At first glance the almost 90-year-old home in the Nuggett Hill residential district in Longview appears a snug, little cottage that might shelter an enchanted princess in some sweet fairy tale. A Christmas-tree shaped holly tree shields a side porch and leads the eye to the chimney along the home’s front wall, then to a tiny front porch and the arched wooden front door set into a peaked-roof entry built with bricks the color of gingerbread.
In actuality, the home at 1104 Turner Drive, owned by Paula and Dale Poole, encompasses two stories and 3,000 square feet on three lots. Turner Drive is one of the streets that form the border of the Nuggett Hill Historic District and is named for the family that once owned, then developed the land into a residential area during the 1930s oil boom.
Nuggett Hill is the city’s sole entry on the National Register of Historic Places, said Ellen Gordon, treasurer of Preservation Longview and a member of the Gregg County Historical Commission. The Poole home’s importance is in its seemingly diminutive stature among more palatial structures that come to mind when one considers homes of historical significance, she said.
Indeed, when the Pooles bought the home 25 years ago, they wanted “unique.”
“We like different,” said Dale, who owns and operates White Lights hair salon, adding they were attracted by the home’s character as well as its design, inside and out.
“Old houses just kind of have a soul that newer houses don’t,” he said. The Pooles didn’t want a cookie cutter home in a more modern subdivision, he said.
The home on Turner Drive hadn’t been lived in for four years when they found it. It had suffered deterioration so it required a lot of work, which they were ready to tackle, he said.
“Our friends thought we were crazy.” Friends also really like that holly tree.
The Pooles are the third owners of the home, which was built in 1932. The first owner was Harry Benjamin Zeigler, according to their records. Lawrence and Lillian Burkes bought the home in the 1960s and their son sold it to the Pooles after his parents’ deaths, Dale said.
It took some 18 months to finalize the sale, but the Pooles were so anxious to shape their dream they dove into the restoration work before final papers were signed.
“It was a diamond in the rough,” Dale said, and they were determined to unearth the original character of the French Tudor home featuring art deco design.
Up came yards of carpet to reveal the original wooden floors that the Pooles proceeded to refinish. Fresh paint on the plaster walls helped set off the arched doorways throughout the house, which also features two sets of French doors.
The Pooles wanted to buy the art deco furnishings that remained in the home, but the owner didn’t want to sell. He did leave behind a porch glider and a coffee table that the Pooles were happy to have. Most of their finds came from The Roxy, a Dallas retailer that specialized in art deco but has since closed.
Nevertheless, it took 20 years to furnish their house, Dale said.
“We didn’t buy things we liked,” he said. “We bought things we fell in love with.”
“We wanted it to look like a house built in 1932,” Paula said as she talked about work they did to restore the kitchen’s original look while adding modern updates to the plumbing and wiring along with granite counters and plantation shutters. Removal of a half wall helped open up more space, she said. The kitchen came with a built-in breakfast nook and buffet.
Along with a formal living room, the home has a formal dining room and both lie just behind the leaded glass windows that are easily spotted from the street. Paula said her favorite room in the house is the dining room.
Dale jokes that his favorite room is the detached garage where his woodworking hobby shares space with his wife’s car.
A butler door between the kitchen and the dining room is a reminder that most of the people who lived in Nuggett Hill originally had servants, Dale said.
Laughing, Paula added, “I’m the servant.”
A 1930s newspaper article described Nuggett Hill as having evolved “from cow pasture to the city’s most exclusive residential area. Many of the city’s finest and most beautiful homes are located in Nuggett Hill …” Advertisements touted its freedom from dust and traffic because the streets were all paved and guttered and no major thoroughfares ran through it.
The Poole home has four bedrooms, two and a half baths, two cedar closets and a walk-in attic that takes up the entire front part of the house. They keep the second floor shut off since their children are adults and no longer live at home, but they have no plans to go anywhere. Paula, who works for the Christus Good Shepherd Foundation, said it makes her sad to even think of leaving.
As they talk about their home it is evident she and Dale revel in its personality, such as when they talk about the bathrooms. Laughter punctuates their conversation as they talk about one feature that may surprise, then please, the modern eye — the color scheme in the downstairs bathroom fixtures, which are green, pink and purple. Such a palette was not unusual in 1930s homes, as the Pooles have discovered that at least three of their neighbors also have a purple tub and toilet.
Visitors who enter through the home’s alluring front door are greeted by the chandelier, which is original to the home. Dale said the fixture is all crystal and contains no metal.
“The Nuggett Hill area is just a real gem,” said Gordon, of the Historical Commission. She said she is proud that the Pooles recognized that in their home.
Indeed, they seem to have found the sparkle in their diamond in the rough.