As Texoma continues to experience a housing boom and a persistent need for new housing, new subdivisions are popping up across the region. While attention is focused on these new homes being built in Gateway Village and Austin Landing, some developers are concentrating on the old rather than the new.
For some homebuyers, these older residences, some dating back to the 1930s or earlier, provide a chance to own a larger home while also appealing to a sense of nostalgia.
“These old homes sometimes serve as a throwback to yesteryear,” Ben Vincent, outgoing president of the Greater Texoma Association of Realtors, said.
In recent years, the retro feel and age of homes has become a selling point for younger buyers, Vincent added.
Some of the selling points for these older homes include larger floor plans, larger bedrooms and hardwood floors. Many of the buyers are younger millennials, who are looking for a peaceful place to call their own. By putting work into restoring the home, they can find ownership in it, he said.
“The way they used to build a house, it would last forever,” he said, noting they need regular upkeep and maintenance. “As long as you update it and keep it current to modern tastes, it will always have character.”
For the city of Sherman, many of the homes that have seen upgrades and restorations in recent years have been focused on the western sections of the city, including portions of Travis Street. Sherman-based attorney Bob Minshew, who has upgraded these older homes for most of his life, said he has purchased several homes on Woods Street and nearby Ricketts, among others.
“The whole neighborhood was in need of work and I just went at it,” Minshew said, describing his work on Woods Street.
Minshew moved into his current home on Beldon Street about six years ago, he said. Before that, he lived in a house on Birge Street that was built in 1898. When he moved into his current home, Minshew said he doubled the size of the residence from about 2,000 square feet to nearly 4,000 square feet complete with a game room and multiple bedrooms.
Minshew said he does not consider these upgrades to be restorations because that typically implies there is something wrong with them in the first place.
“When you restore an antique car, typically, you take it down to the frame,” he said. “With a good car you can just clean it up, and put on some new paint. It will run fine, but it is not restored.”
When asked what the appeal of the older houses was, Minshew said newer homes lack the sense of community that many older neighborhoods have.
“The appeal is in the character of the home that comes with having a porch and living in an actual neighborhood,” he said. “Many new homes are not in neighborhoods where people grow to feel comfortable — it is a neighborhood of strangers.”
Among those who have recently purchased older homes is Grayson County Assistant District Attorney Britton Brooks. About two years ago, Brooks purchased an 80-year-old, 4,500-square-foot home.
“I love history, and I love the idea that I can maintain a part of historic Sherman,” he said.
After purchasing the home, Brooks learned that the daughter of the man who built the house was still alive and living in Denison. After performing with his band at her birthday, he was able to let her tour his home.
Brooks said the only structural changes he had to make were to separate an upstairs bathroom into two separate bathrooms. Other minor repairs to the house included caulking and fixing the woodwork.
“This house has withstood every storm, every rain, every tornado since 1936, and there is no reason to think this house won’t be here when I am gone,” Brooks said.