The Welder House: Public gets look at restored historic home

RIGHT: The great room of the Patrick H. Welder Sr. house leads in the library on the left and the billiard room on the right and is the first room visitors see when entering the home.
  • For more information

    Contact the Victoria Preservation Society by calling: 361-573-1878 or go to www.vpitx.com.

Joyce Yaklin leaned her head back to take to look at the angels painted on the ceiling.

After more than 50 years spent driving past the Patrick H. Welder Sr. house on her way to or from Tivoli, she was finally seeing the inside of it.

"Magnificent. I wouldn't have missed this for the world," Yalkin said.

On Saturday morning, Cathy and Cliff Thomas opened up their home, the historic Patrick H. Welder Sr. house, to the public.

The Welder House was built in 1929 by the Welder family.

While many people were struggling through the Great Depression, the Welder's didn't own stock and were relatively untouched by it. They were one of few families in the area who could afford to build a house on the scale of this one, Victoria Preservation Society Inc. executive director Gary Dunnam said.

The elegant rambling Spanish-inspired structure has a tiled roof and high-ceilings in the rooms. The house was placed on a spacious grounds, complete with an English garden and a swimming pool.

When the Thomas' bought the house 12 years ago, the elegance had faded.

The tile roof had leaked, flooding water through the place. The wooden floors upstairs had rotted, and there was mildew everywhere, Cathy Thomas said.

The Thomas' preserved the original house as much as possible, she said.

They repaired the original roof, removing each tile and laying it on the lawn.

They kept every piece of the colorful Malibu tile that covers the floor through much of the house.

After 12 years of work, the house is finally done, and on Saturday Dunnam estimated more than 1,000 people pulled their cars up the narrow, winding drive to see what had been made of the place.

Eyes wide, people wandered through the lush grounds and examined the immaculate furnishings inside, a mix of antiques and comfortable looking, modern furniture.

Even the tour guides were excited to see the house.

"It's just fascinating. It's an incredible experience to see a home built in that era after someone has completely restored it," guide Carol Rhode said.

This may have been the public's last chance to see the house. Cathy Thomas said she and her husband agreed to host the tour to benefit the Victoria Preservation Society, but this will likely be the last time their home will be open to the public.

"I just think everybody's seen it that wants to," Thomas said.

For Yalkin, it was everything she'd imagined and more.

Walking across the grounds to her car, she couldn't decide what she liked best. She said it was everything she'd imagined it to be.

"It was even better."