Williamson County
Texas History

 

 

Arnold Adolph and Mary Spacer Home
Historical Marker

Granger, Texas


204 Rio Grande

  Marker Text:
Designed by architect William Flick, this house was built between 1921 and 1923 for Arnold Adolph (A. A.) Spacek and his wife Mary Julia (Cervenka). A. A. Spacek (1896-1952) was a locally prominent grocer, banker and merchant who also served as postmaster and mayor of Granger. He was closely associated with Governor Dan Moody and a friend of future President Lyndon B. Johnson, who gave him the nickname "Double A." The house is a modest bungalow with typical craftsman and prairie school characteristics, such as the low pitched gable roof and widely overhanging eaves. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1999


 
 
 
Arnold Adolph Spacer Home
Historical Narrative by Leah Rae Strmiska 1998

Suburban residential dwellings built between 1900 and 1935 often had stylistic roots in a variety of architectural interests prevalent at that time, the results of which were often eclectic. A fine example is the Arnold Adolph Spacek home located on Lots 1 and 2, and half of Lot 3 in Block 10 of the Walton Addition in Granger, Texas. [1] Originally designated as 310 Rio Grande, the street number was changed to 204 Rio Grande after the County Commissioners Court reassigned addresses at the request of the Emergency Medical Services in 1996.

With touches of Mission and Prairie style influences, the Spacek home may perhaps best be categorized as a part of the Arts and Crafts or Craftsman period (1905-1930), a dominant style for modest homes clearly developed out of interests nurtured by the Mission and Prairie styles, with elements sometimes referred to as Bungalow forms.

Characteristics of this style found in the Spacek home are the low pitched gabled roof forms, with not only broad but unenclosed eaves, as well as decorative brackets. Also consistent with this style is its multi-gabled form with a strong asymmetrical frontal orientation. Both the exposed roof rafters and bracket supports are definitely characteristic of this eclectic architectural form. The entrance features a Craftsman period door with transom and sidelights.

The Mission style is clearly reflected in the original red tile roof covering widely over-hanging eaves and broad open porches supported by substantial rectilinear columns. The stucco finish and slightly arched openings at the porch support this influence. Lacking, however, is the Hispanic character often associated with Mission architecture.

The low-pitched roof and broad eaves, as well as the one story wings and dominant porch, connect elements of the house to the Prairie style. Strong front-facing gables, horizontal sills and copings, are also indicative of this truly American style popular in the Midwest for a relatively short time from 1900 to 1920.

A Taylor builder and contractor named Fairchild began construction of this 3,780 square foot home in 1921 from plans drawn by architect William Flick. 500 loads of dirt, at a cost of $2.00 per load, were hauled and spread on the 150' X 160' home site before construction began. The foundation, very deep and supported by concrete piers, was said to have been strong enough to support a 3-story commercial building. [2]

The two-story white stucco house with multi-gabled roof has four porches; a large one on the front facing east, a back porch on the west, and one on either side. It is not known when the Spaceks replaced the original tile roof with red composition shingles.

The lower floor consists of a living room, dining room, dinette, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, sun parlor, back sitting room, utility area, and a hall with stairway. Two bedr000ms, one bath and a hallway comprise the upper floor.

An interior decorator from Dallas was hired to design the cornice boards and drapes in the living room and sun parlor. [2] Except for tile in the sun parlor and downstairs bathroom, floors throughout the home are oak. Kitchen counter tops are of gray and white antique marble. Adjacent to the kitchen in the breakfast room is a china cabinet with antique leaded glass doors.

Born in Fayetteville, Texas on 16 September 1886, [2] Arnold Adolph Spacek came to Granger at an early age and was married to Mary Julia Cervenka in a ceremony performed by Rev. Francis Pridal at the Granger Catholic Church on 17 September 1907. [3] Mary Cervenka was born in Granger on 24 February 1888. [2]

In his early years Mr. Spacek owned a tailor shop. He also owned a grocery and dry goods store which he purchased from the Elick estate. [2] It was located next to the Granger National Bank where he served as a Director from May 1920 to January 1934. He also served as First Vice President and Secretary to the Board for several years. [5]Twice elected mayor of Granger, Spacek held that office from 1929 to 1931, and again from May 1939 to March 1945. [6] In 1930-31 he worked for Governor Dan Moody as a state bank examiner, and studied law to enable him to settle "fence" disputes. He also served as postmaster of Granger from 1947 to 1949. [7]

Lyndon Baines Johnson, whose political career Spacek helped launch at corn festivals in Granger, became a close friend and frequent guest in the Spacek home. It was the future President who coined the nickname "Double A", by which Arnold Adolph Spacek was commonly known. [2] A photograph which appears in Barbara McCandless' book, "Equal Before the Lens", shows Johnson at a a political rally in Granger during one of his early campaigns. Among members of the band shown in the photograph are the grandfather and uncle of Mrs. Strmiska, present owner of the Spacek home. [4]

"Double A" and Mary Spacek and their four children moved into their new home in September 1923. [2] One might speculate, and certainly the opulence of the home suggests that the Spaceks were already anticipating two of many happy events that were to take place there. In formal wedding ceremonies, both daughters Thelma and Rose would later descend the stately stairway and take their marriage vows before the fireplace in the living room.

The oldest child, Thelma, married Elmore Torn of Taylor on 25 June 1929. The Torns had two children - popular actor Rip Torn, and a daughter, Patricia.

The Spacek's youngest child, Rose Mae, married Weldon Byrd on 2 June 1940. The Bryds now reside in Austin and are the parents of Judith Ann and Weldon Chapman Byrd. [2]

Edwin A., the Spacek's older son, currently resides in Quitman, Texas, and is the father of film star Cissy Spacek, and Edwin Spacek, Jr.

Arnold and Mary's third child and younger son, Clarence Lewis, is deceased.

The Spacek children and grandchildren cherish pleasant memories of many happy hours spent in this home. A. A. Spacek died on 28 September 1952, at age 66. Mrs. Spacek continued to reside in their home until her death on 26 September 1970.

The house remained vacant for two years after Mrs. Spacek's death. It was purchased on 18 July 1972 by Jane Novotney for [8] the sum of $22,000. Mrs. Novotney had arrived in Granger with her three children that year to serve as president of the First State Bank of Granger. The following year she moved away, and on 17 July 1973 the house was purchased by E. J. and Leah Rae Strmiska, [9] who currently reside there with their five children,
Debra, Gregory, John, Rebecca and Ramona.

Researched and written by:
Leah Rae Strmiska

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