Man on a mission to save historic Wright Patman home in Linden

By Neil Abeles – Texarkana Gazette – September 7, 2022

Sam Higdon is on a mission to save the Wright Patman home in Linden.

At the moment, care is being taken to reconstruct the two impressive chimneys and fireplaces at the front of the home on East Main Street. There is a special reason.

“Some of the brick in these chimneys are the same as ones they fired to build the county courthouse back in 1859-60. This house was built in 1861,” Higdon said.

Wright Patman, who began his legal career in Linden, lived in this home from 1920 to 1929.

Patman was an esteemed congressman who served 24 consecutive terms in the House of Representatives from 1929 to 1976. Born at Turkey Creek in Cass County and attending Hughes Springs schools, he learned his legal wisdom in this area and was almost unbeatable in elections. He went on to be the 40th dean of the House.

Linden’s Joe B. Lovelace, a retired attorney and now leader of the Linden Heritage Foundation, has a succinct assessment of Patman.

“Patman symbolized the saying in those Depression years, ‘I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.’ And he meant it.”

Higdon, a Linden native now living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, came across the Patman house almost by accident. He wanted a part of Linden history. In fact, he wanted his childhood home, which is just a block away, but in a state of disrepair. At the time in 2011, it was not available. And so the stone work story began.

“I’ve always intended to come back to Linden,” Higdon said, “and I thought of the home I was raised in. That didn’t work out, but then local historian Sue Lazara told me about the Patman home.”

“The home is one of Linden’s oldest dating back to 1861,” Lazara said, “and Kay Stephens and I were doing some research on it for that reason. We’d found its descriptions back to 1861, but we didn’t know its relation to the Patmans.”

The discovery was dramatic, Lazara said.

“The owner at the time was Leon Morrow, and as we were considering but unsure about it, he was walking out the door, and he turned around and said, ‘You know it was the old Wright Patman homestead, don’t you?'”

“No,” we said. “How do you know?”

“Well, it’s on the deed.”

“We found he was right. Fascinating, exciting,” Lazara said.

“Then I knew I had someone who might buy it. Sam Higdon had called recently wanting to purchase his childhood home just around the corner from the Patman home. But his home wasn’t on the market.”

Higdon was in the market, indeed.

“I was in Mississippi working on a project when I got the call from Sue. I drove all the way back when I heard it was available, and we closed quickly. I think two days.”

The Patman house needed work. It was out of level some 13 inches. But before long, with Higdon’s researched restoration, it became designated a Cass County Historical Landmark.

And now Higdon is repairing those chimneys using that locally famous brick, a lot of which has been found in the earthwork underneath the house which must have been a basement.

Sam’s long range plan is to make the home into a six-room Airbnb. But another idea, as a Wright Patman fan, is to make one of the front rooms into a Patman museum. Let the visitor come spend the weekend with these chimneys and Civil War fireplaces. Visit the distinguished courthouse just up the street.

Walk around and see if you can discover how Hughes Springs, Linden and Cass County produced such a person as Patman, who believed in government for the little man and who, in 1932, could lead in the impeachment of the Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon. The impeachment was not successful, but it forced Mellon’s resignation the following month.

photo This is the southern of two chimneys at the Wright Patman home which have been rebuilt and replaced over the years since 1861. The pile of brick on the ground are from the collapse of the chimney which had been rebuilt. In among these brick are some from the Civil War era. (photo by Neil Abeles)
photo The light at the front of the Wright Patman building is for safety and protection, says owner Sam Higdon who is restoring the home. Notice the two chimneys being rebuilt on the north and south sides. Higdon also plans additional custom lighting. (photo by Neil Abeles)
photo Sam Higdon, a native of Linden now living in Baton Rouge, La., stands in front of the Wright Patman home which he is restoring on East Main Street in Linden. (photo by Neil Abeles)

Public Hearing – Old Linden Firehouse – Monday – February 28th @ 6 pm

Monday, February 28, 2022 @ 6 pm the Linden City Council will take comments on future use of the Old Linden Firehouse.  The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Mary Daughety Senior Citizens Center.

The Linden Heritage Foundation (LHF) has a unique history with the structure with much of it recounted here

Old Linden Firehouse

At a LHF Board Meeting in April 2019 it was decided the cost to restore the Old Firehouse was prohibitive. It was closed and the building and lot were offered for sale.  No one expressed an interest in taking over the project.

In 2021 the Foundation determined the building and its interior to be structurally unsound.

The Linden Heritage Foundation expressed its intent to deconstruct the Firehouse and develop a pocket park with music pavilion

Pocket Park at Old Linden Firehouse

However, no further action was taken as the City took ownership of the property as a result of a forfeiture clause in the Warranty Deed executed by the City to the Foundation in January, 2016.

The City has now, from another party, a plan for use of the Firehouse which may package it with other locations.

The Foundation sees these offers as a legitimate opportunity for Linden to continue turning its page toward the future.

We asked for clarity of the City’s plans for the Firehouse as no one advocates for conflicting ideas.

The Foundation presentation on the 28th will be made by its President, Sam Higdon.

MLK Day/Pleasant Hill Quilters Program Canceled

Out of an abundance of caution with the spread of COVID-19 in the Linden community, the MLK Day and Pleasant Hill Quilters program scheduled for Saturday, January 15th has been canceled.

The Linden Heritage Foundation will host its Annual Meeting at 2 pm as previously scheduled.  It will be an abbreviated Agenda.

Mask and social distancing will be observed.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we navigate through these times.

Save the Date — Saturday – January 15 2022

Saturday, January 15 2022 at 2 pm join the Linden Heritage Foundation in the Courtroom of the historic Cass County Courthouse for a special event during the week of celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Pleasant Hill Quilting Club will share historic quilts and stories of how they were used to deliver important messages to African Americans searching for safety as they traveled the Underground Railroad.

Following the program, the Linden Heritage Foundation will have its Annual Membership Meeting.  The Agenda for the Membership Meeting includes the election of Linden Heritage Foundation Directors.

A reception with refreshments will follow.

Deconstruction of 1939 Old Linden Firehouse

The Linden Heritage Foundation (LHF) Board of Directors in April 2019 reviewed the history of the near four year effort to restore the Old Linden Firehouse.  (see here)

It was decided then it would be cost prohibitive even with grants and available tax credits to restore the Old Firehouse.  No one since has stepped forward expressing any interest in the structure or the plans/specifications to convert the building to a commercial or residential use.

Photo by Jo Anna Duncan July 2021

The building and its interior have recently been inspected by an engineer and determined to be structurally unsound.

The Board, based on that finding, has elected to remove the roof and existing walls of the Old Firehouse down to the concrete slab and retaining walls.  Labor and equipment for this work will be donated.

Image courtesy of Angela McMillon 2021

Once the work is completed, the LHF Board will seek input on future use of the Old Linden Firehouse site.  An option being reviewed would incorporate the 1934 Water Tower and Old Firehouse into an outdoor music venue.

For further information contact:  Sam Higdon, LHF Director