Historic Ager Home to be Honored Sunday, April 1st
LIBERTY, March 21, 2012 – Members of the Liberty County Historical Commission will join owners and Paul and Martha (Ager) Goodwin this Sunday afternoon in dedicating a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark for the house her grandfather built for his family back in 1905. The ceremony dedicating the historical marker is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 1.
The Henry O. and Bridgett Ager House is located at 537 Fannin. The Recorded Texas Historic Landmark [RTHL] designation is the highest honor the Texas Historical Commission can bestow on a structure.
Henry O. Ager was born in in Patterson, St. Mary’s Parish, Louisiana in 1852, the son of William and Euphemia (Bourg) Ager. After a country school education, Henry applied himself to learning the drug business. He was twenty-two years of age when he first came to Liberty and for a few years worked as a clerk, later returning to his Louisiana home.
Determined to establish himself here in business at the first favorable opportunity, Ager came back in 1884. With only $150 to start off his dream, he invested in a small stock of drugs and established a drug store in a one-story frame building on Main Street. It was later replaced with a two-story wood frame building, which was destroyed in a downtown fire in April 1909.
That same year he erected a two-story brick structure equipped with all modern improvements and housed a finely assorted stock of drugs, medicines, toilet articles, etc. Through the years, Mr. Ager took an interest in banking and in 1907 became one of the owners of the First State Bank of Liberty of which he was President and a member of the Board of Directors. He was also President of the school board. He was elected as county clerk in 1894, serving one term.
In 1893, Ager traveled to visit and explore the Chicago World’s Fair and Columbian Exposition. The Chicago World’s Fair was one of the most important events in the United States in the late nineteenth century.7 At this World’s Fair, which was attended by millions of people, he met his bride-to-be, Miss Bridgett Elizabeth Garrity. For ten years, they corresponded and on February 4, 1903, at the age of 51, Henry O. Ager and Bridgette Elizabeth Garrity were married in Elroy, Wisconsin. She was the daughter of James and Catherin (McGowan) Garrity, who came to the United States from Ireland.
Two children were born to Mr. & Mrs. Ager, Henry O., Jr. and John William. In 1905, H. O. Ager erected the family home at 537 Fannin, on the lot northeast of the drugstore, for his bride. The home was described in March, 1905: “The pretty home of Druggist, H.O. Ager has at last been completed. The house is indeed a beauty and the workmanship is very flattering to both J.H. Nead the painter and J.W. Raper the builder.”
The home, a two-story house of ten rooms, following the colonial style of architecture, was described as the best residence in Liberty. The dwelling, constructed from cypress wood, has classic columns supporting the wraparound gallery, an offset front entry with sidelights, dentil molding, and a pediment with the tympanum having a decorative crest relief. There is a second story terrace. Above the front and side entryways are decorative transoms, mimicking the design of the front gallery.
Mr. and Mrs. Ager raised their two sons, Henry, Jr. and John, in the home they built until Mr. Ager’s death in 1924 at age 71. After his death, the drug business he founded and a large estate of town and rural property was placed under the very able supervision of Mrs. Ager and her eldest son, Henry O. Ager, Jr. In June, 1925, Mrs. Ager opened The Ager Theatre. It was first class in all respects. The opening attraction was “American Manners” with Dick Talmadge and the matinee prices were 10 cents and 20 cents. Liberty was grieved and shocked at the death of Mrs. Ager, on April 12, 1931, after a short illness.
Martha Goodwin’s parents, John W. and Alice Tom (Farris) Ager, later made their home in the house. John W. Ager passed away in 1965, and Alice lived in the house until her death in 1978. Mrs. Goodwin’s oldest brother, Johnny, lived in the house until 1989, at which time Martha and her husband Paul acquired the property. They removed the aluminum siding from the house and restored the home to its original appearance in 2004.
The public is invited to the dedication ceremony. Refreshments will be served afterward.
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