Have you been out to the Sherman, Texas area and see the large school/mansion structure on a large tract of land surrounded by modern housing developments? If so you’ve seen the long time abandoned Woodmen’s Circle Home in Sherman, Texas. The Woodmen’s Circle Home was part of the Supreme Forest of the Woodmen Circle founded in 1890 to allow women to purchase insurance (during this time women weren’t allowed to purchase insurance). The home was built to be an orphanage and a dormitory for widowed women.
Found on the back of a post card –
A House is built of bricks and stone,
of tiles and posts and piers;
But a Home is built of loving deeds
that stand a thousand years
The loving deeds of members everywhere
made possible the Home for Aged Members
and Children which the Supreme Forest
Woodmen Circle maintains at Sherman , Texas.
National Headquarters of the Society are in Omaha Nebraska
Woodmen’s Circle Home – The Back Story
Because Women were not allowed to purchase insurance Mr. John T. Yoates of Denver Colorado and one of the founders of the Woodmen of the World Fraternal Society, the Supreme Forest of the Woodmen Circle was formed. It was the first of its kind.
One of the early members of the Woodmen Circle Fraternity, Dora Alexander Tally of Garland, Texas, had a vision for a home for the insured members, widowed, retired, and orphaned children of insured members. With her help and knowledge of the area she helped with the location of the site of the new home. In November 1928 ground was broken on a hill a few miles west of Sherman. The original property was 240 acres and was formerly known as the LeBaron Farm.
In 1930 the main building was opened received its first members. In 1933 the Pennsylvania Building was built and the west wing addition was in 1940-41.
John Tullock, a notable architect of North Texas, was the architect for the main building and James R. Grady was the architect for the main building addition.
At the June 1938 regional convention of the Woodmen Circle was held in Sherman and the main building was rededicated and named the Dora Alexander Talley Building.
Sadly the home was closed in 1962 (timeline shows the home closing in 1971) when the Woodmen Circle and the Woodmen of the World merged. The property was sold in 1972 to five local businessmen.
The Woodmen’s Circle Home was home to over a 100 children and 165 elderly woman who had no where else to live.
A Brief History in Time
Below are the important and document dates copied directly from Woodmen Circle Home Timeline
- 1927 – LAND ACQIREDMrs. Doran Alexander Talley, one of the early presidents of the Supreme Woodmen Circle Organization, lived in Garland, Texas, and was familiar with this area and instrumental in the founding of the home and its location.
- Nov. 14, 1928 – Groundbreaking
- June 25, 1930 – Dedication of the Administration BuildingIt opened with a “handful” of children. Orphans that were listed as Lee and Edith Carmichael, & Edwin, Sadie, Robert and Lillian Pulliam. B.H. Elder move to the home. The property was over 150 acres.
- 1931 – Seventeen additional orphans were admitted
- 1923-34 – Thirty-Five more orphans moved to the Sherman Home with records indicating the total number of orphans peaking at about 10 in 1935
- 1948 – Only four orphans in residence, with eight additional children coming over the remaining years
- 1957: “Hot” Alexander retired from WCH, opened real estate firm in town. Missy Alexander took over his responsibilities.
- 1960: Missy Alexander retired from WCH. Jo Nell Chumley left the home and went to live with the Alexanders.
- 1965- Two siblings, Brandona and Sharon Moe, were the only “junior residents” at WCH
- 1965 – Supreme Forest of the Woodmen Circle (the founding organization) merged into the Woodmen of the World Insurance Company and no new residents were accepted after July 1966
- 1971 – Woodmen Circle Home closed after serving more than a 100 children and 165 elderly women and a few elderly men
- 1970s – WCH purchased by five local attorneys
- 1977 – 1980 – WCH used by Dr. Ariel Sherman and Tabernacle group
- 1980 – 1990 – Property sold to numerous investment groups including Sunbelt Savings, eventually going into receivership
- 1990 – WCH purchased by current owners, David and Debbie McNees from the Resolution Trust Corporation. At that time the property included only 13.5 acres.
As it Sits Today
Time has not been kind to the old Circle Home. It has sat vacant and ignored for many years. Over the years bits and pieces of the 240 acres were sold off. Eventually the city grew up around the old campus. Developers purchased the land around the campus and built neighborhoods and apartment complexes right up to the edge of the property.
On the inside you can see evidence of scrappers, vandalism, and fire damage. Although I haven’t been inside, I’ve seen interior pictures, and talked with a few people that been inside and said its very dangerous and not worth the trouble of getting hurt
In its day it was a beautiful building and grounds. Today it’s only a shell of its former self, but stilly a beauty on a lonely hill overlooking modern day Sherman. Sadly it’s too far gone to be saved. It needs a lot of work and someone who wants to save it for its history and a reminder of the good this facility created for those in need.
About the Images
The vintage photos were pulled from the Grayson County TXGenWeb site. If you are the owner of these images and want them removed, please contact us.
The images were shot on a late gloomy morning. I used my Sony a6000 and my Sony SELP18105G E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS lens. The images were then edited with Adobe Lightroom CC and Topaz Labs A.I. Clear and Topaz Labs Denoise AI and Topaz Labs Sharpen AI and DXO NIK Collection