The house was built in 1913 by J.W. Stringer. Mr. Stringer was an oil man from Electra, Texas. He struck oil on his Electra property in 1911 and moved to Wichita Falls in 1913. He was a contemporary of Mr. Kemp and Mr. Kell, both prominent men (considered founders) of Wichita Falls. In fact, he had several business dealings with Mr. Kemp. On one occasion the two men went in together (in 1919) and purchased the property which is now 1501 Grant which Mr. Stringer built for his daughter (Myrtice) and her husband (John W. Thomas). The Stringer family lived in the house until they sold it in 1949.
The house was sold to Roy and Edith King in 1949 by the Stringer’s children. Edith King was instrumental in the establishment of the Backdoor Theatre of Wichita Falls. The performances were practiced on the 3rd floor of the house on a stage built specifically for that purpose. The actual performances were held in the basement of the Weeks Mansion. To get to the “theater” you had to enter through the “back door”, thus the theater’s name. Edith was also a key figure in the establishment of the Women’s Forum here in Wichita Falls and she was a local artist.
James and Francis Howell bought the house in 1991. The Howells were instrumental in the restoration of this stately structure. In fact, they are mostly responsible for the shape the house is in today. According to neighbors the house was in “very poor shape” when the Howells purchased it.
John and Karen Thomas are the current caretakers of the house. They acquired it in 1998 and set out to remodel the garage apartment and complete the rooms the Howells did not get the chance to finish.Tags: 1500 Grant, Backdoor Theatre, J.W. Stringer, Weeks Mansion
This post was written by Christine Heidebrecht