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Arnold-Simonton Home

Courtesy Photo / Frank Johnson
The Arnold-Simonton House is the only structure in Montgomery County that is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It was built in 1845 by Dr. E. J. Arnold, a prominent Montgomery citizen. After serving as Montgomery City Hall for a time in the late 1900s, it was moved to Fernland Historical Park where it now resides with other historic structures and serves as a museum.

Montgomery's Arnold-Simonton Home the only county structure on National Registry

Posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015 4:00 am

To Montgomery residents and historians across the state, the Arnold-Simonton Home is pretty special.

It has the distinction of being the only building in Montgomery County that is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

And, it’s probably the only structure in the county’s history that was once a city hall and is now a museum.

It’s also one of the oldest houses in the county, having been constructed in 1845 by Dr. E. J. Arnold.

About Dr. E. J. Arnold

The history of the Arnold family in Montgomery County, begins with Dr. Epaphras Joseph Arnold who arrived in the Republic of Texas from New Orleans in late 1836 or early 1837 and proceeded to form a partnership with Dr. James H. Price. The two doctors established their practice in the town of Montgomery in about 1839 Eliphalet Lester Arnold, Sr., an older brother of Epaphras arrived in Montgomery County with his family in about 1840.

The Arnold brothers were born to Samuel Arnold and Hope Shailer Arnold in the town of Haddam in Middlesex County, Connecticut and were part of the sixth generation of Arnolds to be born in that community.

Local historian Frank Johnson noted in a history of the Arnold family, it is uncertain why two prominent citizens of New England such as E. J. and E. L. Arnold would make their way to the untamed frontier of the Republic of Texas but they carried on the Arnold family tradition as pioneers of Montgomery County.

According to Johnson’s research, Dr. E. J. Arnold was a well-loved citizen of Montgomery. He was active in politics, served on the board of Medical Censors for the Republic of Texas and donated land for the Montgomery Academy and served on the board of directors for the school after it was chartered in 1848 and was also a Justice of the Peace.

Soon after his arrival in Montgomery, Johnson said Dr. Arnold built a small log home but replaced it in 1845 with a lavish Greek-Revival style home and used his old home for his office.

Dr. Arnold’s headstone in Willis Cemetery indicates that he died on Sept. 12, 1858. His wife, Rhoda Ann, is believed to have died in 1876. Family histories tell that Dr. Arnold was originally buried in Montgomery but was re-interred at Willis Cemetery in the 1880s next to his wife, Johnson noted.

The couple had four children, Frances Ann “Fannie,” Evelynn Pratt Arnold, Epaphra Arnold Jr., who is believed to have died as a baby, and Louisa “Ludie” Davis.

Dr. Arnold’s youngest daughter Louisa, married Reuben Davis Simonton on Dec. 7, 1865. During the War Between the States, Reuben had served as a Sergeant in the 8th Texas Cavalry Regiment, a unit more popularly referred to as “Terry’s Texas Rangers.”

Dr. Arnold’s house, now known as the Arnold-Simonton House, became the home of Reuben and Ludie Simonton after the war. The Simonton family retained ownership of the Arnold-Simonton house for many years.

In 1977, the house was given to the Montgomery Historical Society, moved to a different place on the property, and became the Montgomery City Hall.

It was later moved to its present location at Fernland Park in the town of Montgomery.

Now situated as the focal point within Fernland Historical Park, the white house with its dentil trim features a pair of rooms on either side of an enclosed central hall. The rooms share interior double fireplaces, reflecting a Connecticut influence.

Courtesy Photo / Fernland Park
The Arnold-Simonton home was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1964 and entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

The Arnold-Simonton home was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1964 and entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Courtesy Photo / Frank Johnson
The Arnold-Simonton home was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1964 and entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

“The Arnold brothers from Connecticut are prime examples of incredible histories that are too quickly and too often forgotten. They descended from a family of pioneers who were instrumental in the founding and development of the early New England colonies,” Johnson said. “They arrived in the Republic of Texas during its infancy, settling in an untamed frontier. Their lives and the lives of their children leave a lasting legacy of accomplishment and perseverance and hope.”

Visit www.fernland.org for more information about the park and the historic homes located there. There’s also photos of the home being moved into Fernland Park on the site. Fernland Park is on Clepper Street near the West Branch of the Charles B. Stewart West Branch Library.

Local historian Frank Johnson contributed much of the research for this article. Some information also from Fernland.org.

Conroe Courier
May 10, 2015


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