Preserving History “One Step” at a Time
JANUARY 13, 2020, Beaumont, Texas The Tyrrell Historical Library (formerly First Baptist Church) and the historic Sanders-McNeill House, located in downtown Beaumont, suffered severe damages during Hurricane Harvey forcing them to close. The two historical treasures shared very similar re-construction challenges, including Tropical Storm Imelda. Both sites have overcome numerous obstacles and have completed a second major restoration. Both properties are recorded Texas and National Historic Landmarks. They will reopen this month.
The public is invited to help celebrate the preservation of these important historical landmarks by attending a free event that includes tours of both properties. In a joint effort, The City of Beaumont Library Services, the Tyrrell Historical Library Association, Alan & Barbara McNeill, and Beaumont Main Street will celebrate the milestone. The Grand Re-Opening celebration is Wednesday, January 22, 2020 2:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Public tours and light refreshments provided by Amelia Farms will be offered at the Sanders-McNeill House, 479 Pine Street 2:30 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Designated free parking will be offered at the Beaumont Fire Department Central Fire Station, 400 Walnut Street. Guests are invited to use the rear entrance to the home.
Tyrrell Historical Library, 695 Pearl Street will celebrate at 4:00 p.m. with a ribbon cutting. Guided tours of the library will follow until 6:00 p.m. The event will include a program at 5:00 p.m. featuring local historian Judy Linsley and genealogy expert Larry Casey. History, genealogy and architectural enthusiasts are promised an educational experience. Guests will be invited to consider joining the Tyrrell Historical Library Association.
The two historic landmarks in downtown Beaumont share a unique architectural piece. They each have a distinctive late 1890’s hand carved spiral staircase featuring immaculate steps. The staircases were built by Master Carver Robert Washington Sanders. Despite the period preferring building with factory-made wood, Sanders used his craftsman skills to construct and hand carve impressive mantels, staircases, pulpits and altars in Beaumont. His carvings serve as a reminder that Beaumont was a hub for the lumber industry prior to the discovery of Spindletop in 1901.
For Additional Information or to arrange personal interviews please contact:
Paul Eddy, Library Administrator, Beaumont Public Library System 409-981-5911
E-mail Paul.Eddy@BeaumontTexas.gov or
Barbara McNeill, Sanders-McNeill House 409-866-4353 E-mail email@example.com
Tyrrell Historical Library originally built in 1903 as Beaumont’s First Baptist Church, the building was purchased by Captain W.C. Tyrrell and donated to the City for use as a library in the 1920s. It is an excellent example of the style of Henry Hobson Richardson’s Romanesque Revival architecture. In 1990, the City of Beaumont and the Tyrrell Historical Library Association restored the structure. The combination of a contemporary library and a historic church is beautifully illustrated in this building. The stained-glass windows, the dome ceiling and the subtle paint scheme create a quiet ambience in this historic site that is home to a research library with collections devoted to the study of Texas as well as genealogy.
The Tyrrell Historical Library sustained damage in both Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. It also sustained ongoing water intrusion damage due to aging defects found in the exterior walls of the original library building. Over the past three years extensive renovation work was undertaken on the library building to restore it back to its former resplendent condition. New tuck-pointing and water proofing of the exterior limestone was performed. This was followed by interior mold and fungus remediation caused by the hurricane, the repainting of the gothic vaulted interior dome, and then the replacement of wooden boards destroyed or damaged by termite infestation caused from past water intrusion problems. The operating control panel of the elevator also had to be replaced after basement flooding caused by Tropical Storm Imelda. And finally, the re-plastering and repainting of walls needed to be done before the building could once again be available for public research use.
Sanders-McNeill House in 1895, Robert Washington Sanders and his wife Ida Mae built what is now one of the oldest existing homes in Beaumont. Mr. Sanders was a master woodcarver and cabinetmaker. The home is an excellent example of Queen Anne architecture with its gingerbread ornamentation. The building was saved from demolition by the Beaumont Heritage Society and is privately owned by Mr. and Mrs. Alan McNeill. The McNeill’s completed the first restoration in 1983. The McNeill’s also own Effie Sanders Cottage next door. It is a one-story wooden frame house that is significant because of its Classic Revival Style.
Upon completion of the first restoration and for the past 38 years, the historic home was used as a law office for Alan McNeill and was home to Architects Marvin Gordy and Bill Huffines. The Southeast Texas weather and storms combined with heavy rains from Harvey in 2017 caused noticeable damage and closure. In 2018, owners were finally able to contract an experienced carpenter to begin the second restoration. The project started with the turret and gingerbread work on the front of the house. Realizing the work was more extensive, owners hired another contractor who could carefully restore the interior and siding featuring Sherwin Williams historic colors. Light fixtures were restored, as well as heating and air conditioning. Damaged window sills were carefully replicated where needed. The spiral stairs were reinforced. The beautiful mantle surrounds and wainscoting and trim were cleaned bringing the home to a complete second restoration in January 2020. The McNeill’s are committed to preserving the history of one of Beaumont’s oldest homes and will announce plans for the home in the future.
Tyrrell Historical Library Association P.O. Box 12563 Beaumont, TX 77726-2563