Historic Home Finds New Life

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Historic Home Finds New Life

Ariel King stands next to doors that open to the garden area at The Bryan House in Mission. (VBR)
Ariel King stands next to doors that open to the garden area at The Bryan House in Mission. (VBR)

The landmark house on the corner of Bryan Road and 2 Mile Line in Mission was long a source of interest for Ariel King, as it is for many area residents.

The stately home with its early 1900s architecture and style has been part of Mission for nearly as long as the city has existed. It was just after the turn of a long bygone century that William Jennings Bryan, a three-time Democratic Party presidential nominee, discovered Mission and a newly forming Rio Grande Valley as an ideal spot to seek a respite from the harsh winters of his native Nebraska.

It was in 1909 when Bryan purchased farmland in Mission and built a home that still bears his name on a road named after the politician who was the Democratic Party’s dominant force at the beginning of the 20th century. Bryan’s stay in Mission was not long, just six years. He sold the home and found a new winter retreat for his family in Florida, but his South Texas home and legacy endure to the present, more than 100 years later.

Ariel King and her husband, Frank, are curators of sort for this legacy as they have renovated the historic home and restored the grounds teeming with native vegetation. Since purchasing the home in 2014 and opening the Bryan House in 2016 as a multi-use business, the Kings have reconnected the iconic home to its community.

The interior of The Bryan House is decorated to reflect the early 1900s when the Bryan family used the home as a winter retreat. (VBR)
The interior of The Bryan House is decorated to reflect the early 1900s when the Bryan family used the home as a winter retreat. (VBR)

“I really wanted to find a way to share this special place with the public,” said King, whose business offers the Bryan House for weddings, history tours, photography, event rentals, and as a bed and breakfast. “It’s like going back in time and affords people an opportunity to enjoy our history and culture and get a feel of what the Rio Grande Valley used to look like.”

The multi-purpose uses the Bryan House is being utilized for today were not part of a master business plan when King and her husband purchased the home four years ago. They live in close vicinity to the home and saw that it had been put up for sale after being left vacant for years. The Kings made an offer for the home and in quick fashion they were its owners.

After months of renovations to the house and grounds, King said a passerby stopped to inquire about the possibility of using the home to host his 40th birthday party. The request stirred King to thinking of using The Bryan House as a business entity. Bed and breakfast opportunities came to mind initially, and she did research on those businesses, including visits to the Texas Hill Country to see how they operate. Other uses came to mind, such as parties, weddings and other kinds of events.

Photos of William Jennings Bryan and his family are on display at the Mission home. (VBR)
Photos of William Jennings Bryan and his family are on display at the Mission home. (VBR)

The Bryan House opened in the spring of 2016 and from the onset drew the interest of local residents and tourists. The house has become a popular spot for weddings with lush green spaces providing an ideal backdrop for such events. The home is being used as a bed and breakfast venue and for creative events such as murder mystery parties.

“There’s not a lot of places like this in the Valley,” King said. “It’s just a different feel. I think people want this kind of experience.”

King has added historical tours, farmers markets and art shows to the mix of events at the historic home. A tour of the home is like walking into the early 1900s with furniture pieces of that era and portraits and photos of Bryan and his family.

“It’s been a labor of love,” King said of bringing the Bryan House back to life. “It’s been very rewarding to connect this place back to the community.

The historic home was a winter retreat for three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan and his family. (VBR)
The historic home was a winter retreat for three-time Democratic presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan and his family. (VBR)

Ricardo D. Cavazos is a journalist and business executive who has over 30 years of experience as a reporter, editor and publisher and is currently managing allied health schools in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo. Working for Freedom Communications, Cavazos served as editor of The Monitor for eight years and was publisher of The Brownsville Herald for 14 years. He also served as publisher of the Valley Morning Star for one year and launched two Spanish-language publications - El Nuevo Heraldo and El Extra. He is an Edinburg native currrently living in Harlingen.

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