Florence Ranch Homestead
Texas Recorded Historical LandmarkDavid W. (1848-1932) and Julia Savannah (Beaty) Florence (1850-1914) built the first portion of this ranch house in 1871-72 after moving here from Van Zandt County. Elaborate wood trim decorates the gallery of the simple frame structure. The house was enlarged by the 1890’s, when the Florence Homestead covered 730 acres. after Florence retired in 1908, his son Emet (1885-1963) and Emet’s wife Perle (Curtis) (1889-1976) continued to run the ranch, known as Meadow View Farm.
$4 for adults; $2 for children ages 3-12; children 3 and under are free with a paid adult.
To volunteer as a docent for Historic Mesquite, Inc. and the Florence Ranch Homestead, please call HMI at (972) 216-6468.
History of the Florence FamilyDavid Walker Florence built the Florence Ranch home in 1871 for his young family at the age of 23. He would stay to farm the rich blackland prairie about 37 years before retiring with his wife Julia (called Julie) in 1908.
The Florence Ranch was established two years before the township of Mesquite and originally comprised 207.5 acres.
By 1892, the ranch had grown to 750 acres, with 300 cultivated and the rest fenced. In 1894 Florence bought 1,000 acres near Cedar Hill and dedicated it for a school. It is still known as Florence Hill. He also owned a 1360-acre ranch in Taylor County.
David and Julie Florence had three children - Dr. John Hicks Florence, born in 1868 before the family moved to Mesquite; a daughter Martha, who passed away in 1873 from "summer complaint;" and Emet David Florence, who was born in 1885 in the south room of the Homestead.
Emet married Perle Curtis on December 23, 1906, and the couple spent their wedding night on the second floor of the Florence house. Emet took the farming duties over from his father, and raised horses, mules, short-horn cattle, sheep and feed crops. The ranch was then known as Meadow View Farm and the terrapin cattle brand, seen on the museum docents’ aprons, was used for the first time.
Florence became known as a leading breeder and exhibitor of fine Percheron horses and Hampshire sheep. He lived his entire life at the Florence Ranch and was still farming at the time of his death.
Perle Florence was the first woman to serve on the Mesquite Parks Board. She donated and organized the Perle C. Florence Library at First Christian Church of Mesquite and was active in other civic and political groups in Dallas and Mesquite.
Emet and Perle had two children - Florence and a son who died at birth. Florence Florence Schulz and her daughter (Florence’s granddaughter), Julie Schulz Morris, donated the homestead to the City of Mesquite in 1987.
The Florence Ranch home was probably conceived from carpenter’s handbooks instead of architectural renderings. Family, friends and local help actually constructed the home. The original structure is a fine example of late 19th century rural Texas architecture, with its central chimney, a story and a half clapboard home with shed rooms across the back and a gallery across the front.
The house faces due west and was originally painted white. The porch floors were painted gray and ceilings were sky blue. The screen doors were green. At one time a large wooden barn set behind the house, along with the necessary privy. A picket fence surrounded the yard that had been swept clean.
An early addition to the house was two rooms added at right angles to the rear of the house. This addition was connected to the main structure by a dog-trot. These two rooms served as a new dining room and kitchen, the latter having an inside well, which was quite a luxury for a farm wife.
The farmstead remains a popular educational museum for children and adults.
Florence Ranch's new coordinator:
After almost a year of upgrading and beautification, the historic Florence Ranch Homestead, 1424 Barnes Bridge Rd., is re-opened for tours. The 19th century farmstead is interpreted as early life on a working Texas farm and is furnished with original Florence family artifacts.“The Florence Ranch was Mesquite’s first historical park,” said Charlene Orr, manager of historic preservation for the City of Mesquite. “It was first restored in the 1980s and was in need of a new roof and paint job. The house was sensitively upgraded and is now open for two days of each week for those interested in learning about the community.”
The facility’s Coordinator is also new on the job – Jennifer Scannell was hired to re-open the property and is on-site from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., each Thursday and Friday. Scannell, most recently serving as legal counsel to a major technology firm, is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, and comes to the position with a love of historic places.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to tell the story of the beautiful Florence Ranch Homestead,” Scannell said, “and to participate in preserving and sharing the history and culture of the Mesquite community and its pioneering families.”
For those who are interested in volunteering at a historic house, Scannell is looking for a few good folks to assist her with tours, house upkeep and special projects. To meet with her and discuss the possibilities, call 972.204.4933 during her working hours or call the Historic Mesquite, Inc. office at 972.216.6468.