Three white houses stand on the corner of East Avenue G and North 12th Street, basking in the sun and awaiting a fresh coat of paint. It won’t be long before the mid-century homes are completely restored and ready for patrons to once again wander their halls.
The mastermind behind the quaint eatery and retail area, Stephen Hidlebaugh, is more than thrilled to soon announce the opening of Founder’s Row in Midlothian.
Though the houses still need a little more maintenance, a few major projects are about to break ground to get the ball rolling. Hidlebaugh plans to relocate the hanging telephone wire underground, install utilities and begin to pave the 149 parking spots.
“The city has been super receptive and has been really friendly with a grant that’s helping with parking in the area,” Hidlebaugh expressed. “The 4B Board has been generous to help us with some parking.”
Another addition to the row of homes will be a church building from Italy that was built around 1905, Hidlebaugh added.
“It’s a pretty old church with stain glass windows. They were just going to tear it down, so now we are going to save it,” Hidlebaugh gleamed.
When Founder’s Row opens this fall, the three homes currently standing will be painted and open for business, offering retail shopping, local eateries, and outdoor entertainment.
“All of us that live in Midlothian, we travel and see cool things and say, ‘Why can’t we have that?’ What we are trying to do is recreate that feeling of Gruene or that feeling of Bishop Arts in our own backyard,” Hidlebaugh explained as he scouted the property.
Hidlebaugh wouldn’t name drop the restaurant going into the Mulkey-Loggins home, which was initially from Ennis, but he did hint that it would be a smokehouse. He also indicated that the C.W. Mertz house from Cleburne would be retail shopping and a wine bar.
The William Hosford home, better known as “The Pink Lady" from Waxahachie, will house upscale dining with handcrafted cocktails.
He’s also scouting for a business to occupy the church and mentioned he’s up for suggestions from the community.
Those driving by Founder’s Row will notice a smaller, brown house on the corner. Ironically, it’s not new to the property, unlike the other homes. “But when we got to it we found old, square nails and an old train schedule from 1888, the year the town was founded,” Hidlebaugh recalled.
The first house landed on Founder’s Row in 2016, and to outsiders, it may not seem that much progress has been made, but it’s the distinctive details that Hidlebaugh has been waiting on. He joked about how friends say he spent too much money on painting the houses all white when in reality, it’s a coat of primer.
Restoring the homes that date back from the late 1800s and early 1900s is complicated, time-consuming and requires a substantial chunk of pocket change.
As he stripped down the layers of each home, he figured out what was meant to be there and what did not belong. From there, he has restored the houses to the time period they were built in.
While walking around the property, Hidlebaugh pointed out the missing construction he’s added to create the true fixture of the home. He mentioned how there was only one porch column left from the Mertz home and that he had to find services which could recreate that timepiece.
Standing in front of the Hosford house, he referred to its twin that stands behind the CVS Pharmacy in Waxahachie. By the time he’s done doctoring it up, the second story porch will be added with a balcony rail around the top view. There is even a window walk where visitors can climb and take a peak. Hidlebaugh said it would be a mirror image of its twin.
Hidlebaugh couldn’t admit which house has been the most creative to play with since each home has its own unique qualities. He’s passionate about architecture and restoring it to its natural state. As Hidlebaugh pointed across the street, he shared that the first house he bought and restored is in Midlothian.
He commented the price to move the condemned homes is around $200,000 and that he is working with about a $700,000 budget for each house.
The final site plans show several more homes. Hidlebaugh commented that he needs suggestions for more historical dwellings to bring to Founder’s Row.
“I’m glad these weren’t lost to the bulldozer,” Hidlebaugh said. “It is way more expensive to restore something than to build new. But it’s definitely a passion to want to restore it to new again. But I think we can do that, and it will live for another 100 years.”
Ashley Ford | Facebook | Twitter | 469-517-1450