Central Texas

Hearn-Gidden House in Kosse

Hearn-Gidden House in Kosse by Noel Kerns

Kosse, located in Limestone County in Central Texas, has a colorful history dating to 1869. Born as a railroad village, Kosse has had booms and busts throughout its history. It is the birthplace of the famous Bob Wills, who brought “Texas Swing” to popular and country music. Kosse has also had the infamous, in the person of gunslinger John Wesley Hardin who once killed a man in a downtown hotel of the time.

The Hearn-Gidden House

Prior to 1873, Mr. R. Hearne, a successful local cotton farmer, purchased approximately 23 acres of land from the Ruben Flippins survey of Kosse, Texas. He initially built  a two-story, four-room house in the salt-box style on the property in 1873.

In 1893, Mr. Hearne hired Anderson Johnson, a well-known builder from Waco and “Victorianized”  the home in the styles of Queen Anne & Gothic Revival, completing it in 1894, more than doubling the original size of the home.

In 1905, Mr. Ike Gidden and his wife Carrie purchased  the home and land from Mr. Hearne for the sum of $4,000. Like Mr. Hearne, Mr. Gidden was an extremely successful cotton farmer leasing area land from 1,000 acres and up to 5,000 acres in some years. He soon added a carriage shed in the hipped roof style of a barn that later would later house his 1916 Oldsmobile touring car.In 1917, an electrical generator was brought to Kosse, powered by the auxiliary steam engine at the local cotton gin. Streetlights were installed along Narcissus street, and east along what is now Hwy. 7 to the Hearne-Gidden House, making it the first house south of the county seat, Groesbeck, to have electric lights. Ike Gidden died in 1937, and his widow Carrie lived in the home maintaining her renowned gardens and herb gardens until her death in 1953.

In the 1960’s, the home was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Dwight Hunter from heirs, with plans to restore it. However Mr. Hunter was killed in a oilfield accident and Mrs. Hunter did not have the resources for the project. It was rented for several years in the 1960’s by Mrs. Hunter, but ultimately became vacant.

In 1989, Mr. Marc Tuton purchased the property from Mrs. Hunter who hoped to realize her dream for the house through his efforts. Mr. Tuton begin working on the restoration in 1989, doing the vast majority of the work himself over several years. Mr. Tuton stated at the time, “This wonderful home and piece of Texas history should be preserved for future generations of Texans to enjoy”. However, due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, work on the house ceased and it again languished. In May of 2014 Mr. Tuton made the difficult decision to sell his historic dream home to the Kosse Heritage Society, wanting to see it restored to it’s earlier grandeur as the last Victorian farmhouse in the area.

The Kosse Heritage Society will be developing a long-term goal for the Hearne-Gidden House along with detailed restoration plans with the assistance of experts in Texas historic housing such as Preservation Texas.

Reprinted from Kosse, Texas & Old House Kosse | Photo by Noel Kerns