Opal Lawrence Historical Park
The Opal Lawrence Historical Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark, and recognized as a Century Family Farm by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Historical Parks Reopen
Tours of Opal Lawrence Historical Park will be available by reservation beginning Tuesday, June 30.
- Reservations are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning at 10 am with last available tour starting at 2 pm. Tours begin on the hour.
- Reservations to visit Opal Lawrence Historical Park are encouraged as tour times are limited.
- Fourth Saturday reservations are available 10 am to 1 pm on July 25, Aug 22, and Sept 26. Saturday reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance and are only available on the fourth Saturday of the month.
Call 972-216-6468 to reserve a time to visit.
Remote payment will be taken via phone when a reservation is made.
Due to the pandemic:
- Tours are limited to one group at a time. A group is defined as no more than 10 persons including the members of the household and those persons who traveled together to the facility or on the same reservation.
- State of Texas Protocols for Museum Visitors
On site, visitors can expect to:
- Be given Visit Screening Questions & Social Distancing Guidelines
- Have their temperature taken.
- Wear a mask.
- Sanitize hands before and after tour.
- Remain 6-8 feet from anyone not in the group they arrived with.
To volunteer as a docent for Historic Mesquite, Inc. and Opal Lawrence Historical Park, please call HMI at 972-216-6468.
Stephen Decatur Lawrence, son of John P. Lawrence of Maryland and Fannie Coats Lawrence of Tennessee, began building the Mesquite landmark Lawrence house in 1874, when he completed three rooms. In 1882, contractor Charley Florrer built an additional 14 rooms. Between 1886-1900, the kitchen and tower (belvedere) were added.
About the House
The home, which is considered Texas prairie vernacular styling, is basically in the same condition as it was originally built, with few modifications over the years. Outbuildings include a smokehouse, brick-lined root cellar, a wash house, large livestock barn (also built by Mr. Florrer in 1887) and mule barn. Assorted chicken coops also still are intact. The farmstead complex is representative of the evolution of domestic buildings from the 1870s to the late 20th century on the North Texas plains and blackland prairie. Lawrence family members continually resided at the home until November 1995.
About the Family
S.D. Lawrence was first married to Louisa Porter of Mesquite. They had three surviving children, including a son, John Lawrence, who served as mayor of Mesquite for three terms - 1917-1923, 1925-1928 and 1949-1953. His siblings were Ida Bell and Charley. As a widower, S.D. married his second wife, Louisa Hill Walker of Missouri. They had five daughters, Ruby, Pearl, Opal, Garnet and Onyx, and three sons, Eddie, Hugh and Hill.
S.D. Lawrence was no stranger to public life. He served on the committee to begin Mesquite ISD and helped to raise funds for the first Mesquite school buildings.
Opal, Onyx and Garnet lived on the family farm their entire lives. They raised cattle and hens and sold eggs to regular customers. Opal and Garnet never married; Onyx married Fowler Summers, who joined Onyx and her sisters on the farm. Fowler passed away August 11, 1981, and Garnet passed away August 31, 1981. Opal and Onyx continued to take care of the farm until 1995, when Opal passed away September 4, and Onyx November 21.
Opal Lawrence’s last will and testament gave the City of Mesquite the house and two acres. The City then purchased an additional 11 acres to include the barn and outbuildings.
Joining the National Register of Historic Places
A Texas Historical Marker dedication ceremony was held November 23, 1998, and the property was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places September 9, 1999.
Historic Mesquite, Inc. (HMI) is currently raising funds for further restoration of the property, which includes the original brick-lined root cellar and smokehouse, washhouse, mulebarn and the New Hope Baptist Church building, which will be used for weddings and other special activities.
The Noah Range Farmhouse, donated to the organization by Galloway Avenue Baptist Church, is now the office of HMI and the visitors center to the park. A special thanks to Benjamin Moore Paint for the wonderful colors on the house and barn and to the Quality of Life Corporation for funding.