A peek into the rich history of the Cypress area
The Juergen House, located on Hempstead Rd between Fry Rd and Spring Cypress, is among several historical buildings at Cypress Top Historic Park maintained by the Harris County Precinct 3 Parks Department. The yellow train depot replica on the park grounds houses the Cypress Historical Society.
German settlers arrived not long after General Sam Houston and his Texas army camped in the area on April 16, 1836 on the way to Harrisburg just five days before the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution.
Around the time the railroad reached Cypress from Houston, William R. Baker, then Secretary of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, bought the tract of land that became Cypress Top in 1856. He built two hotels there for train passengers. One is now known as Juergen’s Store and the other as the Juergen House. Baker sold out his interest in 1859. The properties that make up the park today changed hands several times. In 1859 and again in the late 1860s, yellow fever wiped out the community and prompted new owners to enter the scene. In the 1890s, Abe Roberts bought the property including the store, saloon, and house and moved in with his wife, Poline Pillot Roberts. Tragedy struck when Poline’s father, Nick Pillot, shot and killed Abe in an altercation later determined as self-defense.
Within a month of the shooting, Nick Pillot, as Roberts’ estate executor, sold the store and saloon to E.F. Juergen. Later Juergen married Mary Zahn, purchased the Juergen home, and they both resided there for the remainder of their lives.
The area known as Cypress Top thrived because the railroad helped the town grow and become even more of a hub. E. F. Juergen was a smart real estate investor in the right place at the right time. According to Cypress Top Park tour guide Jay Gavitt, “We have a clear picture of the house in 1907, and there were records referring to two hotels in the town. Based on the layout of the Juergen House it is highly likely that the home served as one of these hotels. On the left side of the first floor there was one large room which probably acted as the lobby of the hotel.”
In addition to E.F. Juergen owning much of the property near the train depot, he was also the town’s postmaster. After his passing in 1929, his wife Mary became the postmaster. The store closed in the early 1930s. Eventually in 1938, one of E.F.’s sons, Clarence, reopened the store. It was operated by Clarence, his wife Lilian, or nephew Eugene Zaboroski until Eugene retired in 2002.
Zaboroski inherited much of the Juergen property following Lilian’s death in 1984. He lived in the old Juergen home with his wife, Delphine, and their three daughters. Delphine insisted on remodeling the house, which was completed in 1987.
The original exterior shiplap and interior tongue and groove walls are still in place today. During remodeling, drywall was hung, materials such as wainscoting were installed and the walls were finished with wallpaper. The home today has a cutout framed with plexiglass displaying the original wood framing of the house.
The kitchen, which had once probably cooked for trainloads of passengers, was totally remodeled from wood burning stove to conventional oven, microwave, Jenn-Air cooking unit on the island, plus a dishwasher. There was a wing going out on the left side of the home that was an apartment. That wing was removed long ago. There were two chimneys, one serviced the kitchen while another serviced the parlor, bedroom and upstairs. They had no hearths, just openings for stove smoke to enter. These were originally the only heating available to residents.
In 2005, Eugene Zaboroski, a former Justice of the Peace in Cypress, donated 2.4 acres including the Juergen House and all the buildings in the park to Harris County. Commissioner Radack accepted the donation for the county and renovated the buildings as museums to demonstrate the history and roots of the Cypress community.
The park is open daily from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Precinct 3’s Juergen’s Hall Community Center is also in the park and is open weekdays from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Harris County Precinct 3 staff open the Cypress Top museums Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM and can provide information and tours of the buildings. Special tours can be arranged for groups at other times. You can contact the park staff at firstname.lastname@example.org or you may call them at 281-357-5324. The website is www.pct3.com.
You can learn more about Cypress history at the Darline Roth Research Library located in the train depot at Cypress Top Historic Park. The library is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM and every third Saturday from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
If you are fascinated by history, consider becoming a member of the Cypress Historical Society. Families can join for as little as $25. Along with the membership, their children can attend the Summer History Camp for free in June. Learn more at CypressHistoricalSociety.com.