405 Amarillo

The McClendon house located at 405 Amarillo St. is shown from the 1946 city property tax records.

A family compound is a cluster of buildings with a common purpose, usually within an enclosure, like the well-known Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Denton has a type of family compound where family members build homes on the same street. In the 1920s, the McClendon family built a compound on Denton’s Amarillo Street.

Richard and Cynthia McClendon lived near Longview. They had four boys and one girl: Ernest (1881), Rufus (1885), Cacy Estelle (1886), Dewitt (1890) and William (1900).

Their oldest son, Ernest, married Annie Douglas in 1906, and they eventually moved to 116 N. Elm St. in Denton in 1918. Ernest’s 1918 draft card listed him as a 5-foot-11-inch-tall paint contractor with blue eyes. In 1919, the couple built a home at 409 Amarillo St. that appears to have been a rent property, because they apparently never lived in it.

Ernest’s three younger brothers moved to Denton by 1920. That summer, the brothers advertised in the Denton Record-Chronicle as painters and paper hangers. They did well because they began building houses next to each other. In addition to the house they built in 1919, Ernest and Martha built 405 Amarillo in 1920. Dewitt and Modena built 407 Amarillo that year using I.T. Naugle, the contractor who built Ernest’s houses. In 1923, Rufus and Louise built 401 Amarillo. Parents Richard and Cynthia built 918 Anderson in 1924 on the corner of Amarillo and Anderson Streets. William and Mary completed the family compound in 1925 at 411 Amarillo.

A 1925 Record-Chronicle advertisement by the McClendon Brothers offered 20% savings on paints, varnishes, enamels, window glass and wallpaper at their 420 N. Elm St. business. The McClendons joined forces with Ernest’s former employer, W.T. Morris, by 1928, urging customers to “buy paint from a paint store.”

Parents Richard and Cynthia died in 1932 and 1942. Rufus and Louise died in 1961 and 1978. They’re buried together in I.O.O.F. Dewitt and Modena died in 1965 and 1986, and they are buried at Denton’s Roselawn Cemetery. Ernest and Martha moved to Fort Worth, where he worked as a painter and was buried in 1958. William and Mary moved to Houston in the 1960s. They died in 1977 and 1970 respectively, and they’re buried there.

Five of the six McClendon houses still stand, although 407 Amarillo was demolished in 2015. It was a mirror image of 405 Amarillo, which is being rehabbed and is listed as highly contributing to Denton’s new National Register of Historic Places. The parents’ house at 918 Anderson also contributes highly to the National Register District.

Denton’s John B. Denton College District soon will receive final approval from the National Parks Service. The district includes 382 structures representing 16 architectural styles, with 148 Craftsman-style structures that include the McClendon homes.

ANNETTA RAMSAY, Ph.D., has lived and worked in Denton for many years. Randy Hunt contributed research to this article.

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