Home & Garden Tour: Honoring Our Past– Embracing Our Future

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The Bryan/College Station Woman’s Club’s 47th Annual House and Garden Tour and Luncheon will be Wednesday, April 15, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. In honor of The Woman’s Club’s 120th year, the theme for this year’s tour is “Honoring Our Past -- Embracing Our Future.”

The Conlee Home

By Joan Moore of The Woman’s Club
Photos of the Bryan and Caffey homes by Sheryl Start of The Woman’s Club
Photos of the Conlee home by James Morrison & Grant Conlee

The Bryan/College Station Woman’s Club’s 47th Annual House and Garden Tour and Luncheon will be Wednesday, April 15, from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. In honor of The Woman’s Club’s 120th year, the theme for this year’s tour is “Honoring Our Past — Embracing Our Future.”

This special event is an important fundraiser for the Club and for the organization’s many community outreach activities.

This year’s theme, “Honoring Our Past—Embracing Our Future,” is reflected in three uniquely beautiful homes, all located in historic Bryan neighborhoods. The residents of the homes have decorated in keeping with the original styles of the homes, while adding personal touches that make the homes perfectly “at home” in 2015.

The Conlee Home (originally “The Harrison Home”)
601 E. 32nd Street, Bryan

Grant and Mandy Conlee’s home at 601 E. 32nd Street in Bryan perfectly captures the Tour’s theme, “Honoring Our Past—Embracing Our Future.” Grant, a fifth generation Bryan native, and his wife Mandy wanted to raise their children in a home that was as deeply rooted as their family had been in this community.

Grant and his mother, Kay Conlee, own Old Bryan Marketplace in Downtown Bryan. Throughout the shop, you can see Grant’s creativity and talent on display, and you will see that in the Conlees’ home as well. In fact, Grant’s interest in design goes way back, as his mother says he was the only 6-year-old who liked to choose things for his bedroom from Cashion-Cain, an old home interior shop in College Station.

The home was built in 1933 by Dr. Henry and Mrs. Merle Harrison. Several families have lived in the home since then.  Sitting on four city blocks of nearly an acre of land, the home has 3,988 square feet of living space, along with an additional 1,200 square feet of porches and carport. The traditional, primarily brick home, with a natural wood shingle roof, has four bedrooms, three and a half baths, formal and informal living spaces, along with dining and kitchen.

Grant and Mandy, the parents of two active boys, Davis, age 10, and Jess, age six, embraced the home because it seemed to have been built for entertaining, which the Conlees love to do. The large rooms and open spaces flow beautifully from one area to the next. Their lives revolve around family, and this home does as well. With their hectic lives, they felt it was important to have a relaxing home where they could make the most of their moments with the boys.

As you enter the front door, the warmth of the entry sets the tone for the home and continues throughout the living spaces. The French server is especially meaningful as it belonged to Grant’s grandmother, Kathryn Conlee, and it brings back so many wonderful memories of the lessons she taught them about family. He remembers her telling of how she stood in the sleet outside an auction to buy this piece. The painting above the server and the clock were also hers. The antique solid gilded bronze and crystal chandelier was a housewarming gift from Grant’s mother, Kay Conlee.

 The formal living room is Mandy’s and Grant’s favorite room of the house. Most guests enter the home and stop to take in this room. The vaulted ceilings and warm dark walls create a formal yet comfortable space. The Conlees find themselves using and enjoying this room even when they are not formally entertaining. It’s just a relaxing, peaceful space. The room was originally built by the Harrisons as the Music Room. Mrs. Harrison had a love for music, and its vaulted ceilings were ideal for her pipe organ and piano.

The family room is a gathering place for friends and family. The family room’s foundation is a large handmade Oushak rug from Pakistan, which took two years to make. The rug and Klemm painting provided the color inspiration for the room’s paint selection and overall design.

The Conlees believe in buying things they want to keep and that have meaning for them. Grant likes to decorate in a timeless style so the décor does not become too identified with a particular time period. The Conlees both believe in involving their sons in their purchases and like to tell them about the history of their pieces so they will appreciate them as they grow older.

The family room has two sliding doors. One leads to the backyard and pool area. The side door opens onto the courtyard. The courtyard is a true continuation of the family room. With its lined boxwoods and sculpted topiaries, this area is a favorite place to relax with a cup of coffee in the morning or to unwind and visit as a family after a long day.

The bar area next to the family room was the location of the home’s original kitchen. There is an unfinished Country French server, and above it is a Peruvian mirror to which Grant was instantly drawn. Here and throughout the home, you’ll see that the Conlees enjoy mixing wood tones.

The kitchen/dining area is lined on two sides with walls of windows, and the natural light and gorgeous views make this area one of the family’s favorites. The warm gray walls and cabinets create a seamless blend for the eye to take in the view.

The dining area has a formal approachability that defines the space; the Conlees find themselves sitting and enjoying that area much more than most traditional dining spaces. This area is really the center of the family’s life, and they have succeeded in balancing its formality with a welcoming and comfortable feeling.

It doesn’t take long to appreciate the importance of family to the Conlees. They wanted their home to be a place for entertaining as a family and being together as a family. This is what Grant’s mother Kay and his grandmother Kathryn taught him, and he and Mandy wanted to carry on this love of family into their own home. And, of course, they both want to pass along this love of family and of keeping alive a family’s history to their sons.

The Bryan Home (originally “The Madeley Home”)
763 S. Rosemary Drive, Bryan

A history buff like Tim Bryan knows exactly what is meant by “Honoring Our Past –Embracing Our Future.” When you visit his home, you’ll see evidence of all kinds of history: family history, world history, and even Texas history. And of course, you’ll also find history of the city where he was raised and which was named for his ancestor. As you tour the home, you’ll get a definite feel for the past, but you’ll also see a home that is perfect for life in today’s world while also looking to the future.

The approximately 3,000-square-foot home at 763 S. Rosemary in Bryan was built in the 1930’s by Ed and Billie Madeley who lived there with Mrs. Madeley’s mother. Tim bought the house from their estate in 1999, becoming the second owner of the home.

Tim and his brother Travis, III have spent most of their lives here. He grew up surrounded by family history, as the namesake of the City, William Joel Bryan, was his great-great grandfather, and Stephen F. Austin was William Joel’s uncle. William Joel Bryan gave the right of way to the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, which allowed for the extension of the railroad from Millican to what is now Downtown Bryan.

Tim is the son of the late Travis Bryan, Jr. and Norma Bryan. Norma, a lover of antiques, did most of the decorating in the home, beginning in 1999 and continuing until her death in 2010. She had an antique shop at her home, and basically everything in her shop and home was for sale. She loved buying antiques but was happy to sell them so she could buy more. She especially enjoyed choosing things for Tim’s home because she knew him well enough to know what he’d like. Tim says that the home’s artwork and furniture have meaning to him. Much of it was placed there by his mother, some was bought in Europe, some belonged to his parents, and a few pieces belonged to his maternal grandmother, Grace Norman.

As you enter the home, you’ll immediately feel welcome in the lovely foyer. You’ll also notice the beautiful red oak floors, which are original to the home.

In the living room, you’ll begin to see some of the many items in the home with historical significance. On the living room wall, there is a crest from the early 1700’s from the era of Frederick I, King of Prussia. The FR on the shield of the crest stands for Frederick Rex (King), and this wooden cartouche would have served the royal family in some way, possibly on a royal carriage. The family crest was the same for Frederick’s son, Frederick the Soldier King, and his grandson, Frederick the Great. Tim purchased the wooden cartouche in Berlin.

The dining room is to the left of the foyer. The table here is an English library table, which Tim covers with a wood top when he entertains larger groups. He built the bookshelves in the room, and Norma liked to call it the “Dibrary” because it is really a dining room and library combined. The two Napoleonic soldier paintings here were found in Carmel, California. On the bookshelves is a fascinating set of porcelain figurines representing Napoleon and all his marshals.

A more recent piece of history in the dining room is the bust of Winston Churchill, which is like the one President George H. W. Bush gave to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the G8 Summit in Houston. There were originally 13 copies of the bust made, and the bust in Tim’s home is actually the original artist’s proof.

The kitchen is newly remodeled and was just completed less than a year ago. Tim found a photo of a kitchen he liked, showed it to Larry Mariott, and his son Coulter, and told them to just “copy the picture.” The cabinets here are white, and the counter tops are beechwood.

The split-level wing with the two guest bedrooms and baths has just been completely remodeled. The lower bedroom was once the home’s garage, and Tim claims it appeared to have been built for only small Model T’s.

Tim calls his home “House on the Hill” because it is located on what his dad told him was the highest point in the city when he was a young boy and hunted there in the early 1930’s. Early last century, all of the timber was mined, and because of that, one “could see Downtown Bryan from that hill.” Tim loves the park-like lawn, the giant oak trees, and the home’s location on the hill. As Tim says, “The house has a very comfortable homey feel to it, not too big or small…comfortable.”

The Caffey Home (originally “The Searcy Home”)
609 E. 32nd Street, Bryan

Stacie and Kevin Caffey’s home at 609 E. 32nd Street in Bryan was originally owned by Dr. R. M. Searcy, a local medical doctor, and his wife Lois. The home was built in 1935. The Caffeys purchased the 3,000 square foot home in 2013.

Behind the home is a garage apartment, an old garage, and a 5,000-square-foot warehouse, which is currently being used as a workshop, office space, and storage.

The neighborhood has long been a family neighborhood. Three very close families, the Searcys, the Harrisons, and the Halsells, once lived in this area. They raised their children together, got together often, and cooked out and spent time in one another’s homes. Stacie says she feels like history is now repeating itself as the current residents of these three homes, the Caffeys, the Conlees, and the Myers, are also very close. The kids play together, and the families often end up at one of the homes just to visit and relax together. Stacie feels the original owners would be extremely pleased to see how the neighborhood’s family traditions are still a big part of life in the area.

As you enter the home, you’ll notice the beautiful hardwood floors, which are original to the home. There are many examples of the 1930’s Art Deco period throughout the home, and Stacie and Kevin have tried to leave some of those touches. The original front door is an example of the Art Deco style. All of the trunks in the home, including the one in the living room, were found, along with many other treasures, in the old garage behind the home.

The utility room, off the kitchen, was once part of the dining room. The dining room ran the entire length of the house, and there was no indoor utility. Stacie and Kevin designed this room, with locker space for each member of the family and a chalkboard sliding door.

The Caffeys have recently redone the kitchen. The original layout with a small island, pantry with folding doors and a return air closet was reconfigured with a new, larger island, cabinets, pantry space, and a coffee-wine bar. Quint Foster did all of the glasswork here and throughout the home. There is also a sitting area in the room, which is one of Kevin and Stacie’s favorite parts of the house.

The original island was hardwood, which was reclaimed to make the coffee bar. The Caffeys have definitely modernized the kitchen and the rest of the home, but they have succeeded in maintaining its historic charm.

The “rumpus” room was added to the home in 1959. The old radio was found in the garage and has a record player inside. The china cabinet belonged to Stacie’s paternal great-grandmother. There are two window seats, one overlooking the pool, and one overlooking the backyard.

One-year old Vivian’s room definitely belongs to a “girly-girl.” The built-in cabinets and drawers are original. The Caffeys added the marble countertops. The hardware in this room is also original. The old frame with the banner of Vivian’s name was bought at a Rockdale antique store, Queen’s.

The paneled “Boy Cave” was added during the 1959 remodel and is shared by 8-year old Jackson and 6-year old Slaton. The bunk beds were found in the warehouse. The Caffeys redid one entire wall to make a built-in desk, cabinets, and a closet for each boy. The boys are very close, and this room is perfect for them.

Stacie loves space and color and loves mixing the old and the new. She knows the home was built for a family 80 years ago, but she feels that it was meant for her family today. Kevin and Stacie have definitely honored the past here, but they also obviously live life to the fullest today and embrace the future as well. They pray that everyone who enters their home is as truly blessed as they have been. Stacie says, “It is exciting and encouraging to see families with children living in this older neighborhood, keeping it active and alive!”


What: “Honoring Our Past- Embracing Our Future” Woman’s Club Home & Garden Tour

When: April 15

Tickets: Tickets to tour all three homes are $15, and luncheon tickets, sold separately, are also $15. Tour tickets can be purchased on the day of the event at any of the homes. Tickets may also be purchased in advance from any Club member, by calling the Club Director at (979) 822-5019, or by e-mailing thewomansclubbcs@verizon.net.

Luncheon tickets may be obtained by contacting Sandra Petty at (979) 775-2449 or e-mailing spetty@suddenlink.net. April 8 is the last day to make luncheon reservations. The luncheon, to be held at The Woman’s Club, is open to members and non-members and will be served continuously from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The theme for this year’s luncheon is “Picnic on Carter Creek.”