A birthday party honored one of Irving’s most famous children on Sunday, July 16.
The Irving Historical Society celebrated the 100th birthday of Mary Schulze, daughter of one of the founders of Irving, C.P. Schulze, by opening up Mary’s Playhouse to a backyard birthday party. The playhouse, part of the Irving Heritage House, started off as a humble chicken coop and was later repurposed by C.P. Schulze into a playhouse for his daughter. Mary used the playhouse not just throughout her childhood, but well into her adult years as well.
“Mary used this [building] when she was a little girl as a playhouse,” Patty Caperton, chairwoman of the Mary’s Playhouse committee, said. “Then when she grew up, most of her career was in teaching and as a librarian in Corpus Christi. But when she would come home to visit, this would be sort of her quiet place of contemplation.”
Over time, the playhouse fell into disrepair. When the Irving Heritage Society decided to renovate it in 2012, the building was beyond repair. The old building was razed, and the new playhouse was recreated from the ground up, using much of the wood and materials from the original house.
Mary’s Playhouse was re-opened to the public in November of 2015 and has since been used by the Historical Society to help educate guests, especially children, about what life was like for children growing up in Irving in the 1920s. While the Heritage House offers tours of the playhouse every month, Caperton said that the birthday party is one of the first larger-scale events to be held at the playhouse.
“We like to show the children in the community about their history, and that there were little boys and girls around and having fun,” Caperton said. “For today’s event, we were trying to look at popular games in the 1920s.”
Children participated in games such as croquet, checkers, sack races and fishing. They also took tours of the playhouse and learned about the various toys and games children played in Mary’s time.
Gail Norris, an independent business owner and member of the Irving Heritage Society, brought her grandson, 13-year-old Jordan Davis, to the event.
“I learned more things about Mary’s Playhouse than I thought I knew,” Norris said. “It’s been a barrel of fun.”
Norris added that Irving schools should consider bringing more students to the playhouse so kids can learn about the city’s history first-hand.
“[We need to] get the schools to know about these events and come to the playhouse and learn the history,” Norris said. “A good way to learn about Mary’s Playhouse is as they show you around, really listen so you can tell others. The first Sunday of every month is a good chance for all the kids to start.”
Parents can help educate their children about local history by taking them to Irving Historical Society events.
“Our teachers have been great in telling the kids about their history,” Caperton said. “But I think if parents would just take time, like on a Sunday afternoon, and bring their kids over and let them see [history] first-hand, I think that gets kids excited, because then they have a memory of what toys were like and who these real people were back then.”