Beyond a small grove of trees along West Broad Street in Mansfield sits an old, 2-story white house that, by all accounts, has seen better days.
Most people drive right by it without ever realizing it's there.
And yet, the city says it's one of their community's greatest treasures.
"For a city to own its founders home, that's really unusual," said Jessica Baber, Manager of the Mansfield Historical Museum. "And it's exciting."
The house belonged to Ralph Man, who came to Texas in the mid-1850s with his business partner Julian Feild and opened a grist mill in the area that would later be settled and named for both of them.
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Baber says historical records show the home, which started as a log cabin, was built sometime between 1865 and 1868.
It's since had several owners and has been updated and added onto.
But it's only recently that the property fell into the City of Mansfield's hands. And they have special plans for it.
“The idea is to take it back to its original state from the 1860s," said Baber. "We believe the original log cabin is still within the walls, and we're hoping that it can be uncovered, that original wood. We're hoping at least one of the rooms will be a log cabin.”
Earlier this year, city leaders approved funds to restore the home and a wooden barn directly behind it to their former glory.
And once that work is complete, the property will open to the public as a museum to show people what life in North Texas was like during Mansfield's humble beginnings.
“The City of Mansfield has been growing rapidly over the last several years and I think it’s a really important step for the city to make an effort to preserve the history of the community," said Baber. "That way, both people who have been here for generations and people who are brand new to Mansfield can get a better sense of what life was like in the past and where the community came from.”
Baber, who is helping oversee the project, says they'll rely mostly on historical accounts of what the house looked like, as well as the expertise of people who are familiar with homes of the time period, as the restoration work takes place.
"What's great about history is that it's just a story that keeps going," said Baber. "It starts and then it never ends. And there’s always something new going on, something new to learn about the past. And I think it’s fascinating.”
The goal is to open the museum in early 2020.
Baber is also asking the community for help tracking down or donating items from the post-Civil War era that can be displayed inside the home.
Anyone with leads or anyone interested in volunteering can call the Mansfield Historical Museum at 817-473-4250.