Opal Lawrence Historical Park
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Opal Lawrence Historical Park is setting to the Lawrence homestead, which was first conceived in 1874. The home is in the Texas prairie vernacular styling and has had very few changes since it was originally built. You can even still see many of the historic outbuildings, like the smokehouse, root cellar, wash house and two barns. There are also some chicken coops. Members of the Lawrence family lived in the home until 1995. This last family member left the home to the City of Mesquite in his will. But the highlight of this home is the rare painted ceilings, which depict rural life in Texas.
The Opal Lawrence Historical Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark, and recognized as a Century Family Farm by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Stephen Decatur Lawrence, son of John P. Lawrence of Maryland and Fannie Coats Lawrence of Tennessee, began building the Mesquite landmark Lawrence house in 1874, when he completed three rooms. In 1882, contractor Charley Florrer built an additional 14 rooms. Between 1886-1900, the kitchen and tower (belvedere) were added.
The home, which is considered Texas prairie vernacular styling, is basically in the same condition as it was originally built, with few modifications over the years. Outbuildings include a smokehouse, brick-lined root cellar, a wash house, large livestock barn (also built by Mr. Florrer in 1887) and mule barn. Assorted chicken coops also still are intact. The farmstead complex is representative of the evolution of domestic buildings from the 1870s to the late 20th century on the North Texas plains and blackland prairie. Lawrence family members continually resided at the home until November 1995. Historic Mesquite, Inc. (HMI) is currently raising funds for further restoration of the property, which includes the original brick-lined root cellar and smokehouse, washhouse, mulebarn and the New Hope Baptist Church building, which will be used for weddings and other special activities. The Noah Range Farmhouse, donated to the organization by Galloway Avenue Baptist Church, is now the office of HMI and the visitors center to the park. A special thanks to Benjamin Moore Paint for the wonderful colors on the house and barn and to the Quality of Life Corporation for funding.
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