Three Oaks/The Whaley House was built by Paul Goodwin Whaley, one of the city's most prominent merchants, owner of Logan and Whaley hardware store and many other business and mercantile interests, including the Texarkana Ice Company, of which he was vice president. He was also one of the directors of the first Marshall Rotary Club.
In 1894, with his baby daughter Mamie's interests in mind, P.G. Whaley began construction of the type of home in which he wanted her to be raised, and which she would in the future want to possess.
The family moved in on February 4, 1895.
Originally built as a Queen Anne style home with turned porch columns, stained glass block windows, fretwork and bracketry, it was remodeled by Whaley in approximately 1904, to add the turret. Whaley changed the front facade in 1915 to a Colonial/Greek Revival style, removed the turret, and completely rebuilt the front gallery in the later style.
The entry room columns were added at this time, and corniced egg and dart trim was upgraded into the casings and trim of the rooms beyond the columns.
The front three rooms across still bear the original Queen Anne bullseye corner blocks and heavy moulded casings.
The two story frame residence has a steeply pitched, truncated hipped roof that was originally metal tile, but is currently done in dimensional composition shingles. A tin balustrade encircles the flat widow's walk deck on top. The widow's walk was the first in Marshall.
A large partially bayed dormer with two multipaned sash windows and a central multi paned french door dominates the main facade of the house, facing east. A gabled wing with Palladian windows projects on the south facade, a gable with a multi paned sash window faces north, while a west gable portion containing Palladian windows extends at the rear. Across the front is a one-story balustrade gallery supported by Ionic columns and crowned by a deck, (original balustrade materials for the porch top deck are in possession of the current owners, but need repair and restoration before being reinstalled). Sun porches extend on both the north and south sides of the house.
The foundation is heavy cypress beams, atop brick piers.
Inside the home, a set of tall heart pine columns divides the entrance room and the front parlor. Between the front and rear parlors are sets of double hung breezeway windows (6 over 6 and 12 over 12) placed there to allow cross ventilation. Miraculously, very few window panes have been broken over the decades, leaving an abundance of blown, wavy glass throughout the house.
There are seven fireplaces in the house, three with cast iron surrounds that were hand grain painted and have black soapstone mantle shelves; one brick; and the other three carved and polished woods.
Three of the fireplaces are triplexed into one chimney, and the other four are duplexed, sharing one chimney for each pair.
Leaded glass transoms are above almost every doorway on the main floor, and there are also two large leaded glass sashes flanking the front door.
The conservatory attaching from the dining room boasts six floor length wheel cut and beveled crystal doors with matching large transoms above.
A two story stable/carriage house straddled the hill on the current rear property line, allowing horses and carriages to be stored on seperate levels, but it has not been present since the teens, having been accidentally set afire by the old stableman, Sam.
Round brass floor mount plates for servants call buttons are still in place in several rooms, as the house had a staff of six servants when new; a stableman, a gardener, a cook, a nanny, and two house maids.
The servants did not live in the house. A small shack was out back on the property when Whaley bought the land, and the servants lived there.
The house was built in the then new en suite floor plan, which did away with hallways, and instead interconnected all rooms through doorways.
There was also no grand staircase, as the upstairs ballroom was used only occasionally, and was accessed through a small steep rear stair.
Three Oaks was Marshall's "society party house" for years.
The second floor was originally built as a huge ballroom, with 20 foot ceilings reaching all the way to the bottom of the widow's walk, and many events were held here through the ensuing decades.
The original lot extended back to the next block over, and had sunken gardens with a fish pond, as well as brick pathways and a fountain, and was the only one like it in the area.
The current office was a breakfast room at one time, and previous to that, had been a back porch. Stairs ran from the outside to go upstairs to the ballroom. Although the ballroom had once been the scene of lavish dances and masquerade balls, it's told that during Prohibition, guests could take their drinks up the back stairs without being seen.
Descriptions of the Whaley parties have been found in the old Marshall News Messenger articles:
Marshall News Messenger
December 18, 1895
"Mrs. Paul G. Whaley will be "at home" to a number of her friends on Friday evening, December 27. The occasion will be a fancy dress reception for the society people. All look forward to a most charming entertainment."
Marshall News Messenger
December 28, 1895
"In response to invitations sent out several days ago, about 50 of Marshall's society people were entertained at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Paul G. Whaley last night, and costumed to participate in a masquerade party, compliment to Miss Erie Scott of Terrell, and Miss May Austin of this city.
The characters represented a broad field from classical, stately and dignified, to the animal kingdom, calling to mind the rhyme:
"I went to the annual fair,
the birds and the bees were there.
The old raccoon, by the light of the moon,
was combing his auburn hair."
Many of the costumes were exceptionally beautiful and showed artistic work.
The ladies prize was awarded to Mrs. Nannie Israel, who represented Music. The gentleman's prize was won by Will Lynch, from Coweater County, Georgia, who was Uncle Sam.
Terry Lively, in the character of a donkey, was awarded the booby prize. Refreshments were served after the removal of the masks."
Paul G. Whaley, the original owner, had parents who were wealthy plantation owners prior to the Civil War.
His father, Thomas Jefferson Whaley, came to Harrison County from Georgia in 1853, and after his marriage he established a plantation home five miles south of Marshall, which Mrs. Margaret Whaley ran while he fought for the Confederacy during four years of war.
She was well guarded by faithful slaves, and was very successful managing the plantation by herself. She saved enough money for T.J. to buy a large Bowie County farm after he returned from the war.
From Margaret Whaley's great-grandson, Paul Whaley Wood:
"My grandmother, while my grandfather was in the war, ran the farm that we had down south of Marshall. She made a good job of it. She wouldn't take script, she wanted gold. He brought her and the one child they had into town when he went into the army, because he thought it was safer than her being on the farm. She stayed there with her daughter. The slaves from the farm came into town and begged her to go back because they wanted work and wanted things to be the way they used to. One little slave girl said "Mam, I'll sleep in front of your bedroom door, if you'll just come back."
Miss Inez Hughes remembered details of the early house:
"It was a big one, white with a red roof. They didn't have many white houses back then, as they were too easy to spot by Indians."
In 1884, T.J. Whaley formed a partnership with Mr. Logan of Shreveport for the Logan and Whaley Hardware Store, which was first operated by the three Whaley sons, Paul, Thomas, and Eugene, (Dee). The store passed to Paul upon the death of his father in 1892, and Paul operated it until his death in 1922.
The very successful hardware store is still in existence, and is still family owned and operated by Tommy and Pete Whaley, great grandsons of T.J. Whaley.
Paul G. Whaley married Nannie E. Austin (born July 21, 1869), on August 25 1887, and they moved into Three Oaks in February 1895 with their three children.
They lost one son, Will Thomas Whaley, 1890-1905, to a horse accident at age fifteen.Their older son was Robert Logan Whaley, 1888-1933.
The daughter, Mary Rose (Mamie) Youree Whaley, born October 23, 1893, had the southeast front bedroom, now known as the Golden Rose Room.
This room had the only original closet in the house, as Mamie needed it for all her long flowing party gowns.
When Miss Mamie returned to Marshall from a finishing school in Dallas in 1918, she married Sam E. Wood Jr., a wealthy automobile distributor, and was given the house as a wedding gift, as had been intended from the beginning.
P.G. had added the south sun porch as a nursery for his first grandchild, Paul Whaley Wood, (1921-2006), before he was even born.
The old nursery is currently the bath for the Magnolia Room.
Mamie Whaley Wood continued the grand entertaining tradition at Three Oaks.
This was the newspaper description of her first anniversary party:
Marshall News Messenger
Friday, September 12, 1919
"Mr. and Mrs. Sam E. Wood Jr. entertained last evening at dinner in the sunken gardens of their home on North Washington Avenue. The guests who enjoyed the occasion are Mr. and Mrs. Jodie Wood of Texarkana, Mr. and Mrs. Riley Boone, Mr. and Mrs. Dolph Hayden of Washington D.C., Mr. and Mrs. Frank Scott, Mrs. Lois Fry and Frances McLearen and Linton Dempsey of Woodlake."
The Wood family lived here at Three Oaks until 1928, when they built a new Tudor style house on Victory Drive.
Mamie's son, Mr. Paul Whaley Wood, was kind enough to let us scan and copy his vintage photos of the early years of the house and family, and was a rich source of historical and anecdotal information.
One of his earliest memories of Three Oaks was as a small child.
He had been left in the care of his nanny, as his parents were out of town for a few days.
He got a phone call from a girl cousin of his that she had won an electric car at the Strand Theater as a prize; and would he like to go for a ride?
He hurried up to the ballroom to change clothes into his Sunday best, his treasured long pants, as young boys in that era were kept in short pants during the week.
He explained that he had always been a very snappy dresser, and wanted to look his best for the ride.
She arrived, and pulled up into the driveway, and he hopped in.
This particular car had an outside chain drive, with an exposed chain down one side of the vehicle, and as they backed out across the trolley tracks which at that time ran down the middle of Washington Avenue, his pants leg caught in the chain and jammed the car, stalling it.
Of course, a trolley was headed downhill at that very moment, and they were both screaming in panic.
Kindly old Reverend Allen, who lived across the street, heard their cries, ran down his long flight of front steps, and ripped the cloth of the pants free from the chain, just in time to push the car off the tracks, as the trolley rolled by.
All of the early owners of Three Oaks are buried at historic Scottsville Cemetery, most of them right at the front door of the chapel.
The house was sold by Mamie Whaley Wood to Virgie Hoye Power in 1943.
Virgie and Margie Hoye with their brother Howard
The house had remained a single family residence until then, but the Power family made interior changes to facilitate two apartments in addition to their living quarters.
The house was divided into two smaller apartments on the north side of the main floor. The men's smoking parlor in the northeast corner, currently the Ginocchio Room, became one apartment with the addition of a bath and a small kitchen in 1944.
The dining room was made into the second apartment, with the glass conservatory converted to a bath and kitchen.
The largest quarters remained the south side bedrooms and the common rooms, with the nursery being made into another kitchen.
Some of the ceilings were lowered to be made more energy efficient, and two of the fireplaces were built out with bricks, to convert them from coal burning to wood burning use.
Virgie's husband Fred started a meat market/butcher shop in north Marshall, using his skills he had learned in the Army during the war.
He used to raise quail for butchering, and kept them in incubators in the back office, formerly the back porch.
Descendents have advised us that large animal bones from his butchering days may be uncovered if we dig in the garden, and not to be dismayed.
Virgie's sister, Margie, was widowed and childless at a young age, and moved into the house with them. Her family remembers her brushing out her long hair every night in front of the mirrors, and having an amazing doll collection that she loved to share with the children.
Aunt Margie's room was the southeast front bedroom, now known as the Golden Rose.
Virgie eventually moved into the back parlor as her bedroom, which she affectionately referred to as the Fish Bowl Room, because of the two large sets of breezeway windows and six doorways leading into it.
The Power family raised their children here in the 1950s and 1960s, and when Virgie passed away in 1972, the house was transferred to her husband Fred Power and their children, Dorothy Power Ives, and Fredleen Leonard.
The house was then inherited after the older relatives passed away, by the Leonard children, in 1978.
They sold it to Alton Tipps in 1979, who with his wife Patricia, began the first major restoration of Three Oaks.
Beginning in 1980, the Tipps spent over five years restoring this grand structure to its original likeness. They removed the false ceilings, repaired interior structural damage and plasterwork, and installed new wiring and plumbing.
They painted the exterior in peach and apricot tones.
Insulation was blown into the walls and added to ceilings and floors. All of the heart pine and oak floors were stripped, sanded, then polished and buffed to their original luster. Woodwork throughout the house was restored, leaded glass transoms were cleaned and shined. The butler's pantry was combined with the kitchen for convenience. The Tipps utilized the leaded glass doors connecting the butler's pantry to the kitchen by recycling them into cabinet doors, making the new kitchen less offensively modern. The Tipps' wonderful restoration was brought to a sudden halt by Mr. Tipps untimely death, and the house was sold.
Bob and Sandra McCoy bought the house in October of 1985, and first opened it as a bed and breakfast the same year. They decorated it with a beautiful collection of antiques, and shared the house with the public for the first time in many years.
The McCoys presented Three Oaks on the very first Marshall Christmas Historic Homes Tour in 1986, and also gave it its name, which is still in use today.
Tony and Laurie Overhultz bought the house in 1995, and installed the lovely Victorian wallpapers in the parlors. They also built out the ballroom into owner's quarters, allowing guests the full run of the main floor.
The Overhultzes painted the exterior in shades of slate blue and gray, with dark red trim. Their Christmas dinners for 40 were legendary, and they developed the bed and breakfast business through 7 years of hard work, and warm hospitality.
The house was sold again in August of 2002, to Donna and Michael Musselman. We have done further restoration, painting inside and out, repair, and redecorating of the house to the Grand Epoch style that it surely would have had when new.
An eight foot by five foot 1870s diamond dust mirror was installed over the mantle in the entry room, and a 1915 Baccarat chandelier was added as well. Ceilings have been muraled, faux finishes painstakingly reproduced, and a general massive upgrade of all services and facilities for bed and breakfast guests has been carried out. The house now boasts high speed wireless computer connection, 5 working gas fireplaces, upgrades to bath facilities, and a breathtaking art and antiques collection.
Special thanks to René Marquardt for his work and amazing skills assisting on this project, as Three Oaks looks ahead to the next 110 years.
If you have any more information or tales about Three Oaks, we invite you to please email them to us, so we can add to this page. Many folks and fascinating stories have been associated with this grand house since 1895, and we will always look forward to learning more.
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