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City council, Historical Society mull over the fate of Allin House

“It sat there and deteriorated on our watch.” -- Joann Courtland, Copperas Cove City Council Place 1


Cove Leader-Press  


The Copperas Cove City Council directed the city manager to continue moving forward with the Copperas Cove Historical Society regarding plans for the Allin House, home of the city’s first mayor, located on North Main Street.  

The Allin House is named after Jouett Allin, who was the city’s first mayor when it was incorporated in 1913. The land that the house was built on, located at 401 N. Main Street, first belonged to the mother of Jouett’s wife Emma Barker.  

Over the years, the house has been left alone and unused and has gone into disrepair. One local and recently re-formed organization, the Copperas Cove Historical Society, has expressed its interest and intentions in helping bring the Allin House back to life.  

According to City Manager Ryan Haverlah, the Copperas Cove Historical Society does not wish to own the Allin House but would rather lease the building to use.  

In previous Historical Society meetings, members of the Historical Society tossed around the idea of using the Allin House to display historical items similar to a museum, but they have since changed course.  

During the city council retreat in February, Haverlah provided the city council with a brief update on the Allin House and the path towards a lease agreement with the Historical Society.  

With it being a historical building and a Texas Historical Commission site, certain requirements/guidelines must be followed when restoring the house.  

According to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, restoration is defined as “the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period.”  

“The restoration, anything that’s done to the outside of the structure, has to be done in a certain fashion or certain manner to keep the original building materials and such the same as what it currently is or what it was currently built at,” said Jeff Stoddard, Director of Parks and Recreation. “This includes windows, doors, siding, porches, everything, so if you’re replacing something that’s wood, it needs to be the same type of wood that goes back on the structure.” 

The slideshow presented to the city council included pictures of the house, including one that showed damage to the side.  

Stoddard said that to restore the side, for example, the city could not just go and strip all of the siding off and replace it with new material.  

“It has to be kind of done as needed,” he said. “Not recommended is replacing the historic wood features instead of repairing or replacing the deteriorated wood.” 

Stoddard explained that there are a lot of areas of the Allin House that need to be addressed, including the window that has been broken and boarded over, the siding at the base in the back of the building, plus the soffits (underside of the roof overhang) and stairs.  

Stoddard said that after a recent break-in, plywood was placed over to cover the opening. 

Haverlah said that the Copperas Cove Historical Society’s interest in leasing the Allin House was to use it as a historical site to promote the history of Copperas Cove as well as using it as an event facility or center.  

“They do not want to make it a museum because once you make it a museum and classify it as a museum, there are specific requirements including having a curator, having specific hours that they are open regularly, something that they are not going to commit to nor do they have the financial resources to commit to,” Haverlah said.  

Haverlah said he hoped to be able to present the proposed lease agreement to city council within the next few months. 

He added that he wanted to illustrate the condition of the Allin House “as it sits right now and how badly it has deteriorated since city council requested back in 2015 to no longer rent that facility out or use it as an event location.”  

Haverlah said there are no current rough numbers, but in 2016 there was a Capital Improvement item in the CIP to make repairs to Allin House for $120,000, which was a “super broad ballpark figure.”  

Stoddard said that he thought the more the city digs into this project, “the more it’s going to add on.” 

Haverlah added that the Copperas Cove Historical Society shared with him that they have identified grants that they could seek, but they would have to partner with the city as the owner of the facility.  

Councilmember Jack Smith pointed out that some funds in the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund can be used for historical restoration, but he said he was not sure how much. 

“Usually, the last two years, all of that funding has been allocated to the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor’s Bureau for tourism activities,” Haverlah said. “The city council allocates those funds, so City Council can set the priority and allocations for those funds, and if that was something city council wanted to see as a funding request, staff can work on that and be prepared to submit that during the application process.” 

Yancey said that the question for council is “how much are you willing to commit to make this house sound again and usable, because it’s not usable in the condition that it’s in right now, so I think we need to look hard at what it is that we want to do with this.” 

“We said no, we didn’t want to sell it, but now we’re talking about a lot more money,” he added. “How far are we willing to go to restore that to what it needs to be?” 

“There’s been a lot of our historical buildings, they’re gone. They’re no longer here, so wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have something from our history, and I will throw the post office into that as well,” said Councilmember Joann Courtland. “If we keep letting some of these historical markers and buildings go by the wayside, what do we have left? Nothing, except for paintings on buildings that somebody felt was worth drawing, so, to me, it just seems like you know, this is one time where we need to really look at trying to maintain some of our Cove history.”  

Councilmember Fred Chavez said that the city has to put forth the financial commitment to restoring the building, if it going to go forward. 

“How much is it going to be? How much are we willing to do?” Chavez asked. “Because I love the idea of that being a part of our cultural and historical heritage. I think that’s great, but we’re going to have to pony up money to at least get it started.”

Courtland said that it may end up not being as costly as anticipated, but “it sat there and deteriorated on our watch.” 

John Gallen, secretary of the Copperas Cove Historical Society, explained that the lease agreement mentioned at the retreat meeting was actually the second version of a lease agreement.  

Gallen said he, along with Joyce Hauk and Danny Corbett, sat down with Haverlah in November 2022 to talk about a proposed lease that “went back to the drawing board.”  

“We talked about everything from who would be responsible for what - who’s responsible for the grants, while we would use the place for things like that that were in place, who was going to pay the utilities? What utilities would the city cover, and what would we cover and those types of things.”  

Gallen said that at the Cove Historical Society’s meeting in February, the members agreed as a group to table anything regarding the lease agreement.  

“We spent almost the entire meeting discussing the Allin House, and there were so many questions about the lease, what our responsibilities would be, and we just didn’t have enough information on whether we could maintain a monthly budget to pay for electricity and things like that,” Gallen said. He added that during the organization’s March meeting, he made the decision to table the item after one of the members said they still had not heard from the city nor did they know what the agreement or memorandum of understanding would look like.   

“Let’s just table this until we either hear from the city, and let’s focus on the things that we can do,” Gallen said. “So, it is tabled and it’s on the back burner right now. Now, it’s still a goal for us to eventually get in there because the original Historical Society started in 1987, and they had the Allin House from 1987 to 1997…and in 1997 because they felt they couldn’t maintain or they didn’t accomplish what they wanted to accomplish, they turned it back over to the city.” 

Gallen added that the city put money into the Allin House and renovated it some. During his time on the city council between 2000 and 2007, he said the city “constantly” utilized the Allin House for receptions for if the city hired a new director, etc.  

“It was being used, and it was in immaculate shape. It was well taken care of, and it was up to snuff,” Gallen said.  

Gallen said that his understanding is that there is no funding available from the city for the restoration of the Allin House, while the concern of the Historical Society is that they also won’t have the funds to renovate it after they take it over.  This is where the grants mentioned by Haverlah and initially brought up by the Historical Society would come into play. 

Gallen said he wondered why someone with the city had not written a grant to get money to restore the house, since the city has been the owner of the house for years now. 

The Copperas Cove Historical Society has a member who is looking into the grant writing side, he added.  

Copperas Cove Leader Press

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Copperas Cove, TX 76522
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