Gainesville Daily Register


June 14, 2014

Saint Jo landmark gets historical marker

Saint Jo — June 7 was a very busy day in Montague County’s oldest and smallest city, Saint Jo. The bright sun encouraged the 150 or so guests at the Phillips House State Historical Marker Dedication to seek shade under the awnings that were placed between the gleaming white house and the newly erected marker.

A brisk breeze cooled the crowd and threatened to blow away programs and hats as the event kicked off at 10 a.m. celebrating the first house so honored in Saint Jo, and indeed in all of Montague County.

Montague County Judge, Tommie Sappington, welcomed the crowd and Dudley Sparkman lifted an Invocation.  William Phillips, family member, led pledges to the U.S. and Texas flags and Rocky Roberts filled the breeze with his trumpet rendition of the National Anthem.  

Donna Howell-Sickles commented on the honor, representing the Saint Jo Historical Preservation Society. Janis Sneed noted the importance of preserving memories and tokens that enhance history, advising everyone to write names on the back of their pictures for sure.

Leeton and Kim Phillips shared the historical background and personal insights and completed the ceremony by joining Sappington in the unveiling of the handsome new marker.

Guests made their way to see for themselves the restoration, replete with many original treasures the family lives with and enjoys daily.  

The man who built the house was G.W. Phillips.  He came to Saint Jo as a 10-year-old in 1873. When he was 20 he married Nannie Parker Gooch and they began a family that grew to include 10 children.  

In 1911, G.W. hired a local contractor, Barney Lewis, to build the 2 story frame house with porches on three sides and on both floors.  

It was finished in 1913.  It was aligned with the square. U.S. Highway 82 did not exist in the pasture/baseball field beside it until it was cut through in 1936.

In the late 30s G.W.’s oldest son, Arthur, and his wife Nannie Walker Phillips moved into the “big house,” for about 33 years.  

After Arthur’s death, Nannie moved into a smaller house, and for 16 years the “big house” quietly waited for a new family.

G.W.’s grandson, Billy Leeton Phillips, began restoring the structure in 1987 with a new roof.

After two years the exterior restoration was complete. G.W.’s great grandson, Leeton Phillips, and his wife, Kim, determined to restore the interior in 1990.  The family worked with an eye to historical authenticity, basing a number of choices on that priority.

In 1996, Leeton and Kim moved into the house with their young son, William, and have been as least as active on the local scene as their home is apparent on the local skyline.

Congratulations are in order to Leeton and Kim Phillips for their accomplishment.  

Be sure to go take a look at the Phillip’s Family Display currently being shown at the Stonewall Saloon Museum. 

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