The old Oakland Heights mansion in Comanche. Photo by Russell Lee.

The old Oakland Heights mansion in Comanche was an elaborate pigeon roost by the time Farm Security Administration photographer Russell Lee documented it in 1939. Dexter Walcott, believed to be a land agent who laid out the town, built the home sometime before 1887. The street on which it was built was named Walcott Avenue in his honor. A subsequent owner, F. M. Browne, added the Victorian decorations and additional stories a few years after. It stood on one of the tallest points in the town, befitting its name. The house was a showpiece in its early years but fell into ruin as the family died out. I believe it was already vacant by the time this photo was taken. The mansion was torn down in the 1950s and replaced by a ranch-style home which stands on the Walcott Avenue site today, using the original house’s foundation. How great would it have been to explore this place at the time Russell Lee photographed it? Can you imagine the haunted house tales that must have sprung up around it?

The September 2022 cover of Texas Highways: Visual Wonders


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