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the trogdon house

The Trogdon House

 For most of a century Tarleton State University’s Trogdon House has been a hub of activity and tradition in Stephenville.

The two-story building, a stately 4,500 square feet, sits at the heart of the campus, between the O.A Grant Building, the E.J. Howell Education Building and the Dick Smith Library.

Built in 1923, it has housed university presidents starting with its builder and architect, Dean J. Thomas Davis, who shared the dwelling with his family until he turned over the reins of power in 1948.

Construction was overseen by Davis and involved primarily student labor, which kept costs low — about $8,000. Students and local workers were paid from 25 to 62 1/2 cents per hour.

A local newspaper announcing the project described the structure.

“Besides the student labor, whereby many boys have earned enough to place them in school for the coming term, many local men have been used. The material for the dean’s home has, to a large extent been native stone. This, of course will be stuccoed and plastered, but will in the end be a very substantial building and help materially the appearance of the campus.”

The house features two full stories and an attic with 18-inch exterior walls built up with several layers of concrete plaster.

Dean E.J. Howell and his family moved into the house in 1948 and over the years added a garage, a breezeway, a screened porch and central heating and air. The home’s namesake, Dr. W.O. Trogdon, came to Tarleton in 1966 for a 16-year stay.

Soon after the Trogdons left, a university master plan stipulated the historic structure be torn down, or at least relocated.

Tarleton’s student government, university alumni and the Erath County Historical Society intervened and gained Historical Landmark status for the aging building, giving it new life.

Saved from demolition, the structure was renovated in 1995, and in 1999 The Texas A&M University System approved the name Trogdon House in recognition of the last family to occupy it.

Once named the Hall of Presidents, the Trogdon House has been home to various administrative offices, including Student Services, University News Service, the Alumni Association, the Office of Development and the Tarleton Foundation, Inc.

In 2009 more than $760,000 in upgrades made the house ready to again serve its original purpose, and Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio and his family returned the president’s residence to campus.

A driving force behind the restoration was legendary alumnus Col. Will Tate, Class of 1935.

“The Trogdon House is somewhat of a spiritual place,” he said during the 2009 remodeling. “It links the past of Tarleton with its future, and I was honored to play a role in the preservation of this wonderful place.”

Now home to the family of President James Hurley, Trogdon House hosts campus and community functions.