Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. once said, "Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."
Perhaps there is no better way to describe the feeling visitors experience at 1264 S. Church Street. Over the past century, the home has seen its share of feet cross the front door threshold and plenty have discovered a place in their hearts for the home.
"We're Just Caretakers While We're Here"
Current home owners Mickie and Dale Ross saw that very literally when they were working in the home's front yard during their first spring living in the home and saw two women parked across the street from them.
"I said, 'Hi, can we help you?' thinking maybe they're lost," Mickie Ross said. "She said, 'Oh no, I'm so sorry. We don't want to bother you. My grandmother lived here and this is my granddaughter, and I just wanted to show her where it is. I'm so sorry.' We were like, 'Oh no!..Come in, let's talk.'"
Since then, the Ross's have become good friends with descendants of who they later learned were the very first owners of the home: Otto and Louise Carlson.
"It was built as a retirement home for Otto," Ross said. "He died in [his bedroom] in 1932, was laid out in the parlor."
Louise continued living in the home until she died in 1944. Since then, the home has passed from owner to owner and even seen a couple of locally well-known names like Ms. Annie Lee Purl who was one of the first graduates from Georgetown High School and a revered Georgetown school teacher, according to Georgetown Independent School District.
"Her father was the sheriff here for a period of time," Ross said. "She never married, but she had nephews, and so the Purls lived here for several years."
Eventually, the Ross's purchased the home on S. Church Street and have since gone about renovating the home to better match their needs and style. But, even during the renovations and improvements, Mickie says they've been conscious of the history they are living in and have worked to preserve that too.
"It's great to know who was here, what things happened and where things were," Ross said. "So, I think it makes you more a part of the house. The house was here before us. It's going to be here after us. We're just caretakers of it as we go through."
Adding More Heart to the Home
Ross, much like her predecessors, has some favorite and memorable spots in the home. Among those spots is the reading nook in her bedroom.
"You kind of feel like you live in a tree house all the time, " Ross said. "To watch the weather, the seasons, everything that happens here, through that lens of looking out on the world in that room, whether you're sitting in the seat reading or playing with the cats or whatever, or you're laying in bed in the morning and you get to watch the sun come up every day."
The kitchen is also a favorite renovated spot in the Ross home and the design is part of a growing trend identified by Houzz.
According to the 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, 45% of homeowners report using their kitchens to socialize. The Ross kitchen is no exception with a large island and plenty of open space between the adjacent rooms and the kitchen for guests to come in and chat.
"It is such a fun place to be and it is a gathering point for anybody who comes in," Ross said. "It's a gathering point for us when it's just the two of us here."
History in the Making
Just as the home looks a little different than it did when Otto and Louise first built it in 1913, the city of Georgetown has likewise changed and shifted. Within the past few years, Georgetown has appeared in headlines across the nation for its continued population growth.
But, Ross said, population growth is nothing new to the area. For thousands of years, people from all different backgrounds and places have called this area home. The trick to preserving the character and the heart of the community, she said, is in making sure the stories of those who have come before are told.
"We're going to have new subdivisions, we're going to have new places to live," Ross said. "We're going to have lots of new restaurants and lots of new stores. But, the heart of the city is who we are and who those people were that built the city. So, if we don't preserve that, then there is nothing special about Georgetown. If we don't tell those stories, then Georgetown is like a lot of other places...I think that's a lot of what draws people here is understanding part of that past."
Which is what Ross hopes she's done and can continue to do. People still visit 1264 S. Church Street, she said, to share why the home has a place in their hearts.
"We've had so many people stop by and say, 'Hey, I rented a room here. I lived in this house for a while,' and we say, 'Come in and tell us the stories,'" Ross said. "It's the heart of Georgetown and it's what Georgetown is and it's what we hope Georgetown will continue to be. It always has been...and we want to do our part to make that happen."