Welcome to the Wilhelm von Specht Homestead Home of Lockehill Shelties.
You may find it interesting how the German Settlers built their homes followed by pictures of the restoration and finally my kennel setup. Enjoy your tour!

homestead

Christmas 2012

My home was built in 1878 by William Specht (1853-1940) for his bride Louise Imhoff.  It stands on a hill overlooking the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hillcountry.  William and Louise are pictured below in a 1921 photo.

Spects

Wilhelm Ernest von Specht(1853-1940)was the first born of Heinrich Karl Rudolf"Hans"von Specht (1825-1913) and Frau Lisette Schmidt Specht (1834-1924). Hans Specht born in Braunschweig Germany was an officer in the Huassar Regiment. As a young man, he took leave and came to Texas in 1844 with Prince Carl Solms. He established a home on the Honey Creek and made his living as a freigher of lumber from the Curry's Creek Sawmill by ox-wagon to New Braunfels. He met a beautiful Orphan girl at the Waisenhaus in New Wied near Gruene, Miss Lisette. They married Jan 1851 and William was born that same year, the first of ten children.  The Guadalupe River had a major flood in 1869 and their home was lost and they relocated on a hill near Spring Branch in an area now known as Specht's Crossing.  Hans Specht was postmaster of Spring Branch from 1875-1906.

Wilhelm like his father Hanz, worked as a teamster and was known far and wide for his three white mule hitch pictured below.  In 1878 he built the home I live in for his new bride, Louise Imhoff with whom he shared sixty two years of marriage.


Between freighting Wilhelm became a master carpenter and built several homes in the area. As a young man he moved from his fathers home to the Pruitt home (pictured bottom of this page).  He lived here until his marrage.  He became a storekeeper with the purchase of the Spring Branch store in 1897 He loved music and was leader of the Spring Branch Band.  A skilled carpenter, he made beautiful cedar coffins for the departed and was the areas undertaker.  In 1907 he left the store to the Knibbe family and then moved his family to Bulverde and purchased the Ferdinand Hanz Red & White Store which became know as “Specht's Store” a popular place to this day. His oldest son remained with his family in my home. In his last years William built the cedar coffins for himself and Louise and stored them in the cotton gin next to Specht's Store. When they were no longer able to operate the store, William and Louise returned to my home to live with their son in their declining years. He died at 86 and she followed him in death within the year. They are buried in the Lutheran cementery on the Cibilo Creek near their store.

Spects


THE FOLLOWING ARE "BEFORE AND AFTER" PICTURES SHOWING HOW THE ROCK SPECHT HOUSE WAS BUILT!

home The foundation is made of cedar logs planed off to be flat on one side. The frame work is held together by keystone joints only. No nails are used. The framework rests on a foundation of stacked stone, chinked with no mortar. Pictured is the porch section, the part under the house has cross timbers every 24" and looks more like the frame of a ship. Note they wasted no time removing the bark from the cedar logs. home This photo looks up into the sleeping loft from the dining room. I had removed the 7' ceiling which was raised to 9'. Note the verticle beams are caped by a horizontal beam. They are held together with mortice and tennon joints which are secured with oak pegs. On top of the beam the roof rests on cripples. The perlins are sawn pine and again they didn't bother removing the bark! The roof was cypress shakes. I removed the shakes, decked over the original pine perlins and installed a new standing seam metal roof.
loft loftdoor loftdoor

On the left looking down into kitchen from sleeping loft. Note ceiling in kitchen had been removed during restoration, originally you could not look down into the lower floor. I found written on the perlins lists of workers hours and money paid at cents per days labor. A skilled carpenter could make up to $3 per day as they were paid a premium wage. On the right I am standing on a ladder where the steps up to the loft used to be. There were no interior stairs, the loft was reached by climbing stairs from the outside. Too bad I have no picture before the cobwebs, muddaubers, and debris were removed. Left is my upstairs bedroom as it looks now. You can see the collar ties are much higher and cause no head ducking. The edge of the kneewall is visable where the stairs enter the upper floor


Above my brother supports rafters before decking is applied (center). The rafters were further supported with new interior walls. The collar ties were raised. Above right picture show the dormer that was added at top of new interior stairs for space and light.

The "before and after" of my kitchen is pretty dramatic. The original kitchen had a 1931 facelift that well, was a failure! The kitchen had so much water and termite damage that it was gutted!

2011 update on kitchen shows my orchid window. Every year the orchids grace me with blooms Jan to Sept and they are beginning to take over the house. A daily misting of water and bright light keeps them happy.

kitchen kitchen
bath-before This is the bathroom as it looked when I came to live here, too bad this isn't scratch and sniff!  Some of the contents of the commode went down the clay pipe to empty out on a field several hundred feet to the East. I soon found the source of an unpleasant odor and the bath was condemned by me and through the good grace of my neighbor I had bathroom facilities to use in their guest quarters. OH HEAVENLY DAY! After a year without a bathroom to call my own my new old bath was finished. This is a composit picture of my lovely bathroom now. The lavatory is a old hotel washstand which was very hard to locate. Most washstands were too small for my needs. My wallpaper appears as the background on Molly's page bath-after2

South across a courtyard from the rock home pictured above is the James Pruitt Home(circa 1853) pictured at right as it appeared when I purchased this property. The original board and batten home was covered with similated brick sheeting in 1903. Removal of this sheeting showed termite damage so the home was stuccoed to match the adjacent smokehouse. The two room home originally had a porch across the front (left side) that was closed in to make a third room in 1903.

The Smokehouse has been converted to my puppy play yard with a petdoor installed in one of the lower panels of the door. A/C installed in the back window and a fenced covered area. Trees have grown up on west side of area for shade. The old fire pits are still there and the pups run around it for hide and seek.

Right is the cabin during restoration and as it nears completion. It was my home for a year while the rock house was being restored. It was a fun time, no plumbing but lots of dogs under foot in the 312 square foot interior. I spent one Christmas in the cabin, had an old fashion cedar tree with popcorn & cranberry strings, no lights...it was so period and fun but I would not like to spend another year without a bathroom!!! The home has now "gone to the dogs" and my shelties enjoy it as their home. They have pet doors and can come and go freely. The dogs join me in the "rock house" from time to time. My dogs are only confined in the runs when I am going to be gone or during bad weather, storms, fireworks or when I have guests.

The restored cabin as it appears now. Across the yard is the rock house is about twenty five feet to the north of the dog cabin and all are enclosed by my yard fence (rock wall). In addition the whole five acres are fenced. Outside of the front of the rock house (above center) is an acre of land fenced with deer proof fencing for the dogs to run. It is a great area with large oak and elm trees for shade, the dogs love the freedom it provides. I often begin pups on lead by walking with them as they explore this large area as they are eager to be moving.

Above is the West side of the house looking North (in the distance you see the rock yard fence and paddock beyond). This area is cross fenced for a guest yard for sheltie visitors. Gives them some freedom in this nice grass area at the same time isolating them from my herd. I am standing in my puppy pen to take the picture on the left, red flowers are in my kitchen window. The old smoke house is behind where I am standing. It now has a covered pea gravel area, pet door, A/C and heat and a large open air fenced play area for puppies. It is shaded so I have outdoor carpet installed to keep them clean. It is just two steps out my back door so I can keep an eye on the little boogers. The picture right is looking around the west corner at my fountain and pergola.

Since my retirement, I have spent a lot of time in the yard and it is beginning to show. We have had so many dry periods that I have had to do the yard in pieces as my water well is shallow and I have to take care and limit watering. I use drought resistant plants that require little water when established. The yard it is not finished but looking much better with only the East side left to plant. In 2015 I started on the East side by first replacing my ugly pup house and turning the weeds into a pea gravel area instead of trying to lay in a lawn. See that project below.

 

 

Above left is the East side of the house which was the original front entrance. Spring Branch road was rerouted to the north of the house in the 1940s and the pergola (North) side became the front entrance at that time but everyone comes through the back kitchen door off the driveway! the two middle photos show gardens in 2012 and then in 2016 (note the grass is reduced to a pathway).

You can see my grooming table set up on the porch. I also fence off the stairs and use this area for very young pups. It is covered, protected from north winds and provides a perfect first outing area. The porch catches the early morning sun and warms quickly but is shaded by mid morning...perfect for pups. The rock path my dogs follow from the cabin to the paddock is visable and you can see the dog house in the rear just above the picnic table.

Right is the front of house facing due North. Built the pergola in 2010 my first year of retirement. It is a great place to watch the shelties play in the paddock. The dogs follow the rock walk along the black iron fencing out through the rock pillars to the front acre paddock. As soon as I open the gate the race is on to see who can get to the far fence first. Far right is Senorita Rosalita Cleome one of my favorite plants in the wild flower garden

I cannot stop planting gardens and iris are my favorites. Far right is my wildflower garden along the driveway. I still have to complete the east side of the home but need to redo my pumphouse and take a tree down before I plant anything. Need to wait for the 2011 drought to end also. Now I am cutting and burning the dead hackberry trees that succumed to the drought. I am going to plant some color in the woods so I can enjoy the view. Sure wish I did not have to deal with deer. The stump is a part of my old mulberry tree. Sorta looks like an angel, nest spring she will be surrounded by bluebonnets.

Above is my wildflower garden along the drive in the Fall of 2012. We had great rain and it looks spectacular as my Spring blooming plants have given me a second show, even the native verbina is in full bloom again. My favorite new introduction is Angelonia shown in the center. It is very drought tolerant and the deer leave it alone....it has bloomed non stop since the spring. The lantana is great with probably hundreds of plants in full bloom on my property. I found some dark orange ones at a ranch near by and will dig some when they are dormant to add some variation in color. The bluebonnets have sprouted by the hundreds and will winter over for the Spring which should really be something to see.

 

left the native lantana that is all over my property. It is happiest at the edge of the woods on the west side of my land, however it is very lush in the areas where I mow as I mow it to the grown after the first freeze and it reappears even denser in the spring. A Gift! no work, mother nature at her best!  

 

 

2015 Garden project below

I have always wanted a real Cottage Garden around my old home so in 2015 the transformation begins!

The deer do not reach inside the fence around my home so I can plant what I want. I am slowly enlarging my cottage garden and filling it with perennials and a splash of annuals. My goal is to eliminate grass on the north side of my home which is through the gate at the end of the brick path on the top left. The grass in the above area will remain as it is the West side of the house and the hottest aera but it is a narrow six foot strip. My goal is drought tolerance and minimal watering. The photo on the right shows the Northwest corner and the curve of the garden. This will be a pathway with no grass about the width of the gate when I am done. My house faces North and shades the yard too much for anything to thrive. My biggest problem is inconsistant rain, feast or famine. After a very rainey Spring and lush growth the rain stopped in July so I had to water...now I have damp off on the drought tolerant plants and dry wilt on those that need more water...uggh! I will find a balance.

 

When you enter the gate, you will be on a mulched path with no grass and very wide gardens. You can see the curve arount to the North yard. The garden is newly planted and will be fabulous when the iris and daylilies are in full bloom. I have had a few daylilies for years but added to them recently. The bad news is the introduction of daylily rust which I knew nothing about and can do nothing about it now as it is here but I do not want to give up the daylilies. If I find plants that are really suffering, I will just have to dig them out, some or resistant and some are not. We have had a very wet 2015 and the bugs and all sorts of fungus are very happy here....uggh Well don't wish too hard for dry. By July the rain stopped and now we are back in drought which is the norm around the hill country. My raised bed soil will not hold enough water so this winter I will dig and replant some of the plants that are not doing well.

My plan is to have something in bloon each month so will have annuals to help out the phlox and blackeyed Susan when they have done their all. The fountain garden is getting a redo as the vitex tree is now mature and gives shade. The above right photo was taken about 4pm on June 21st the longest day in the year but we will be loosing the hot sun as Fall approaches. It is only a "hot spot" at this time of the year. The corner, right of the fountain has iris and daylilies that love the sun.

Finally the old pump house is gone and I have a replica of an "Early Texas" home to replace it. The replica is so cute! I also replaced my "lawn" with pea gravel and will increase the size of the cottage garden. I now have a fountain and some additional "yard art" in the pea gravel but no grass to hog water.

Note the sheltie on the porch is one of the sandcast shelties so you get an idea of the size of the structure. It is about five feet at the roof peak, the faux chiminey is six feet tall..

Right with fence and stairs completed.

Christmas 2015

Have my cowboy santa and tree on the well house porch.

Snoopy and friends listen to the angel on her trumpet playing Joy to the World.

 

The 2016 Garden extension is complete, this is Spring in the Iris Garden. Iris are my favorite flower and I have managed to have some interspursed in various places in the garden but this is the big display.

They will be followed by Daylilies and Daisies

Above is the Spring 2016 Garden. First photo is the North Garden looking east and second photo is looking West. You can see I have reduced the lawn to a narrow strip and greatly increased my gardens. the photo to the far right is the West garden looing north. Unfortunately the rest of my property has been taken over by Malta Thistle while this garden took all my time and effort. There is always something to keep me busy. Getting a bit worn down but loving the results.

 

In 2011, we lost my daughter's dog Dante who was my dear Lottie' brother and it prompted me to build a cementery for my past shelties. So now their ashes rest under a giant oak tree in the dog paddock where they can enjoy all the sheltie play time. Any Lockehill sheltie is welcome to come back home and rest here with my shelties when the time comes.

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