Oenaville House in Ruins Was Once Home To Eccentric But Kindly Man
Beyond the dense overgrowth at the corner of FM 438 and Oenaville Loop is a house that was once home to a strange man, his many cats, and several refrigerators.
(We hope you've enjoyed the photos. We absolutely do not recommend trying to get into the house on your own, though. We were lucky not to get hurt.)
When I was growing up, older kids told me the house was haunted, and if I hadn't been such a skeptical, know-it-all brat, I may have believed them. It seemed as if the place had been there since the dawn of time, and I imagined everyone was driven out there and dared to enter at some point in their childhood. It felt like a rite of passage.
The last time I went in must have been in the late 90s or early 2000s. I was in junior high, and a few high school kids dared my friends and I to go in. I worried that some escaped lunatic might be squatting inside waiting to attack us, but the only living creature I met was a cat.
Now that I know more about the place, I wonder if the cat belonged to the former owner of the house, Edgar B. Sevier.
I spoke to Gayle Parks - the mother of one of my best friends - who grew up in Oenaville. Her grandfather worked for the post office when Oenaville actually had one. Gayle says it was in the back of the grocery store.
Gayle didn't know Mr. Sevier personally and can't remember ever speaking with him, but she was able to tell me a little about him.
"I'd heard all the stories about how strange he was, and I wasn't afraid of him or anything like that," she said. "He was pretty much just the harmless neighborhood cuckoo."
Gayle recalled a yard full of cats. She compared the scene to a crowd in a Where's Waldo book and remembered the spectacle of watching the countless feral felines scattering as her dog ran into the yard to try to play.
The cats were fed cans of Campbell's soup.
But it wasn't just the army of cats in the yard that struck people as strange.
"He did some strange things," Gayle recalls. "Like you'd see his undershirts hanging on the clothes line, and they'd just hang there until they disintegrated or fell off because he would just go buy new ones."
A friend of Gayle's rode with Mr. Sevier in a van that gave seniors rides to town for grocery shopping. She remarked to Gayle that Mr. Sevier would choose one item at the store (perhaps hot dogs or a particular frozen dinner) and only buy several of that one item.
Gayle told me Mr. Sevier may have been married and had a son, but she can't recall ever seeing his wife or child. If they exist, neither has claimed the property, which seems to have been sitting in a strange taxation limbo since Mr. Sevier passed away in September of 1983 at age 75.
Two things Gayle told me about the house were very interesting.
The first was that there was a room built around a well Mr. Sevier's family used to draw water when he was young. Our photographer and I didn't see the well while exploring the house, but if I had spoken to Gayle before we went, I definitely would have looked for it. The idea of an entire room being built to house it delights me.
The second thing she mentioned was seeing four refrigerators from different eras when she explored the house with her mother in the early 90s. They're still there.
The house looks like it must have been a beautiful place to call home before Mr. Sevier passed away and it fell into ruin. It's a shame no one claimed it and kept it up.
As for Mr. Sevier, he was buried in The Oenaville Public Cemetery just behind the Community Center. Like his former home, it's a quiet, peaceful, and hauntingly beautiful place.
Did you know Mr. Sevier? If so, could you tell us more about him and his home?
Also, if you know of any other abandoned structures with an interesting past in the Central Texas area, we'd love to hear from you and do more exploring!
Can anyone guess what purpose this red brick building on East Young Avenue near Loop 363 in Temple serves or used to serve?