You are here

Robert Terrell House, Southwestern Christian College

-A A +A
1864. 200 Bowser Cir.

Robert Terrell, for whom the city was named, was a surveyor and landowner. He had this octagonal house built for his family while away serving the Confederacy in the Civil War. It is the oldest house in the county and one of the very few surviving octagonal houses in Texas. Terrell’s interest in the octagon mode can be attributed to the influence of Orson S. Fowler of New York, who touted the benefits of octagonal structures in several publications, including The Octagon House: A Home for All (1853). Fowler praised the octagon for its structural efficiency, as well as its purported proficiency for better natural light and ventilation. The one-and-a-half-story house was built with wood joists cut from cypress logs hauled from Jefferson. In 1915, the house was moved to this location and reoriented, the porch was added, and the dormers were altered to their present shed-roof profile.

Following Terrell’s death in 1881, the house passed to his daughter Lela, whose husband, William Toone, established the Terrell University School (now Southwestern Christian College) in 1897 on land adjacent to the house. The Jack Evans Administration Building, located across the modest campus quadrangle from the Terrell house, was constructed by Toone in 1902.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.


What's Nearby


Gerald Moorhead et al., "Robert Terrell House, Southwestern Christian College", [Terrell, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 109-109.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.