Rotan-Dossett House

The Rotan-Dossett House is one of several preserved homes in Waco built by prominent figures of McLennan County. Though not a pioneer of the area, Edward Rotan was a major economic figure—a classic nineteenth-century capitalist. He came to McLennan County from Tennessee in 1867 and obtained a job as a schoolteacher. He subsequently worked for a wholesale grocery, bought out the business, and later served as the president of the largest bank in Waco for thirty-five years. Concurrent with all of his successes, Rotan used $80,000 he made in a real estate transaction to build himself a mansion which later became known as one of the most distinctive houses in Waco.

Rotan-Dossett House stands unique in the South as a result of its differing architectural style. While most large nineteenth century southern houses were designed in the Greek Revival or Victorian style, Rotan-Dossett House holds the influence of the Shingle, Stick, and Queen Anne styles in the structure. Though common in New England, these architectural elements were rarely seen in the South during this time.

Completed in 1891, wood and locally made orange brick largely composed the home’s exterior. Around 1900, Rotan added a two-story porch to the front of the home which today adds to its distinctive character. Quartersawn oak composed the interior rooms, and imitation leather wallpaper lined the halls. Ornate detailing decorates the doorframes, fireplace mantels, and staircase, and several stained glass windows line the second floor landing, adding to the house’s stately grandeur. 

When Rotan eventually decided to sell his beautiful home, another successful businessman, Andrew J. Dossett, purchased it in 1917. The son of a small farmer, he first came from Mississippi to Cameron, Texas, where he bought a cotton compress warehouse. While living in Cameron he owned the Cameron First National Bank and a bank at Ben Arnold. He later bought into the Waco cotton compress warehouse, moved to Waco, and continued purchasing other warehouses around the state to amass his fortune.

Over the years, only minor alterations have been made to the interior of Rotan-Dossett House. Owners added a few bathrooms and permanent shut a few doors. A circulating hot water radiator system was also installed. In 1979, the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Descendants of A. J. Dossett today continue to reside in the historic downtown home. Current residents Elizabeth and Stuart Smith completed renovations on the exterior of the home to restore some of the damage wrought by over a century of use. Although Rotan-Dossett House remains a private residence, it stands today as a nod to a period of prosperity in Waco in part brought about by the efforts of prominent businessmen such as Edward Rotan and A. J. Dossett. 

Images

Of a Simpler Time

Of a Simpler Time

The unique architecture of Rotan-Dossett House is visible in the home's simple shape, accented by decorative shingles, chimneys, and various porches. Proponents of this style sought to emulate colonial houses' plain, shingled surfaces. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Local Ties

Local Ties

Although distinct in its style, Rotan-Dossett House retained some element of familiarity in the orange brick which composed its exterior. The bricks made locally form East Waco sand were also used in other historic structures, such as the Waco Suspension Bridge. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Grandiose Comfort

Grandiose Comfort

Designed for comfort as well as style, the grandiose home contains several staircases, multiple parlors and sitting rooms for entertaining, and thirteen fireplaces, eleven of which are tiled and decorated. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

Sitting Room

Sitting Room

Design within the home was largely based upon the style of renowned architect Henry Hobson Richardson, featuring both windows and translucent door panels throughout the interior of the home. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Fred R. Gildersleeve View File Details Page

A Reputation for Entertainment

A Reputation for Entertainment

Both the Rotans and the Dossetts frequently entertained their friends and relatives in Rotan-Dossett House. The home became largely known as a prime social gathering point. Local historian Lavonia Jenkins Barnes wrote of the home, "Its handsome and sturdy oak doors have swung wide to welcome more people for more worthy causes, as well as for more gay social events, than has any other house in this area." | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass Windows

The stained glass windows at the top of the stairs on the second floor compose one of the most unique elements of the house. Protected by clear glass windows, they are somewhat hidden from view from the exterior of the home. However, on sunny days the multicolored glass illuminates the first and second floors with colored light. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Welcoming Space

Welcoming Space

The home's large halls and ample space created a welcoming atmosphere for entertaining. guests at Rotan-Dossett House enjoyed a parlor, library, card room, dining room, sitting room, breakfast room, kitchen, and butler's pantry on the first floor alone. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University View File Details Page

Historic Home

Historic Home

As a result of the owners making few major changes to the interior or exterior of the house, the historic character of Rotan-Dossett House has been preserved through the years. Visitors today will experience a home very similar to that which Edward Rotan first constructed in 1891. | Source: Image courtesy of the Texas Collection, Baylor University | Creator: Lavern "Windy" Drum View File Details Page

Restoration

Restoration

Early twenty-first century renovations completed by the home’s current owners restored its exterior, adding a new roof, chimney pots, and a fresh coat of green paint. Such restorations ensure that the home continues to stand as a hallmark of Waco’s rich history for generations to come. | Creator: Larry D. Moore CC BY-SA 3.0. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Reeder Dossett , “Rotan-Dossett House,” Waco History, accessed July 22, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/107.

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