Odessa TidbitsMade of red bricks and standing two stories high, the White-Pool House isn't white at all, but it is the oldest structure in Odessa, Texas. It is one of the city's most prized historical landmarks since it was built in 1887 on a small knoll in the southern area of the city. The house was named after its original homeowners, Chris and Lucy White. In 1923, it was purchased by Oso Pool, who turned the house into an apartment building during the population boom, spawned by the oil industry. The house changed hands between the two families until it was finally given to Ector County for historical preservation.
The White-Pool House opened to the public in 1984 and hosts several tours. The nearby barn can also be rented for receptions, weddings, gatherings, and parties. The place is a picture perfect venue with a wooden windmill, a water tank, and farm outbuildings. The barn also has a display of horse-drawn equipment, which visitors can view on tours. Many of the original furniture and designs have been preserved in the house, which now serves as a museum that signifies two eras in Odessa history, the late 1880s of the pioneer era, and the early 1930s of the oil boom and industry period.
Odessa is essentially the principal city of Ector County. It has a large population, around 160,000. In 2014, Forbes Magazine called it the third fastest-growing city in the entire United States of America. Like many cities in Texas, Odessa was founded early, in 1881, as a water stop and cattle shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway. The city has seen its fair share of fortune and woe, and has several historic sites to prove it. One of its most intriguing attractions, though, is the Presidential Archives and Leadership Library located at 4919 East University Blvd.
It stands on the campus of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and is dedicated to the Office of the President of the United States. It's the only museum of its kind, supported heavily by the late state representative, George West of Odessa. It began after the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy, when the people of Odessa decided to commemorate the lives of the presidents of the country and the republic of Texas. It started out as a way to collect information about the life of John F. Kennedy until the residents realized that they could expand the memorial to include the lives of the other presidents.
It's an impressive archive, with galleries and collections that display several memorabilia, books, photos, campaign items, magazines, and other artifacts. The museum also houses the Dishong Collection, a gallery of handmade replica gowns that the First Ladies wore. There are 40 miniature dolls dressed in the garbs of the First Ladies in the collection and anyone can view them online. There is also a set of wooden mosaics in the James B. Mason Collection. The mosaics depict the various presidents, made up of 16 million chips of natural wood from 170 kinds of trees. Mason worked on the 33 portraits for over two decades, earning him international acclaim for being the first artist to do so.
If the Mason Collection wasn't impressive enough for you, try the Rainbo Collection. The Rainbo Bread Company commissioned artworks to be made for the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration. Each painting featured the president's face and a scene depicting him in action. The Rainbo Bread Company made trading cards out of the painting and the presidents' short biographies. They placed these cards inside their loaves of bread. Children who can collect the cards can write to the company, who will then send them a United States map, which also serves as a board game for the kids who want to run for president.
For more portraits, go to the Chandler Collection. This gallery contains paintings of the presidents and their wives. It was commissioned by Billie Trimble Chandler, a Texan teacher in Japan in the 1970s. She had Ohsawa Shoji paint a portrait of the Presidents and First Ladies based on official portraits from the White House. Aside from the presidential galleries, visitors can also take a trip to the John Ben Shepperd, Jr. Memorabilia Library, which has over 7,500 volumes of old and rare texts. Beside the library, however, is a house that used to belong to George H. W. Bush's family in the late 1940s.
Odessa is an interesting city, with such a colorful history. It continues to grow every day, what with an ever-increasing number of establishments cropping up in every corner of the city. It is also home to three colleges, which means that many out-of-state students are constantly drawn to the city's charms and decide to stay there to find jobs or settle down. They never regret it, though, considering the excitement that the city offers around every corner.