After years in disarray, house gets a facelift

July 12, 2014

JUMMP IN ACTION: This historic home at the intersection of Live Oak and Travis streets has seen better days. In fact, it was on a possible demolition list until neighbor Terry NcNew suggested this property for JUMMP (Junior High United Methodist Mission Project). Site director Chad Seagle tackles a big painting job with Britney Butler on the ladder and Cameron Cullen (left) assisting. Most of the large crew of energetic youth are from Denton, and a smaller group of volunteers came from the Houston area.

For three days, teens and preteens were swarming the house likes bees.

Busy bees.

Grass was cut, trees were trimmed, old paint was scraped and new paint applied.

A bad spot in the roof was fixed, and the front and back porches were rebuilt.

How did this all happen?

It was God’s work, according to a beaming Terry McNew.

The ramshackle house in the historic district across from the library on Travis Street was embraced with some TLC – tender lovin’ care – this week.

McNew said the house was owned by Clara Lee, who started the St. Helen’s store on the square.

“She would walk to the antique store a few blocks away,” McNew said.

“After she passed away, her son Gary Lee continued living at the house,” she said.

Gary has been described as somewhat of a recluse.

“He wasn’t in good health and was not able to take care of the house,” McNew explained.

The house had been in disarray for some time. According to McNew, its fate was to be determined in a meeting last month. But, the meeting didn’t take place due to lack of a quorum.

Instead of facing possible demolition, the house was rejuvenated by JUMMP – an acronym for Junior High United Methodist Mission Project.

On the job site Thursday, Katie Leffert of Humble, 12, said the Granbury project is her first JUMMP trip.

“It’s really good to know that you are helping other people,” a sentiment echoed by those around her.

Garett Ozmer of Denton, 14, said the work is “fun.” He also participated in a project last year in College Station.

Bryson Marquez of Denver said while visiting his cousin in Denton he was invited along on the mission trip. The 14-year-old said he’s learned some new skills working with bolts, power tools and scraping paint.


McNew works with the food pantry program at Brazos River Baptist Church and is familiar with many people in need.

She was contacted by a sponsor from JUMMP asking if she knew someone needing work on their home. Arrangements were made to begin work on the house.

When it was learned Monday that Gary Lee had passed away Sunday, the crew decided to continue the mission. Gary’s brother in Los Angeles, Vin, is the next of kin and reportedly plans to keep the house.

“This has all taken place through some amazing work by God,” an elated McNew said.

Chad Seagel, spokesman for JUMMP, said that 26 students and nine adults from Faith United Methodist Church in Denton and from Humble First United Methodist began work Tuesday morning.

Those with JUMMP were housed on cots, air mattresses and sleeping bags at Acton United Methodist Church.

In addition to the work on the Granbury house, one team did yard work and some cabinet repair at a home in deCordova, Seagal reported.

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