Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

C.C. and Hughes Cody House

Historical Marker

Georgetown, Texas

circa 1895

 
click on thumbnail image for an enlarged view
C.C. and Hughes Cody House - 1895
304 East University Avenue
 

 

 

GPS Coordinates
North 30.633206  - West -97.674731
North +30° 37' 59.54"  - West  -97° 40' 29.03"
UTM 14 R - Easting: 627001- Northing: 3389678

 

 

This home was built for Dr Cody (some times call the "Grand Old Man") and Mrs. Martha Cody. Dr Cody was a long time professor at Southwestern for 37 years - he stared out as a mathematics professor and later became Southwestern Collage's first dean. 

Marker text
Georgia native Claude Carr Cody (1854-1923) worked at Southwestern University for 37 years, serving as a mathematics professor and university administrator. He was known as the "Grand Old Man of Southwestern." He wed Martha "Mattie" Hughes in 1883, and her father, judge and legislator Thomas P. Hughes, gave them this lot, adjacent to one he had given to another daughter, Lonetta Booty. The Codys completed their home by 1897. The Free Classic Queen Anne house features Doric columns, an octagonal corner bay and a distinctive oval window. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2005

 



 
 

 

THE C. C. CODY HOUSE - 1897

narrative by Byron & Sharon Reese, Owners

 

On February 27, 1895. Thomas P. Hughes [1] deeded to his married daughter. Mattie Hughes Cody “the W half of Block A Hughes Addition" in Georgetown. Texas. [2] He had earlier deeded the east half of the same block to his other married daughter Lonetta Hughes Booty. [3]

 

Almost immediately, the Cody's began building their dream house. [4] And by 1897, the house was complete. We don't know if Cody's instructions to the architects to keep the price of the house to $28,005 were followed, but they tried, the architect even taking a reduced fee to help meet the budget. But Cody really wanted the 12-foot ceilings') and the back staircase, and those things cost money. But we are getting ahead of ourselves...

 

Who Was C. C. Cody?

The Handbook of Texas Online, a Texas history resource of the University of Texas at Austin, has this biography of Cody:

 

"CODY, CLAUDE CARR (1854-1923). Claude Carr Cody, teacher, mathematician and university administrator son of Madison Derrell and Fanny (Carr) Cody. was born in Covington. Georgia on November 5, 1854. In 1875 he received an A.B. degree from Emory College with highest honors and in 1878 Emory awarded him the A.M. degree... On January 20, 1879. Cody became professor of mathematics at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. With great distinction he taught and served Southwestern for thirty-seven years. He also served as Southwestern's first dean and occasionally taught large numbers of students. In addition, at various times during his long tenure he was manager of the dormitories, secretary and chairman of the faculty. a member and secretary of the executive committee, treasurer of the university, and librarian. Known in his later years as the "Grand Old Man of Southwestern." he was "a leading candidate for the honor of being the most beloved teacher in the history of the institution" and was twice its acting president. One of Cody's greatest contributions to Southwestern and one of the toughest battles he had to fight was his role in the controversy that arose in 1910-11 over the proposal to move the university to Dallas. Cody's leadership against the proposal was important in keeping Southwestern in Georgetown, and Texas Wesleyan University (later Southern Methodist University) was founded in Dallas instead.

 

Cody published a biography of Southwester's first president. The Life> and Labors of Francis Ashur (Wood, D.D. (1886) and in collaboration with W. H. Bruce several mathematics textbooks. He was an editor of the Texas Methodist Historical Quarterly and helped found the Texas Methodist Historical Association. He was a Democrat and participated in local and statewide religious and civic affairs and county politics.

 

On December 29. 1883. Cody married Martha R. Hughes. daughter of Judge Thomas Proctor Hughes. He died on June 26. 1923. and was buried in the 1.0.0.F. Cemetery in Georgetown. The fund for a library at Southwestern was begun immediately after his death, and in 1939 the Cody Memorial Library was completed and dedicated to his memory. [8]

 

This title "The Grand Old Man of Southwestern mentioned in the above biography. is still recalled at Southwestern University and the large collection of his papers. the "Cody Collection-housed at the Library at Southwestern ensures he will be remembered for some time more.

 

The Neighborhood

The Cody House is at 304 E University Ave in Georgetown. Texas. It occupies half a city block (See Attachment B) and the other half is occupied by its "sister house,- that is, the house built by Cody's wife's sister and her husband August Booty at about the same time. The house is one of seven structures that make up the 50-acre University Avenue - Elm Street Historic District.  [9]

.           .           --

The other six structures immediately around the Cody House which make up the University

Avenue - Elm Street Historic District include two churches, First United Methodist Church (1891) and St. John's Methodist Church (1906).

 

The five homes that finish out the University Avenue - Elm Street Historic District are all equally stately large Victorian homes built between 1895 and 1905. The original application from 1979 for the creation of the University Avenue - Lin) Street Historic District includes this paragraph about the Cody and Booty homes:

 

"Two elegant. well-maintained Victorian residences, built by sisters and their husbands, sit side by side on University Avenue near the two churches. Both

 

were on property which had been on their father's farm and the houses were built in the block just east of his own limestone home.

 

Dr. Robert Stewart Flyer who was the architect for the First Methodist Church, drew plans for the Cody House 304 East University. It is a two-storey frame structure built in the Queen Anne style -- asymmetrical and with delicate ornamentation. [10]

 

The C. C. Cody House

The following physical description of the Cody House appears in a Texas Historical Sites Inventory Form prepared the Georgetown Heritage Society in the 1980s as part of a Holiday
Homes Tour:

 

"Two-story wood frame dwelling with modified L-plan: exterior walls and weatherboard siding; hip roof with composition shingles: exposed rafter ends; front elevation faces north, two interior brick chimneys with corbelled caps; wood sash double-hung windows with 1/1 lights; single door entrance with transom, five bay porch with flat roof which wraps around north and east elevations; Doric columns support porch; denticulated porch frieze: porch with slat wood balustrade on second level follows contours of main porch: wide overhanging eaves; triple and oval windows: large gabled dormer with Palladian surrounds; jig-sawn detailing at screen doors. [11]

 

Additionally. the house has its original Cypress siding, forty double-hung windows. and is built with the "balloon construction.

 

 

The original plans for the house were designed by architect Robert Stewart Hyer [12] who was associated with Southwestern and Methodism and like Cody had attended Emory University. He also designed the impressive First Methodist Church built about the same time as the Cody House.

 

Although Hyer is said to have drawn up the original plans these plans were then forwarded to the building firm of Layton & Raymond of Temple Texas where they were substantially changed. An amazing series of letters from Layton & Raymond in the second half of 1896 are part of Cody's papers which are housed at the library at Southwestern University. These letters, are the answers to letters sent by Cody discussing the house plans. We only hear one side of the conversation, but since they answer his questions directly, it is easy to surmise the various issues. In one letter, they offer to take a reduced commission of 1,1/2 of the building cost to help make the $2800 budget. In another letter, they make the case for nine foot ceilings upstairs and down, instead of the twelve foot downstairs / ten foot upstairs the present plan calls for arguing. "all the better class of residences with 9ft ceilings in both stories [sic] and the above is the height we should use in a dwelling of our own as we find the 9ft ceiling gives better ventilation is easily warmed giving a more uniform temperature and makes a more pleasant room. They must have lost out however, as the ceilings in the Cody House are the original 12/10 called for in the plan. They also suggested saving money by getting rid of the back staircase adding "we do not want to dictate to you in these matters in the least but simply want to give you the very best service in our power. The back staircase remained.

 

The lot the house sits on is large half a city block. Its dimensions are roughly that of a football field in length and width. Originally it had a garage on the back (South side) of the lot. This garage is long gone. Also, there had been a tool shed built in 1916 by the Belford Lumber Company approximately twenty paces due South of the back door of the house. There is no evidence of this today. A new garage was added in the 1960s that is literally falling apart due to a poor foundation and termites. It stands in stark contrast to the house a few yards away built 70 years earlier and as sturdy and termite free as the day it was built. There is a lesson in there somewhere.

 

Changes over Time

From 1897 to 2004, the house only really had two families own it. Although C. C. Cody died in 1923, his widow continued to occupy the house until her death in 1954 at age 90. The house was then purchased by a family member a nephew, John Dimmitt Hughes and his wife Lera Hughes. After John Dimmitt Hughes passed away his wife continued to occupy the house until her death in 1982. At that point, the house passed to their daughter, Mrs. Ellen Hughes Rost. From 1982 to 2004 the house either sat empty or was rented to a series of short-term tenants. Although the house was not extensively maintained during this period it was never allowed   'go to seed' and deteriorate so when the present owners, Byron and Sharon Reese purchased and restored the house, it was in a remarkable state of preservation. As Sharon Reese said "It was like walking back in time.  The couple in their mid-thirties wanted a large old house in which to raise a large family.

 

Byron and Sharon Reese restored the house with a commitment to historical accuracy. The house went through an extensive (but non-intrusive) $150.000 renovation which included: Repairing, decaying, wood using original square nails where possible, Repainting the house’s exterior using an historical accurate seven-color. Victorian color scheme. Restoring the original light fixtures. Complete rewiring of the home, including incorporating period 1920's push button light switches. Complete rebuilding of the three fireplaces and two chimneys. Repainting the interior using a historically-accurate palette of twenty-seven different colors. Refinishing the floors. in places using historically-accurate hand-applied oil for the finish. And so on. As Sharon Reese said, "We don't want to change anything. We want to enjoy the house pretty much as it was when it was built. However time has not completely overlooked the house. While no old photos of the home are known, the following, changes are surmised by the present owners. First, electric lighting was likely added around 1905 when it came to residences in Georgetown. Cuts in the upstairs floor can be seen where wiring, for the downstairs was added after the fact. Next, there was probably a good deal more Victorian ornamentation on the exterior, which when it fell out of fashion in the 1910's and 20's would have been easy to remove. Supporting this theory are old nail holes on the exterior where ornamentation would likely have been. Third, the round columns on the front porch might not be original either, since the back porch has the turned square columns more in keeping with the time the house was built and the overall character of the house. It is conceivable that these columns were a later "modernization- or upgrade. The kitchen / butler pantry floor plan was reworked in 1956 when the Hughes purchased the house additionally; the bathrooms were updated at this time as well. A couple of the closets appear to be modern additions as well. Finally, a downstairs fireplace was walled over by the 1950s owners and can someday be reclaimed.

 

In spite of this the C.C. Cody house remains a beautiful highly original 4000 square foot 1897 home which retails its original elegance and will hopefully do so for another hundred or so years. It is hard to convey in a written document just how original the house is. This is probably due to only having two sets of owners - no one who wanted to dramatically alter the house. When the present owners moved in 2004 the floors had never been redone. Some rooms had their original wallpaper tacked up. The brass light figures installed in the early 1900s when Georgetown got residential electricity were black with age and required compete disassembly to clean up. The mirror in the master bathroom was backed with Wall Street Journal’s mailed to the house in 1955. And so on. This narrative prepared by Byron & Sharon Reese. (byron@reese.org) in 2005.


Notes

[1] Thomas P. Hughes, who was the original owner of the land on which the Cody house is built as well as Cody's father-in-law, is an historical figure as well. An early settler to Georgetown he shared a law practice and office with Sam Houston's son, was a friend of Sam Houston's and was one of only a very few Texas legislators to vote against secession in the state house. The Handbook of Texas Online gives this biography of Hughes: HUGHES, THOMAS PROCTOR (1826-1899). Thomas Proctor Hughes, lawyer, public official, soldier, and judge, was born in Washington County, Kentucky, on December 18, 1826, the son of John and Martha (Nantz) Hughes. He graduated from Centre College in 1848 and, after studying law for two years, was admitted to the bar. In February 1851 he established his practice in Georgetown. Texas. He was elected by a large majority to represent Williamson County at the Secession Convention. On February 1, 1861 he was the first to vote against the ordinance of secession. He was joined by only seven others among the approximately 175 delegates. In the popular referendum that followed he helped persuade Williamson County voters to reject secession. In spite of his Unionist beliefs he joined the Confederate Army and served through the war in Arkansas and Missouri as a private in Company A of Lt. Col. Charles L. Morgan's cavalry battalion. He was elected district attorney for Williamson, Burnet, Llano, San Saba. Brown, and Lampasas counties in 1872. A wealthy man in his later years Hughes had extensive real estate holdings in the Georgetown area and contributed heavily to Southwestern University. He was also a strong advocate of prohibition. He had three children by his first wife, the former Susan Doxey, and two by his second, the former Jennie Lowrie Duncan. Hughes died on December 3 I. 1899, at his home in Georgetown.

[2] Abstract. Williamson County Abstract Company.

[3] Ditto

[4] The best documentation for the date of the house comes from a series of letters from the latter half of 1896 from architects Lawton & Raymond of Temple to C. C. Cody discussing the plans for the house. These letters are part of the permanent Cody collection housed at the Cody Library of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. These letters are available as of this writing for private inspection with an appointment.

[5] Ditto. letter dated July 17. 1896.

[6] Ditto. letter dated July 28, 1896.

[7] Ditto. letter dated July 28. 1896.

[8] http://www.tsha.utexas.edultandbook.lonlinejarticles:viewfC/fco98.html. The following references are cited taxi-141e Handbook of Texas Online for this biography: Claude Carr Cody Papers. Cody Memorial Library. Southwestern University:. Ralph W. Jones, Southwestern University, 1840-1961 (Austin: Jenkins, 1973). Who's Who in America. 1920-21.

[9] University Avenue-Elm Street Historic District. (added 1979 - Williamson County - 79003025) E. University and Elm Sts., Georgetown, Olt) acres. 7 buildings)

[10] National Register of Historical Places Inventory - Nomination Form. Prepared by Clara Scarborough, 1979.

[11] Texas Historic Sites Inventor). Form - Texas Historical Commission - On file with Georgetown Heritage Society. Prepared by Hardy-Heck-More July 1984.

[12] The Handbook of Texas Online has an entry on Hyer at: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/smu/00072/smu-00072.html" HYER, ROBERT STEWART (1860-1929). Robert Stewart Hyer, scientist and university president, son of William L. and Laura (Stewart) Hyer, was horn in Oxford, Georgia, on October 18, 1860. After receiving his elementary education in Atlanta he earned from Emory College an A.B. degree with first honors in 1881 and an M.A. degree in 1882. He received honorary LL.D. degrees from Central College of Missouri in 1901 and Baylor University in 1910. Hyer followed Emory graduates Morgan Callaway, Jr. and Claude C. Cody to Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. He was professor of physics (1882-191'; ) and, after first declining the position, served as regent of the university (1897-1911). During his administration two large limestone buildings, Mood Hall and the Administration Building, were constructed: the endowment was raised to nearly 5300.000; the student body increased from 400 to 1200; and a medical college at Dallas and the School of Fine Arts in Georgetown were established. With the apparent blessings of the 1910 General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, flyer attempted to move the university to Dallas. This effort caused a major split in the trustees and faculty and brought about Hyer's resignation in June 19I 1. Later that year he moved to Dallas to become one of the founders Of Southern Methodist University where he served as president from 1911 to 1920. He was also professor of physics at SML until his death. After attending a Harvard lecture series on electrical, and electromagnetic waves in 1891, Hyer returned to Georgetown and in 1894 transmitted a wireless message from his lab to the city a distance of about a mile. This experiment was independent of and nearly with those of M. G. Marconi. Hyer's X-ray experiments in 1896 and 1897, only two years after Roentgen's discovery, were demonstrated to scientific and medical groups throughout Texas. His scientific writings were widely recognized. Just before his death Hyer made patent applications to protect his invention of the resistograph, an instrument he used to locate oilfields in Ward County and in West Texas near Wink. In the fall of 1928 the Phi Beta Kappa chapter at Emory University elected him to membership for his outstanding scientific achievements. Hyer was a lay member of the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South in 1898. 1902. 1906 and 1911 and a member of the ecumenical conferences in London (1902) and Toronto (1910). He was a member of the general hoard of education of the Methodist Church (1898-1910) and after 1902 a member of the education commission. His first wife Madge Jordan of Georgia, whom Hyer married in 1883 died in childbirth at her mother's home in 1884. To his second marriage to Margaret Lee Hudgins in 1887 were born three children. Hyer died on May, 29 1929.

 

 

 
       

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

 

a special thanks to
The Williamson County Sun
and Andrew McLemore for
this slice of history article
"A Grand Old House"

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Historical Markers in Georgetown
Historical Markers in Williamson County