In 2012, when George Thomas Parsons III purchased the 1892 William and Lena Juneman Smith cottage, 1709 Ball St. in Galveston, he knew he was undertaking a major sympathetic restoration.
Better known as the “Easter Egg Cottage,” the property is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.
The cottage was built by 19th-century builder William Pautsch (1834-1911), and features Easter egg pastel, multicolored, overlapping fish scale shingles on the front gable, along with the pale main colors that lend credence to this claim.
“The streetscape was the reason I purchased my 1892 home,” Parsons said. “The 1700 block of Ball Street in the East End Historical District is one of the most beautiful historically preserved and well maintained on the island.”
Parsons lives in the cottage full-time with his 6-year-old black pug Mikey.
The unique cottage, which features two gas fixtures in the front and one in the back (the one in the back is the largest attached to a residential building in Galveston), 10 transoms (one above each doorway), stained-glass windows and period lighting, was built after a fire swept across the island in 1885, Parsons said.
Pautsch built two other sister cottages in the same block for Dorothea Juneman and her children. The Queen Anne cottage where the Easter Egg Cottage resides today, was a wedding gift for Dorothea’s daughter Lena, and her husband, William Edis Smith. The Smiths were wed on Dec. 6, 1892, and resided in the cottage until 1928.
“Upkeep on a 125-year-old wooden structure in Galveston is expensive,” Parsons said. “Projects are always ongoing. I call them ‘The Four Rs.’ Something to replicate, restore, replace or repair. However, this was the best move I ever made. There is nothing not to like about living in Galveston.”
The 1,132-square-foot cottage is filled with antiques Parsons acquired and includes: 1.5 bathrooms; a front parlor fashioned as a formal sitting room; a middle parlor, which is used as a master bedroom with a walk-in closet; a seating-for-six dining room; and an open kitchen with casual room at the back of the house. Ceilings are 10.5 feet, and there is a transom over every doorway. Outside living space includes a front porch and large back deck.
It has been honored as a Galveston landmark. On Nov. 5, 2016, Mayor Jim Yarbrough, by city proclamation, designated 1709 Ball St.: “The most historically recognized raised cottage on Galveston Island with local, state, and national recognition.” And it’s been honored with a coveted Texas Historical Commission marker and listed on The National Register of Historic Places.
“It’s definitely a stewardship,” Parsons said. “I realize that my special ownership of this cottage is mine for a time only. I am the guardian for a time; only to have it to pass it on to the next owner.”