Mansfield News

Society honors historic home

Fr. George Foley stands in front of the Nugent-Hart house, soon after it was restored.
Fr. George Foley stands in front of the Nugent-Hart house, soon after it was restored. File photo

The Nugent-Hart house received a Texas Historical Marker in 1983, and now it has its own Christmas ornament.

The little Victorian frame house at 312 S. Waxahachie St. is the 10th Mansfield structure to be depicted on a stoneware ornament commissioned by the Mansfield Historical Society.

“This project started in 1999 with Katherine Howard,” said Marilyn Gerloff, treasurer for the Mansfield Historical Society. “We had an ornament every year for quite some time, then backed off for awhile. When Vernon Newsom Stadium was built, we did that ornament to commemorate (the former Mansfield school district superintendent).”

The historical society commissioned Oklahoma artist Audrey Schmitz to create the hand-pressed stoneware clay ornaments, starting with the original Mansfield High School, now the district’s administration building. Ornaments honoring Memorial Hall, Farr Best Theater, McKnight building, FW&NO railroad bridge, Kow Bell Arena and the current City Hall followed. The Newsom Stadium ornament was issued in 2009, followed by the Pyles-Hubbard house in 2010, both overseen by historical society member Faye Rydell.

“This year we were bound and determined to do another one,” Gerloff said.

The Nugent-Hart house was built in the late 19th century by Joseph and Christina Nugent, who came to Texas in 1851. He operated a private school in Mansfield and taught at the Mansfield Male and Female College, according to historical society records. In 1891, Joseph Nugent was elected mayor of Mansfield.

“We know this house was built by 1889,” Gerloff said. “When the city was incorporated in 1890, this house was used as the southeast corner of the Mansfield city limits.”

In 1920, farmer J.H. Hart bought the house, and it stayed in his family until 2005. Jim Hart of Arlington grew up in the house, as did his father, Clyde, who died in 1963. Jim Hart’s mother lived in the home until her death in 1995. After that the house was rented out. In 2005, Hart started cleaning up the family home, wondering what to do with it.

“My mom loved it,” he said. “And it’s got that historical marker. The priest (from St. Jude Catholic Church across the street) came over and thanked me for cleaning it up.”

And that’s what led to Hart’s decision. In 2005, he donated the house to the Fort Worth Catholic Diocese, with the stipulation that it be restored.

“It took them three years to rebuild it,” Hart said. “They tore it down to the ground. It had no foundation. The floor was like a roller coaster. It had an outhouse, a smokehouse and the windmill was the source of water.”

Fr. George Foley, the priest from St. Jude, lived in the home until this fall, when he retired. The house is used by the church’s new priest.

“I’m really proud of the way it turned out,” Hart said. “I’m a bachelor, so that’s my legacy to Mansfield.”

Members of the historical society like the house’s looks, too, including the distinctive gingerbread trim on the front porch.

“You have to look at how it’s going to look on an ornament,” Gerloff said. “You have to have good pictures of the building.”

The historical society had some detailed information, saved from the paperwork when the Nugent-Hart house was submitted for a Texas Historical Marker.

The group ordered 100 Nugent-Hart ornaments, and is selling them -- along with the first nine ornaments in the series -- at the Mansfield Historical Museum & Heritage Center, 102 N. Main St., for $15 each.

“It’s been six years since we had an ornament,” Gerloff said. “I think it’s going to sell. It’s a great stocking stuffer.”

Mansfield Historical Museum & Heritage Center

102 N. Main St.