Located in Mills County, Texas, the Payne Gap School and associated cemetery trace their beginnings to the late 1880s, though the community of Payne Gap originates much earlier in 1851, when Barzilla Payne and his family settled the area. The school district officially started following an order by Hamilton County Commissioners Court on July 2, 1887. The oldest grave at the cemetery is dated November 29, 1889.
Following the demise of the school in 1943, the Duncan family used and maintained the school building for many years until Sam Duncan and Jeffrey Lee began to restore it in 2021 after gaining a quit claim deed to the four-acre property from the Goldthwaite Consolidated Independent School District in 2016. Two new facilities to complement the schoolhouse are planned for the property, including an art studio/garage and a small residence.
Sam spent the first eighteen years of his life in the Star/Moline/Payne Gap area of Texas. These small communities and environs, located in the “middle” of Texas, inculcated an appreciation for ranch life and also influenced his work as an artist/designer. Equipped with an interest in information organization and research, he enjoyed a long career as an art librarian at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art before moving to Payne Gap in 2021 to take care of his father and help manage the family ranch.
Jeffrey grew up in Tyler, Texas, and after a short stint at Baylor University, he moved to New York to attend Parsons School of Design. After graduating with a degree in fashion, Jeffrey moved to Dallas, where he now co-owns Grange Hall. He now spends as much time as possible in Payne Gap, where he is developing his art practice.
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