SIDEBAR: The Sisters Middlebrook

Of all the stories Barnes has come across, his favorite is the story of the Middlebrook sisters, whose family bought the Stevens family farmhouse, and who lived in the house until their deaths. Here is the story in his words:

“At the end of the street, there’s Middlebrook Place, a group of townhouses, and that’s where Stevens family farmhouse was. It had been remodeled into a three-story gigantic Victorian farmhouse, and 3.5 acres had been bought by a doctor from Kansas City from an old Connecticut family called Middlebrook.

“He had tuberculosis, and when he died, his wife and family continued to live in the house. They called it Edgewood. They had no income left — women didn’t work in those days — and both sisters, Margerite and Cecilia, were members of the Dallas Women’s Forum, never got married, never had children. Margerite once had a secretarial job at the War Department in Washington, D.C., where she attended school in Georgetown University

“So they live in the house without any income, and by the time I move here in the 1950s, you could literally see through the roof because shingles were coming off. The entire 3.5 acres were a wilderness of unkempt trees. These two little ladies would dress in these long black Victorian dresses, and of course when the 1960s came around with “The Munsters” and “House on Haunted Hill” and “Psycho”, it looked like Walt Disney Studios had been sent out to create this.

“They started getting heckled a lot. Teenagers came around drinking beer and threw beer cans at the ladies and broke windows, and of course they couldn’t replace the windows. They would throw rocks at them and hit them with boards. The house had no electricity, no gas, and the windows were boarded up. The fire department came out at Halloween, and a gigantic fireman would stand on either side of them while they gave candy to trick-or-treaters. The police told them they should buy a gun, but they never did. Everyone remembers them as very sweet and cordial.

“The abuse was legendary. The police would arrest dozens every weekend who were harassing these two ladies, and it became a spectacle. People would drive from all over North Texas. They couldn’t leave the house together because the house would be attacked
“On day, Margerite went to the grocery store and broke her hip. Someone drove her home, and she laid down in front of fireplace where they slept and died. The police came to the house, and Cecilia said, ‘Do you have a search warrant or a warrant for arrest?’ They didn’t and had to leave. Cecilia lived for another year and a half until the house burned down one night, and Cecilia died in the fire. The fire department says it wasn’t set on purpose, though neighbors swore that’s what happened. They were in their 80s when they died, and they had one friend — a guy who lived a block away who was 13 at the time. He’s dead now. People showed up with metal detectors and shovels to look for the buried treasure. They found one surviving relative, the daughter of a brother, and she sold the land immediately.

“It’s this story about these sweet little ladies who lived the way they wanted to live and where they wanted to live, despite the cruel situation around them. I grew up here with stories about lions in the house and sightings of ghosts. Their story is my biggest book — 300 pages of documentation — and there’s a guy on a message board who wants to make a movie.”

By |2010-05-04T13:51:24-05:00February 1st, 2009|All Feature Articles|8 Comments

About the Author:

Keri Mitchell is an Advocate editor and reporter. Email her at kmitchell@advocatemag.com or follow twitter.com/thequotablelife.                                                                                         


  1. Audrey hansen February 4, 2016 at 9:38 PM

    I also grew up here. I know the story and remember as a young girl seeing the house with my Aunt. I may have the only photo ever taken of one of the sisters walking on the Property. It too has a story.

  2. Searcher5 February 18, 2015 at 5:02 PM

    There is even a photo taken from an airplane in the 50’s that shows the house. I talked to one of the ladies in 67 or 68. I was on crutches from an accident, and my sister and I just decided to stop and go to the door. One of the ladies came and talked to us for a few minutes. Nice of her. Yes, there were all manner of haunted house stories.

  3. Ray Hahn June 30, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    As an addendum, it’s hard to remember exactly when it was that I visited. I remember talking to Jimmy and him saying that they were nice and friendly, so it may have been that he was friends with them before Margerite died. I don’t recall much about my visit (though I’ve now been racking my brain over this for the past hour or so), but I’m now pretty sure that it had to have been after Margerite died. Anyways, it’s a bit of my childhood and my old neighborhood that I’m glad is documented and remembered in some way.

  4. Ray Hahn June 30, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    I lived on Colorado about 2 blocks away from the old Middlebrook house. I remember hearing (when I was a kid) the rumors about how bad a place it was. The
    kid who lived next door to me, Jimmy Lindsey, is the 13-year-old boy that was mentioned in the article. He befriended the 2 women, and practically forced me to go over and visit them once, though I didn’t go any further in than the entry way. They were really nice women, but the thing that I remember is that there was a hole in the roof over the staircase, and leaves, rain, and whatever could fall right in. In hindsight it’s a very sad thing. They couldn’t afford any sort of repairs.

    When it burned down the newspaper (I think it was the Dallas Morning News and not the Dallas Times Herald) had a picture of Jimmy kneeling respectfully on the remains of the house, and talked about him being one of the only kids on the neighborhood that visited the women.

    So I’ve gone from childlike fear of the house and 2 old women, to feeling quite sad for them. It’s great that this article was written so that some of us could know a little bit more about the Middlebrook sisters.

  5. John June 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    I lived several blocks from the Middlebrook home as a child and as a teen. Sorry to say, I was one of those who harrassed them from time to time as a teen. But one day, when not with my friends to egg me on, I went up to the door and talked to one of the ladies. I’m not sure which one. There were 2 old ladies who lived there. The house was in awful condition. Badly faded old paint, large hole in the roof. Overgrown wooded lotI always felt bad about bothering them. I apologized for bothering them in the past. She was a very nice lady. She thanked me for apologizing and told me I should leave before the dogs bit me. I never harrassed them again. The old mansion burned down while I was away in the service. The place is now the site of some townhomes that were built around 1975-76. The Townhomes are named after the Middlebrooks. While the homes were under construction, a girfriend and I sat in the open window overlooking the golf course. I told her the story of the old sisters. So yes! It was a true story.

  6. Barbara Barnes March 3, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    This story is true. I was born in 1951 and grew up in Kessler Park. This house did exist! There are many, many others who can also validate the authenticity of this!

  7. westmount neighbor March 3, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    I seriously doubt the middlebrook story, a three-story gigantic victorian at marydale and plymouth for 70 years, but no photos anywhere, even online??? Has anybody other than JIM BARNES, heard this story????

  8. none March 3, 2010 at 10:10 PM

    where are the photos.

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