Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House Museum
Family members come back, even in death.
Doors open and close, sometimes right in front of tours!
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House is a Texas State Historical Landmark, and a Tyler Historical Landmark.
This restored Victorian House was designed in the Eastlake architecture style, thanks to English architect Charles L. Eastlake. The McClendon house has two stories and nine rooms. The common rooms are on the first floor, while the bedrooms are on the second floor. Eastlake bracketed architecture was developed by Charles L. Eastlake (1833-1906), an English architect. His ideas on this type of design became popular after he published his book; “Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details,” in 1868.
This book was reprinted in America in 1872, “Eastlake buildings would be classified as Stick style or Queen Anne if they were not characterized by a distinctive type of ornament that resulted from use of a chisel, gouge, and the lathe. The Eastlake Style was simply a decorative style of ornamentation found on houses of various Victorian styles.”
Specifically, “Eastlake ornamentation features intricate wood details: porch posts, balustrades, verge boards, pendants, and other decorative elements characterized by a massive and robust quality. Wooden decorative elements were products of the power lathe and saw.”
The Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House Museum has on display many collections of the family members, who had the tendency to hold onto them; perhaps being cultured packrats. They were right, their treasures are now a vital part of this house museum! Social events can take place here, as the place can be rented out. Murder Mysteries are also held here, for the amusement and entertainment of people who buy tickets that bring in funds to support this endeavor.
The story of this house began when a Judge Bonner who worked in the court located in the city of Tyler bought two acres of land in Tyler. When Judge Bonner’s oldest daughter, Mattie found the love of her life, attorney Harrison Whitaker, Judge Bonner gave these two acres to Mattie and Harrison as a wedding present to build their dream home which was accomplished in 1878.
For their home, they chose an EastLake Bracketed architectural design that was probably seen in architect Charles Eastlake’s book, “Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and Other Details,” in 1868. Mattie and Harrison went to New York City to buy all their furnishings, light fixtures, fireplace mantles, and wall paper; following the ideas of Charles Eastlake. When finished, Mattie and Harrison’s two story, nine room forever home was just what they had dreamed of in a forever home.
In fact, everyone else who they associated with also loved to come to their events and parties held in the McClendon house in great Victorian style. Their home became the center of the city of Tyler’s social life. Tragically, Mattie died too young, leaving a bereft Harrison. Five years later, Harrison sold this house to Mattie’s sister, Annie and her husband, Sidney McClendon.
Annie and Sidney had a boatload of children, nine to be exact. Annie was also active in the women’s right to vote movement. I bet her daughters went with her as well. Her dedication to righting injustices and revealing the truth did rub off on oat least one of her daughters, Sarah.
Their youngest child was Sarah McClendon, who was born on July 8th, 1910. Sara graduated from Tyler Junior College in 1928, and from the university of Missouri’s School of Journalism in 1931.
During the 1930s, Sarah worked as a reporter for Tyler Courier Times, The Tyler Morning Telegraph and for the Beaumont Enterprise. During WW2, she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp. Sarah eventually became a Washington, D.C. news journalist. Her career spanned Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush.
Various members of the Annie and Sidney McClendon family and their descendants had lived in the beloved family home for over 100 years. In 1981, two of the McClendon sisters were living there; in the now frumpy Victorian house badly in need of some TLC and paint. The trees and shrubs were overgrown, adding to its woe-be-gone appearance.
Finally, the McClendon family decided as a group to donate their beloved family home so that it could be saved as a piece of history. “A non-profit organization was formed and dedicated solely to the restoration and maintenance of this historic structure. The energetic board began raising funds and planning the restoration. The furniture was removed in order for work to begin on the interior.”
Two weeks later a bad one, set on destroying the house probably out of meanness and a disturbed soul, broke in and tried to set it on fire but this attempt to burn it down was a failure. Apparently, Mattie and Harrison used superior, fire retardant materials to construct their home, and only minimal damage occurred. The home has great bones; and thoughtful precautions built in its structure; not easily destroyed.
Board members on a shoestring budget, spent years working on weekends, giving up their free time to mow the lawn, fix up the garden, scraping off and applying new paint as well as hand finishing the furniture. College volunteers came as well to help.
Seven years later, in 1988, the Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House was fully restored as a house museum, showcasing the families’ many collections. Theutside and inside looked ravishing and the light fixtures gleamed brightly.
It opened to the public as the Designer Showcase for Historic Tyler’s Azalea Trail Heritage Tour. There was much celebrating that the house was ready to become a museum, regaining its’ place in Tyler’s society.
Apparently, not only the living are enjoying this restored home; Former residents of a family now in spirit form.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
When a fixer-upper opportunity that was a family forever home is restored, this renewing of this family’s forever home often pulls them back from the spirit world to visit or stay in the home that has so many memories. Or perhaps, they had never left it.
Sometimes when fathers provide in some manner for homes/hotels for their children, they may decide to stay there or just visit when they pass over into the spirit world. Judge Bonner gave the land for the house that both his daughters wound up owning. His second daughter Annie got to raise her large family here with her husband.
When a house museum has on display the belongings, artifacts, pictures of the people who lived there, the former owners/residents now in spirit may like to visit them, and remember fond memories. This seems to be the case.
Spirits of past family members have made themselves at home
Doors open and closes, sometimes right in front of tours.
There are unexplained extremely cold spots; sudden freezing temperatures..
Dancing orbs of light appear, with no rational explanation as to what may have caused them.
Family Spirits appear in front of the living, to let them know that the living are guests in their house. The Spirit of a young girl, probably one of the kids, is seen on the stairway
Spirit of Sidney McClendon
Has been seen in the houses’s parlor, wearing his hat.
He has also known to appear as a solid person, and once talked to a Junior College student doing community service at the McClendon House. She reported that a gentleman talked to her kindly and she thought he was a real, living person. Later, she noticed that that same man was hanging on the wall in a picture marked Sidney McClendon.
Spirits of the other siblings also like to visit
A ghostly white figure – He or she is seen on the balcony.
Yes Indeed! The spirits feel very comfortable in their own house, and are courteous to visitors; not cautious about letting their presences be known. They still own their forever home, and are probably grateful that the living had the sense to restore it, after the two living sisters and family gave it to responsible people.
Bonner-Whitaker-McClendon House Museum
806 W. Houston,
Tyler, Texas, 75702
McClendon House Museum is located at Houston and Vine St.
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr