Updated: Jul 9, 2021
Due to work related activities, I've been nosing around Gainesville (Cooke County, Texas) lately. The city was founded as a settlement in the 1850s but didn't incorporate until the 1870s, when it became a hub for cattle ranchers. Many of the cattle ranchers, like Ike Cloud, built homes in Gainesville and leased land in the Chickasaw Nation to supply beef to the Fort Sill reservation.... yes, the "cattle barons" (self made men, right?) became wealthy from government contracts. The leases were made between Anglos and Chickasaw nationals. Some of the cattle ranchers married Chickasaw women and gained rights to the land directly.
Looking at the mansions of the cattle barons that still stand in Gainesville is a real treat, but as usual, I find the simpler architecture just as interesting.
In the early 1970s, the Texas Historical Commission came to Gainesville to document some of the fancier homes, some churches, and the town's Carnegie Library. The commission also photographed other interesting buildings, like the "group of flats" shown in the photographs here. This is a VERY early apartment building, having been erected at the very latest in 1888. It occupied the northwest corner of E. Main (prior to 1900, this was E. Bogg Street) and S. Denton streets. By the turn of the 20th century, the apartment building was actually known as Honeycutt Flats or simply, "The Flats."
The Flats were not a brothel or a hotel, but brick, two story townhouses. Behind each townhouse was a small wooden addition, most likely the kitchen, with a room above used for live-in servant/cook. The people who lived here worked in professional fields like insurance and railroading.
I'm not sure when this apartment building was torn down, but today, the site is a parking lot. That too bad... I think these early townhouses provided Gainesville a real cosmopolitan flair.
The Honeycutt Flats, apartments built in the 1880s in downtown Gainesville, were photographed by the Texas Historical Commission in the 1970s.
Behind each apartment were wooden additions, most likely bathrooms and kitchens (THC).
The 1888 Sanborn Map of Gainesville shows brick apartments, later known as the "Honeycutt Flats," located at the northeast corner of S. Denton and E. Bogg (Bogg is now Main Street).
Ten years after the first Sanborn map, the 1897 edition referred to the building as "The Flats." Note the wooden structures (the yellow outlines) that have been added.
Gainesville's 1915 city directory lists the people who lived in the Honeycutt Flats at 301 East Main Street. All of the were professionals, working in insurance, as managers, and so forth.