The Silas Baggett Home on North Main Street in Belton is a very attractive home. It consists of three stories and the architecture is remarkable. He had owned a home in Howard, a town he is credited to have established in 1853. He built a house there in 1875, but it burned in 1886. He sold his farm in that year and came with his family to Belton and constructed one of the most attractive homes in that town. Wayne and Cecily Ball own and have renovated the Silas Baggett Home located on North Main Street in Belton.
Wayne was stationed at Fort Hood at that time they saw the Silas Baggett Home and immediately realized it was the house they wanted. The house in its beginning looks much like the Ele Baggett house. As you can see in the photo above, the posts for the porches were the same and there was very little difference in the two houses. The eleven-room house has gone through a slow process of restoration. The Balls said that they worked on the structure mostly in their free time. The project was slow and expensive with the absence of outside funding, but to the Balls the restoration was well worth the time and money.
While most of the history of the Silas Baggett Home is fairly well documented, the Balls are uncertain whether the house was built in place in 1886 or was moved to its present site on Main Street that year. They have heard both versions of its origin. Some evidence that the house might have been moved to its location included the fact that it has no working fireplaces, which would have been left behind in the event of a move. But the house was probably built from scratch on its present location. Whether the house was built on its present location, or whether it was moved, in 1893 Ele Baggett built his home across the street from that of his parents and designed it to be the mirror image of the Silas Baggett house. Ele Baggett was the second son of Silas Baggett and his wife Ellen Warren Baggett.
According to Mr. and Mrs. Ball, the basic floor plans of the two houses are much the same, although there are some differences in the size and exterior appearances, including some of the trim. They added that the original stained glass window in the bedroom and parlor of the Silas Baggett house is still in place, and the glass panes in the front door are also probably original. The Ele Baggett house also has stained glass windows and a glass pane in the front door. The stairway of the Silas Baggett house is made of pine, and the banister of the original walnut. About seventy-five percent of the work on the house is not visible to the causal observer. The work included the leveling underneath the house, plumbing, and electrical work.
The bedroom, off the hallway near the front door, was originally one of a twin set of parlors. One parlor was turned into a bedroom and the other is still a parlor. The Balls took out an enclosed upstairs porch at one time to find the main support posts rotten. They have replaced the posts and decided that they would leave the balcony exposed. The restoration of the rotten post and balcony have at this time been restored.
The Silas Baggett House is, for the most part, Victorian Queen Anne and Carpenter Gothic. It has much of the original woodwork in the interior and is mainly pine and oak. When they first got to the house, the Balls said it was covered with siding, covering up the gingerbread pattern that currently embellishes the home. They have put wood shingles on the bay at the front of the house. Even with the high ceilings in the house, there is not a problem with heating and cooling. The house retains a comfortable temperature throughout most of the day and heating and cooling room units take over the rest of the time.
One of the more difficult jobs was the reconstruction of the windows—all forty-two of them—and putting weights in all of them. Loose-hanging wallpaper was replaced by sheet rock on most of the walls. Most of the downstairs rooms had been finished in 1983 when the historical marker was placed for the Ele Baggett home, but there was more work left to do upstairs. The upstairs have now all been restored. The new owners, The Balls, of the Historical Silas Baggett House have opened the house as The Morning Glory Inn situated in downtown Belton, Texas.
Reporter Bobby Stinson had an enterview with Mrs. Cecily Ball for a newspaper in Belton, Texas. She tells of how they had renovated the house and how it looked when they bought the house.
“I think the old-house people are a special breed,” says Cecily Ball, who along with her husband Wayne, own and are renovating the Silas Baggett house located on North Main Street in Belton.
“My husband and I have been working on restoring the house for about seven years, starting from the time we bought the house, which was originally owned by Silas Baggett. When my husband and I came to this area, we saw the house and immediately realized it was the house we wanted. He was stationed at Fort Hood at that time.” “I’ve always loved old houses,” she said. “I guess I’m just a bit of a romantic.”
“The Ele Baggett house will receive a Texas State Historical Marker in ceremonies on Sunday. It is currently owned by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kimball, and is pretty much in its original appearance.
“The Ele Baggett house has the date 1893 carved into the turret and was completed by 1895. Since moving into the house on 18 June 1982 the Kimballs have added wall-to-wall carpeting and a shower stall and marble-like lavatory to the kitchenette-dressing room in the north side upstairs bedroom.
“Some of the previous owners of the structure include Michael and Linda Lanning, who restored the gingerbread and repaired the porches, wallpapered five rooms and had the exterior scraped and painted.
“Other owners include George Eads, father of District Attorney Cappy Eads; and F. B. Russell, father of James Russel, Judge of the Bell County Court-At-Law. F. B. Russel once served as a member of the Texas Legislature and was the former owner and editor of the Belton Journal and still writes a weekly column for the newspaper.
“The original houses probably looked much as they look today. Recently, two half brothers knocked on our door and said that they had lived in the Silas Baggett house back in 1914, and had not been back to visit since. The two men were astounded at how little the house had seemed to change in the time they had been gone.”
Of the do-it-yourself restoration project, Ball said, “It can be taxing on a person. It’s a long haul. The house has taught me the virtue of patience. Although my husband and I share the work, he does most of the difficult work.
“Other owners of the house have included Mary Hardin-Baylor College and the J. H. Shines. The Shines owned the house for twenty-five years.
“One of her main concerns about the house is the potential of growth in Belton, especially with the house already located on one of Belton’s busiest streets. We have learned a lot working on the house, which would make restoring another house much easier, but there probably won't not be a next one.
“It’s nice to put in a little effort and end up with something nice,” she said. “It’s a great place to raise the kids. Our plans are to stay at the Silas Baggett house for a long time.”
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