Originally built in the early 1840s, the Martin Frank House is the oldest standing structure still in the Klein community and is one of only two houses still sitting on its original foundation. According to Baird, the house was built and first owned by the McDougle family before being rented to the Pevateaux family and purchased by the Frank family in the late 1880s where they lived until the 1950s.
"The mission behind the historical foundation is to preserve the culture and the heritage of the founding families that first settled the area and that includes the French, Scottish and German families," Baird said. "One of the ways we do that is by preserving the buildings."
As the land is no longer owned by the Frank family, Baird said the current location of the Martin Frank House off Stuebner Airline Road is now for sale prompting the need to relocate the house to to Wunderlich Farm Interactive History Park where it can be preserved by the Klein Historical Foundation. However, Baird said relocating a roughly 180-year-old home is no small task.
"We're landlocked now, unfortunately, which makes moving a house in really difficult—especially one this size," Baird said. "The roof's going to have to be removed and replaced and we'll have to cut the house into three [parts], do three separate moves and then put it back together on the museum grounds."
Baird said the cost of relocating the house is estimated at $100,000. So far, the Klein Historical Foundation has raised about $25,000 with a promisary note for another $35,000, meaning the nonprofit organization still has about $40,000 to raise.
"We've gotten everything from $10 to $15,000; every little bit helps," Baird said. "The old saying is, 'One person can't do everything, but everybody can do something'—that's our mentality."
Upon relocation, the Martin Frank House would be the history park's fifth and largest historical home for a total of six historical structures including the schoolhouse. Baird said the Martin Frank House will be located at the south end of the 8-acre historical park near the Theiss house, making the newest addition one of the first structures visitors will see from Theiss Mail Route Road.
"It will take up some of our overflow parking but I think it's worth it," Baird said.
As Klein ISD works closely with the Klein Historical Foundation and Wunderlich Farm Interactive History Park is located adjacent to Doerre Intermediate School, KISD Superintendent Jenny McGown said she was supportive of the foundation's preservation efforts.
“In Klein ISD, we are so proud and honored to celebrate our founding families," McGown said. "We’re very thankful for all our community partnerships and the continued support for projects such as these that keep our cherished heritage and traditions alive.”
Following its relocation, the home will need to undergo extensive preservation work including cleaning and the replacement of 50%-60% of the boards on the outside of the house, which Baird said may take anywhere from two to 2 1/2 years depending on funding. The foundation is also planning to do archeological work on the home's original site prior to the sale of the land.
Once the preservation work is complete, Baird said the Klein Historical Foundation has period pieces of furniture as well as a large collection from the Frank family—including documents, books, farming tools and the family carriage—to bring the house to life.
"It's not just a story; these people really existed; their ancestors and descendants still live here; so our goal is to make those stories come to life and make them real for people," Baird said.
To support the relocation and preservation of the Martin Frank House, donations may be made via Venmo or PayPal, or by clicking here. Donations may also be mailed to The Klein Historical Foundation at 18218 Theiss Mail Route Road, Klein, Texas, 77389, or dropped off in the lockbox at the entrance of the Wunderlich Farm Interactive History Park.