Cameron Home

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Cameron Home Revival Steering Committee: Betsy Reeder (Chair) and Dr. Phil Reeder, Rick Bostwick and Melissa Wray, Len and Boyce Brown, Linda and J.L. Crawford, Tommye Lou and Don Davis, Mark Firmin, BJ Greaves, Dr. Kenneth Hafertepe, Nell and Jim Hawkins, Bridget and Michael Heins, Bobby Horner, Mollie and Trammell Kelly, Missy and Randall Larson, Nancy Logan, Mary Perez and Mark Halamik, Thomas Proctor, Nelwyn Reagan, Betsy and Clifton Robinson, Debbie and Jim Sartain, Erik Swanson, and Charlie Walter.

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About the William W. Cameron Home …

The Past …

The home was originally called “Valley View” when it was constructed in 1921-‘22. The home was a wedding gift from William to his new bride Helen, who he married on June 21, 2022. Their only daughter Flora was born in 1925 and spent her childhood summers at the home. The home was famous for its enormous spring-fed pool, a feature unheard of in domestic use at the time.

The home’s name “Valley View” came from Valley View Farm, which originally included much of Cameron Park, the property where MCC is now, and land across the Bosque to Steinbeck Bend.  In 1910, William W. Cameron’s mother Flora and his siblings gave the City of Waco the property for the Park.  It remains among the largest urban parks in the United States. 

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The home was used by the Cameron Family until 1939, when William W. Cameron passed away suddenly while testifying in a trial at the McLennan County Courthouse.  His widow Helen and their daughter Flora moved to San Antonio in 1940. 

For many years, the house and Valley View Farm property sat vacant until it was sold to the JD George family in April 1954.  Mr. George owned a construction company that he ran from the location off N. 19th St. and Stewart Drive (now College Drive.) 

Mr. George passed away in March 1956 and his wife Lillian and children remained on the property, at times renting out the home to the Noncommissioned Officer’s Club from nearby James Connally Air Force Base.  Around 1962, Mrs. George moved to a more manageable residence and the home was again vacant for several years. 

In August 1966, the Board of Trustees of the newly created McLennan Community College purchased the surrounding 160 Acres for the College’s campus and this purchase included the former Cameron/George residence.  The groundbreaking for the new campus was held near the house on July 27, 1967.

The house underwent a major renovation in the mid-1970s, funded by the Junior League, to provide a home for The Art Center of Waco.  The renovated Art Center opened on April 4, 1976, and the nonprofit rented the space from the College for $10 a year for more than 40 years.  During that time, the home and its historic courtyard hosted numerous social events and weddings.  These activities will return with the restoration. 

In 2017, it was discovered that the east wall of the house had separated from floor beams, causing it to lean out from the structure.  For safety, the College asked The Art Center to relocate so engineering studies could determine the extent of the latent damage.

The home, which sits at the highest point over looking nearby Cameron Park. was built on solid rock dug into the hilltop.  The basement still includes solid brick and cedar posts, and the foundation has nary a crack in it, even after 100 years of service. 

Contrary to rumor, the house is stable and has never been cited for a lack of safety.   Multiple engineers, construction professionals, and architects have assessed the wall and determined that it can be fixed. 

 

The Future …

From the beginning of discussions about revitalization, it was determined that to undergo restoration, the house must benefit the College in some way.   The home will enhance MCC’s mission by providing new space for the McLennan Community College Foundation and serve as the hospitality arm of the College.

The home will feature opportunities for social and business events, as well as an interactive exhibit to tell the story of our community for today’s students and those in future generations.  The College plans to offer the courtyard space at a reduced rate to other Waco-area nonprofit organizations to support them in serving the community. 

Initial conversations about the renovation centered on the facility housing a donated art collection.  Recent conversations have led to it housing a natural and cultural history exhibit that tells the story of Waco’s transformation from a tiny settlement on the Brazos into the modern city it is today. It is fitting that McLennan Community College be the place to tell this unique story through a permanent collection; to our knowledge no such exhibit exists elsewhere in the community.

McLennan plans to offer this history experience to school children from every corner of the community to enable them to learn about and appreciate Waco’s remarkable story. The planning team is working with the Mayborn Museum, Texas Collection, and Historic Waco Foundation to ensure this exhibit is representative of the totality of our community’s story, regardless of color or social status.

 Visit this page as our revival progresses!