Glimpse of the Past, 22 May 2014: Mills House
Mills House Once the Pride of Hillsboro
An impressive, frame hotel stood on the SE corner of Gould and Waco Streets and was an early Hillsboro landmark. The hotel was popular with travelers in the 1800’s and 1890’s, long before the rise of traditional hotels, tourist courts, and motels.
With the coming of the railroad to Hillsboro in 1881, there was an immediate need for hotels, and William Sidney Mills and wife Maria Randolph Middleton Mills anticipated such a need and constructed their hotel soon after moving to Hillsboro in 1878.
Mills also owned and operated the livery stable and delivery service from the barn located on the NE corner of Gould and Waco Street site of the current Hillsboro Municipal Court Building. When the current Hill County Courthouse was under construction in 1889, Mills secured the contract for transporting the large, heavy blocks of limestone from the M-K-T railroad to the construction site. Mills’ step-son Frank Montague Middleton was placed in charge of the dray/delivery of the limestone blocks.
William Sidney Mills was the father of Alice Mills Hawkins, wife of early Hillsboro civic leader and banker, Terrell Gaines Hawkins. Alice was an early member of Sesame Club, serving as president in 1909. T.G. and Alice Hawkins lived in a home on South Waco across from the Mills House and south of the original site of the Hillsboro Fire Department (now Hillsboro City Library). Hawkins was one of the founders of the Hillsboro Fire Department.
By 1902 the Mills House was replaced with a 2-story brick structure that was home for many years to the offices and printing shop of the Texas Novelty Advertising Company, publisher of the Hillsboro Evening and Weekly Mirror. Prior to social media and cable news, local residents would gather in front of the Mirror Building to follow posting of election returns.
The photographs shown is c. 1936. The site of the Mills House and Hillsboro Mirror is now a parking lot for the City of Hillsboro's Municipal Court, formerly location of Mill's Livery Stable.