In 1887, Rev. Thomas A. Broad started constructing a handsome, two-story sandstone house north of Mason’s courthouse square on Comanche Creek. Broad was a popular Methodist pastor whose sermons “showed deep thought and a familiarity with important scientific discoveries,” according to the Mason County News. However, he became better known in Mason for his second occupation as a stonecarver and builder. His work featured ornate carved limestone that contrasted with the darker sandstone. The Broad family sold their imposing house for $4,000 in 1889.
Reverend Broad with wife Grace.
Pictured is the home under construction. Rev. Broad is standing in doorway. His wife Grace and two of their children are barely visible in upper left window while oldest son, Ed, stands on the the roof.
The Reynolds Family Remodel
After a short interval, the house was purchased in 1891 by Edward M. Reynolds, a banker who came to Mason from east Texas having previously lived in New York. Even though the Broad residence was already the largest and most luxurious in Mason, Reynolds envisioned something much grander. He hired the German architect Richard Grosse to remodel and enlarge the house. Grosse, who had immigrated to Texas in 1883, was the architect of many of Mason County’s sandstone buildings, including the Lutheran Church in Mason, the Methodist churches in Art and Hilda, the original high school (now the Historical Building), and the county jail.
In redesigning the Reynolds house, Grosse added the third story and the wraparound porches. Although he kept most of Broad’s original structure intact, he replaced the bay window with a more prominent alcove and raised the second-story windows. Grosse’s masterpiece, completed around 1896, was a stunning, asymmetrical Italianate mansion of 22 rooms.
Local author Stella Gipson Polk attended children’s parties at the Reynolds house in the early 1900s and recalled that the huge basement was “just right for children playing hide-and-go-seek.”
Jennie Reynolds (left) was Postmistress of Mason for many years, having been appointed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Edward Reynolds is pictured on the right.
The Seaquist Family
In 1919, the Reynolds family sold the property to Swedish immigrant Oscar Seaquist (originally Sjokvist), who had come to America in 1901 after going AWOL from the Swedish army. He arrived in Mason in 1902. Seaquist’s family had disowned him, disapproving of both of his decisions to leave Sweden and his “lowbrow” occupation as a bootmaker. Oscar, in turn, declared: “I am an American. The old ways have been forgotten.” According to family stories, he may have bought the impressive residence to prove to his relatives back home that he had prospered in Texas. The Seaquist family made several improvements to the house. They replaced the wooden porch floor and columns on the first story with concrete ones. They also finished the interior.
Oscar Seaquist died in 1933. His widow, Ada, continued to care for the mansion for four decades until her death in 1972, refusing to let anything get run down. She rented rooms during those years, and several of Mason’s older residents still have fond memories of the time they spent living in the Seaquist house.
The Seaquists’ son and daughter-in-law, Garner and Clara Seaquist, began the first major refurbishment of the house in 1972. The project was a labor of love, for the Seaquists already had their hands full ranching and operating their busy Hilltop Restaurant (now Mi Pueblo Restaurantè). Work was completed in the summer of 1973, and for the first time the mansion was opened to the public for tours. It received a Texas state historical marker in 1974 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After being featured in Texas Highways in 1975, the beloved local landmark became a tourist draw for Mason and was the site of weddings, dances, book signings and gala events.
Tours of the Seaquist house were discontinued in the mid-1990s. Today this iconic mansion is being brought back to life by the Seaquist House Foundation, generous donors and volunteers.