The oldest home in Pflugerville is in disrepair: Floors in the William Pfluger House have caved in, a rat is decomposing on a windowsill, hornet nests line the entryway and weeds control the yard.
The 139-year-old house, with walls made of 16-inch cut limestone, was built to stand the test of time by one of Pflugerville’s first leaders. The home serves as monument to Pflugerville’s heritage and farming roots, said Steve Fuller, president of the nonprofit Pfluger Haus Foundation.
Fuller and the foundation have worked for years to change the fate of the historic home. Fuller said he aims to raise enough money to revamp the iconic structure and turn it into a destination and gathering place available to the community.
The foundation released architectural drawings in September outlining potential renovations and plans to build an event center, amphitheater and more on the property located on Pflugerville Parkway near FM 685. Fuller said the renderings could be key to raising funds for the project. The foundation commissioned Heimsath Architects to create the plans.
“It is very rare for a community the size of Pflugerville to still have in it its oldest structure and one that bears the name of the founding father of the town,” Fuller said. “It seems a shame to me to let that amount of heritage for a local area die out.”
Greenview Development, owned by Barth Timmermann, and the Timmermann family, own the house and the surrounding 300 acres of land. Fuller, a principal at Park Crest Middle School for 13 years, said the development firm and family have been friendly toward the foundation and understanding of its cause.
Greenview and the family may consider donating the house and about 1 acre of surrounding land to the foundation for restoration in the future, Fuller said. But, he said, they would like to see a certain amount of money raised before making the donation.
Therein lies the foundation’s dilemma.
“We are in a Catch-22,” Fuller said. “We don’t have any property because we don’t have the money, and we don’t have any money because we don’t have the property.”
The Pfluger House was built in 1875 by William Pfluger and made a Texas historical landmark in 1985. Pfluger was a native of Germany, city founder and banker, among other accomplishments.
The last Pflugers to occupy the house moved out in 1995. Since then the house has sat vacant, Fuller said.
In a recorded StoryCorps interview—an oral history project—two of William Pfluger’s granddaughters, Lillian Mason and Bernice Pfluger, spoke of life at the Pfluger House in the early 1900s. The 2008 interview is in the Library of Congress.
In the interview Mason said her grandmother saw American Indians drinking water from Wilbarger Creek behind the home. When the creek froze in the winter Mason and other children skated on it.
Bernice Pfluger said she hid in the home while a tornado ripped across the property and what is now Pflugerville Parkway.
“After the tornado had passed we looked out, and the barn, all the barns, were gone,” she said. “There were dead cattle lying around everywhere and dead chickens and turkeys; it just looked terrible.”
The sisters said in the interview they would like to see the home fixed and used for weddings or some other purpose.
“I would like to see it preserved,” Mason said. “I don’t think that I could stand to see it torn down. It means an awful lot to me.”
Though the house has fallen into disuse, it is still used occasionally. Fuller said there was recently a fashion photography shoot at the house.
Filmmaker Preston Corbell was allowed to shoot a horror short film titled “Nitrous” inside the house in winter 2013. Corbell said the location was perfect for the film.
“I hate to say that the house is good for a horror movie; it sounds bad,” Corbell said. “The condition that it is in now does not do it justice. It could be a really cool center-piece for the town. I would definitely encourage them to rebuild it.”