway, which extends from coast to coast across the nation's mid-section. The OST enters Texas at Beaumont, passing through Houston and San Antonio before leaving Texas via El Paso, with various alignments.

Impetus for the creation of the highway stems from the efforts of a group of individuals, primarily from Florida and Alabama, who met in Mobile, Alabama, in 1915 to create the Old Spanish Trail Association. It was one of many such auto trails groups established around the county as part of the Good Roads movement that promoted improvements to and expansion of the nation's highways. The route quickly assumed a leading role in Texas' emerging highway system, in part, because it traveled to not only some of the state's most important nodes of military installations and industrial centers, but also some of the state's best known tourist destinations, parks, and recreational centers.

The historic highway has largely been subsumed into IH 10, which often follows historic alignments associated with the road. Segments of the historic roadway still exist on segments of varying lengths that parallel the interstate highway. Nonetheless, of all the named highways in Texas, the OST arguably has retained its historic identity to a highest degree because of its direct link to the state's rich history. The sense of pride that Texans have enjoyed and appreciated through the state's history contributed to the enduring quality of the name Old Spanish Trail, and the term is still used in Houston and other cities along its route."

Old Spanish Trail Historic Context Report (3 MB)

Old Spanish Trail National Registration Listing (US 90 to Interstate 10, Columbus, Colorado County; 7.6 MB)

The Old Spanish Trail (OST) segment immediately east of the Colorado River near Columbus is a 1.4-mile-long section of a state highway built in 1920-21. The nominated road runs between business routes US 90 at the western terminus, and the north access road to Interstate 10, which later served as the main line of US 90 before the construction of the interstate highway."

And from the Old Spanish Trail in Texas website: (visit link)

"As the Old Spanish Trail Highway progressed from Houston to San Antonio the route never strayed too far from the main Southern Pacific railroad tracks. This was because a right of way was already established. Wagons and early cars had being following the line for years. Very significantly, it also allowed for the easy transportation of road materials and equipment. Most highways were still using Macadam construction, requiring successive layers of rocks of descending size with a top layer of gravel. Enormous quantities of rock were required. Early trucks could not carry heavy loads over great distances in large part due to lagging tire technology and the poor state of the roads themselves. However, they were well suited for short haul. They were loaded from trains at rail sidings along the route and in this way the road made good progress through the wealthier and more populated counties. Without a hard surface, the growing number of vehicles and the increasingly heavy trucks faced many problems along the way. Not all of these were accidental. For some reason, even in the height of summer, a wet spot on the road between Weimer and Schulenburg just would not go away. Drivers familiar with the road would gun their engines in an effort to get across, but frequently found themselves stuck yet again. A local farmer, who just happened to be nearby with a team of horses, was more than willing to tow them out for a mere $5.00. This at a time when a gallon of gas cost 25 cents. The OST did deviate from the railroads if counties along the way offered greater participation. Gonzales County did just that and so the OST swung south between Flatonia and Seguin, avoiding Luling at the southern tip of Caldwell County. Nearby Shiner, in Lavaca County, with its famous brewery, was not on the OST directly but its brew master, Kosmos Spoetzl, well known for marketing his beer personally from the back of a Ford Model T certainly took advantage of the improved road. Being near the new main highway brought an additional advantage to railroad access."
Submission Criteria:

Period Culture
Distinctive or Significant Interest


Website with More Information: [Web Link]

Address of Waymark:
Spring Street at Milam Street
Columbus, TX


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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Raven visited Stafford-Miller House - Columbus, TX 5/8/2021 Raven visited it
jhuoni visited Stafford-Miller House - Columbus, TX 9/17/2017 jhuoni visited it
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Benchmark Blasterz visited Stafford-Miller House - Columbus, TX 1/1/2012 Benchmark Blasterz visited it

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