412 NW. 5th Spruce Street
The Parent House
Built in 1884
In the mid to late 1800’s cowboys drove thousands of Texas cattle up the Chisholm Trail to Abilene to be shipped east to market. Although the boom ended by 1872, cattle continued to be grazed in the Abilene vicinity. In 1896, roaming longhorn streers marred the north side of this classic Queen Anne home.
The house was built in 1884 by Ephram Fuller Parent. He arrived in Abilene in 1870 and built a small cottage on the property before sending for his family. Upon her arrival, Mrs. Parent was one of the few civilized women in town, and she wrote in her diary that she dared not go out after dark for fear of the roughneck cowboys.
Parent had opened Parent’s General Store, a grocery and dry goods business, in 1877 and operated it for many years. According to Heroes By the Dozen, written by Abilene newspaper editor Henry Jameson, Parent had one of the first telephones in the city. A wire connected his store on Cedar Street to his home. Jameson also wrote that Parent’s daughters had the first wooden wheel tricycle in town.
After the completion of their new home, it became the site of many social gatherings. On one occasion, the family had to take down two beds in order to accommodate the large number of guests expected to attend.
In the Queen Anne tradition, the house features a variety of window treatments, a complex roof form, decorative porches and numerous bay windows.
This home’s double doors lead to the entry where a stained glass window sheds light on the natural wood staircase anchored by a massive newel post. The brass light fixture in the hall is among several of the original fixtures.
The woodwork on the first floor is burled walnut woodgraining, an art popular in the 1880’s. The parlor features a natural wood mantel above a tile fireplace. Pocket doors separate the three main rooms on this level.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the home, Steve and Cindy Wedel constructed a gazebo on the side yard in 1984.
Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.