Trio Showcases Prairie Street to Guests
As you step over the threshold of this heritage home, anchored by lively camellia bushes, a carriage step and a wrap-around porch in historic Columbus, a gentler way of life invites you to slower your pace and unwind.
Columbus, the Colorado county seat town in the rolling coastal prairies of southeast Texas, is deeply ingrained in Texas history. With a majestic courthouse square and local events that welcome visitors year-around, Columbus thrived during the 1800’s tobacco and cotton production booms, then as a mining source for the construction of the city of Houston. By 1910, Columbus was virtually surrounded by gravel pits.
Owned by the trio Charlotte Tilotta, Ester Chandler and Paula Frnka- the Prairie Street Heritage House renovation took eight months of hard work to bring this Bed and Breakfast to its former glory. Archeological artifacts found in the carriage house support the belief that the home was built in the 1860’s by the Robson Family, of Scottish descent. “We purchased the home in 2010,” said Ester. “ It was a major tear out and reconstruction, but we were able to save the 1950’s wallpaper in the rose room, which was meticulously hung a previous owner, local artist Dorothy Lane.” They painstakingly preserved the long-leaf pine floors, glass windows, original furnishings and the original bathroom, added in 1910, with tub and porcelain shower head.
A carriage step is a block of stone or cement structure, placed at the juncture of the property and the street as a courtesy to guests stepping in and out of carriages. These steps typically aligned with the walkway that led to the front door and were used in the 19th century as a tool to make the utilization of carriages more genteel. Home owners provided them as a courtesy to guests as they were often a status symbol which recognized prominent households.
As the use of the horse and buggy declined to make way for automobiles, carriage steps were destroyed due to their lack of usefulness. Their identification with houses of upper middle class families diminished and now they are retained as historic features. These steps are relics and artifacts of a distant past. Prairie Street Heritage House is fortunate to have this piece of history to share with the community.
A visiting parlor, airy sunroom, enclosed back porch along with two completed bedrooms can accommodate eight guests. “Recent guests have told us that they have felt like southern belles,” shared Charlotte. ”They enjoyed rocking on the back porch while sipping on their tea.” Visitors can also enjoy antique shopping at Columbus’ courthouse square or neighboring Round Top and Fayetteville.
The unique manner in which Charlotte, Ester and Paula have successfully recaptured the essence of the home seems like their partnership was meant to be. Years ago, Charlotte came to an estate sale of this house, purchasing pieces that were able to “come home” after their purchase and renovation. As they continue research on the house, they have found that many of their design choices have been eerily close to the originals. Soon the house will display a historical marker celebrating the carriage step on site.
The three friends were inspired to start this development by a fundraising auction item they won in early 2010, a fun trip to South Carolina. While having tea at the Hopsewee Plantation in Georgetown, they decided that they must create a similar experience back home. Their labor of love has proven to be a gem in Columbus for small weddings, showers, tea parties and private functions.
Altogether business has been pretty good, Paula says. “We have had a good flow of guests visit us.” As each partner brings different gifts and a detailed eye to care, they firmly agree that the betterment and preservation of the Prairie Street Heritage House will be their legacy for future generations.
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