PaperCity Magazine

March 2016 - Houston

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 77 of 83

L OTS OF PEOPLE DREAM OF DITCHING THE BIG CITY, MOVING TO THE COUNTRY AND STARTING FRESH, BUT FEW HAVE DONE IT AS WELL — OR ON SUCH A GRAND SCALE — AS JOAN AND JERRY HERRING. THE HOUSTON COUPLE DECIDED TO GET THE HECK OUT OF DODGE IN 2008 WHEN A SUPER TARGET OPENED NEXT DOOR TO THEIR PROPERTY NEAR DOWNTOWN HOUSTON, WHERE THEY HAD LIVED AND WORKED FOR FIVE YEARS. BOTH VISUAL ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS, JOAN HAD A SUCCESSFUL FRAMING BUSINESS, AND JERRY OWNED A GRAPHICS DESIGN FIRM. T heir search for a new place eventually pushed them an hour and a half west into Fayette County, where they purchased 38 secluded acres of rolling hills, pecan trees, a large pond and a few broken down buildings. "The plan was to build a big house on it and live out there," says Joan. But when the process took too long, the Herrings hired a barn-builder instead and converted the finished-out structure into a tiny 36' by 48' two-story farm house. They turned the sleepy property, which they named Blackbird Farm, into a working ranch with cattle and egg-laying hens. After a year of commuting to Houston, Joan relocated her framing company to the farm, and Jerry sold his graphic design company to his son. "We never built our big house," says Joan without a hint of regret — and why should there be. Over the last eight years, the Herrings have bought a prime chunk of Fayette County — carefully renovating historic 19th- and early-20th-century structures and thoughtfully building new ones, which they rent to visitors from Houston, Austin and beyond. But their bread-and-butter is the dealers, designers and shoppers the frequent the twice-yearly Round Top Antiques Fair. "When we moved here, we didn't even know what Round Top was," says Joan. Now, their rental properties are booked up months in advance of the shows. "Our business has grown along with the antiques fair," she says. The Herrings' current rental holdings include nine properties — many of them in the historic town of Fayetteville (15 minutes from Round Top) — such as the 1850 House, a home built around a mid-19th-century log cabin; the 1915 Sealy House, which is on 47 acres; and the 1835 Red & White Inn, a former commercial building on the old square in Fayetteville that once housed a movie theater. Guest rooms are upstairs, with the Red & White Gallery located downstairs, which launched in 2012 with a show by the Herrings' friend, the respected sculptor Jesús Morales, who died last year. A subsequent exhibit by well-known photographer Laura Wilson (and mother of actors Luke, Andrew and Owen Wilson) attracted more than 250 people, and sold out most of her work. The couple also built cabins and a multi-use event center, Herring Hall, on Blackbird Farm. B ut their crown jewel is the elegantly renovated 1898 Market Street Inn, located one block off Fayetteville's historic main square, which is jointly owned by local Mary Quiros, a walking buddy of Joan's. "We'd walk around town and get an hour's worth of exercise every day, and we'd pass by this grand, beautiful old house with its shutters falling off and a For Sale sign out front," Joan remembers. "'Mary said, 'If I was younger, I'd buy it and fix it up.' So I said, 'Let's do it!'" The acquisition was a coup — beautiful Victorian-era houses like Market Street Inn have helped put the town of Fayetteville on the National Register of Historic Places, Joan says. They closed on the property in January 2014 and opened it for guests arriving that spring for Round Top. "We modernized it with updated plumbing and electrical and air conditioning, but we were careful to keep the original old feel of the place," says Joan. Private baths with six-foot soaking tubs were THE HERRINGS RESTORE A DREAM TOWN IN AND AROUND FAYETTEVILLE ONE GORGEOUS OLD HOUSE AT A TIME BY REBECCA SHERMAN. PHOTOGRAPHY JERRY HERRING. JENNY HERRING JENNY HERRING JENNY HERRING JENNY HERRING JENNY HERRING added to each of the five bedrooms, and the house's original bead board walls, hardwood floors, carved moldings and doors were retained. The rooms are decorated with furniture and accessories found at Round Top. Quiros donated a stained-glass window for one of the bedrooms that had belonged to her grandmother, and her husband Evan, a woodworker, built a cedar farmhouse table for the communal kitchen that seats 10. A pair of original large French parlor doors became the new back door, allowing for picturesque views, and custom leaded-glass doors were installed in the front, to give the entry a grand feel, says Joan. A magnificent, large-scale photograph by Laura Wilson, Dapple Gray, hangs in the foyer. While the Market Street Inn is their most elegant property, all of their rentals are sought-after for their luxury and charm, including plush white spa towels, robes, slippers and fine linens (garment-dyed, eco-friendly Bella Notte bedding in the 1850 House), and vintage and antique quilts and crewel coverlets. Kitchens are stocked regularly with fresh brown eggs from the Herring's own Barred Rock Hens, along with butter, cream, fresh bread and Kolaches from local Czech bakeries. To pay homage to the Red & White Inn's movie theater heritage, they frequently show old black-and-white films and invite the townspeople; the inaugural show, appropriately enough, was Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House. T he Herrings can barely keep up with the demand for rooms, which Joan says is driven by the popularity of such HGTV treasure-hunting shows as Junk Gypsies, featuring sisters Amie and Jolie Sikes, who have a store in Round Top. "We get from 30 to 100 requests each day for lodging before and during the antiques fair," says Joan. "We had no idea all this would happen." To meet the increasing demand, the Herrings have just put a contract on a 600-square-foot property near Market Street Inn. "We fell in love with it," she says. "It's a cute little country cottage that looks out onto a beautiful pasture." Porch at the Sealy House Sealy House Guest room at Market Street Inn Guest room at Market Street Inn Custom-built cedar cabins on Blackbird Farm, outside Fayetteville Market Street Inn Firepit at 1850 House Detail inside the Sealy House

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of PaperCity Magazine - March 2016 - Houston