Texas city hopes house with historic ties draw tourists

On a quiet south Irving street, there is a home that blends in with those around it. With a past tied to tragedy, this house, steeped in history, has a story to tell. Now, the City of Irving is investing in its past—and its future.

The home once belonged to Ruth Paine, a quiet housewife who changed the course of her life when she allowed her friend, Marina Oswald, to stay with her. On Nov. 22, 1963, the home became infamous as her house guest’s husband, Lee Harvey Oswald, is said to have removed his rifle from the garage and headed for Dallas, where President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated just hours later.

City Archives Coordinator Kevin Kendro has been working with Paine to preserve the home’s history for future generations. The city is hoping the same tourists who pass by almost daily taking photographs will want to pay to tour the home. The house is being restored to resemble what it looked like in 1963. Paine family photos and other historical items are being gathered to transform the house into a museum.

“We hope to make the house accessible to people so they can get a feel for and better understand this piece of the story of the assassination,” Kendro said in a news release last month. “We also hope to tell the story of an Irving housewife who, through a simple act of kindness, found herself a part of one of the largest historical events of the 20th century.”

The city’s Building Services Team repaired original cabinets, reconstructed a telephone stand, reclaimed the dining room and had picture windows refabricated. The only modern addition to the home will be air conditioning—one convenience Paine and the Oswalds did not have back in the 1960s.

The city purchased the home three years ago for $175,000. So far, $30,000 has been spent on renovations. The city hopes to open the museum this fall in time for the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy.

“I am excited about bringing this museum to Irving,” said Kendro. “This house is a part of the country’s history. Although it was a tragic event, the house and what took place in it are part of that story.”

Since the museum will sit in the middle of its original neighborhood, plans are to bus tour groups in from an off-site visitor center to minimize traffic impact on residents.