J. A. Walker Residence
701 Center Ave.

Early photo provided by J. L. Rose

Photo taken July 29, 2009, by Frank T. Hilton

J. A. Walker

Brownwood businessman and civic leader J. A. Walker (d.1942) built this home in 1901.  The home was built by John Davis Jones, Architect and Builder. Outstanding features includes the ornate portico, wide wraparound veranda and intricate ornamentation.

 Walker was a prominent Texas Baptist, and he was an early benefactor to Howard Payne University.  The colonial revival styling of the Walker home reflects his status as a leader in the community.  The house remained in the Walker family for over 75 years.  It was recorded as a  Texas Historic Landmark in 1982.  The home was restored in 1979 by Mr. and Mrs. Ben Barnes.  The home is now owned by Howard Payne University and the President of the University lives in the home. 

This postcard picture of Walker home was one of two homes featured on one postcard.  The other home was the R. B. Rogers home which was located next door.

Here is another postcard of the R. B. Rogers home and the J. A. Walker home.  The Walker home is the one in the center of the postcard.


Walker home is pictured on the right in this postcard photo.

This postcard shows three types of homes, the teepee, the log cabin and the J. A. Walker home of its day.  The writing on the postcard says "Quite a contrast isn't it.  This is the old house where I was born - 'low and little and brown and old, children as many as it could hold.'" 

The writing on the right hand side, next to the house says "J.A. Walker Home."  The home is located at 701 Center Ave. The printed part says "Hartung's Studio, Brownwood." 

Lived in Home for 41 Years

J. A. Walker lived in the home until his death on December 16, 1942, of an apparent heart attack.  He was buried in Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood, Texas.  His wife, Mary Elizabeth Peacock Walker, had passed away in 1936 and is also buried in the cemetery. At the time of his death he was vice-president of the First National Bank and was President of the Walker-Smith Co, Wholesale Grocers, Coffee Roasters and Candy Manufacturers, located at 1503 Center Ave. The sixteen Walker-Smith houses in West Texas, North Texas and New Mexico were closed for the entire day of his funeral.

 Following his death the home stayed vacant at least until 1955.   The first record we have of someone actually living there, following his death, was in 1959 T. Earl & Mary W. Edwards.  The City Directory shows her to be a widower in 1960, but also that she remained in the home until at least 1976. 
Ben Barnes and his wife lived in the home and remolded it in 1979, and were still living in the home in 1983.  We do not have the City Directories to show us when they moved in or when the home was given to Howard Payne University. 

We do know that Dr. Don Newberry, President of Howard Payne University, was living in the home in 1988, and for many years after that.  The presidents who succeeded him have also lived in the home.

J. A. Walker Makes Gift to Howard Payne College.

Early benefactors  As Howard Payne began to eliminate its debt, two major trust funds were created which assured the college's future. In 1934, Mr. and Mrs. John G. Hardin, noted Texas philanthropists, established a $305,000 trust fund. In addition, J. R. Walker set up a trust fund with a $1 million gift.

Members of SAR and DAR

John Allen Walker is listed as a Son of the American Revolution (SAR) and Mary Elizabeth Peacock Walker is listed as a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

"BROWNWOOD NORTH AND SOUTH RAILWAY. The Brownwood North and South Railway Company was chartered on January 29, 1910, by the citizens of Brown County to build a road eighteen miles from Brownwood, the county seat, north to May. Brooke Smith was the main promoter and president of the company, and he and other Brownwood businessmen hoped to extend the line eventually to Cisco, to link the cotton-producing regions of northern Brown and southern Eastland counties. The capital was $30,000, and the business office was located in Brownwood. Members of the first board of directors included Smith, J. A. Walker, Y. C. Yantis, A. L. Self, G. N. Harrison, R. B. Rogers, Will H. Mays, Henry Ford,v and J. J. Timmins, all of Brownwood. The company made an agreement to use the tracks of the Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railway Company from a half mile east of Pecan Bayou into Brownwood. Work began on the construction of the road but was stopped when some of the subscribers to its stock failed to pay. At that time B. L. Winchell, then president of the St. Louis and San Francisco Railroad Company (Frisco) agreed to complete the line and was given all of the Brownwood North and South assets and liabilities. The eighteen miles to May was placed in operation in November 1911. The line went into receivership along with the other Frisco properties in 1913. In 1916 its earnings included $3,160 in passenger revenue and $5,222 in freight revenue. By 1926 the BN&S was listed as a Class III railroad by the Railroad Commission and owned no equipment. Earnings for that year included $858 in passenger revenue and $8,652 in freight revenue. The road never was a financial success and was abandoned by 1927."  Information from the Handbook of Texas.



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