Editor’s Note: This article published originally April 17, 2016.
Victoria Preservation’s recent and successful 29th Annual Home Tour, Pride of Our Past, showcased six historic homes, lovingly and beautifully restored and preserved.
However, there are a number of historic homes, once considered Victoria landmarks, which did not survive the onslaught of the years and can now be seen only in fading photographs.
The Fleming-McDowell house, a familiar landmark to generations of Victorians, is shown in the photograph accompanying this article.
It was located on the west half of the city block bounded by Stayton, Victoria, North and Vine streets.
Thomas Newton Fleming, born in 1822, came to Texas from Alabama in 1849 and settled in Green Lake, which at the time was one of the more prosperous communities in this section.
In 1883, he moved his family from Green Lake to Victoria and constructed a two-story frame house of grand proportions. He became a leader in the breeding of fine livestock and owned most of what is now known as Fleming Prairie in the southern portion of Victoria County.
Thomas Fleming and his wife lived in the house for the remainder of their days. Mollie Reeves Fleming, wife of Thomas, passed away in 1903, and Thomas followed five years later.
Heirs sold the house to Horace W. McDowell, who had the mansion extensively renovated. The grand porches shown in the photo were added by McDowell, and the interior was updated and remodeled to the standards of the times.
The roof lines were changed to accommodate the dramatic porches and columns.
Sometime later, the McDowells moved from Victoria, eventually settling in Brownsville. The house changed ownership several times. In the late 1940s, it was used as a dance studio.
But by 1954, the house had seen better days. It was demolished, and the entire city block bounded by Stayton, Victoria, North and Vine streets remained vacant for a number of years.