"If these walls could talk," says Becky Wangner. "They'd tell a story about a wonderful family that lived here for 100 years."
Becky and Robert Wangner thought they were the only people who could see through the clutter, to an old home's charm. "We started off not knowing anything about these people and now it seems like we know everything about their lives," she adds.
What started as a restoration project they began in 1999...became a journey in time, "We spent countless hours picking though debris and treasure, all at the same time," Robert explains. "As you pick up a trash--something valuable would fall out. You had to be very careful."
After 6 months of work and 18 tons of garbage, the Wangners found treasures hidden amongst trash from a family known as self-proclaimed "pack rats". Three generations of one family, the Fitzgerald's. "We were able to piece these things together and come out with this wonderful story,"Becky tells.
Judge J.W. Fitzgerald's father died here leaving behind civil war memorabilia. The Judge began a legacy from an original copy of the Charter of the City of Tyler from 1915 to nearly one thousand letters from soldiers of the Civil War, World War I & II.
From a prominent Texas business man, to an world war one ambulance driver and a published poet, Mary S. Fitzgerald sums up her legacy in a poem that brings home to the heart of the matter...
But Oh the long years taken, the patient and the grace, to my wee brown cottage into this loving place.
The Fitzgerald House has been renovated into office space and a museum dedicated to the Fitzgerald family. It will also soon be featured in a HGTV series, called "If These Walls Could Talk"... chronicling 5 Texas homes, where history was discovered after families moved in.