Civil War-era home gets upgrades

Retired Fort Gibson teacher Thrissa Johnson shows stonework around the Roselawn water pump. She said it came from a store run by Roselawn builder Florian Nash.

Staff photo by Cathy Spaulding

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A Fort Gibson pioneer's home is getting new paint, period furnishings and a future.

Fort Gibson State Bank bought the Nash-Swindler House, Roselawn, about a year ago and has been making upgrades.

Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Stockton said the bank wanted to invest in the house at 109 E. Maple Ave.

"It's right next to the bank. I didn't want someone else to buy it," Stockton said. "We repaired the outside. We put a new shingle roof on it and the smokehouse, replaced everything that was rotten, repainted it the original color."

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Civil War-era home gets upgrades

Fort Gibson State Bank had the historic Roselawn painted in its original colors. The house is just east of the bank.

The bank also furnished the house with Civil War-era antiques.

"We want to keep it for special occasions," Stockton said. "If somebody wants to raise money or have a meeting, we'll have it available."

He said 300 to 400 people toured the house in early December, as part of the Kelly B. Todd Christmas Homes Tour.

"The history of the house is phenomenal," Stockton said.

Retired Fort Gibson English/humanities teacher Thrissa Johnson knows much of that history. She said she and her husband owned the house for 20 years before selling it to the bank.

"When we bought it, we heard it was going to be torn down," Johnson said. "We didn't move in for a year because we had work going on." 

Johnson said the house was built by Florian Harridan Nash, born in 1839 in New Orleans.

"He came to Fort Gibson as a man of 16 and went into business," Johnson said. "When he was 26, he bought out his employers."

Johnson said the two west rooms were built first, in 1850, with a root cellar underneath. It was built in the style of a Louisiana plantation home.

Johnson said Nash bought salvage lumber from Riley's Chapel, an early Tahlequah area Methodist church. 

Nash finished Roselawn after the Civil War, she said. The family had 11 children.

Johnson said the house retains many original accessories — wood floor, door and window hinges, a walnut mantel, light fixtures and windows.

Some of those windows still have scratched names of children and others who stayed there.

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Civil War-era home gets upgrades

Scratches on a Roselawn window date to 1891. A leather jacket is behind the window to enhance contrast.

Johnson recalled a woman in her 80s visiting an open house. She was a Nash granddaughter who recalled that a family member used a diamond to scratch names on windows.

Johnson said a smokehouse in back still has "wonderful hand-hewn boards," where meat was hung and cured.

A water pump also is original. She said stonework surrounding the pump came from Nash's store.

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Civil War-era home gets upgrades

The Roselawn house still has original window latches and doorknobs. Fort Gibson State Bank is renovating the historic house.

Johnson said she used to bring students to the home to learn local heritage.

"I'm so happy for our area that we have these historical areas that are being preserved," she said. "I used to tell my students that Fort Gibson's future is in its past."

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928, @cspauldingMPhx or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

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