, Port Arthur, Texas

February 21, 2014

Rose Hill repairs back before PA Council

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Renovations to Port Arthur’s Rose Hill Manor are back on the agenda Monday when City Council meets in workshop session to decide how best to proceed with repairs to the 100-plus-year-old home.

At City Council’s January 14 meeting, District 3 Councilman Morris Albright III suggested letting voters decide whether to make repairs on the circa-1907 Southern Greek Revival home, rather than the Council making the determination.

Though the city has not officially nixed the idea, there are leanings toward  soliciting another bid, and hopefully one that is cheaper, Robert E. “Bob” Williamson, District 6 councilman, said.

“We are looking at hiring another architect and getting a second opinion,” Williamson said.

In January, preservation specialist Timothy Barnes, of Houston, indicated it would take $875,000 to make partial interior and exterior renovations.

That figure, Williams said, is too high.

“We just don’t see it costing that kind of money,” Williamson said.

Rose Hill Manor, though more than a century old, still stands majestically overlooking the city’s ship channel, but on closer inspection needed repairs — wood rot, plumbing problems, peeling paint, etc., —  are marring what was once known to all as the “the beautiful house on the hill.”

The historic manor was built by Rome Hatch Woodworth after the turn of the century. The Woodworths moved into the home in 1906 during the Victorian era and hosted many social gatherings.

in 1944, when Mrs. Woodworth died, her will stated the home be given to the city with the stipulation that her daughter Phebe live their as long as she wanted. Mrs. Woodworth’s will also provided that The Department Club to manage the home. Faced with a declining membership and little money to work with, the will’s directive in recent years has proved challenging, Lezlie Armentor, president of the Rose Hill  Manor board of directors, said.

Williamson said he is in favor of making the needed repairs, and believes the city will, but wants to whittle the cost down.

“We are looking for a cost-reduction mechanism,” Williamson said. “We are going to fix it, and I am in favor of fixing it without going to the voters, but not in favor of $800,000. No evidence has been given to me to cause me to believe the cost should be anywhere near that high.”

City Council will discuss the future of Rose Hill beginning at 8:30 a.m. Monday at City Hall in the fifth floor City Council Chambers.


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