The Vernon Daily Record
December 24, 2004
(Used with permission)

Joyce Ann Ashley

Couple Gives New Life to House

     It's been a true labor of love for its owners, but now the Pecan Grove Bed and Breakfast is open for occupancy, and Derrel and Kay Wall couldn't be happier.
     The Vernon couple purchased the house at 1904 Houston this past July.
     "Ever since we've lived in Vernon, I've loved this old house," Derrel Wall said. "And I've always loved taking something in bad shape and bringing it back to life."
     The couple had the house almost completely renovated. The wooden front porch was replaced, every room was painted, new plumbing and central heating and air were added to replace open flame heaters, the floors were redone, ceiling fans were installed and the bathrooms were remodeled.
     This is actually the third house to be restored by the couple. One other house they sold and the second is a rent house.
     The Walls, who both retires from their careers in education - he in 1999 and she in 2001 - have always had a love for antiques and history. With the Pecan Grove, they are now able to combine these two interests.
     Born in Wichita Falls, Kay Wall is a daughter of Oualline Williams of College Station and the late Richard Williams. She graduated from high school in Silverton and from Abilene Christian University with a degree in elementary education. She taught school for some 28 years, including in Vernon where she taught third grade at Central School.
     Derrel Wall is a son of the late Floyd and Winnie Wall. He was born in Chillicothe and lived in Medicine Mound until he was seven. He graduated from Mexia High School and ACU with a degree in secondary education. He did graduate work at Texas Tech, the University of Houston and the University of Wyoming. Derrel taught school for some 30 years, including math at Vernon High School. He and Kay also taught for some six years at a children's home in Nebraska before moving to Vernon in 1978.
     The Walls have three daughters: Kalynda Beebe of Vernon, Jana Anderson of Lubbock and Sally Curtis of Lubbock. They also have six grandchildren.
     The Walls are members of the Wilbarger Street Church of Christ where both are Sunday School teachers. Derrel Wall also continues to maintain his framing business.
     The idea to turn the Houston Street house into a bed and breakfast just seemed a natural one for the couple.
     "We've stayed in some bed and breakfast places, and we've always enjoyed them," Kay Wall said. "I think people like them because they're an escape from the big city."
     The couple said the one story house on Houston was built around 1905. Records show that A.A. Rembert sold the property to L.P. and Belle Bonner in April 1902 for $300.
     "We don't believe there was a house on the property when it was first sold," Derrel Wall said. "However, in 1905, the Bonners sold to R.M. Prater for $2,250, so it would seem reasonable that a house had been built by that time."
     In 1906, the property was sold by the Praters to R.L. More for $3,000.
     "We think R.L. More Jr. was born in this house," Derrel Wall said.
     Former assistant postmaster Earl Madden and his family lived in the house for some 30 years, and while the house changed hands several times over the next years, T.M. and Sallye Dennis were the last occupants from 1973 until the Walls purchased it in July 2004.
     The couple has filled the house with antiques and furnishings from the early 1900's to preserve the period of the house. Handmade quilts are featured in each of the bedrooms, and antique and vintage pieces give the feeling to visitors of a step back in time.
     The couple especially enjoys hearing stories about the house's former occupants, and in some cases, from the former occupants themselves.
     "Mary Jo Madden, who grew up in this house with her two brothers and a sister, was here for the ribbon cutting," Kay Wall reported. "She was so excited about the house and had so many stories to tell."
     Madden told the couple that her parents purchased the house mainly because of its location.
     "It was so close to the schools so the children could walk there. It was close enough to town that Mr. Madden could walk to the post office, and the family were members of First Baptist Church, so they could walk to church. That way, they wouldn't have to use a car and buy gas."
     Mary Jo Madden also related how her parents would rent out part of the house during World War II.
     "And her mother would cook meals for the public for 25 cents a meal," Kay Wall said.
     The Walls are hoping to compile a scrapbook containing the stories and history of the house, its owners and occupants.
     The name of the house - Pecan Grove - comes from the many pecan trees. The couple has given names to each of the three and a half bedrooms in the house. The "half" bedroom is a sunporch with a twin sized bed and patriotic quilts and pictures. It's appropriately called the Patriot Room.
     The largest bedroom is named the Royal Room. Purple is the predominant color in the room, which is furnished in wicker and antiques. A modern touch is the king-size bed which has individual controls to raise, lower and vibrate at the touch of a button.
     The Sunshine Room is decorated in yellow with handmade quilts, antiques and a queen sized bed.
     Most men will like the house's Nature Room, which offers a full size bed and a hunting and fishing décor.
     A nice-sized dining room and kitchen are also included in the house, and the kitchen features a microwave and other modern appliances.
     "We'll have homemade breads, coffee, juice and goodies in the kitchen, so those staying can prepare breakfast in the morning. There may be a breakfast casserole in the refrigerator that they can pop in the oven," Kay Wall said.
     Amenities in the bathrooms include hairdryers, toiletries and plush bathrobes. There is also a utility room with washer and dryer.
     While any of the individual bedrooms may be rented, with the occupants given use of the living room, dining room and kitchen as well as bathrooms, the entire house can also be rented.
     "This would be great for someone having a family reunion, and the backyard is big enough to hold an outdoor wedding," Derrel Wall said.
     The living room also has a television set with VCR and a DVD player as well as videos and DVDs. There are also games, puzzles and books available for entertainment.
     Although the bed and breakfast has only been open for a short time, there have already been occupants and several reservations for the coming year have already been made, including inquiries for Summer's Last Blast weekend. The Walls are currently in the process of putting together a website at pecangrovebedandbreakfast.com where pictures of the home and various rooms can be seen and reservations made.
     "We are really enjoying doing this," Derrel Wall said. "And people have been so nice and excited as well. It's really been great to see how well it's been accepted."
     As the Walls enjoy learning more about the house, one "mystery" remains.
     "The house apparently at one time faced Paradise Street," Derrel Wall reported. "We don't know if the house was moved back to its present location or if it always sat that far back from Paradise Street, with the whole area in front as a big front lawn or what. It's just one of the many things that we're discovering about the house."

 

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