Charles Goodnight Historical Center (GHC)

In 1887 after the death of his ranching partner John Adair, Charles Goodnight found a site near Palo Duro Canyon and began building a house for his wife, Mary Ann “Molly” Dyer Goodnight. Records show he hired a carpenter for $100 a month to travel to Louisiana to select wood for the house which became the first home built in the new town of Goodnight, Texas. Charles and Molly spent the last 39 years of their marriage in the house which serves as a visual icon of the ranching heritage period of Texas history and as an example of the
self-sufficient ranch life.

The house was state-of-the-art in its day, a graceful structure with five chimneys and a four-color paint scheme. It included wide porches and bay windows. Beneath 9’4” ceilings were four bedrooms, a parlor, Goodnight’s office, and a dining room where Molly entertained.

In July 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Brent Caviness and Mr. and Mrs. Marsh Pitman donated the home, outbuildings, 30 acres of land surrounding the home, and an initial investment towards preservation to the Armstrong County Museum.

On October 4, 2005, a ribbon cutting took place at the Goodnight Ranch House. Keynote speaker was Texas Commission of Agriculture Susan Combs.

A gala event was held at the Goodnight Ranch House on April 29, 2006, to celebrate the beginning of the early restoration phase of the project.

The Goodnight House Grand Opening Celebration and the official announcement of the construction of the Charles Goodnight Historical Center, J. Evetts Haley Visitor and Education Center, was held on October 5, 2012. Over 600 donors who gave gifts exceeding $3 million to restore the Castle on the Prairie back to its original architectural details and decorative furnishings were honored. The house is listed on both the National and Texas Historical Commission Historic Homes Registries.

“We looked a several projects across the state, but in the end, the (Texas Historical) board thought the Goodnight House restoration was especially worthwhile,” a Texas Historical Foundation representative said. “For one thing,
this project will likely add new information to Texas’ historical record and shed new light into the life of one of the state’s legendary cattlemen.”

Portions of the narrative and photos were published in the Charles Goodnight Historical Center Souviner Program from the dedication ceremony on October 5, 2012.