History lives here, in this simple, two-story house at what now is 322 Teague St.
It’s been on that small hill for more than 150 years, its wide porch welcoming stagecoach travelers before Longview found its way to the map, before oil became king in East Texas and long before a park and Boy Scout hut were built on the property’s eastern edge.
The beginnings of the Teague Home have been lost to time. The Upshur County Courthouse — Gregg County was carved out of Harrison, Rusk and Upshur counties — burned in the early 1870s, taking with it the records of the exact year the home was built. However, the home’s current owner, Ken Oden, says it might have been constructed as early as the 1850s by one of the original settlers of what was known as Earpville. (That’s pronounced “Arpville.”) Latimus Lafayette (“L.L.”) and Mary Teague of Abbeville, Alabama, purchased the 300-acre farm and related buildings in 1883.
“It is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, ‘survivor’ home in Gregg County. Through a series of unlikely events, it exists in its original, almost completely unchanged condition,” information from Oden says.
That can be attributed to a few factors. The house hasn’t changed hands many times over the years, with B.F. and Grace Martin, a couple known for their dedication to Longview and interest in local history, owning it for many years. After their deaths, the home went to the Longview Museum of Fine Arts, Longview Symphony and LeTourneau University. Oden, an Austin attorney and Tatum native, bought the house in 2012 and began an extensive renovation. Much of the work was completed by 2017, in time for the house to host the 100th anniversary celebration of Boy Scout Troop 201, which calls Teague Park home. More work has been completed for another upcoming deadline — the Gregg County Historical Museum’s Landmarks of Longview tour.
Oden has a love for history — this isn’t his first home restoration, but it’s a different kind of love that drove him to take on this particular project. Oden and Longview native Sherry Statman, presiding judge of the Austin Municipal Court and daughter of the late Max and Jan Statman of Longview, dressed in period clothing to welcome guests to the home recently. They said they’ll wear their historical gear — her in a hoop skirt and him in a jacket and boots — to greet people who tour the home during Landmarks of Longview on Sept. 21 and 22.
“I have done some restoration projects in other places, including my little home place in Tatum and another older house or two, nothing quite this extensive and demanding,” Oden said recently as he and Sherry sat in what they’ve named the Blue Parlor. Her hoop skirt took up much of the Victorian-style couch, a Statman family heirloom from the early 1940s that she’s had reupholstered.
“I love history and old houses, so that was part of it, but probably the bigger part of it is trying to impress a Longview girl,” Oden said. “Lord knows how many lives have been ruined in that type of endeavor. I’ve joined the legions of Gregg County men who just do what I’m told.”
Max and Jan Statman were community leaders in their own rights, with Jan hosting a public access cable television show for many years. She also was a well-known local artist. Sherry recalls that her parents were friends with the Martins, and as a child, she sometimes visited the home where Grace Martin operated a history museum — a precursor to the Gregg County Historical Museum — and tea room.
“During their lives, Jan and Max Statman took their children to Teague Park often, where their sons Charles and Louis became Eagle Scouts and where their daughter Sherry played and often waited for her brothers to finish a Scout meeting at the cabin, itself an historical part of Longview. The Statmans were friends of the Martin family, who were benefactors to the Longview community in many ways,” information about the house says.
Oden and Statman described how Grace Martin and her friends would stencil along the walls of the home — a border of stencil patterns that looks like the Teague House decorates the walls of the dining room, for instance.
“I always thought it was pretty and interesting,” Statman said of the house.
Teague Park, she added, was a place where many children had birthday parties when she was a child growing up in Longview. She sometimes roamed around the park with her father, feeding the ducks, and Oden recalls the park from the days when he would drive from Tatum to movie theaters here.
“There was a period of time, I think, when the usage of (Teague Park) declined. It’s kind of coming back now,” he said, noting that while they were renovating the house, the city upgraded the park. Veterans built a replica Vietnam wall and other veteran memorials in the park. A troubled motel on the park’s border has closed as well.
“It’s really getting better,” Oden said.
The years did take their toll on the house, and it required much restoration. Period-appropriate windows were installed. The foundation required work, along with exterior siding. Floor repairs were made, with old growth pine used to replace boards when necessary.
As they prepare to welcome people to tour the home, Oden and Statman showed off an element they installed so people could see what it took to build a home such as this: They installed a hinged panel that reveals one of the thick, hand-hewn beams used to build the house.
One thing that’s missing, though, is pictures of the Teagues and any furniture that belonged to the family. The most Oden and Statman have been able to learn is from military records, and they’re hoping someone might have more information or pictures of the family. Oden and Statman are hoping that anyone who learns about the renovation and has any items — or history — to share will get in contact with them by emailing Oden at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In the absence of any original furnishings, Oden and Statman decorated each room of the house with items from their families. In what’s called the Blue Parlor, downstairs, where Statman’s grandmother’s couch sits, a picture her mother painted of the Teague House hangs on one wall. A display case contains a picture of Statman’s family before she was born, her mother in the dress she wore for Longview’s centennial celebration, as well as Sherry Statman’s baby shoes.
The dress Jan Statman’s mother wore in the picture is on display in an upstairs bedroom, along with furniture that belonged to Oden’s grandmother, Vera Booth Williams.
Downstairs, the red parlor is home to several furniture pieces and other items significant to Oden’s family. His father, Drexel Oden, made a cedar chest on display there for Oden’s mother, Helen, when they were high school sweethearts.
In a display case in that room, Oden has placed a set of chimes that were used in train dining cars — his father and grandfather both worked in the railroad business, along with Texas artifacts, such as a Caddo Indian vase.
Two bedrooms upstairs contain furniture that belonged to his grandparents, Octavia and Ike York and Vera Booth Williams.
Oden and Statman are still working on plans for how the house can be used by the community. It is standing witness to a “sweeter way of life,” before television and radios and other technology, Statman said.
“It’s nice to be able to share that and show people what it’s like,” she said.
Oden said they’re both interested in family history — one of his life’s “themes” has been to study and preserve that history.
“But I’d never had an opportunity quite like this,” he said. “I think it helps people to see where it all came from. If you only go to the loop and North Longview, you would miss a lot of what created a successful town.”