Built when fewer than seven hundred citizens lived in Waco Village proper, the Earle-Napier-Kinnard House has truly been a witness to history.
In 1856, Thomas Harrison and John Baylis Earle purchased a double log cabin on five acres for $1,000. Two years later, Earle built a two-room brick home on three of the acres and moved into the residence with his wife Emma. The couple had their first three children in the home but eventually relocated to East Waco in order to be closer to the factory Earle established to manufacture uniforms for Confederate soldiers. In 1866, H. S. Morgan purchased the property for $4,000 in gold specie and started work on a two-story addition to the original building. By May of 1868, the house had new owners in Dr. John Smith Napier and his wife Mary, who acquired the property for $5,000. The Napiers took on the expansion project and enlarged the house to its present form. Unfortunately, Mary Napier did not get to enjoy the home for long as she passed away in April of 1872. Dr. Napier lived in the home until his death in 1889. Prior to her father’s death, Sallie Napier, one of the seven Napier children, took up residence in the family home with her husband Rev. David Cannon Kinnard. The Kinnards frequently entertained visiting preachers, leading the residence to be nicknamed “the House of Pastors” among their contemporaries. Mary, the eldest Kinnard daughter, moved into the house when she was five years old and lived there until her death at age ninety-four in 1957.
The house is built in the Greek Revival style, as evidenced by its white, pillared porticos. Its exterior is comprised of pale pink handmade brick from a local kiln. The porch has an ornamental wooden banister, which resembles ironwork, on both the upper and lower galleries. The windows are nicely adorned with cypress shutters.
In January of 1958, Frances Duncan Nalle purchased the house. Nalle initially oversaw the refurbishment of the residence. The restoration included enclosing the latticed back porch and adding two bathrooms over that porch on the second floor. Although the above efforts enabled the house to return to its former state, much of the property’s original acreage was lost to the construction of Interstate Highway 35. However, the above did not diminish the historic value of the house nor its appeal to the broader community. For a time the home served as a clubhouse for Baylor faculty social gatherings. A newlywed Baylor undergraduate couple, Kathleen and Herman Massey, lived there with full period furniture as onsite curators in the 1960s. Then in 1967, Nalle endowed the house and presented it, with all its antique furnishings, to the Waco Perpetual Growth Foundation.
On March 11, 1971, the National Register of Historic Places added the Earle-Napier-Kinnard House to its list of properties. It had the honor of being the third structure from Waco to be included, preceded only by the Suspension Bridge and Fort House.
The Earle-Napier-Kinnard House is now a public museum run by Historic Waco Foundation, placing it in the unique position of being a testament to Waco’s past while remaining a witness to the city’s future development.
For tours of the Earle-Napier-Kinnard House, or for more information about Historic Waco Foundation, visit www.historicwaco.org.