East Terrace House

On the east bank of the Brazos River stands East Terrace House, a residence with a past that is as remarkable as its Italianate style of architecture.

Future industrialist John Wesley Mann moved to Waco in 1858 from Lebanon, Tennessee. He raised horses until he enlisted in the Confederate Army in 1861 as a private in Company G, Sixth Regiment, Texas Cavalry. Mann served as a blacksmith and as a member of a scout company throughout the duration of the war.  Having survived the war, Mann looked to settle down. He married Cemira Howard Twaddle Mann in 1868.   Mann purchased property on the east bank of the Brazos River. In 1874, J. W. Mann, his wife, and first son, Howard moved into the completed East Terrace House.    

The residence is an example of Italianate architecture, a style seen but rarely in the South. East Terrace offers a visual feast of the Italianate with its vertical proportions, tall hooded windows, horizontal roofline, and bracketed cornices. Its square Mansard-roofed cupola is particularly striking. The cupola boasts a tower room with excellent views of the estate’s acreage and the Brazos River.

Mann designed his family residence to be well suited to matters of business and pleasure. A successful industrialist, Mann conducted much of his commercial dealings from the comfort of his home office due to its relative proximity to his brick kilns, sand barges on the Brazos, and other ventures. In order to better entertain clients and leading members of Wacoan society, Mann added a dining room and large bedroom to East Terrace in 1880. The family furnished the bedroom with six small beds to accommodate overnight guests. By 1884, Mann approved a second addition to the house, an entertainment wing complete with its own entrance hall and ballroom. Parties in the East Terrace ballroom were a grand event. The Manns would host frequent summer balls that attracted so many society figures that extra stable boys had to be hired to take care of the numerous carriages and horses.

No less impressive were the original grounds of East Terrace. Resplendent with rose gardens, strutting peacocks, an orchard, columbine-draped terraces, and a sunken garden with a goldfish pond, the Mann family’s estate was a small Eden along the Brazos. However, East Terrace’s proximity to the river meant that it was also susceptible to flood waters. Several times the grounds were overtaken by the swollen banks of the river, and at least once the waters rose as high as four feet in the residence’s ground floor.

 The early part of the twentieth century witnessed a decline in fortune for the estate. While Howard Mann retained possession of the house, it ceased to be a grand family residence. From 1930 to 1939, Mann leased East Terrace to Charles Lemly who converted it into the Lemly Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanatorium. After Lemly, Mann rented the house to different tenants but under the stipulation that he be allowed to keep a room there. When Mann passed away in 1948, East Terrace stood vacant except for the occasional presence of vagrants.

Thankfully, East Terrace was not to be left to the ravages of time. Young Brothers Contractors purchased the estate in the 1950s to use the site for equipment storage. Recognizing the historic value of the property, Young Brothers deeded East Terrace to the Heritage Society in 1960. Financial gifts from the Cooper Foundation, Eleanor Pape, Lucille Massey, and others enabled two restoration projects to be carried out in 1960 and 1966, respectively. In 1967 East Terrace received the Texas Restoration Award.

East Terrace House is now an historic house museum run by Historic Waco Foundation.

For tours of East Terrace House, or for more information about Historic Waco Foundation, visit www.historicwaco.org.

Images

A Grand Residence

A Grand Residence

The residence is designed according to the Italianate style of architecture popularized by wealthy families in the northeastern seaboard in the late nineteenth century. This style is evident in the house's horizontal roofline, decorative brackets, cupola, and tall hooded windows. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

Early Exterior

Early Exterior

Prominent Waco businessman John Wesley Mann chose to build his family home on the east bank of the Brazos River. The grounds were terraced at intervals down to the river with brick walls and walkways. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

Servants' Quarters

Servants' Quarters

During the 1870s, a row of four servants' houses, such as the one pictured here, stood on the north side of the home and served as residence for the Manns' domestic staff. The 1880 additions added a room at the back of the house for the cook to reside in. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

Prominent Wacoans

Prominent Wacoans

J. W. Mann used bricks form his kiln business to construct an elaborate and stylish home for his wife. Bricks form his company were also used in other notable and historic Waco structures, such as the suspension bridge which, at the time of its construction, was the longest such bridge west of the Mississippi River. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

Dining Room

Dining Room

Added in 1880, the dining room connected the main part of the house to the detached kitchen. It was common in that time period to have the kitchen away from the house in order to prevent fires, and to keep heat and odors out of the main living spaces. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

"Never Give Up Hope" Advertisement

"Never Give Up Hope" Advertisement

From 1930 to 1939, Charles Lemly leased East Terrace and converted it from a private residence into the Lemly Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanatorium. This print advertisement implores family members not to "give up" until the facility had examined their loved one suffering from a mental illness. The ad admonishes, "The case may be hopeless, but until we have passed on it, you will not have done your duty or all that should be done for the patient." | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

Recreation Time

Recreation Time

A nurse and a few patients enjoy a game of croquet on the grounds of the Lemly Chiropractic Psychopathic Sanatorium (formerly the East Terrace estate). While the scene appears tranquil, the bars on the sanatorium's windows serve as a reminder of the darker side of mental illness and its treatment in the 1930s. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

High Waters

High Waters

East Terrace's proximity to the Brazos River meant that it was often threatened by flood waters. Howard Mann, son of original owner John W. Mann, claimed that during the terrible 1913 flood, his mother had someone take her favorite cow up to the second floor of the house, out of the water, before she would leave for safety. | Source: Image courtesy of Historic Waco Foundation View File Details Page

Audio

Restoration is a Constant Effort

Pamela B. Crow speaks of how the restoration and upkeep of historic homes are constant efforts because of pests, termites, and general maintenance. | Source: Crow, Pamela B., interviewed by Leslee A. Elliott, March 2, 2007, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Repairing the Cellar and Cistern

Billie Brownfield speaks of how they repaired the cellar and cistern at East Terrace House in the 1980s. | Source: Brownfield, Billie, interviewed by Lesless A. Elliott, March 13, 2007, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Raising Money to Paint the House

Billie Brownfield tells about how she raised the money through garage sales to have East Terrace House painted. | Source: Brownfield, Billie, interviewed by Leslee A. Elliott, March 13, 2007, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Building the Gazebo

Billie Brownfield speaks of how $2,800 was raised and spent to build the gazebo in memory of a friend. | Source: Brownfield, Billie, interviewed by Leslee A. Elliott, March 13, 2007, in Waco, Texas. Baylor University Institute for Oral History, Waco, TX. View the full interview View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Historic Waco Foundation and Prisca Bird, “East Terrace House,” Waco History, accessed May 23, 2017, http://wacohistory.org/items/show/74.

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