PaperCity Magazine

December 2016 - Dallas

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local cemeteries are filled with ancient headstones bearing the phrase "Killed by Indians." In 1905, a cattle rancher bought the house and added a second floor with bedrooms for his three daughters. "I like to think about how much life has been experienced in the 123 years of the house," says Richard, who purchased it from a woman who sewed draperies styled from the period and laboriously hand-stenciled walls in patterns documented from the 1800s, all of which they kept. The original wood floors downstairs were refurbished years ago, and they ripped out the 1970s carpet upstairs, revealing wood planks. The original woodwork, including the doors, had never been painted, leaving everything with a lovely patina, he says. Without much insulation, it's cold in the winter and hot in the summer, but that's part of the charm. They let the house be itself. Says Richard: "Some people totally renovate, and then it's not an old house any more." This is not the first historic house he has owned and refurbished in Weatherford — he's lived in these relics off and on for 15 years, including the Mary Martin house — but the Black House is the oldest one yet. The previous owner had "goofy-looking Victorian furniture throughout," he says, but they've made it their own with a handful of 19th-century antiques and contemporary furnishings from Sutherland, Donghia, and Richard Shapiro. A white enamel and chrome stove from the 1950s, purchased for the kitchen from a store in Weatherford, looks just like the one Richard's grandmother had. Walls are hung with their own photography and paintings. "Everything seems to work together," says Richard. "We've been collecting things for years." Clad in its inky coat, the house would be an oven, he says, were it not shaded by a canopy of ancient oaks, cedar elms, and live oaks. A wild garden flourishes in the front, with native grasses, succulents, cactuses, and black-eyed Susans. Richard cultivates pink and red climbing roses, including natives that date to the 1900s that have thrived for more than 100 years; a pioneer grit for survival lives on in the garden. For Chad and Richard, restoring the Black House is less about decorating and renovating than it is about preserving a century of vanished life. 76 Richard Bettinger photograph is a commission from a client, whose horses appear in The Hunger Games. Charles Potter limestone sculpture on pedestal from Don Ruseau. Handmade metal chest is a flea market find. Dining-room wallpaper is a document print. Richard Bettinger's Decompressionism photograph of Lollie Bombs Burlesque dancers. Brass pig from Society. Antique Italian wall bracket, Joseph Minton Antiques. Urn is a flea-market find.

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