White-Pool House (Texas)
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Author: Billy Hathorn, 2008
The White-Pool House is a historic structure in Odessa, Texas, included on the National Register of Historic Places. Opened to the public in 1984, the house retains many of its original furnishings and some rotating exhibits.
The two-story red-brick structure, located at 112 East Murphy Street (east of the downtown Odessa area), was built in 1887; it is the oldest surviving structure in the city. The rooms in the White-Pool House parallel two significant periods of history: (1) The 1880s during the pioneer era when it was built and occupied by the White family and (2) The 1930s during the oil boom when it was the home of the Pool family. In the back of the house are a windmill, a barn and other farm buildings, and an outhouse of handmade blocks dating from the founding. In the barn is a display of permanent exhibits of horse-drawn equipment.
The White-Pool House is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Guided tours for individuals or groups are available; there is no admission fee. An events center, the house can be rented for private gatherings such as weddings.
The White era
Charles White (1824-1905) and his wife, the former Lucy Haughton (1830-1920), former residents of Indiana and members of the Quaker denomination, arrived in Odessa accompanied by their two sons, Wilfred and Herbert. Lucy had a perceived health issue which the couple felt might improve were she to live in a drier climate like that of West Texas. Charles’ grain business in Indiana had failed in the economic stress of the decades following the American Civil War. The railroad was selling property in Ector County; thus, the Whites came to Odessa to begin their lives anew. Charles and Wilfred operated a general merchandise store at Third and North Grant streets. Charles also planted a pear and peach orchard with the windmill as the centerpiece of the irrigation system. He grew sorghum, cotton, and vegetables.
White purchased a section of land near the railroad tracks for $870 and built the Victorian-style house. In 1890, Wilfred White was appointed as only the second postmaster of Odessa, and the next year voters elected him as county surveyor.
The Pool era
Charles is interred at Elmwood Cemetery in Mineral Wells in Palo Pinto County, Texas, where the family moved prior to Charles' death. Wilfred sold the house, which changed hands several times thereafter until Oso William Pool (1889-1988) and his wife, the former Helen Augutha Voss (1904-1979), purchased it in 1923.
In 1927, with petroleum discovered in the Permian Basin, an influx of people into Odessa created a housing shortage. Pool therefore turned the house into a five-unit apartment building, a decision which required adding bathrooms, closing in porches, and partitioning the rooms. Pool lived in the basement and rented out the upper rooms. Over the next half-century, ownership of the house was transferred between family members, and its condition deteriorated.
Finally, on June 12, 1978, Pool gave the house and six acres of land to Ector County for historical preservation. Restoration was undertaken between 1979 and 1984. In 1986, the White-Pool House Friends, a non-profit organization, was formed for charitable and educational purposes to preserve the historical heritage of the house.
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