The Ezekial and Mary Jane Miller House is a twostory frame residence which reflects the popularity of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles in turn-ofthe-century domestic architecture in Houston. The house features an unusual semioctagonal tower on the exterior, and an open floorplan centered around an entry and stairhall separated by a columnar screen.
The two-story frame residence erected for Ezekial and Mary Jane Miller is an interesting example of the merging of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles by builders in early 20th-century Houston. The house, which faces south, features a deep front porch supported by pairs of rather attenuated Tuscan columns, a hint of the Colonial Revival. The porch is framed on the outer edges by a battered screen wall finished with weatherboards. The main entry to the house is centrally sited on the porch, and the front door features an upper panel of beveled glass, with beveledglass sidelights and transom. To each side of the doorway are single, one-over-one, double-hung windows, set in unadorned frames. The upper facade of the south elevation repeats the large one-over-one windows used below, but here they flank a three-sided projecting bay with a door at its center and diamond-paned windows on its shorter return sides. Directly above this bay is an extremely large and interesting dormer window. Set within a large gabled overhang, the window itself takes the form of a Palladian opening, the outline of which is framed by the pointed arch cut into the gable. Curiously, the lower edge of the gable projects out from the plane of the roof and is supported on either side by shingled buttresses. The face of the gable and of the recessed window is also shingled, recalling the popularity of this material for designs in the Queen Anne style.
The west elevation of the house is joined to the main facade by the remarkable semi octagonal tower that rises a full three stories, terminating with an open, balustraded observation deck. The windows of the first and second stories of the tower have the standard oneover-one sashes used throughout the house, while those of the third floor contain fixed, diamond-shaped, panes. A beltcourse of shingles separates the first and second floors, and the third floor is also shingled. Midway along the west elevation is a three-sided, projecting bay surmounted by another large dormer virtually identical to that already noted on the south facade.
The east elevation is dominated by the rather remarkable bay with porte-cochere which projects out from the house on the upper floors to contain the staircase. Two brick piers support this massive overhang, offering shelter from the weather for those using the side entrance. The north, or rear facade, is undecorated save for a simple covered porch supported by two turned columns.
The first floor of the house is centered around the entry hall and its adjoining stair hall. The entry hall is actually something of a living hall in the Queen Anne tradition, being used as much for living space as for circulation. The stairhall is separated from the larger entry hall by a screen of fluted columns set on walls with paneled bases. At the rear of the stair hall is an oak mantel with tile surrounds and hearth. Immediately to the left of the entry is the parlor, which features a semi- octagonal bay formed by the prominent exterior tower. A pair of pocket doors leads into this room from the hall.
To the rear of the parlor is the dining room, which is connected to the parlor by another pair of pocket doors. The dining room features a built-in hutch with leaded glass doors and a leaded- and stained-glass window in the center of the three-sided bay on the west wall of the room. The kitchen and utility room occupy the rear of the first floor. The house has two staircases: the primary located off the entry hall, and the service stair rising from the kitchen. Both stairs lead into the large landing bay between the first and second floors. The scale of this landing is such that it serves as a sitting area surrounded by four large windows for natural illumination.
The second floor contains three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The southeast bedroom has access to the front porch via a door in the center of the polygonal bay on the south wall. The southwest bedroom features a semioctagonal bay where the tower rises at the southwest corner of the house. The staircase continues up into the attic, pausing at another large landing. The attic was not finished for living space despite its l4-foot ceiling.
The house has undergone relatively minor alterations since its construction. In the 1920s the porte-cochere entry into the stair hall was converted into a bathroom, and one of the upstairs bedrooms was also remodeled as a bathroom. Neither of these changes resulted in the loss of any significant details, and the house has been carefully renovated.
Built in 1905, the Ezekial and Mary Jane Miller House is significant as an intact example of a well-detailed, early 20th-century residence closely associated with the life and family of a prominent merchant and civic leader. The house features a prominent corner tower on its exterior and an unusual floor plan featuring a double staircase design.
Built in 1905, this two-and-a-halfstory frame house was erected by Ezekial and Mary Jane Miller. Of Scotch-Irish descent, Mr. Miller was born on May 15, 1844, in Ulster County, Northern Ireland, and was among the waves of Irish people who fled because of the potato famine. Having first moved to Canada, Ezekial Miller waited until after the Civil War to move to Louisiana. There he became a rice farmer and owner of timberland near Crowley and Easterwood, Louisiana. The lure of East Texas and the Houston area became too great for him, so around 1900 he purchased some bottom land near the San Jacinto River and started rice farming and timber businesses there. As luck would have it, the river bottom proved too salty for a rice farm, but his timber business became a success. In 1901 Ezekial Miller bought property in the 700 block of Jackson, moved his family there, and started a business in town that involved coal and wood. The mill was located near Leeland and Valasco streets along a railroad track in an area that is now just east of downtown Houston.
During Ezekial Miller's travels, but prior to his moving to Houston, he met and married Mary Jane, a fiery and strong-willed woman, as she is described by one of her surviving children, Sarah Mabel Miller Rulfs. With a prospering business, the Millers also had a prospering and growing family. They had five children: Joseph H. Miller, Sarah Mabel Miller, David Baer Miller, Mary Jane Miller, and Will C. Miller.
In need of a larger house and wanting to move closer to their church, the First Presbyterian, the Millers purchased the Hawthorne Street property from Mr. and Mrs. C.F. Metcalf of Stephensville, Michigan, on November 4, 1905, and proceeded to build their new home. At that time, there were no other houses in the Westmoreland area, and Hawthorne Street, which was only paved with shell and had drainage ditches on each side, extended only as far west as Taft Street, several blocks short of present day Montrose. The new house represented the fashion for more picturesque designs, with a large corner tower and side porte-cochere, with large dormers at roof level. The interior features some good-quality millwork, which may have come from Mr. Miller's own lumberyard, although the were probably purchased from a millwork catalogue. The Miller House was one of the first in Houston to incorporate a complete bathroom in its original design.
Ezekial end Mary Jane had five children, two of whom lived in the family home after they grew up. Sarah Mabel Miller married Gerald William Rulfs in 1909, at the Hawthorne House and they lived in for more than 10 years. Will C. Miller, the fifth child of Ezekial, lived nearly his whole life in the Hawthorne House. Born in 1890, he remained a bachelor and spent his time going from Houston to the East selling the picket snow fences which their lumber mill manufactured. A very personable and socially active man, Will was an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church and one of the founders of the Houston Kiwanis Club, of which he was President in 1928. In his later years he traveled a great deal, primarily in the Western United States and Europe. In 1970, Will C. Miller left 304 Hawthorne to reside in the nearby Plaza Hotel leaving the home vacant. The house was left closed and unattended until purchase by the present owners in 1980.