A Seat at the Welcome Table

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Though the home may be now occupied by Brittany Lannen and her two children, the Pool-Tibbs House in Valley Mills actually predates the current city by a decade.

When Lannen purchased the home in 2012, there was a lot of cleaning, and some greatly-needed interior redesign to be done. A green rug and other outdated décor was removed, and a limestone fireplace was discovered under a layer of horsehair plaster in the master bedroom.  Talk about a history lesson for her children! Many portions of the home were refurbished, with attention paid to the preservation of this historic home. The entire house is three stories, with a sub-basement of sorts as the bottom floor. Lannen thinks this was done to keep it slightly cooler in hotter days way back when. It seems that portions of the house were added on at different times, though in each instance, the construction has stood the test of time. Antique wooden floors lined some hallways, with festive Halloween decorations all over the house (and inside) this time of year.

Her oldest child, McKenna, was barely 2 years old when they moved into the house, and Brighton, her son, was actually born in the home in the master bathroom’s beautiful copper tub. The former owners of the house were two sisters who did not get along.  They had the house listed for five years after their father passed before Brittany found it. Among the antiques, stemware and hundreds of books the sellers included with the sale, Brittany found an old bible, and collection of house-related artifacts after moving in. She preserved letters, photos, and antiques that they came across. They even used the old bible in putting the final touches on the master bedroom remodel, displaying its pages on the walls like wallpaper. Using a pencil to lightly shade around the words, various verses were highlighted on each page by the children and their mother after they spoke about their meaning.

The master bedroom, with the aforementioned bible verses above the headboard

“It was a chance to seize the moment to share His Word with my children as we went through, and page by page, selected verses that spoke to us,” said Lannen. “My dad is a police officer and instilled in me the conviction to stand my ground, even if the position I took was not the popular one. So the pages along the wall behind the headboard are about law enforcement, justice, and protection. The path in front of you should be about hope in how He can use your present to serve His plan, so the verses there are about miracles and Jesus showing us the different lenses we could see life through.”

Today, they host many others that pass through the Bosque County area. McKenna makes goat milk soaps at home from start to finish by herself. She milks the goats, creating the recipe by using a soap calculator to get the consistency right, and mixes everything (including lye). She’s been working on scents and colors lately and sells her soaps on Etsy and at The Foundry, the local flower shop and boutique in Valley Mills. House guests get to sample the bars themselves, and the family does their best to keep guests comfortable and anticipate their needs.

Truth be told, with extensions added over the years, the house is a veritable maze, easy to get lost in and find your way out. In character, this structure isn’t lacking in any part of it. Cupboards, supply closets, and hallways hide rooms and more. The Pool-Tibbs House even holds a rentable space, affectionately known as Meagan’s Room.

Meagan's Room, on the sub level

The room is cozy, and a nice, large private space for anyone visiting. The area is named after a remarkable young lady who was in foster care and asked the judge to let her live with Brittany instead of in a group girls’ home.  She has since graduated high school, graduated college and gotten her cosmetology license.  A true story of overcoming obstacles in life to succeed despite the odds. Today, the room is available to rent via AirBnB, and is a way to share the message about fostering.

“The AirBnB has been such a learning experience for each of us. My children have learned the value of promptly attacking the cleaning tasks in a room so that it is ready and we can take advantage of those last minute bookings. They have each learned to be conscientious of others’ comfort and to anticipate things that guests may enjoy and incorporate those in the rooms.”

Brittany, speaking of hosting guests and Meagan's room Tweet

For example, a guest that seems tired may be offered a tour later, and instead, time to let them get settled in. The children have spoken with people from New Zealand, Germany, all over the United States, and plenty of Texans. Since they started renting the room, they’ve welcomed many to their kitchen table, laughing, talking of the journeys behind and ahead, and even praying together.

“By far the most interesting and rewarding part has been the people. We have welcomed all kinds into our home and even to our table. We’ve shared breakfasts, dinners, and even Christmas Eve Supper with our guests. My children’s view of the world has been enriched immensely, and I count that as one of my greatest achievements as a parent.”

Brittany, speaking on the hosting experience Tweet

The historical significance of the space tells the story of its changing walls, and even Valley Mills as the town transformed itself. The marker on the front of the house states that Valley Mills was established circa 1867, but when the railroad came in 1881, the tracks cropped up on the south side of the river. The township of Valley Mills picked up and moved near the tracks.   

The marker reads as follows:

“S.A. Pool built this residence, a store, and a cotton gin on the river bank in 1870, when the town of Valley Mills stood on the north side of the Bosque. The building stone came from nearby Fitzhugh Hill. Robert A. Tibbs, a Mississippi Civil War veteran, bought the house in 1891. After acquiring it in 1926, Anselm Tibbs (1886-1967) removed the original Greek Revival portico and made other changes. The town of Valley Mills moved south of the river when the Santa Fe Railroad was built. As a consequence, this is the oldest house in the present, or “new” town.”

Technically, the ranch and farmland next to the house is called the 1891 Bosque Crossing, LLC.  The house sits next to 70 acres along the Bosque River. Floods wiped away a good portion of the original town. Because of the low point in the valley and the shallow depth of the river here, the cowboys crossing the cattle at this point on the Chisholm Trail dubbed it “Bosque Crossing”. 

When the home was sold from the Pool family to the Tibbs family in 1891, the Tibbs’ marked the date, holding a centennial celebration in 1991.  A cut block of limestone etched with the date and the name is located in one of the stone columns next to the gate to the barn and crossing point. The home remained in the Tibbs’ possession until Brittany became its third owner in its rich history.  The ranch is home to cattle, goats, several family dogs and a bearded dragon, and many, many more for a time, while they’re traveling through.

Arthur DeVitalis

Arthur DeVitalis

Arthur DeVitalis was born in Toronto, Ontario, and grew up deep in the heart of Texas. His focus is sharing the stories of art, history, music, family, local government and law enforcement.

Though the home may be now occupied by Brittany Lannen and her two children, the Pool-Tibbs House in Valley Mills actually predates the current city by a decade.

When Lannen purchased the home in 2012, there was a lot of cleaning, and some greatly-needed interior redesign to be done. A green rug and other outdated décor was removed, and a limestone fireplace was discovered under a layer of horsehair plaster in the master bedroom.  Talk about a history lesson for her children! Many portions of the home were refurbished, with attention paid to the preservation of this historic home. The entire house is three stories, with a sub-basement of sorts as the bottom floor. Lannen thinks this was done to keep it slightly cooler in hotter days way back when. It seems that portions of the house were added on at different times, though in each instance, the construction has stood the test of time. Antique wooden floors lined some hallways, with festive Halloween decorations all over the house (and inside) this time of year.

Her oldest child, McKenna, was barely 2 years old when they moved into the house, and Brighton, her son, was actually born in the home in the master bathroom’s beautiful copper tub. The former owners of the house were two sisters who did not get along.  They had the house listed for five years after their father passed before Brittany found it. Among the antiques, stemware and hundreds of books the sellers included with the sale, Brittany found an old bible, and collection of house-related artifacts after moving in. She preserved letters, photos, and antiques that they came across. They even used the old bible in putting the final touches on the master bedroom remodel, displaying its pages on the walls like wallpaper. Using a pencil to lightly shade around the words, various verses were highlighted on each page by the children and their mother after they spoke about their meaning.

The master bedroom, with the aforementioned bible verses above the headboard

“It was a chance to seize the moment to share His Word with my children as we went through, and page by page, selected verses that spoke to us,” said Lannen. “My dad is a police officer and instilled in me the conviction to stand my ground, even if the position I took was not the popular one. So the pages along the wall behind the headboard are about law enforcement, justice, and protection. The path in front of you should be about hope in how He can use your present to serve His plan, so the verses there are about miracles and Jesus showing us the different lenses we could see life through.”

Today, they host many others that pass through the Bosque County area. McKenna makes goat milk soaps at home from start to finish by herself. She milks the goats, creating the recipe by using a soap calculator to get the consistency right, and mixes everything (including lye). She’s been working on scents and colors lately and sells her soaps on Etsy and at The Foundry, the local flower shop and boutique in Valley Mills. House guests get to sample the bars themselves, and the family does their best to keep guests comfortable and anticipate their needs.

Truth be told, with extensions added over the years, the house is a veritable maze, easy to get lost in and find your way out. In character, this structure isn’t lacking in any part of it. Cupboards, supply closets, and hallways hide rooms and more. The Pool-Tibbs House even holds a rentable space, affectionately known as Meagan’s Room.

Meagan's Room, on the sub level

The room is cozy, and a nice, large private space for anyone visiting. The area is named after a remarkable young lady who was in foster care and asked the judge to let her live with Brittany instead of in a group girls’ home.  She has since graduated high school, graduated college and gotten her cosmetology license.  A true story of overcoming obstacles in life to succeed despite the odds. Today, the room is available to rent via AirBnB, and is a way to share the message about fostering.

“The AirBnB has been such a learning experience for each of us. My children have learned the value of promptly attacking the cleaning tasks in a room so that it is ready and we can take advantage of those last minute bookings. They have each learned to be conscientious of others’ comfort and to anticipate things that guests may enjoy and incorporate those in the rooms.”

Brittany, speaking of hosting guests and Meagan's room Tweet

For example, a guest that seems tired may be offered a tour later, and instead, time to let them get settled in. The children have spoken with people from New Zealand, Germany, all over the United States, and plenty of Texans. Since they started renting the room, they’ve welcomed many to their kitchen table, laughing, talking of the journeys behind and ahead, and even praying together.

“By far the most interesting and rewarding part has been the people. We have welcomed all kinds into our home and even to our table. We’ve shared breakfasts, dinners, and even Christmas Eve Supper with our guests. My children’s view of the world has been enriched immensely, and I count that as one of my greatest achievements as a parent.”

Brittany, speaking on the hosting experience Tweet

The historical significance of the space tells the story of its changing walls, and even Valley Mills as the town transformed itself. The marker on the front of the house states that Valley Mills was established circa 1867, but when the railroad came in 1881, the tracks cropped up on the south side of the river. The township of Valley Mills picked up and moved near the tracks.   

The marker reads as follows:

“S.A. Pool built this residence, a store, and a cotton gin on the river bank in 1870, when the town of Valley Mills stood on the north side of the Bosque. The building stone came from nearby Fitzhugh Hill. Robert A. Tibbs, a Mississippi Civil War veteran, bought the house in 1891. After acquiring it in 1926, Anselm Tibbs (1886-1967) removed the original Greek Revival portico and made other changes. The town of Valley Mills moved south of the river when the Santa Fe Railroad was built. As a consequence, this is the oldest house in the present, or “new” town.”

Technically, the ranch and farmland next to the house is called the 1891 Bosque Crossing, LLC.  The house sits next to 70 acres along the Bosque River. Floods wiped away a good portion of the original town. Because of the low point in the valley and the shallow depth of the river here, the cowboys crossing the cattle at this point on the Chisholm Trail dubbed it “Bosque Crossing”. 

When the home was sold from the Pool family to the Tibbs family in 1891, the Tibbs’ marked the date, holding a centennial celebration in 1991.  A cut block of limestone etched with the date and the name is located in one of the stone columns next to the gate to the barn and crossing point. The home remained in the Tibbs’ possession until Brittany became its third owner in its rich history.  The ranch is home to cattle, goats, several family dogs and a bearded dragon, and many, many more for a time, while they’re traveling through.

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