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GAINES HOUSE. The Gaines House, sometimes called the McGown House, was built at a ferry crossing on the west bank of the Sabine River in what is now Sabine County. It was constructed by James Gaines about 1812 and was the first habitation encountered by many early settlers as they came into Texas via Louisiana and the Old San Antonio Road. The house was occupied for many years by Gaines's son, Edmund, who operated the family's ferry, tavern, and mercantile store. The family sold the house and Gaines Ferry to Walter Strother in 1845, and the ferry operated until a bridge replaced it in the 1930s. Frederick Law Olmsted, in A Journey through Texas (1857), related that the Gaines House was the first house he saw when he entered Texas, that it was a two-story log house with glass windows, and that it ranked high for comfort on the road. Plans for Toledo Bend Reservoir required the inundation of the Gaines House site, so in 1958 the house was dismantled log by log and moved west to an acre of land opposite the road to Lows Chapel, just off Highway 21. Although the land had been set aside for the house, however, it was never reconstructed, and the logs were allowed to rot on the ground. (see GAINES-OLIPHINT HOUSE.)


Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey through Texas (New York, 1857; rpt., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1978).

Helen Gomer Schluter


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Helen Gomer Schluter, "GAINES HOUSE," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed March 27, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 30, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.