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Historic Waco Foundation preserves homes, history

April 22, 1997

Kevin Johnson / The Baylor Lariat

The Hoffmann House serves as the office for the Historic Waco Foundation effort to restore

historic homes in the Waco area.

By Alison Hovanec

Lariat Reporter

The Historic Waco Foundation maintains four houses that preserve the history of Waco, McLennan County and the state.

The Hoffmann House, which serves as the office for the Historic Waco Foundation, was originally located at the corner of 19th Street and Webster Avenue.

The Clark Concrete Company, which owned the house and property, donated the house to the foundation. The group moved the house to its present location at 810 S. Fourth.

The house has its original 'painted lady' exterior. A 'painted lady' is a Victorian structure with three or more colors of exterior paint. The different colors of paint accentuate the intricate gingerbread exterior.

The layout of the Hoffmann House replicates the typical Victorian home, complete with one large bedroom, a parlor, a kitchen, a bathroom and three fireplaces. Before the days of electricity with central air heating, the fireplace served as the primary source of heating.

The most important room in the house was the music room. This room contains the original piano that provided entertainment for the family because there was no television or radio during this time.

W.H. Hoffmann built his house in the 1890s. His wife Ellie and their three children--Harry, Fay and Bird.

Mrs. Hoffmann wanted to send the children to dance lessons, but Mr. Hoffmann objected; without telling Mr. Hoffmann, she sold buttermilk and eggs to pay for the children's dance lessons.

Mrs. Hoffmann kept the children home from school twice a week for private dance lessons. When Mr. Hoffmann came home for lunch she would hide the children under the porch until he left.

Fay and Bird became excellent dancers and eventually traveled to New York to teach dance lessons. They came back to Waco after their father's death and converted the music room into a dance studio.

The Hoffmannettes taught five generations of Waco residents to dance.

The mission statement of the Historic Waco Foundation states, 'Our mission is to collect, maintain, preserve, publish and interpret the heritage and history of Waco, McLennan county and Texas.'

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