Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fulton Mansion

Teri and I have been visiting the Rockport/Fulton area for over twenty years, yet we'd never taken the time to visit the Fulton Mansion. During our latest visit to the area we had a cool, rainy day that kept us from our planned outdoor activities, and we decided that it was time for that visit.

George Fulton was an engineer, inventor, and ranching entrepreneur. Fulton was married to Harriet Smith, and it was her land inheritance on Aransas Bay that they developed into a ranching and meatpacking empire called the Coleman-Fulton Pasture Company.

Fulton Mansion - Front
To symbolize their success they designed and built what was then known as Oakhurst, completing construction in 1877. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Second Empire domestic architecture, and was the only home in the area with gas lighting, central heating, and indoor plumbing.
Fulton Mansion - Rear
For our tour we entered through the back of the mansion, and were immediately impressed by the condition. Everything was freshly painted and in perfect shape. Once inside we learned that the mansion had been closed for the previous two years and had undergone a $3.4 million dollar restoration. It re-opened less than two weeks prior to our visit. How's that for timing?

Many of the original furnishings and fixtures have been returned to the mansion, with other correct period pieces purchased to fill the gaps. The rooms were stuffed full of furniture, which we were told was a sign of affluence at the time. 
Hot and cold running water was a unique feature of the home, and the bathroom featured a large copper-lined bathtub. It also had this curious piece of furniture. Care to guess what it is??
Mystery Appliance
A hint:
Onion Skin Toilet Paper
Yes, that is the state-of-the-art indoor toilet. Fancy!!

The Fulton's lived in the home for only 18 years, after which it continued to be used as a private residence, then a restaurant, and finally an RV park. There are some amazing pictures of travel trailers parked on the grounds between the mansion and Aransas Bay, with the dilapidated home standing in the background. Texas Parks & Wildlife acquired the property in 1976, with transfer to the Texas Historic Commission in 2008.
"Original" Room
One of the upstairs rooms was not restored, which allowed us to see damaged and exposed areas of the structure. It was an interesting look at the materials and methods used to build the mansion. You may also note that the plaster walls are covered with signatures. During its "neglected" years the mansion was apparently treated as a curiosity by visitors who explored the rooms and left their signatures on the wall. 

Oyster Shell Insulation
A curious building material used in the home was oyster shell for insulation. I don't know how good the insulating properties are, but there is a trap door that allows you to see oyster shell insulation between the first and second floors. 
Master Bedroom
We are happy that we finally took the time to visit the Fulton Mansion, and that we got to see it after the extensive renovation. An interesting part of Texas History to be sure.



  1. That mystery appliance looks very much like the outhouse toilet we had when I was a kid... only ours wasn't mahogany... nor did we have fancy TP. ;-)

  2. I don't think I would like to use onion skin to wipe with!!!

  3. Don't think I'd want to be the maid cleaning the mystery appliance. Must have taken a lot of onions to make that roll.

  4. Love looking at old houses - one of my favorite things to do on the road.


  5. A full timer RV friend of ours, parked there one winter in exchange for cleaning the grounds and flowerbeds. They loved their winter at the Fulton. Do they still take Resident Volunteers?

    1. No sign of an RV pad or any volunteers. It seems to be staffed by Texas Historic Commision folks.