The exterior walls of a historic home bordering Cameron Park surrounded charred debris Thursday after a fire burned through the 1920s structure starting Wednesday evening.
Fire crews near the Cameron Park neighborhood saw smoke and responded at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Waco Fire Marshal Kevin Vranich said. Firefighters found flames coming through the roof of the three-story home at 415 Mount Lookout Drive, on a private road near Miss Nellie’s Pretty Place and the Cameron Park Clubhouse.
“No one was home when the smoke was reported, so we don’t know how long the fire was going before we got here,” Vranich said. “Flames were coming through the roof and could be seen from quite a ways away.”
Firefighters remained on scene almost 10 hours, putting down the blaze until about 4:30 Thursday morning. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion during the effort and was taken to a local hospital.
Kenneth Hafertepe, chair of the Baylor University Department of Museum Studies, said the Cameron Park home is known as the Aynesworth home or Aynesworth Manor.
Dr. Kenneth Hazen Aynesworth, a surgeon and former University of Texas regent, was the original owner of the home, which was designed by prolific Waco architect Milton Scott and built in the mid-1920s.
B.J. Greaves, a Waco architect who wrote the book “Milton Scott’s Waco,” said he was sad to hear about the damage to the historic home. He said Aynesworth, who started practicing in Waco in 1903, wanted the home designed in a Spanish style and invited Scott to go to Cuba to study the architecture. The research led to an initial design that was too costly, causing Scott to redesign it.
“Buildings like that are always important to the fabric of the community, especially when the person who designed it was as accomplished as Milton Scott and when it was for someone who was as important in the community as Dr. Aynesworth,” Greaves said. “I’m always saddened to see those things disappear from the community.”
Aynesworth served on several city boards and commissions, including the Waco school board from 1907 to 1917 and the board of health from 1903 to 1913. He was also a major contributor to Texas Collection at Baylor University and the Strecker Museum, which was later incorporated into the Mayborn Museum Complex.
The cause of the fire was listed as undetermined as damage to the property was extensive, Vranich said. He said the fire appeared accidental, but the primary cause will remain undetermined.
Staff writer J.B. Smith contributed to this story.