PaperCity Magazine

Round Top Summer 2022

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Page 40 of 67

W alnut Hill Farm, Burton, Texas: This is not the tale of a modern farmhouse with a country-chic aesthetic. The shiplap and timeworn boards date way before Chip and Joanna Gaines first thought of Fixer Upper. This story features the first wave of mid-20th- century families pioneering Round Top and environs — a dynasty whose arrival comes 100 years after German settlers incorporated Round Top on May 6, 1870. The late Virginia and Robin Elverson of Houston purchased a weekend farm in the area in 1967; this was transformative both for their family and for the community. The Elversons' country home, Walnut Hill Farm, dates to 1872, two years after Round Top's incorporation into a village. Their discovery of the farm, which was in a state of genteel decay when they acquired it more than half a century ago, was prompted by the same grande dame who suggested to James Dick that he establish Festival Hill music conservatory in Round Top: Miss Ima Hogg, daughter of the first native-born governor of Texas and founder of the Houston Symphony and Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens. Walnut Hill Farm became the muse for Virginia Lee Elverson, who would go on to a distinguished and unique career as a cookbook author, Le Cordon Bleu grad, chum of Julia Child, authority on colonial-era culinary arts, educator on Texas pioneer life, and savior to the charming settlement of Winedale, gateway to the region's German heritage. Virginia's charismatic husband (who died in 1999) was the British-born Robin Elverson, a World War II pilot and realtor to the River Oaks set. After Virginia passed away in 2011, the heritage of Walnut Hill Farm was memorialized in a 2012 volume spanning five decades of family life at the homestead, edited by daughter Ginny Elverson Welch, current keeper of the flame. Between breakouts of barnyard animals and a busy day at the farm, we caught up with Welch, a retired realtor and community builder like her parents and late husband, Pat Welch. The photographs here — including an antique toolshed and a 19th-century log kitchen — reflect Elverson Welch's passion for collecting, as well as that of her parents. While plans call for keeping these remarkable troves of 19th- and early-20th century artifacts within the family, Welch also hopes to welcome future groups to Walnut Hill Farm for lectures on the history of the area and to present discussions and demonstrations following a day in the life of Germany settlers in Texas a hundred years ago. Ta ke u s b a c k t o 19 67 a n d acquiring Walnut Hill Farm. Ginny Elverson Welch: I was a teenager, about 16, when my parents bought Walnut Hill as a weekend farm. They didn't want to be too far from Houston, but the realtor said, "Meet me in Sealy." We were all in the station wagon — mother and dogs and everything. Our realtor took off. My father was saying, "Stop, stop! We've passed Shelby, for goodness WALNUT HILL FARM CATHERINE D. ANSPON DISCOVERS A REMARKABLE ROUND TOP DYNASTY. PHOTOGRAPHY PÄR BENGTSSON. ART DIRECTION MICHELLE AVIÑA. THREE GENERATIONS OF COLLECTORS CREATE AN EXTRAORDINARY CACHE OF EARLY CULINARY COOKWARE AND FARM TOOLS. (Continued) 39

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