The Fascinating Story of the Cowboy Boot and Hat House in Huntsville, Texas
Texas is known for a lot of cool things. One of those things is the interesting architecture found throughout the state. It could be as simple as Cadillac Ranch in West Texas, the sprawling skyscrapers in Dallas, Texas or the throwback to the old west in Fort Worth. Just south of East Texas is the town of Huntsville. It's mostly known for the jail there but there is also two very interesting homes, a cowboy boot and a cowboy hat. Yes, they are livable and there is an interesting story to go along with them.
Unique Home Builder Dan Phillips
The late Dan Phillips (he passed away in December of 2021) was a home builder in Texas. He was also an Army intelligence officer, a dance instructor and the inventor of the word game Brainsqueeze. His knack for building things from discarded items began when he was a kid in Colorado when he built a bicycle from parts he salvaged from a local landfill. He carried that ingenuity into his home building.
Trained Novice Builders
Phillips would go to construction sites and buy their excess materials. He would then hire people who knew very little about construction and teach them how to do it. He would turn these novices into skilled carpenters, roofers and sheetrock hangers. Basically, if someone had the desire to swing a hammer and learn, he would hire them.
The plus side to this hiring and salvaging method was he could build low cost housing. These low cost homes would go to struggling single parents or families, starving artists or anyone else who had a low income but needed a roof over their head.
Mother Goose Inspiration
Many of us remember the Mother Goose tale of the old lady in the shoe. Phillips used that as inspiration for his Cowboy Boot home he built in Huntsville (Texas Highways). While it doesn't look like much on the outside, the 711 square foot home has two bedrooms and a spiral staircase that leads to a rooftop deck. Next door is the just as quaint Cowboy Hat home.
They both sit at 2640 State highway 30 in Huntsville.
Huntsville almost lost these two unique pieces of architecture when a Houston land developer bought the two houses and property in hopes of turning it into retail space. The residents of Huntsville fought back and the city did not approve the zoning change to build. The Cowboy Hat and Cowboy Boot homes were saved.
If your spring or summer travels take you through Huntsville, swing by this area and get a picture of the homes. You can stand along the highway in front of them to get a picture but it is advised to not go on the property itself to do so.