Historical Landmarks Guide

Conroe Historical Guide

Conroe, Montgomery and Willis are home to many historical landmarks. Many landmarks are located on private property and may not be open to the public. This guide is not comprehensive.

1  George W. Strake discovered oil in what is known as the Conroe Oil Field on
Dec. 13, 1931. One of the oil wells erupted in January 1933, collapsing the earth and forming Crater Lake. The fire burned for the next three months with flames reaching heights of 150 feet. Directional drilling, a method never before tested on the Gulf Coast at the time, eventually saved the oil field, which now produces 5.3 million barrels of oil per year.

2  Using a long-distance telephone line that ran from Houston to the local drug store, Albert Madeley and the owner of Gilbert’s Drug Store began a telephone exchange in Conroe in 1899. The exchange was eventually renamed the Conroe Communication Company.

3  Isaac Conroe moved from New Jersey to Southeast Texas with his wife, Margaret Richardson, after serving with the Union Army during the Civil War. Conroe purchased what is now known as the Isaac Conroe Property in 1885, and the property was used as a temporary county courthouse until one was built in 1891.

4  Architect Blum E. Hester, who drew plans for the Crighton Theatre, designed this renaissance revival-style home for William Arthur Bay Evans and wife, Garnet, in 1933. The W. A. Bay Evans Home became a recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1984.

5  The Crighton Theatre was built in 1934 by former Mayor Harry M. Crighton. During opening night on Nov. 26, 1935, the theater featured “Stars Over Broadway,” starring Pat O’Brien. Although the theater closed in the mid-1960s it reopened
Jan. 25, 1979, and is considered “The Crown Jewel of Montgomery County.”

6  The Lone Star Monument & Historical Flag Park showcases Montgomery County as the birthplace of the Lone Star flag in 1839. The park features a bronze bust dedicated to Dr. Charles B. Stewart—a Montgomery County native credited for designing the flag.


Montgomery | Willis Historical Guide

Conroe, Montgomery and Willis are home to many historical landmarks. Many landmarks are located on private property and may not be open to the public. This guide is not comprehensive.

1 The Davis Law Office was built in 1845 and was used by Judge Nat Hart Davis as both a law office and home. Between 1848 and 1854, the office was also used as a meeting place for the Montgomery City Council and mayor, a school and as a U.S. post office from 1923 to 1936. The building is the oldest law office in Montgomery County and became a recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1967.

2   Montgomery Baptists organized a fellowship and purchased land at the Montgomery Baptist Church Building site in 1850. The Gothic revival sanctuary was designed and built by Pastor O. P. Stark. A storm destroyed the upper part of the steeple in 1918, and an education wing was added in the 1940s. The congregation used the facility until 1979.

3  Montgomery Methodists built a log meetinghouse now known as the Old Methodist Churchyard in 1839. The churchyard was also used for burials. Among those buried in the churchyard are veterans of the War of 1812, the Texas War for Independence, the Mexican War and the Civil War. Thought to be the first Methodist parsonage built in Texas, the buildings were relocated in 1908.

4   The Shelton-Smith House was built by master craftsman John E. Shelton for leading cigar manufacturer Thomas Wesley Smith in 1858. The house was owned by the Smith family until 1924 when Thomas A. Gay purchased it for his family. The K.M. Whisenant family purchased the property in 1976 and now preserve it.

5   The First State Bank of Montgomery was chartered Dec. 11, 1906 and moved its operation to this building in 1908. The location served small farm producers until it was voluntarily liquidated in 1934 following a robbery. Today it is considered the oldest existing commercial building in the area.

6   The Monument to Charles Bellinger Stewart commemorates Charles Bellinger Stewart, who served as the first Texas secretary of state from 1835-36. Stewart also signed the Texas Declaration of Independence, helped write the Constitution of the Republic in 1836 and served as district attorney in Montgomery County as well as three terms as a state representative. Stewart was considered the highest appointed official in Texas and was a keeper of the state seal.

7  Dr. E. J. Arnold settled in Montgomery in 1835 following a move from Connecticut. In 1845, Arnold replaced his original log residence with what is now known as the Arnold-Simonton Home, an early Texas structure in the greek revival tradition, to house both his family and his practice. In addition to serving as a local physician, Arnold served on the early Board of Medical Censors for the Republic and on the Montgomery Academy Board of Trustees. The home was relocated to Fernland Historical Park and is the only structure in the county included in the National Register of Historic Places.

8  The Magnolia Home was built in 1854 for Peter J. Willis and his wife, Caroline Womack. The building was named after the couple’s daughter, who was born inside the home. In 1868 the house was purchased by Ilai and Melissa Davis, whose descendants continued to occupy and preserve the house and original furniture. Anna D. Weisinger, the only other child born in the home, is the present owner.

9   Confederate veteran Nickolas Crane and wife, Mary Ann Havard, built and resided in the Crane Family Cabin in Angelina County in 1867. The cabin is composed of split pine logs, a stick-mud-and-moss chimney and a cypress board roof. The cabin was moved to Fernland Historical Park and restored in the 1970s by Carroll and Mae Tharp.

10  In 1826, James Jardine immigrated from Ireland to Texas as a part of Jose Vehlein’s colony. Jardine built his cabin in 1830 in present Walker County on land obtained from the Mexican government. Known as the James Jardine Log House, the structure was restored and moved to Fernland Historical Park in 1976 by Carroll and Mae Tharp. It is considered one of the oldest existing log structures in Texas.

11  The Hulon House, located in Fernland Historical Park, is a Civil War-era Greek revival wood-frame plantation house.

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