The Montgomery County Historical Commission held a dedication of an historical marker for the 101-year-old W.A. Gertrude and Dean Home in Magnolia.
The dedication took place the morning of October 26 at the home, located at 503 Commerce Street in Magnolia.
Special guests participated in the official unveiling of the marker, including Magnolia Historian Celeste Graves, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, retired Precinct 5 Constable David Hill and Henry Dean, family member of W.A. and Gertrude Dean.
Montgomery County Historical Commission Marker Chairperson Sharon Russell talked about the history of the Dean home.
“I’ve got a great fondness for this house, and I call it the house that love built because of the story involved,” said Russell. “Now the world was a whole lot different 100 years ago here in Magnolia. The population in 1900 was 25.”
Russell said the town started to grow.
“In 1902 the rail road came through and the area was named Magnolia in 1903. In 1915, this was a boom town; it had grown to a population of 150,” said Russell. “We had all kinds of great things, just like a metropolis. We had telephone service, a sawmill, a Baptist and Methodist church, a blacksmith, a hotel, a real estate office, a confectionery, which is a sweets shop. We also had a cotton gin and two general stores.”
Russell said one of the general stories was started by the Dean brothers.
“That was T.R., who was Roy, Frank and Willie, or W.A.,” said Russell. Willie was the bookkeeper of the group, he was the numbers guy. “The Dean brothers opened their store on January 1, 1902.”
Russell said Willie, or W.A. Dean, was a well-to-do bachelor in his forties.
“He courted a lot of the ladies here, and no one tickled his fancy until Gertrude appeared in town, and boy was he smitten,” said Russell. “He told his friend that he was going to marry that girl. His friend laughed at him. They had box lunches back then, and he bought her box. When he sat down to have lunch, he handed her a little box. The little box had a diamond solitaire ring in it. He told her that he was going to marry her one day. She had grown up in the Houston area, and told him I wouldn’t marry a hayseed like you for nothing.”
Russell said Willie Dean wouldn’t take no for an answer, and so he started building the Dean Home in 1919.
“He bought this piece of property and started building this house. This house is built out of hard woods and pines, that were milled right here at the sawmill in Magnolia, said Russell. “Every week, he would send her (Gertrude) a polaroid picture of the progress he was making on the house. 1920 rolls around, and the house is finished and furnished, and she agreed to marry him.”
Russell said the Dean’s were married on June 14, 1920.
“They stay married until 1963, when Willie died. They raised their family here. They did a lot in this community,” said Russell.
Russell said there are many people who have helped preserve the Dean home, including Celeste Graves and Anne Sundquist, who is a previous owner of the home.
The current owners of the home are Robert M. (Matt) and Gina Clark.