The house is sited facing the La Bahia Road, and occupies a corner lot in the town platted in 1835, on land previously known as Coles Settlement. With the success of cotton plantations, and the foundation of Baylor University in 1845, Independence became one of the wealthiest communities in the state.
The two-story symmetrical rectangular frame residence has horizontal siding and a gabled roof with the ridge parallel to the long side of the house. The two-story front porch has a simple gabled roof forming a pediment. The main door is paneled with four sidelights, and seven vertical lights in the transome. Much of the glass in the house is original. Several sidelights at the main door are incised with the signatures of visitors. The windows of the main house are nine over nine on the first floor and nine over six on the upper floor.
The plan of the original house has two rooms on each side of a central hall. The gables have fine stone chimneys with fireplaces on both floors, each with original mantles.
The deed records suggest that the house was constructed in about 1855 by J.L. Farquhar and W.H. McCutcheon on land purchased from John Bancroft Root, although there is no specific reference to its construction. A nineteenth century photograph shows a log structure to the southeast of the house, which was probably the kitchen.
A one-story ell at the rear provided a later kitchen as part of the house. While the main house is relatively unchanged, the addition underwent significant modification in the later twentieth century.
Independence was home to Sam Houston, the first president of the Republic of Texas, who stayed active in politics until his death in 1863. At that time his widow, Margaret Lea reportedly moved to the house, though the deed of purchase from James L. Farquahar is dated February 1866. She and her eight children lived in the house until her death of Yellow Fever in December 1867. Granddaughter Maggie Houston Williams, born six month before Margaret’s death, lived in the house until 1898, and the house remained in the Williams family until 1983.
Documentation was undertaken in Summer 2003 by graduate students Samer Al-Ratrout, Kathlyn Blanchard, and Laura Brown, with assistance from Dr. Richard Burt and Dr. Ulker Oren. The project was directed by Professor David G. Woodcock, FAIA, for the Historic Resources Imaging Laboratory at Texas A&M University. The project was funded in part by a grant from the current owners, Pat and Sherry Elliott. Research advice was provided by Ellen Beasley of the Independence Preservation Trust.