Lone Star Farms
When it came time to launch a new business, David Feigleson searched broadly for the perfect piece of property in the Roundtopolis™.
When it came time to launch a new business, David Feigleson searched broadly for the perfect piece of property in Round Top
“I saw many properties with houses on them — houses that were in move-in condition,” Feigleson recalls. “But none of those properties had the live oaks like the ones here.”
‘Here’ is a 13-acre parcel that not only hosts some of the area’s oldest live oak trees, it also features stately pecans and manicured native prairies just outside Round Top. This prairie plays host to a newly restored log house dating to the 1830s as well as an updated one-bedroom board-and-batten cottage, also estimated to be of the 1830s vintage. A 19th-century-barn-turned-party-space and the original Civil War area homestead also share the property. The latest structure is a 19th-century log building imported from Kentucky by the Barnwood Builders and destined to become another guest house.
The Feigleson family has been Roundtopolis™ weekenders for more than 15 years, enjoying their ranch in western Washington County. In 2018, they began searching for property to launch a hospitality endeavor.
“I have more than 100,000 trees on our property near Carmine,” Feigleson says, “but none of them are like these.”
Feigleson and his wife Joyce knew when they were handed the keys to this haven for historic buildings that all of the existing buildings needed work to be able to host guests.
“Even before we closed, we began looking for someone to steward the renovations, and turned to Round Top Home Builders — and Jay Reynolds — to help us get going.”
They tackled the log cabin and the board-and-batten cottage first, after razing an old barn and reclaiming much of its wood. The goal: create guest lodging, especially for larger groups who want to stay near each other. With those two projects complete in 2019, the Feiglesons and Reynolds are turning their attention to the original farmhouse and the newly added log structure.
George Dippel settled on the property prior to the Civil War. It was during 1861 that the yet-to-be-renovated classic Texas-German farmhouse was built originally by Dippel, and some say, Confederate soldiers who were stationed in the area. That home was sited near a giant live oak that today commands the view from the home, which was originally a typical log structure with a dog-trot. Over the years the dog trot was enclosed, a kitchen added, and board-and-batten siding covered the oak logs. A staircase on the outside to gain access to the second-floor sleeping area also was a later addition; the original steep staircase, still in use today, is set for a makeover.
Over the years, the area in which Lone Star Farm is located has been parcelled out from its original holdings by the Dippel family. The heavily treed area includes year-round and weekend residences and several vacation rental properties as well.
The property’s one-room log cabin, was the Feigleson’s first project. Originally in Paige, in nearby Lee County, previous property owners had moved the cabin to the property in 1997. It was originally owned by a German immigrant named Farrak, who built the cabin for his new wife.
The log cabin had had some updates 20 years ago, but the Feiglesons and Jay Reynolds had bigger plans.
Reynolds, who is managing the renovation for Round Top Home Builders, said their immediate challenge was to tie in the addition to the log cabin.
“Our primary focus was to keep the structure water-tight,” Reynolds said. “These old log cabins have overlapping logs at the corners. So tying into the existing structure and joining it so there is no chance for water to get in is a main concern.”
Reynolds accomplished that, while creating a new stairwell, a kitchenette and new bathroom in the 16-foot-by-16-foot addition, that is clad in Fayette County cedar siding. The stairwell is also made of Fayette County cedar.
“We sourced lumber from several locations,” Reynolds says. Hickory and cedar from Fayette County. Douglas fir from Oregon. Reynolds connected with Mark Huber of Fayetteville to use wood from fallen trees in the area.Huber has a mobile sawmill.
Reynolds and Feigleson found that the cabin’s upstairs was not supported adequately.
“The second floor was supported by dinky cedar planks,” Reynolds said. “We brought in hand-hewn fir beams from Oregon and cut holes in the front and back and slid them through the structure, to create adequate support. We installed Fayette County hickory for the upstairs flooring.”
“We added a mini-kitchen and improved the bathroom space to make it guest-friendly,” Feigleson said. “When we bought it, the toilet seat had to be raised to be able to shut the door.”
Now that renovations are complete, Joyce and David outfitted the cabin with oversized leather chairs, cowhide rugs and simple furnishings. The walls were re-chinked and the floors sanded, but left unfinished. The foundation, electrical and plumbing were all updated.
Across the lawn, and on the other side of the pool, is the 1880s cottage that has also had a facelift. It was re-set from its original footprint to complement the site’s layout and tie it in with the other buildings. It, like the log cabin, needed the full complement of structural updates and was stripped down to the studs.
“We were surprised to find bolls of cotton within the walls,” Feigleson said. “We guess they used it for insulation. The day we opened up those walls was windy — there was cotton flying everywhere.”
Now-finished, the cottage features a large bedroom and bathroom with kitchen features for guests. A long front porch, with original beadwork, chippy-peely ceilings, graces the entrance to the cottage. Like the log cabin, Reynolds fashioned cabinets from the barn that was razed on the property.
The Feiglesons plans’ for Lone Star Farm include a top-to-bottom rehab of the original Dippel cottage, with a goal of preserving its history and traditional German farmhouse style while ensuring guests are comfortable.
The new log structure, which was deconstructed by Barnwood Builders in Kentucky, will be chinked and outfitted as another guest cottage, with a 220-square-foot kitchen and bathroom addition. The structure will feature a 20-foot vaulted ceiling exposed to the rafters.
“With the expertise of Round Top Home Builders, we hope to create a unique venue for visitors to escape from city life while comfortably enjoying centuries-old buildings,” Feigleson says.
As the renovation project marches on, David and Joyce Feigleson point out the trees as the reason they embarked on the new venture.
Author’s note: The Lone Star Farm is accepting guests in spring 2020. https://thelonestarfarm.com. More about Round Top Home Builders at https://www.roundtophomebuilders.com. Courtesy photos in article supplied by Round Top Home Builders and The Stone Farm featuring photography by Julia Ervin Photography and Amanda Hovey.