The Gallagher Home in Dublin
By Frank Chamberlain
The historic Gallagher house that stands on North Grafton Street is one of the oldest houses in Dublin and is a local landmark. It was originally built in 1895 for W.T. Leggett, manager of the Dublin Music Company. T.H. Wilder bought the house in 1904, and began remodeling the house. At this time, he added the classic revival porch and columns that now adorn it. He also made numerous modifications to the interior decorations, including adding parquet floors composed of rare woods lain in various geometric patterns. He enlisted the help of a Native American architect who stayed at the house during the year it was remodeled. After Wilder divorced from his wife in 1913, he sold the house to prominent Dublin storeowner M.D. Gallagher. The house remained in that family for thirty-five years. It has changed owners several times in the years since, until the A.C. Martin family purchased the house in 1978. The Martins immediately began restoring the old house to the 1912 period. This was a difficult task because many of the types of wood available at the original time of construction were not readily obtainable in the late twentieth century. This meant that Martin had to bring in lumber from all over the United States. In 1980, the Texas Historical Commission designated this house as a historic landmark and erected a historical marker on the premises.
There are several interesting stories that have circulated concerning the interior of the house. An old stone tower stood behind the main house and its purpose remained a mystery for many years. Although it appeared to serve no particular use, it was actually a private retreat built by the Gallagher sons. Another peculiarity concerning the house was the presence of a secret passageway of which the entrance was disguised as a bookcase. This hidden entrance opened into a flight of stairs that was followed by a tunnel. This passageway led underneath the house and into the cellar. Mr. Gallagher was an Irish officer during the war with the British and was able to escape to America during the conflict. He apparently had this elaborate system built to make sure that his family would be able to escape any of his political enemies that might have tracked him to Dublin.
“The Michael D. Gallagher Home”, The Dublin Progress, December 1980.
“Gallagher House Dublin Memorial”, Stephenville Empire Tribune, April 9, 1971.
Westphal, Dorothy V. Dunn. Covered Wagons Keep On Rollin’/ hand printed & compiled from the pen of Dorothy V. Dunn Westphal; the history of Dublin, Texas, 1995.