The Berclair Mansion first captured my imagination when a close friend told me about it. Later, I added to my curiosity when I (re-) learned that my Blalock side-of-the-family stayed in Berclair for a while as they were making the move from Comanche, Oklahoma to Christine, Texas in their covered wagon sometime before 1909.
On my way to cover a recent reception, I stopped in Berclair, Texas to photograph this mansion. Berclair is a very small town. The 2000 Census says that 253 people reside there. I have had a few brief visits here in the past, but none with my camera. I was a few minutes early so I decided to kill two birds with one stone.
Berclair Mansion sits about two blocks off of Highway 59. It’s allegedly haunted… which makes it even more interesting. As the story goes, the house was built in 1936 by Etta Terrell after her husband had passed away. When she was a young girl, her family’s house had burned to the ground and she vowed to have a fire-proof house one day. She was 75, but she finally made her wish come true. The mansion took two years to complete during which time Etta and her four sisters toured Europe buying the furniture and fixtures. The mansion is a 10,000 square foot, 22-room, two-story construction made of 60 tons of steel and cement. In 1936, it was the largest single family home made of steel in the United States. Etta is given credit for bringing electricity to the entire town of Berclair. She paid for this service entirely on her own so she could have power in her own house.
Etta passed away in 1957 and the house was willed from one sister to the next, finally making its way to Etta’s niece. Genevieve passed away in 1998 and her will actually stipulated that the home and all of its contents be destroyed. There are a few different stories online about how the home came to be owned by the Beeville Art Association. One is that it would have cost $95,000 to destroy the home and the heirs did not want to pay for that so they gave it to the art association. The other story makes reference to a “raging” legal battle. Either way, the house and its 16th and 17th century antiques were kept in tact. Renovations were made possible by selling a painting that was found in a closet at an auction for a mere $10 million.
For most of the year, you can tour Berclair Mansion every last Sunday of the month for $10 a person. However, their Facebook page also says that in November and December, tours are every Sunday. You can also host a luncheon for a minimum of 20 attendees at $25 a piece. Or, you can actually use the mansion as your South Texas wedding venue. I’ll be visiting this mansion sometime in the near future to learn even more about it! I’d like to see the inside!
I am a San Antonio-based wedding and senior photographer who started Ata-Girl Photography Co., LLC in 2010. As one of the up-and-coming San Antonio wedding photographers, I am also available to shoot in Austin, Houston and Dallas and the surrounding areas. I am also available for destination weddings worldwide. Ata-Girl Photography Co. offers an amazing wedding photography service that you won’t soon forget. As a professional photographer, my sole purpose is to provide you the absolute best photography experience.
I am a professional photographer who enjoys documenting the important milestones and captivating moments in people’s lives. I firmly believe that the unique set of circumstances I have faced in life has prepared me to take a personal and genuine interest in my photography clients. When I’m not photographing a wedding, family or high school senior, I enjoy watching my daughter play softball, hiking, cycling, reading, and listening to Elvis!
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