Wildscape Acres is more than a place —it is an interactional adventure with Nature. Over a decade ago we rescued a turn-of-the century home ready for demolition, then relocated it on a 165-acre savannah in NE Texas, ten miles north of Bonham near the hamlet of Ravenna. The restored home now sits atop a hill surrounded by a large meadow encompassed by woodlands, making it literally a little house on the prairie. In keeping with its natural surroundings, the home has a warm, rustic ambiance. The entire environment has become a sanctuary for both the two-leggeds and four-leggeds that inhabit it and visit it. Wildscape Acres is part of a Texas Wildlife Management Program.
The vision that guides and imbues the evolution of Wildscape Acres is one of restoring harmony between human and Nature. We offer those who visit here an opportunity to grow, learn, play, relax, and renew themselves. We host and facilitate activities designed to foster community spirit and self-sustaining practices. One of our many offerings is Harmony House Concerts, featuring performances by outstanding acoustic singer/songwriters from the USA and abroad. We also founded and facilitate S.E.E.D., a Children's Community Garden project. Others have described Wildscape Acres as a “rustic refuge and return to simpler times.” One guest summed up her feelings by saying, “It's like a homecoming — each time I visit I come home to myself.”
Faye Wedell & Scott Lipsett
c/o Faye Wedell
P.O. Box 812
Bonham, TX 75418
History of Wildscape Acres
by Faye Wedell
Our vintage home here on Wildscape Acres has a colorful history. According to one local historian, its original owners, Haden & Betty Whitsett, moved into the house (then located in Bonham, Texas) in the early 1900s. In his youth, Haden (later known to many as “Uncle Hade”) had attended a gathering held in Shiloh, Texas, when Quantrill and his band of vigilantes came through recruiting soldiers for the Confederacy in 1861. Although he was only fourteen and considered too young to serve, Haden and two other youths were captivated by Quantrill’s tales of adventure. The next morning, the three rode off to become part of that dark part of history known as the Civil War. Young Whitsett broke away from the renegade troop in Missouri and joined a branch of the Confederacy. He served as part of Shelby’s division of 1200 Confederates until the War ended in 1865. In 1951, “Uncle Hade” died at the age of 103 and left the house to his niece who had cared for him — Zora Arledge.
“Miss Zora” lived there and
made her living by serving
“homecooked” meals to others.
Later, she became Bonham’s
culinary artist for baked goods.
Upon her death, the house was
sold to the Baptist Church to be
used for office and printing
space. Later, the First
Presbyterian Church bought it
with the intention of making
a parking lot on the property.
During a ride with my mother in 1998, I noticed the house up on beams. As a young girl, I’d often gone eagerly to the house to pick up cakes from Miss Zora — and received a cookie as a treat. Those wonderful aromas and the memory of a dining room filled with delicacies came flooding back.
I had already decided to return to my roots, but was still exploring what kind of dwelling to build. When I asked about the fate of this historical home, Mother said she would find out. Fifteen minutes later, she called to tell me I could have the home in return for moving it, but we had to have it off the property by a certain date. I immediately called Scott to come check the house for structural integrity. (He does professional furniture restoration.) So, Scott and I decided to reclaim this historical home and move it onto the family property we now call Wildscape Acres!! The mover Scott found (Cunningham House Movers) met the deadline!!
The land itself also had to be reclaimed. It had been planted in Bermuda grass and used for pastureland for several years. Earlier than that, it was the home place of a sharecropper and his family who worked for my grandfather. We placed the house atop the highest spot, facing east for the morning sun and surrounded by prairie with a panoramic view of native woodlands — like a natural amphitheater!
A new chapter in homesteading began in which we wanted to combine past with present, with simplicity and sustainability as goals — an ongoing process toward Wildscape Acres’ bright future! In our quest to live in harmony with our surroundings, permaculture and bioregionalism principles have become our guideposts.
Wildscape Acres: Future Possibilities
When thinking of the future possibilities for Wildscape Acres, the words, community, conservation, preservation, land stewardship, and permaculture always come to mind. The ultimate possibility for such a diverse space is to create a learning center — where individuals and groups can come to learn, interact/share, play, and grow in a multitude of ways. This possibility can span many age groups, including combining generations in creative, experiential learning opportunities.
An outdoor classroom, complete with various centers that stimulate creativity and an appreciation for nature, is part of our overall vision. This could incorporate School-to-Farm projects. The Arbor Day Foundation, which promotes Nature Explore Classrooms across the nation, is another resource we intend to use. We believe that nature is the best teacher ― its lessons being invaluable.
“I should ask that a gift to each child in the world be a a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life…..”
A hands-on classroom for alternative building projects is another possibility that would fit into the overall concept of Wildscape Acres. One of the first structures envisioned for the property is a part straw-bale building, combined with greenhouse panels. This would allow it to be used year-round for growing food in raised beds and as a potting shed/cold frame for starting new plants. Building of animal shelters and a pole barn would include the reuse of salvaged wood and other materials, plus the use of the renewable red cedar on the property.
Wildscape Acres can also serve as a contemplative retreat for self-growth and self-awareness. Evolving into human “beings”, interconnected with all species, is a possibility—resulting in compassion, loving kindness, and tranquility!!
Making a Moved House a Home
Home - with plenty of work ahead
Click on "Photos of Wildscape" (top of page)
to see our dream come to life.