Opal Lawrence Historical Park – Mesquite, Texas
The Opal Lawrence Historical Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, and recognized as a Century Family Farm by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
Don’t miss the rare painted ceilings in the Opal Lawrence house, the centerpiece of the Opal Lawrence Historical Park, depicting the agricultural lifestyle of one of Mesquite’s earliest families. 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 made an additional 14 rooms.
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, a large livestock barn (also made by Mr. Florrer in 1887), and a mule barn. Assorted chicken coops also still are intact. See a late 1800s barn, a log cabin, and a nature trail. The park is also the location for the headquarters of Historic Mesquite, Inc. in the historic Noah Range Farmhouse.
The story of the Lawrence sisters of Mesquite is a unique tale featuring Opal, Onyx, and Garnet, daughters of Stephen Decatur Lawrence and Louisa Hill Walker, and the sprawling Texas Prairie vernacular home and surrounding farm where they spent their entire lives. The daughters had five siblings, three brothers and two sisters (Pearl and Ruby), but Opal and Garnet never married and they lived on the Lawrence farmstead with Onyx and her husband from the early 1900s until their deaths.
In 1995, the last surviving sister’s Opal and Onyx passed away. Opal, the heir to the estate, left the home and two acres of the farm to the City of Mesquite. In response, the city purchased the remaining eleven acres of the farm, including barns and outbuildings in order to create the Opal Lawrence Historical Park.
The Lawrence home began as a 2-story farmhouse in 1882 and acquired additional porches and rooms, including a 2-story front portion and a belvedere tower complete with a weathervane, around 1886. The large home has remained relatively intact including the original windows and doors. The exposed milled clapboard siding features the square heads of the hand-hewn nails used to secure siding to the exterior walls.
Outbuildings include barns with original sidings and doors, wood shingles, and tongue and groove wood flooring, as well as a smokehouse and ten chicken coops. The entire property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and received a Texas Historical Marker in 1998. Self-guided and docent-led tours are available from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the 4th Saturday of each month and by appointment.