Special to the Morning Telegraph
On a quiet street near downtown Tyler, a once modest 1,700-square-foot homestead over time grew to 5,000 square feet with a swimming pool, a telescope and a family size bomb shelter.
Hudnall was already a well-known geologist in Texas when he moved to Tyler in the early 1930s. Partnering with a close friend, he established Hudnall and Pirtle, Consulting Geologists.
As the family grew to include a son, Ogden, and a daughter, Lometa, the Hudnalls decided they needed more space.
In 1949, they began working with Tyler architect E. Davis Wilcox to design a major addition, which included four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a playroom and a sunroom.
The Classical Revival entrance, with its four sets of double columns, were to remain in place. In addition, the Hudnalls wanted a full basement to serve as a fallout shelter, complete with a full kitchen, bedrooms and game room.
The original living area has a wood and ivory marble fireplace. Beautiful restored oak floors lead into a large dining area and a kitchen, which was updated in the Hudnall remodeling.
Current owners Michael and Anna Tidwell continue using the kitchen’s 1950s Thermidor double ovens, vintage sink, faucets and Frigidaire stove.
The bathrooms feature colorful tile and customized built-ins.
Landscaping includes Muscadine grapevines arching over the pathway into the spacious back yard, which features numerous native Texas plants. A swimming pool was added in 1950.
Building fallout shelters became a fast-growing industry.
Plans ranged from $500 to $5,000 to build. In comparison to the average, the Hudnall shelter includes elaborate accommodations to not only protect the family but keep them comfortable for months.
James Hudnall was an avid hobby astronomer who often watched the stars with his family and friends using a large telescope installed on a deck built over the garage.
In 1963, Tyler Junior College built the Hudnall Planetarium, naming it after the Hudnalls, who made major contributions to its development. This facility featured a 30-foot diameter dome for sky projections.
A member of the Hudnall family lived in the home until 1993, when the property was sold to Brian and Mary Burch. Dr. C. Jeffrey Pennell and his wife, Elizabeth, bought the house in 1999.
The Tidwell family purchased the house in 2009, appreciating the home’s interesting history, large airy rooms and spacious landscaped yard.
Even today, the original spring well continues to provide water for the Tidwell home and pool.