Palestine Magazine Holiday Edition - Page 9

Herrington home keeps city history alive in mid-century style Story and photos by Amy French

‘ There was nothing else like it ’

Herrington home keeps city history alive in mid-century style Story and photos by Amy French

The small and neat note positioned above Alan Herrington ’ s doorbell reads “ PRIVATE ,” but it does not stop the occasional desperate-for-insurance by-passer from ringing or knocking anyway .

Herrington lives in a 1,600-square-foot home in downtown Palestine which used to belong to his father , Johnnie Herrington , when it served as his local insurance office . The compact building with clean lines sits in a triangle created by Avenue A , Sycamore St . and W . Main . It has been transformed over the years from a gas station in the ‘ 50s to an insurance office and now to Herrington ’ s home .
Those who stop in learn it is a private residence and Herrington will not be able to get a policy issued . Instead he politely sends them along .
O . L Hazelwood , the city engineer / architect for Palestine designed the original office space that had 900 square feet .
“ This was just a fantastic little mid-century modern building plopped down in the middle of Palestine and there was nothing else like it ,” Herrington said .
Herrington ’ s brother Bob and his brother-in-law ran the family insurance business on the site when his father stepped back from it . Bob Herrington passed away in August of this year and was wellknown and loved , a former mayor of Palestine .
Inside the house , it is as neat and mid-century feeling as they come with plenty of modern touches from stained concrete floors to open ceilings with nine inches of sprayed-in insulated foam and exposed duct work .
It is orderly and clearly fits the owner who said he prefers to be behind the scenes .
Herrington grew up in Palestine and graduated from Palestine high School in 1967 .
The summer after his junior year he was invited to a math camp at the University of Texas at Austin where he developed an affinity for the school and all things Longhorn . It was then he first stayed in the Moore-Hill Dormitory which would later become his on-campus housing .
“ When I go down for games , I make some time to walk by Moore- Hill which is west of the stadium and always look up at the windows of room 413 where I was in the fall of of 1967 ,” he said . “ It ’ s just hard to believe it ’ s been 54 years .”
Upon finishing his degree at U . T . in 1971 , he received an offer from the University of Michigan for an actuarial fellowship with the school of business and acquired his master ’ s degree in only 10 months before taking his first job in Nashville . From Nashville he would take his family to Dallas where they lived from 1974-1983 .
Later he would head to just outside of Philadelphia and work as an actuarial consultant for a firm in Philadelphia . His next position landed him in New York City in 1987 as he commuted nearly two
and a half hours by train before he found a part-time rent controlled apartment in the Ansonia Hotel .
In 1991 , he took to the other coast , settling in Los Angeles for the next 21 years .
His return to Palestine was an economic plus for retirement and while he enjoyed time in bustling big cities on both coasts , he is happy to be home with friends around he can invite over for Longhorn football .
He has closed in a small courtyard area where he can grill and on the exterior brick wall hangs a Curtis Jere sculpture he purchased in the 1970s . The copper tones reflect the earthy colors inside and outside the home . It had been relegated to storage when he moved to L . A . but found the spot for it here .
Inside , on one of the custom , maple built-in book shelves along the wall sit his childhood cowboy boots . A brick column dividing the open living area and kitchen pays tribute to U . T . with a Mack Brown autographed football and the “ Eyes of Texas ” lyrics painted on wood planks . Other Longhorn memorabilia including trading cards finish out the display .
To be so centrally located , noise would be an assumed issue , but part of the intent of the spray-in foam was to soften the sound . He , like most who live in Palestine , can still hear the train regularly rumble through .
After the death of his father in 2007 and his mother in 2012 , he took possession of the building and began the construction process in 2014 .
Designer Jerry Toole from Pennsylvania took on the job and worked with Herrington to make it a home .
“ Jerry designed all of the work we ’ ve done in here and he and his business partner Larry Miller did the construction ,” he said . They made it livable in just over a year . “ It ’ s a neat place ,” Toole said . “ It fit him well . It has a whole lot of him in it . He wanted it as simple as possible and for it to work for him . And it does .”
Herrington moved in during June of 2015 .