The Parker Home was built by Milton and Mollie Parker in 1885. Originally from Millican, Texas, the Parkers owned land in the Brazos Bottom. Mrs. Parker drew up the plans for the home, and it was constructed by German carpenters from Dallas for a cost of $6,000. The Parkers raised 10 children in this home and it remained in the Parker family until 1991.
The exterior of the home is covered in wood clapboard siding and is relatively unadorned for a home of this period. A two tiered veranda shelters the front of the house. A unique aspect of this home on the interior is a closed area in each bedroom used as a closet, an unusual feature in 19th century homes. The house is over 5,000 square feet with seven fireplaces, a large formal dining room, a study/office, a front parlor receiving room and an adjoining second parlor used for the ladies to gather after meals.
During the Depression years, the home was in the possession of the second generation of Parkers, Milt and Maggie. The home was operated as a boarding house for students coming to A&M on the GI Bill after WWII. It was also rented for social occasions. “Miss Maggie” gave the home a new name, “The Oaks”. The third generation of Parkers, Katie Parker Bernath and her husband Robert, lived in this home from 1958 until 1991 when it was gifted to Texas A&M University. The home was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
For a period of about 8 years the home was a fraternity house. It survived.
The home was purchased in 1999 by Dr. Van Walker and John Zieg who restored the home to its previous state of Victorian glory. The home once again was the center of family reunions, weddings, anniversary celebrations and happy guests as it served as a B&B and event venue. On April 15, 2016 Dr. Walker passed the baton to Bob and Denise Barbier to continue the tradition of happy hospitality at the Milton Parker B&B and Estate.
Beginning on June 1, 2016, all of the bedrooms, bathrooms and public spaces including the two parlors, dining room and grand entry hall were renovated with new plumbing, electrical, floors, fixtures and paint. Two bathrooms were added so that each bedroom has an attached private bathroom. The original long leaf yellow pine floors were sanded and refinished. Lindsey Herod with Lindsey Herod Interiors in Houston, Texas provided consultation on the new paint and furnishings for a fresh, comfortable yet nostalgic feel to the home. Many Parker family antiques remain in use throughout the B&B but are mixed in with dream-inducing beds and luxurious bedding.
The Milton Parker Home Bed and Breakfast reopened on Friday, September 2, 2016 with house full of guests. Shortly thereafter the realization that the existing front porch and upper porch were pulling away from the structure of the house meant immediate action. Within 4 weeks both porches were rebuilt and ready for serious “porch sitting” activities.
Work on the new outside dining space and hardscape around the main house began in the fall of 2017 and was completed in the early part of 2018. A large crushed granite surface provides a defined area for both the outside dining and fire pit areas. New brick mixed with original antique bricks found on property were added to the sidewalk edges to widen the pathways. A new bricked pathway leads guests from the paved parking area through the antique gate past the outside dining to the main house from the house. A new board fence encloses a larger yard to accommodate the raised bed gardens.
The Cottage on West 27th Street sits immediately behind the mansion and was the original kitchen to the main home. This was to keep any open flames from starting a major blaze in the family home. Also built in 1885, the structure suffered multiple iterations and additions over the years. When the Barbiers purchased the estate, the Cottage was a duplex in need of a complete overhaul. In 2019 new plumbing, electrical, HVAC, insulation (attic, crawl space, exterior walls), new appliances, oak flooring, paint, and laundry room were installed. The decor is reminiscent of modern, Texas farmhouse made famous by a couple from Waco…but better!
The most recent major renovation is not as exciting for MPH guests. The 1950’s original carport was on its last legs. Cars were no longer parked underneath. In order to keep the historical but glorious fish scale roof section, the lower half was carefully demolished and new structural supports and foundation were built. The enclosed sides and new garage doors have turned the once very scary building into a functional space for estate vehicles.
Are we done…? Stay tuned!