The Thruston House

B.F. Hicks

The September/October 2010 Preservation Magazine published by The National Trust for Historic Preservation has a great article on the necessity of preserving historic character. I visited Drayton Hall in August of this year. I’ve heard of it for years and knew of the theory: if you have historic interiors, don’t cover them up.

The magazine has a great lead story with the theme in bold print: “Houses get so over-restored that they have no emotional context, no sense of the past that is pervasive in the present. We are going to try to keep this one looking like an old house.”

You’d have to know what happened in our own organization. We are restoring the 1868 Thruston House; well-documented home of Confederate Soldier Henry Clay Thruston. The wood on the door frames had “alligatored”; the light paint on the wooden walls in the hallway had faded and peeled away and left about half of the underlying wood exposed. We were painting all surfaces when Connie McGill and Tom Wilkinson surfaced and said: “leave this house alone.” They brought in architects approved by the National Trust. We stopped painting and we have the emotional context; that sense of the past “that is pervasive in the present.”

Go check out the Thruston House; take a child. When we asked Jean Ann Marshall what her take was on painting over the hall, she replied: “Leave it alone; it took 140 years to get to this stage.” Come bring a child for the sense of the house where Thruston lived and pose the child beside Thruston’s life-size 7 foot 7-1/2 inch likeness (don’t ask me why, but it’s true: the old reports always include that additional one-half inch; he must have been in some competition). And friends, it is certainly true: when he arrived he came to Titus County but he was living in what is now Franklin and after the creation of our county in 1875, no one else has a claim on him. Come check out the man’s house and the other treasures we maintain through our organization.

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