FORMAN HOUSE HISTORY, PLANO TX
James and Gwendolyn Workman purchased the Forman home in Plano, Texas in 1992. In order to purchase the home and property, an appraisal was needed. The condition of the house was very bad. The appraisal listed the house as having no value. It was suggested the house be removed and that a light manufacturing company replace it. The Workmans saw beyond demolishing the house. After six years of renovating, the home was restored. A large portion of the rear of the house could not be salvaged. It was removed and rebuilt. Most of the renovating preserved the original parts of the home. All original floors, trim and the stairway have been restored.
The Forman home is located in the historic part of old original Plano. It is located on Avenue K or the old Highway 75. It was built when Avenue K was the main entrance to Plano. It was, and still is, one of the busiest roads in Plano. The Forman home is north of the Carlisle home and 15th Street, south of Alpha Graphics and 18th Street, east of Avenue J and the railroad and west of the Municipal Center. The physical address is 1617 K Avenue, Plano, TX 75074.
III. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF HOUSE TO CITY
The Forman home, built in 1867, is an example of Greek Revival architecture. It was built by Joe and Elizabeth Forman, as their home, amid the two thousand acres of land they owned. The city of Plano, founded in 1853, elected Mr. Forman as their Mayor in 1877 and an alderman in 1881. The home has served as a residence, a stage coach stop, apartment house, numerous types of shops and businesses and now as a Scandinavian Food and Gift Shop and Cultural Center.
IV. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
A. LEGAL DESCRIPTION
The property’ s legal description is a part of the Joseph Klepper Survey, Abstract No. 213, Collin County, Texas and described as follows: "Being described as part of Lot 6, Block 2 of the Original Donation, Addition to the city of Plano, Texas according to the official plat and map in the County Clerk’s office of Collin County, Texas." (See appendix for full legal description.)
B. OWNERS HISTORY OF HOME
There is very little written about the history of this house. The following is an account of what we believe the history to be. It is based on our renovating and accounts of individuals who came forward with pieces of information.
In 1867, Mr. Forman and/or his help set the bois d’arc beams for a two-story 20’ X 20' wood framed home. The entrance faced the south, and the fireplace was built on the north side. The first addition was a 20’ X 20’ two-story to the south end of the house. The width of the right inside door, the rise in the floors, and the stairway and banister all document this. As the family grew in size and numbers, rooms were added to the west, possibly in two stages. At one time a small porch was added to the north side. This served as an entrance to the kitchen area. When the large portion of the back area was removed, three sets of roofs were uncovered. More room was needed so a lean-to was built over the existing roof and was repeated on two more occasions. The entire wood-framed house was built on bois d’arc beams. Behind the main house were two out buildings. The larger one to the west of the main building was the barn. Located to the north, on 18th Street, was a milk house. We found a brick road, about two feet below the present drive, going from the back door of the main house to the garage. We have been told this served as a cooler way to transport the milk from the barn to the milk house on 18th Street. The smaller out building was not a part of the original plan, but was built in the early 1940’s as a garage.
The Formans were dairy farmers owning two thousand acres of land in Plano. Cattle grazed in the open fields between the homestead and Central Expressway. Cows were milked in the large out building, and the milk transported and stored in the milkhouse on 18th Street. Vivian Newsome Gould remembers coming with her parents to purchase milk from a building in the back of the main house. (See appendix for account from Chicago T. A. Battery and Co., 1889.)
The homestead served as a residence for the Joe, Meroney and Ray Forman families. In the 1950’s it was turned into an apartment house. We have been told that if you married and did not own a home, you lived in the Foreman Apartment House, Plano’s only apartments at that time. Several former residents have stopped in and told us this. The upstairs housed two apartments. The downstairs housed two apartments and living quarters for the Formans. The large barn was removed and replaced in the early 1940’s with a 20’ X 40’ one-story building. Later two-story additions were made to each end; to the south a 20’ X 32’ area and to the north a 20’ X 20’ area. This building now had two one-bedroom apartments on the upper level and garages on the bottom level. The 20’ X 30' garage was built in the 1940’s. It was used as a garage until 1992 when it was converted and leased to a business, Holman Pottery.
The Forman Home served many needs over it’s 130 years. First as a residence for families, then apartments, a stage coach stop, retail and now as a Scandinavian Shop and Cultural Center. In the 1980’s, (Eleanor Hayden, owner), the upstairs was converted into a two-bedroom apartment.
This property has the unique designation of residence/business/historical. In 1983, the City of Plano designated the site as historical.
C. OWNERS OF HOME
1992 to present Jim and Gwen Workman
1981 to 1992 Eleanor Hayden
1976 to 1981 Herb and Joyce Buck
1973 to 1976 James R. Canton
1971 to 1973 Childress, Waddell and Tillerson
1948 to 1971 Ray Forman, Sr. (wife Eula) agent and Attorney-in-fact for Clint Forman, Ray Forman, Jr., Joe
Forman, Eugenia Forman and Harriett Forman Cook
1908 to 1948 Meroney and Genoa Forman
1867 to 1908 Joe and Elizabeth Forman
(See appendix for documentation.)
D. RENOVATION HISTORY
On April 15, 1992, Jim and Gwen Workman purchased the Forman Home from the Estate of Eleanor Hayden. The first renovating was done to the hall and room to the right of the entrance. The heating, air conditioning and electric systems were upgraded to meet city code. The ceiling had fallen and its general condition was dirty and in need of repair. The original stairwell was covered with dirty mustard colored-carpet, sheetrock was missing from the walls and debris was everywhere. We stripped the carpet and multiple layers of paint from the stairs, only to find the original colors of the stairs. We repainted the steps back to the original color and installed rubber mats for safety. The original handrail was sanded and finished with a fresh coat of clear varnish. The ceilings and walls were covered with sheetrock, textured and painted. All the floors were sanded and varnished, thus restoring the original pine and oak floors. This area is used for the selling of the gifts and food of Scandinavia at The Wooden Spoon. The entrance area is used to inform the public what is taking place in the Scandinavian community. Exterior repairs to the columns and second floor were done.
The second phase was cleaning, painting and bringing the garage to city code. This was leased to Holman Pottery in August of 1992. Next began the refurbishing of the upstairs level. One wall in the living area was removed only to have the ceiling completely fall down. All old linen wallpaper and insulation were discarded because of the accumulation of dirt and dust. We found sewer lines that were left uncapped and covered with flooring. Gas, water, sewer lines and pipes, no longer used, were left hanging in the partition of the rooms. The flooring was removed, all nails and holes made by the pipes were cut out and the original floor re-installed. The windows and walls were painted, the flooring was sanded and varnished and vinyl was laid in the kitchen and bath.
With a demolition permit from the city of Plano, we tore down the south end of the large out building. The decay had made this part of the building unsafe and unsalvageable. In time, this will be rebuilt back to the original footprint.
The end of the building was framed, sided and an entrance door added. The exterior was painted and debris removed. J.L. Workman of Texas, Inc. is located in this building. The one bedroom apartment to the north has been cleaned and painted. New carpet and vinyl were installed on the floors. This now serves as a classroom for the Wooden Spoon and office for J.L. Workman of Texas, Inc.
Both levels of the center of the Forman house on the west side were removed in March of 1995. The decay of this area made it impossible to salvage. A new wooden framed structure was built in its place. This added 400 square feet to the building. All wiring, plumbing, heat and air conditioning were put in according to city code. A stairwell serves as a fire escape from the upper level. These rooms were sheetrocked, textured and painted. The floor in the downstairs was carpeted the upper room has an oak floor. We purchased used flooring and had it sanded and varnished so it would fit the decor of the entire upstairs. At this time the carpet was removed from the two smaller rooms on the north side. When we removed the carpet, we found two inches of concrete, a pressed wood floor and then pine floors. The concrete and pressed wood were removed, the floors were then sanded and varnished. Now the upstairs boasts nice white walls and all wood floors. This area is used as Rosemaling and Decorative Painting studios, classrooms, meeting rooms and a library for the Wooden Spoon. The downstairs area is used as a store room and work room for The Wooden Spoon.
About one-fourth inch of paint covered the entrance. This was heat stripped and repainted to restore it. This was the original main entrance to the house. (Built during the second phase of the building.)
In July and August of 1998, all the vinyl siding was removed and replaced with wood siding. This was painted white. All windows were repaired and painted farmhouse red.
The only unfinished area is now occupied by the Wardrobe, a consignment clothing store. Construction will begin in late October to convert this to a Scandinavian deli.
When we bought the house we looked at it and said, “It is a beautiful old house, but it just needs a hug." We have been hugging it for six and one-half years now and we are proud of our work. To restore and preserve Plano’s oldest home has been very exciting for us.
E. HISTORY OF JOE AND ELIZABETH FORMAN FAMILY
William Forman and his sons Joe and William Junior made a scouting trip from Kentucky to Austin, Texas in the mid 1840’s. Later they returned to Plano. Although the exact day can not be documented, Mr. Forman purchased land from Salmon Beck, a family who appears on the 1850 Collin County, Texas census.
The Forman family was industrious. They were farmers and cattlemen, and so set out to acquire a vast amount of land. In addition to farming they built a gristmill, a distillery, a sawmill and a cooperage. These were located near the present Plano Mutual Cemetery on a small stream. Damming the stream provided water to operate the mills and cooperage.
Prior to the 1840’s, very little money exchanged hands. The early settlers were farmers who conducted their business by bartering. When the Formans arrived, they started enterprises with products to sell for cash. This changed the economy of Plano. Now the farmers could sell their corn for cash and buy other things or the Forman’s whiskey.
Mr. Forman conducted a private post office in his home until 1851 when he applied for permission to establish an official one. He was Plano’ s first postmaster, serving from 1852 - 1856. It was during the process of establishing a post office that Dr. Henry Dye and Mr. Forman were responsible for naming this settlement, "Plano".
William and Ruth Forman had nine children. One son was Joe. In 1843, Joe married Elizabeth Hughes. To this union, nine children were born. Joe followed in the family businesses of farming, cattle, distillery and gristmill. He was a successful farmer, owning much land and cattle.
In 1867, Joe Forman built his family a home. It can not be documented as to what the original size of the house is, but it is believed to have been a 20' X 20' two story framed house. As his family grew, he built additions to the house. Here he and Elizabeth conducted their business and raised their nine children.
Joe Forman was a very responsible and involved man. The following accounts show some of his involvements.
By early March 1861, Texas had seceded from the Union and had joined the newly emerging Confederacy. In August of 1861, Joe Forman and several others were appointed by the Commissioners Court in McKinney as patrols. These men were responsible for the safety of the citizens of the county. Joe served in the Confederate army from 1862 - 1865. He served on the awards committee of the County Fair in McKinney beginning in 1860. He was a trustee of the Masonic Lodge. In 1868, the trustees purchased the Gossum storehouse for $1,000 from the estate of Hampton H. Gossum. This would become the Masonic Lodge hall and building. In 1873, Joe Forman and several others formed the East Fork Plank and Macadamized Road Company. Their purpose was to construct a plank and macadamized road and to keep up a bridge that crossed the East Fork at Crum. In February 1907, the city council passed an ordinance granting the Texas Traction Company the right to construct and operate their electric railway in and through the city of Plano. In April of 1907, Elizabeth Forman, now a widow, and Meroney and Genoa Forman deeded a strip of their land to the city for the railroad’s use. The Forman family indeed were very instrumental in the settling and forming of the city of Plano. Joe Forman (1822-1897) and Elizabeth (1824-1919) are buried in the Plano Mutual Cemetery on 18th Street and Jupiter.
F. SOURCES OF INFORMATION
1. Book, “Plano, Early Days”
2. Harrington Library, newspaper article
3. Vivian Gould Newsome
4. Mrs. Francis Wells
5. Chicago F.A. Battery and Co. 1889
6. Jim and Gwen Workman
7. Individual accounts