611 NW. 3rd Street
The Parker-Hamill House
Built in 1885
The compassion that early-day citizens of Abilene showed for one another is evident in a story that surrounds this property. A few days after Elizabeth Lemaster arrived with the Buckeye Colony in 1870, her husband died in a construction accident. Within a week, the community reached out to the pregnant woman with two young sons. A small house was built on this land that Conrad Lebold and Jacob Augustine sold to the widow for a @1 fee. Mrs. Lemaster baked for the hotel, kept boarders and worked as a seamstress. It is believed she had one of the first sewing machines in Abilene.
Mrs. Lemaster later married A. W. Gordon and sold the property to Frank L. Parker who built this new home that was featured in the 1887 edition of A Gem, The City of The Plains, Abilene, a promotional booklet. Parker was a partner in Hobbs, Parker and Company, a grain firm, and in Hallam and Parker, lumber and coal dealers. Both went out business by 1890.
The Illustrated Reflector of 1887 reported that Parker “shows a proper appreciation of home comforts… he has one of the most elegant residences in Abilene.” The Queen Anne architecture is expressed in the double front doors, eleven-foot-high ceilings, three pocket doorways with ornate fretwork in each, and stained glass, square-paned windows above the double doors and on the first landing of the ornate cherry staircase.
The second floor door onto the front porch balcony also has a border of square-paned stained glass. Later, the dormers and cresting were removed and the second floor porch was enclosed. Also,, the turned porch pillars on both the front and east side porches were replaced with large columns and thus the house took on a Colonial Revival look.
Elizabeth Harmon purchased the home in 1916 and the funeral for her husband, Jonathan, was conducted there in 1934. The widow converted the home into a rooming house in the early 1940’s during World War II.
John and Mary Hamill and family, purchased the home in 1976, rescued it from condemnation proceedings, remodeled it and returned it to a single family dwelling in the late 1970’s.
Although its original use is unknown, the family room on the main level has eight walls and contains sycamore woodwork. From a house being demolished, the Hamills salvaged pine grooved doors and used them as the wainscoting and doors for the built-in cabinets in this room.
The living room or front parlor has a cherry mantel with imported green glazed Italian tile. The half bath has the original embossed cast iron lavatory. The first floor also includes a breakfast room, kitchen, pantry and a sun room.
The original servant’s quarters were located a few steps down from other rooms on the second floor that now contains four bedrooms, one and a half baths, three sleeping porches and a utility room.
Originally published in Historic Homes of Abilene, The Heritage Homes Association, written by Cecilia Harris, photos by Bob Paull, 1994.