The Abbey House

The Abbey House (Dear North Texan, fall 2010), at 113 Avenue A, just half a block from Hickory Street, belonged to my mother, Lillie Abbey, who purchased it from a Mrs. Gross sometime around 1945. It had 17 bedrooms, as I remember, and she fed about 125 students dinner and supper. She had several students who waited tables for their food.

I attended North Texas as did several members of my family. I also started first grade and finished high school at the Demonstration School.

Peggy Abbey Browne


The lot on Avenue A where the Abbey House stood is now occupied by a business (The Garage) and a parking lot. When I was a little boy, I lived with my grandparents around the corner on Mulberry Street, where the Art Building is now. When I first remember it, it was called the Gross House, run by an older lady by that name. It was a large, very nice white frame house, two or three stories. I suspect this fine house had been built earlier by a prominent Denton family.

From the 1920s to 1950s, Denton had many such boarding houses — many converted from big, turn-of-the-century family homes, and many operated by widows. I understand they originally catered to single men and salesmen. During the Depression, there were many more men seeking cheap “room and board.”

By the end of World War II, there were hundreds of thousands of veterans coming home and taking advantage of the G.I. Bill to put them through college. I think this is about the time Mrs. Abbey took over.

Joe Mitchell (’57)

Editor’s note: The aerial photo from the university’s archives, circa 1940, shows the Abbey House at the top left on Avenue A, across the street from the old Science Hall. Hickory Street is on the left.

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