A piece of Tyler's past - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

A piece of Tyler's past


Tucked on the corner of Houston and Vine streets in Tyler looms an East Texas landmark. The McClendon House is now in the full swing of tourism season and is gearing up for their new fall activities.

Their living history tours are held every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This isn't your average historical house tour. Volunteers like Neil Ginn dress up as members of the McClendon family and give a more vibrant and personal tour of the McClendon lives back in the 1900s.

"It's enjoyable to do it and I think 90 percent of the people who do it get into it, because it gives them a chance to act like their living in that time," Ginn, who plays Judge M.H. Bonner, said.

The house is also open for people to book murder mystery nights and special events.

Judge M. H. Bonner, a Texas State Supreme Court Associate Justice, bought a parcel of land from the estate of his former law partner, Texas' first governor, J. Pinckney Henderson.

When Bonner's oldest daughter, Mattie, married attorney Harrison Whitaker, the newlyweds were gifted two acres on which they built their home in 1878. The Whitakers shopped in New York for their fire mantles, light fixtures, wallpaper and furniture. They selected an East Lake Bracketed architectural design for construction of their two-story nine room home. The house became a center point for Tyler society as the Whitakers presided over dinners and parties, all celebrated in grand Victorian style. Sadly, Mattie suffered an untimely death and five years later, Harrison remarried and moved Beaumont with his children and new wife.

The house was then sold to Mattie's younger sister, Annie, and her husband, Sydney McClendon, where it remained in the McClendon family until 1981.

McClendon House coordinator George Jones said Tyler would be a lot different today if it hadn't been for this family.

"They kept going; they didn't give up. They knocked down walls and barriers to make Tyler grow. With out these folks, these pioneers, we wouldn't be here. Tyler would have just faded away," Jones said.

The McClendon family didn't just have high society parties at their home. Many major historical decisions were made there.

"One of the biggest things they did was push for the railroads to come through. The railroad contracts were actually signed in this house," Jones said.

It was decided in this house that Texas would be the only state that can secede from the union by majority vote.

For more information about the McClendon House or how you can get involved or donate, click here.

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