Thanks to Johnson Oil Company CEO Fletcher Johnson and his wife, Jane, one piece of Texas history that was on the verge of disappearing will be around for a long time.
The Braches House, a 160-year old Texas and National Historic Landmark in Gonzales, Texas, sits on land near property owned by Fletcher. The old Greek Revival house had deteriorated nearly to the point of collapse when Fletcher decided to intervene. "When I realized what poor shape the house was in and how important it is to Texas history, I decided to get involved with its restoration so other people could tour the house and learn about it."
The Braches House plot is filled with Texas history. The house replaced a log cabin built in 1831 and served as a stopover for wagon trains, stagecoaches and mail wagons during Texas' fight for independence.
Still standing beside the house is the Sam Houston oak, just as it did when the Texas Army Commander-in-Chief camped there with his army in 1836. After the fall of the Alamo, Mexican Army General Santa Anna marched with his troops toward Gonzales. Houston ordered the town burned so that there would be nothing left to aid the Mexican army.
A 1997 CBS television mini-series based on the novel True Women told the story of Sarah Braches and her family, the home's original owners.
Restoring a house built in 1843 is no easy task, but that didn't deter the Johnsons' efforts. After replacing the siding and windows, making everything level and applying a fresh coat of paint, the Braches House was ready to give up its spot on the list of "10 Most Endangered Historic Structures in Texas."