The Roach House Cover

Nelson and Misty Roach in the main entry to their home on Monday November 19, 2018. (Michael Cavazos/News-Journal Photo)

The Bramlette Estate holds a significant place in Longview’s history, but it is love that propels it toward the city’s future: the love of childhood dreams, of nature, of hard work, of beautiful things, and the love between a husband and wife.

The Bramlette House, as some call it, sits on 22 acres at the corner of H.G. Mosley and McCann Road, screened from view by lush greenery and enclosed by a white fence. A brick-paved drive winds through sculptured grounds and leads to the colonial revival home built in 1932 by Erskine Bramlette and now owned by Misty and Nelson Roach.

Bramlette built the home on what was the family farm, according to Preservation Longview. His oldest son, Joseph, a graduate of the Harvard School of Architecture, designed the estate and the formal English gardens that boast several fountains.

Information provided by Misty Roach said Joseph lived in the home after his father’s death and was known for hosting lavish parties. Guests included Liberace and other celebrities such as Rock Hudson and Truman Capote. The home’s formal living room graced the cover of Architectural Digest in 1968. Since Bramlette’s death, the home has had two owners, Dr. David Sadler, who bought the home in 1991 and made extensive renovations, and the Roaches.

Nelson, an attorney, bought the estate for Misty in 2016, and the couple has transformed the 7,000-square-foot home’s interior that holds art, china and furniture, much of it from the 17th and 18th centuries. For Misty, it was a childhood dream come true. She has chosen each item herself, including a set of chairs that once belonged to Napoleon Bonaparte and countless other rare items.

Not one to sit back and watch, Misty has taken an active role in the home’s transformation and now has taken aim at restoring even more of the grounds, at times working side by side with the grounds crew. She wants to see what emerges there as undergrowth is cleared and graceful oak trees are exposed along with some surprising finds, including a creek and structures that may have served as hideouts for people fleeing raids at local speakeasies in the last century, she said.

The grounds were what drew the couple to the estate, having enjoyed the landscape for some time as they drove by. They have planted 7,000 daffodils and increased the azalea and rose bush populations by several thousand.

In addition to living there, the Roaches want to to share the estate with as many people as possible, she said. Area nonprofit groups have benefited from events hosted by the Roaches. These include the Gregg County Historical Museum and the Longview Ballet Theatre. During events, docents are assigned specific areas of the house to guide guests on tours.

A self-taught designer, Misty owned a hair salon in Pittsburg for 25 years and sold home décor from there. Design continued to take a larger role in her life, and eventually she began designing entire homes. Now she searches the internet and Dallas antique shops for the items that inhabit the home she once dreamed of with the antiques that graced those dreams.

The kitchen is Misty’s favorite room in the house, and she says the heart of any home is in its kitchen. The stove, manufactured in France, is flanked by a pair of 19th century Italian lion sculptures. A pair of white Ridgway pitchers and a silver centerpiece from the same era also sit in the room.

In the evening, Misty and Nelson, whose law firm is in Daingerfield, exchange stories about their days, and she cooks dinner.

After they began to date, the couple, married in 2015, found they shared a love of architecture and a passion for giving. When they bought the home, they wanted a place where they could entertain and share their good fortune. She had long admired the estate “with all the azaleas” but doubted it was for sale. To their surprise, it was, and Misty laughs as she recalls asking Nelson, “Did you bring your checkbook?”

A few days later, it was theirs.

“ ‘I want you to make this into our dream,’ ” he told her. “I was a dreamer, and Nelson has made it real.”

She called longtime friend Pam Storey from Austin, who revived the home’s walls with Venetian plaster, providing the palette for Misty’s design acquisitions. General contractor David Calhoun shares Misty’s enthusiasm for reviving the estate.

“I don’t think you realize what this place will be one day,” he told her.

Surrounded by furnishings from past centuries when art lived not only in paintings but furnishings, tools, clothing, dishes and décor, Misty extends her dream outdoors.

“The grounds I’ll work till the day I die,” she said, planning for the day when underprivileged children will hunt Easter eggs on the grounds, or just play.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to share with someone who really loved me,” she said. “It’s our own private arboretum that we can share with others.”