Rock Schoolhouse

Little did James Lynch imagine the impact his well would have when he dug it in 1877. Water from the well smelled and tasted bad and he feared that it might be poisonous. But he understood that the effects of his wife’s arthritis seemed to disappear after several weeks of drinking it. When other settlers heard about this “miracle water”, they brought family members with a variety of maladies to a well in the middle of the village, hoping for similar cures. A woman suffering from a mental illness proclaimed that she was cured after drinking from a public well every day for weeks. Word about the powers of the Crazy Well, as it was dubbed by locals, spread quickly. Soon, residents built guest houses next to their wells, where visitors could drink and bathe in the water in comfort. By the turn of the twentieth century, the cottage industry had grown exponentially thanks to extensive advertising by purported doctors making claims of the waters’ astounding curative powers to the hundreds of people arriving by train daily. Several resort hotels, catering to more affluent patrons, were built in Mineral Wells during the 1920, the most famous of which, The Baker Hotel, opened two weeks after the 1929 stock market crash.

Lillian Peek Home Economics Cottage

As Mineral Wells developed, other buildings were constructed to support the town’s citizens. One of these was the Rock Schoolhouse, built in 1886 using stones hauled from nearby Rock Creek in mule-drawn wagons and hand cut on the site. It owes its existence to schoolteacher Robert E. Hendry and is the oldest existing school building in Mineral Wells. The Lillian Peek Home Economics Cottage was designed by local architect M.A. Howell for the WPA as the location of a state-sponsored home economics program under the direction of Lillian Peek, the state supervisor for home economics. Built in 1934, at a cost of $11,200, the building was the first free-standing facility for home economics education in Texas. Mineral Wells is a vibrant mid-sized town of over 16,000 people.

LOCATION: Mineral Wells is 51 miles west of Fort Worth on US-180. The Rock Schoolhouse and Lillian Peek Cottage are on NW Sixth Avenue, west of the business district.

REFERENCE:  Mary Whatley Clarke, The Palo Pinto Story (Fort Worth: Manney, 1956); William R. Hunt, “MINERAL WELLS, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hem04), accessed October 20, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.