Polley Mansion AKA Whitehall – Architectural Description
Architectural Description of the Polley Mansion; Taken from material distributed by the Linne family when they would offer visitations of the Polley Mansion.
1847-Construction began on the Polley Mansion after Joseph Henry Polley purchased the land on the Cibolo Creek from his son-in-law, John James, in what was then Guadalupe County, Texas (now Wilson Co.). At the time, there were no other settlers in the vicinity, but that quickly changed . The large Polley family, with 8 children (one having passed away in the Brazoria district at age 5, and two yet to be born in 1848 and 1851) built a "stake house" to live in while the larger family home was being built.
1851-Construction on the Polley home was completed around 1850-1851 and the family was able to live in the main house.
The house is a substantial two-story home, built from hard stone quarried at a point about three miles distant, and transported by ox-drawn wagons driven by slaves, to the building site. The wagons used the "Old Indian Crossing" over Cibolo Creek. The interior as well as the exterior walls are of solid stone, eighteen inches thick.
The home was heated by six open-pit fireplaces. The woodwork was constructed from cypress timber hauled in ox-drawn wagons from sawmills in the vicinity of Bandera (roughly 90 miles away). There are eight rooms in the building, averaging about 16 x 17 feet, with two large halls running the full length of the house (30 x 12 feet in size). The rafters supporting the timbers are partly tied together with wooden pins, nails being used in some places. The rafters are 5 x 7 inches, and the joists are 2 x 12 inches, all from the finest cypress timber. Across the front of the house and extending the full width are porches, 10 x 51 feet, on both the first and second floors.
The windows, shutters, and doors were manufactured in New York, transported by water to Indianola, and thence by ox-drawn wagon to the building site. A lovely rosewood piano with mother of pearl keys, the carpets and other household furniture were secured in a similar manner.
The lime used to make the mortar was burnt from mussel shells gathered at the bed of the Cibolo Creek. One story told about the construction of the house is that the mason who contracted to build the chimneys stipulated that he was to receive a jug of whiskey wach Saturday in addition to the cost of the work. On one Saturday, for some reason, Mr. Polley failed to provide the jug of whiskey. In retaliation, the other mason partially clogged up one of the chimneys with debris such as chunks of mortar and stone. Of course, ever afterwards this particular chimney smoked when a fire was built. Many years later, when the chimneys were inspected and cleaned, the debris was discovered and removed, and from then on the chimney worked perfectly.
Rooms in the house were named "Green Room," "Pink Room," "Star Room," "Blue Room," the bridal chamber and "Tan Room." Mr. Polley called the house "Whitehall," after his hometown in New York state (this was also the name he gave to his home on the Brazos River in Brazoria County).
The lawn was sodded with Bermuda grass, and shade trees and shrubs were planted. Two of the old Post Oak trees still survive.
In the rear of the main house, twenty-five feet back from the right side is the old kitchen. It was connected with the house by a lattice-enclosed room, which was used as a summer dining room, and in which the cowboys were fed. The kitchen was an extremely well built single room log cabin made of hand-hewn post oak logs. Cooking was done on a large open fireplace. A cotton gin, quarters for the slaves, barns and corrals, were constructed adjacent to the house. All of these improvements, with the exception of the kitchen, has disappeared. On the north side of the house, a huge stone-lined, underground cistern for drinking water was built. This cistern is still in good condition, but it is not used. The original stone-walled well, located in a small ravine,
about 75 yards in the rear of the house was still in use in the latter half of the 20th Century, a wind mill having been erected over it.