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The Jim W. Keeland Collection, no. 16 - Figure 4 Ranch

Brazoria County Historical Museum

Silent | c.1950s

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  •  A cowboy and cowgirl lean on a dead tree at the Figure 4 cattle ranch in Brookshire  
  •  Tractors at work at Figure 4 ranch 
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This footage captures scenes of the Figure 4 Ranch in Brookshire, Texas. Clarence Montgomery “Pete” Frost purchased the Figure 4 Ranch’s original 1,200 acres in 1940, and hired architect Birdsall Briscoe (grandson of Texas revolutionary Andrew Briscoe) to design a ranch style home for his family overlooking a lake on the property. Frost developed and bred a registered Brahman herd until 1965, when he chose to exclusively focus on the Charolaise cattle breed, a business which he pursued until his death. Pete’s brother, Vernon Frost, owned the neighboring Pecan Acres Ranch, and his paternal grandmother, Harriet Hunter Frost, owned a cattle ranch near Richmond, Texas.
Birdsall Briscoe was a Texan architect born in Harrisburg on June 10th, 1876 and raised on his parents' ranch outside of Goliad. He came from notable stock on both sides of his family, being the grandson of the revolutionary Andrew Briscoe and great-grandson of John R. Harris, who founded Harrisburg. He attended Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M) and served in both the Spanish-American war and World War I.
After apprenticing with Houston architects, Briscoe began his own architecture practice in 1912 and worked almost exclusively on Houston residences.  He was in particular demand in the Courtlandt Place, Shadyside, Broadacres, and River Oaks neighborhoods, where he plied his eye for ornamental detail and taste for eclectic architecture to great effect. His houses were known for their elegance and harmony.
Briscoe built what are considered to be his finest houses between 1920 and 1940, and not surprisingly, many of these were for notable clients, including William Lockhart Clayton, I. H. Kempner Jr., Dillon Anderson, and Ima and WIlliam Clifford Hogg. Briscoe's project for the Hoggs involved remodeling their countryside home in Brazoria County, which is now preserved as the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historical Site.  The house built for the Clayton family in 1917 has since been donated to the City of Houston and has become Houston Public Library's Geneological Research Center.
In the middle of his career, Briscoe took up the role of district officer of South Texas for the Historic American Buildings Survey and served for seven years until 1941. In 1949, he was elected a fellow to the American Institute of Architects. Briscoe retired in 1955 and in 1971 died at the age of ninety-five. He is now buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Goliad.