Florence Ranch Homestead
Backstory and Context
When David Walker Florence was twenty-three years old, he built the Florence Ranch Home in 1871 for his family. By 1892, the ranch had grown by 70 acres; 300 acres of this land were cultivated, and the rest was fenced in. In 1894, David Florence purchased 1,000 acres of land near Cedar Hill, and dedicated the land so a school could be built on it. He stayed on this farmland for thirty-seven years, until he retired with his wife Julie in 1908.
David and Julie Florence had three children: John Hicks, Martha, and Emit David. Emit married Pearle Curtis on December 23, 1906, and they spent their wedding night on the second floor of the Florence house. Emit soon took the responsibility of tending to the farm chores, and he rose horses, mules, short-horn cattle, sheep, and feed crops. The ranch was then known as Meadow View Farm, and the terrapin cattle brand was used for the first time. Emit became known as a leading breeder and he lived his entire life at the Florence Ranch. Pearle Florence was the first woman to serve on the Mesquite Parks Board. She donated and organized the Pearle C. Florence Library at First Christian Church of Mesquite and was active in other civic and political groups in Dallas and Mesquite.
Family, friends, and local people came together and helped the family contract their home. The original structure is a prime example of the architectural style in the 19th century. This style included: a central chimney, a story and a half, shanty rooms across the back, and a gallery across the front. The house was originally painted white, the porch floors were painted gray, the ceilings were painted sky blue, and the screen doors were painted green. At one time, a large wooden barn set behind the house, along with a picket fence that surrounded the yard. The farmstead remains educational for children and adults.
The Florence Ranch Homestead offers caregivers and activities for those who have special needs. The care givers assist visitors with museum activities and they help them get from one exhibit to the other. Over the summer, the Homestead offers a summer camp for children, which is meant to help expand children’s knowledge of the history of their community. The Homestead is handicap accessible, and is equipped with wheelchair ramps. The museum’s mission is to educate children about the past and to lead them to the future with the knowledge of history and how important it is to be informed about the past.