Relocated Jarvies house will serve as heritage center in Old Town Keller

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Surrounded by trees and nestled in the corner of a park site on Bates Street sits an old house in a new location.

Development at 124 S. Main St. led to relocating the 90-year-old Jarvies house, a home rich with history, now being prepared to serve future generations.

The Wild Rose Heritage Center, at 133 Bates St., will be used as a heritage and information center and include parklike gardens and public amenities, while keeping the park’s original purpose of serving as a central gathering area within Old Town Keller.

Residents and business owners in Old Town Keller have big plans for the park where the house will be moved, including bringing in gardening clubs to help, building greenhouses and planting roses cut from the city’s original “white rose.”

According to the Old Town Keller Foundation website, the rose was identified as the McCartney Rose, a thorny rose bush that once served as fencing to keep herds of cattle, hogs and other wildlife off of roads.

“We’re preserving the past but it ties in with the present and future,” said author and historian Joyce Gibson Roach, who has named the house, fittingly, Rose.

City Council on Oct. 1 approved a 25-year land lease agreement with the foundation.

“I think it is great that the foundation has been able to acquire this house,” Mayor Pat McGrail said. “This is one more attribute to Old Town Keller and one more reason for people to want to go there.”

City Manager Steve Polasek said the house will serve as a catalyst to move forward with the development of the park.

“And will have a centerpiece that it has never had before,” Polasek said.

The house was built in the 1920s for the family of James (Jim) Ernest Jarvies, according information on the foundation’s website.

Jim Jarvies, the youngest child of Thomas Jefferson Jarvies and Annie Frances Lopp of Double Springs, was born in 1895.

He was a farm boy schooled in nearby Mt. Gilead who chose a career in business, enrolled in the Brantley Draughon Business College in Fort Worth, and after graduation was employed by the First State Bank of Keller.

After World War I military service, Jarvies organized the Smithfield State Bank and in 1920, with Thomas B. White, organized the original Keller State Bank.

The Jarvies house was donated to the Old Town Keller Foundation by Cary Moon, owner of the Keller Tavern, and his business partner, Keller resident David DeWald.

Moon said the property, which was purchased in December, someday will house Texas Bleu, a two-story steak house with an executive chef who is classically trained in French cuisine.

“We donated it for a good cause to a group of motivated individuals who had a big task in front of them,” Moon said. “And they got it done. I’m impressed with what they did.”

The task at hand, finding money to relocate the house, seemed daunting at first but the Old Town Keller Foundation came together with the community and made it happen.

The last tenants in the house were husband and wife team Leo and Lea Ann Bray-Salinas, owners of the Texas Harvest Pie Co.


Bray-Salinas said after selling the property, she and her husband wanted to do something to preserve the house but didn’t have the means.

“I talked to people, I really didn’t want the house to be torn down. I wanted to save it,” she said. “It all came about through Old Town Keller Foundation ... It just all worked out.”

Bray-Salinas said she got the word out and before long the community began raising funds for the cause. Foundation members are continuing the fundraising efforts to pay for getting the house ready for its new purpose.

“We got it moved, but we’ve got to proceed in getting her back in shape,” Bray-Salinas said.

Along with funding for relocating the house, the foundation will pay for future improvements. The city will continue park maintenance including mowing and tree maintenance.

A housewarming party is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 20 at the house. Visitors can enjoy free hot dogs, get information about the house, and buy pie and other deserts to help the fundraising efforts.

Also for sale will be large hybrid iris bulbs pulled from the original Jarvies house property.

Roach said Lois Jarvies had the irises planted in her yard and they flourished for decades.

The bulbs will be sold in a bag of two at a cost of $7.50. Proceeds benefit the foundation and will be used to help prepare the house for its new role.

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